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

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Who Needs Groundhogs?

Two days from now, good ol' Punxsutawney Phil will be pulled from his hole to tell the world whether Winter is over. What a crappy job, and for what? He's only right 50% of the time anyway. (And in any given situation where you have two answers to chose from, you're going to get the same odds.)

For me, my sure signs Spring is near comes from my feathered friends. First off, the finches are eating at my feeder again. No finches all winter, and then a couple of days ago, I get finch-a-palooza.

But the real kicker was that this morning, I saw the first robin of Spring. Not only saw him, but he started singing from his perch at the top of our neighbor's tree. Huzzah!

Regardless of whatever anyone else says, the birds are usually right. They don't begin to migrate until whatever internal sensors they possess tell them they're going to find food wherever they're headed. God, I love evolution.

Sure, there could be one stupid robin who jumped the gun. I've seen it before. He arrives way too early and either starves or freezes. If it was just one bird, I wouldn't stake my reputation on it. But, the finches - and a whole flock of them - followed by that one robin pretty much nails it for me. Add in the fact that he was singing - which they don't do unless there's a fairly good chance a mate will be arriving soon - and I'm predicting winter here will end with a whimper this year.

If I'm wrong, you all can come back and laugh at me later.

So, Phil? Sleep in on the second. The birds have got your back. ;o)

Friday, January 30, 2009


As you may know, I've been trying to work on at least two unfinished projects - Blink and C&D. The problem is I still have Nano to finish. AND my brain has been skipping to ideas for other projects I either haven't started, or completely new stories I haven't even plugged into my Ideas file yet. I can't seem to get my brain centered on one thing long enough to keep at it.

And it's making me so scattered I'm unable to get a firm grip on anything.

For instance, in the middle of Manhunter, I got the idea to write it as one of a series - each about a serial crime of some sort. (Since the organization behind Manhunter is a serial crimes task force.) Manhunter deals with a different kind of serial murderer. The next book deals with a bizarre serial rapist (not bizarre as in those things normal society sees as deviant acts of sexual behavior - beyond the raping itself, that is - but bizarre in what drives him to do what he does). A third is also a serial murder story, but with an interesting twist. Those two books after Manhunter are ones I've been thinking about for a while, but I just got the idea for a fourth in the series - having to do with a serial arsonist this time.

And then there is the fact that C&D is being written as part of a mystery series. Same problem. I have the first book. I have a general premise for the second and third. Just now, the idea for a fourth popped into my head.

(Don't even get me started on the 9 pages worth of other ideas I already have in my files.)

No wonder I can't get my brain to focus on the two... okay, three books I already have on my plate to finish. I'm thinking there's some psychological reason behind all this, but I'm stymied as to how to fix what's going on in my head. I mean, all this could be my brain throwing new ideas out as roadblocks - because if I can't finish something, I won't have the opportunity to get rejected again. Could be.

Anyway, I'm scattered, and it's making me stuck. I try to move past it, and you know what happens? My brain throws more things at me while I'm trying to fall asleep. The other night I made some real progress on getting back into C&D, and as soon as I went to bed, the muse barfed up a new plot line for a book I'm not even planning on writing (at least not in the foreseeable future). Dirty rat bastard.

I guess I just need to sit still for a while, figure out what in the hell is going on in my subconscious, and get my ever-widening ass back to work. Or if not the former, definitely the latter.

Ever run across this type of thing in your own world? Ever have your subconscious attack you when you think you're trying to get something done? (I think it's akin to when you know you have to clean the bathrooms, and suddenly you find yourself doing laundry, or vaccuuming, or baking... anything to avoid the chore.) Any thoughts?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Trying Something New

I've been a voracious reader for most of my life (except for those years in the '90s when I had my head up my... ummm... yeah), and I've found that once I find an author I like I tend to stick to those books. After a while, though, I run into a major problem: some of those old favorites are dead and I've read everything they wrote.

For a while, I just started reading everything I could get my hands on. Unfortunately, that led to buying some real stinkers, some well-written but irritating things, and some that were just bleh. Needless to say, I got burned enough to stop buying books unless they were recommended by someone I knew and trusted. That can be problematic when the people you know aren't readers like you are, and I burned through whatever recommendations I got rather rapidly. (And I got burned by a few because our minds weren't on the same page, if you know what I mean.)

Nowadays, I really have a tough time picking up new books, unless they're by someone I know is good (And those people really need to write faster, darn it all. :smirk:) OR they've got a cover blurb by an author I like.

Say, for instance, Allison Brennan has a quote on the cover of a book. That's one sure way to get me to shell out my cash. So far, she's only steered my wrong once, and the books in that series weren't really that bad - just not Brennan caliber. There're probably about a half-dozen writers who I respect enough to buy based on their word.

Without those recommendations, I'm pretty lost. I hate reading back cover copy - because I don't want the copy to spoil the excitement of reading a story blind. I don't read the first few pages - because it's like eating grapes at the store: If I didn't pay for it yet, I'm not consuming it. Basically, when I'm looking for something new to try, I rolls the dice and I takes my chances - so to speak.

I hit about 50/50 doing that. Not a cost effective way to work this reading thing I do, but since I look at all books as research of some sort (even if it's only researching what NOT to do), it's not a big loss. And really, when I think about it, in the past few years there's only been one book I started and stopped reading only a few pages in. That was a real gag-fest of crappy writing. I didn't chuck it against the wall, but the urge was there. Yuck.

Anyway, I guess there really isn't a point to this post. So far this year, I've liked everything I read - some more than others, but that's expected. I'm just waiting for the next time I plunk my money down for an untested title and end up wishing I had my $7.99+tax back.

Tell me: Do you try new authors out? How do you decide what to try?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Links and Things

First off, let me just say... IT'S FRIGGIN' FREEZIN'!!! I just walked in from shoveling snow, and I had to get that off my chest. I mean, four degrees and snow?? Who's idea was that? Yuck.

Now, for the real post...

This morning as I was skipping through the blogosphere, I came across some interesting posts I thought y'all might like. For instance...

At BookEnds, Jessica shares a letter from a reader that I think any writer can relate to. Some days this business of trying to move from unpub to pub can really suck. I feel bad for the teen who wrote the letter. I mean, I started doing this at 34 and even with my self-worth firmly set, it wasn't easy. I can't imagine what it would be like at 17, when you're still pretty unsure of yourself anyway, to be getting rejection letters. Ack. All I can say to the writer of that letter is: Hang in there, kid. Oh and: Don't let the bastards grind you down.

In other news, Monica McCarty's latest hottie Highlander novel releases today. I'm not usually a fan of historicals, but this series has me wanting to inhale them all. I'll be panting in line to buy in today (if the local store has it, that is - otherwise, it'll have to wait until my next book trip).

If you haven't seen it already, there a new blog in town. Last monday was the launch post of a writerly blog called Genreality. Plenty of good authors are hanging out there, including one of my favs: Lynn Viehl (aka Paperback Writer). So far they've had some interesting posts, and I'm guessing it'll prove to be a valuable source of information in the days ahead.

Over at The Fictionistas today, Kristen Painter discusses the various words and phrases coined by The Bard himself. I don't know about any of you, but I love Shakespeare. As I said in my comment on the site, 'he's da man'.

Otherwise, I'm just reading and trying to write. In the reading category, I've got my hands on the second Dresden Files novel (or is the third?): Fool Moon. Like the Dresden books I've read before, this one is a good read. Not only that, but it's also good research (on how to write an excellent mystery) and it's good inspiration. Reading it has led me to revisit my own mystery series.

Which means I'm back to re-re-reading Cut & Dried. While it doesn't have any paranormal or fantasy elements like the Dresden novels, it has that same quick wit and gritty reality you see in the works of Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and Erle Stanley Gardner. I'm thinking of billing Cut & Dried (the first JA mystery) as what would happen if Mickey Spillane and Rita Rudner had a love child who was then raised by Janeane Garofalo (without her politics, of course). So far, it's pretty funny and, I hope, fairly hard-boiled. Time will tell.

Of course, I'm still working on revising Blink. I think I'll leave it for the weekends, though, and get back to my old schedule: Write on weekdays. Edit on weekends. (Since I'm only 84 pages into C&D, it counts as new writing.)

What's new in your world? Seen any good posts?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Snipping Words and Deleting Grandma

Wading through pages and paragraphs, trying to find the path that will make this book better... Well, it ain't easy. Blink is giving me fits. It haunts my brain, especially while I'm trying to fall asleep. It whispers to me in the shower, and while I'm outside smoking.

The old words are still there, and while they aren't right, they're trying to claim some strange type of seniority. "Well, we were here first," they say in a somewhat whiny voice. "How could you try to replace us with new words?" Entitlement mentality for the verbage, I guess. I know it's wrong, and I suspect, so do they. But there they are, staring back at me every time I try to re-write chapter two. And they aren't the worst of it. During this re-write, I'm deleting a few minor - and wholly unnecessary - characters. They aren't doing more than taking up space. They only have a couple of lines at most, and they aren't driving the story forward.

But they don't want to die.

Of course, it doesn't help that the one named character I'm going to delete was named after my grandmother. Silly me. I have to delete my grandmother. Good thing she's already gone, or she'd chew me out for certain. (Let's just say she wasn't a cookie-baking, soft and cuddly grandma and leave it at that. I don't want to speak ill of the dead.) Don't get me wrong. Grandma was a great character. She may make an appearance in one of my other books someday. But not here.

Anyway, to get around the words on my screen, and stop their incessant whining, I decided to print them out and get rid of them that way. I'll just take them over to the couch, do the necessary snipping and when I have a new chapter two, I'll bring it over here for the finally dirty work.

Sorry Grandma.

For today's question, let me know if you've ever named characters after relatives/loved ones, and whether you've ever had to kill off or delete someone you knew (in your writing, of course).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chewing Myself Out, etc.

Heh. After my post about intentions, the writing gods have been conspiring to put me in my place. I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say my intentions really have been for shit lately.

Okay, one detail... An unexpected trip out of town yesterday led to a book-buying extravaganza. Eight new books for me, five (I think) for the daughter-person. My TBR pile is now officially huge (for me). I love Barnes & Noble - even more than Borders, because B&N has a better selection of both books and music. Of course, there were still two books on my must-have list that were out of stock, but all-in-all it was a successful trip.

Of course, having so many books to read gives me an excuse not to write. Must... fight... lame... excuse. Last night, I started in on the last book in Lynn Viehl's Darkyn Series, though, so the fight is on. I should've been writing instead. I need to keep my reading down to those hours during the day when my computer is unavailable. No reading at night. Damn it.

Umm... ok.

Anyway, I've got plans to get back to work on Blink tonight. (Note to self: As much as you love the title, change it. It's not working.*) We'll see how those plans go.

In other news, the books I picked up yesterday as full of awesomeness. They are:

Stay the Night by Lynn Viehl
At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost
Devil May Ride by Wendy Roberts
About a Dragon by G.A. Aiken
Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
Stardoc by S.L. Viehl
The Little Book of Mathematical Principles, Theories and Things by Robert Solomon
The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John & Caitlin Matthews

Oh, and I forgot I bought a book locally last week:
Whisper No Lies by Cindy Gerard

Which brings the grand total of new books to nine. The first five books are from series I've been reading (although with the Stardoc series, I'm clearly reading out of order - since I read the last two in the series first, and Stardoc is the first in the series). The last two I got yesterday are reference - one for school and the other for writing. The funny thing is, the only romantic suspense I bought was the one I picked up last week - and that was because it had a quote from Allison Brennan on the cover.

Eh, I look at it this way: Everything I read is research, even if it's not in my genre. There are things to be learned from every writer, so even though I'm not writing SF or paranormal or fantasy, I still can pick things up.

Or at least that's what I tell myself when I see how much I spend on books every year. Ugh.

Reading anything good? Or are you writing like you're supposed to?

:lashes self repeatedly using wet noodle:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Making it Believable

The new beginning? Well, it's been snipped. This morning I woke up with a better idea in my head and went to work. All told, Blink is 1652 words shorter than it was, but it's tons better already. I just have some new things to weave in the rest of the story to make it all more believable.

And that's what this is all about, right?

Whether we're writing about today or a thousand years ago, here or some distance galaxy or a made-up world of our own imagination - it's all about making it believable.

To illustrate let me use some examples from the film industry. Take, for instance, the movie Volcano. Premise is simple and a little outlandish - a volcano sprouts up in the middle of LA. Probable? No. Plausible? The way they wrote it, yes.

Around the same time, the movie Dante's Peak hit theaters. A dormant volcano wakes up and takes out a town of disbelievers. Both probable and plausible.

Of the two, though, the more believable movie was Volcano. Why? Because the writers put some thought into the little things that would make the moviegoers forget the implausibility of the premise. Little things like the immense heat from lava can and will kill people. Volcano lost a few characters - like the guy who played Drew Carey's cross-dressing brother - because lava kills (awesome scene, btw... I cry every time I see it). Dante's Peak? The MC drives his truck through a river of molten rock and the only thing that catches fire are the tires.

Umm, ya.

So these are the types of things I try to catch when I'm creating a world. Right now it's a little more difficult because I'm dealing with the future, and as long as I stick to the laws of reality, I can play with the world. Just how to make each piece work with every other piece... Well, that's what's making this so tricky. And those are also the places where I'm catching the little inconsistencies that will trip the reader up.

I hate those little trips.

Almost like when you're reading along and a character's hair color changes, but worse. I ran into theis very problem when I had to rewrite the middle at the end of '07. I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong, and then it hit me upside the head. It was one of those "DUH" moments. Like "if the other guys have all this technology why wouldn't they have wiped out the bad guys decades ago... duh." I tried to wiggle my way around it by creating a lame excuse, but in the end, that's all it really was - LAME.

So I rewrote it, and it's really so much better. Only problem is, I didn't see I still had flaws earlier on. I see them now, and I'm fixing them. It just takes time.

As for Nano, until I've taken Blink as far as I can go (or I get her finished - whichever comes first), I'm putting Nano on hold. It'll still be there when I get back. So will all the new notes I made trying to put it back together again.

*shrug* Such is the writing life.

Ever have to do something like this with your story? If not, just tell me about an inconsistency you saw or read that totally tripped you up.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

A New Beginning

Well, after days of worrying and wondering and trying desperately to find a spark that would light the way, I did it. I finally have the makings of a new beginning for Blink. I'm still not sure I'm on the 100% track, but it's something. 660 words of something as a matter of fact, which is more words than I've written in the past month +.

So, to recap, I rewrote the entire middle of Blink last year. Now, I'm recreating the beginning. If I decide to the end needs to go, I'll have written an entirely new book - only with the original premise shining through more completely than before.

Ever had to rewrite something - especially something that on first (or tenth as the case may be) pass looked pretty damn good to begin with? It ain't easy, let me tell ya.

Oh well, no one said any of this gig was going to be easy. And hell, something of the best things in life aren't easy. ("So get over it already," I say to myself.)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Totally Useless Trivia

Since I'm a bit scattered... I wish I could claim revision brain, but I'm not there yet... I decided to give you some totally useless trivia.

For instance, did you know that...

Oldsmobile Achievas, without fail, will blow a gasket between 50-60K miles. Yep, something about the fabulous design of the Quad4 engine and antifreeze getting into the oil. Mine blew at 56K. Nothing like $1500 for repairs. And now we know why the Achieva was discontinued.

The sperm whale has a penis that's 12 ft long and 2 ft in diameter at the base. Something I heard on a nature program back when I was in college. It led to several interesting discussions, let me tell ya.

There was once a war in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My college resident advisor was doing her Masters thesis on it. It was between the Finnish immigrants and the Italian immigrants. Several people were killed, if I remember correctly.

And of course, a skirmish occurred between Ohio and Michigan over the strip of land that is only notable because it held Toledo. I don't know who won. LOL

Jack Benny was married to Mary Livingston. She was on his show, but they didn't really talk about it. (Caught that on a PBS special the other night.)

Speaking of TV, did you know that Star Trek was the first show to show an inter-racial kiss? Kirk and Uhura.

Oh, and even though you probably don't think that rabbits make noise, they do. They have the most horrific scream. I'd tell you the story of how I know, but it was upsetting 23 years ago, and I'm still not over it. Silence of the rabbits, perhaps?

People used to believe that you could see ghosts by looking at them through the space between the ears of a cat. Try and find a cat who'll hold still long enough for that. They also thought you could see them by looking through the hole in your wedding ring.

If you're into football, did you know QB Ben Rothlisberger now has a punt to add to his stats? Last weekend, he kicked one. I don't remember how far it went, but probably far enough to get him into the record books. (QBs don't kick... at least not any more. I think they might've back in the old days, but I don't know.)

Okay. Your turn. Have any totally useless trivia? Who knows when it might come in handy.

Oh, and one last one. Do you know how a fly lands on the ceiling? I once spent an afternoon in college watching to find out. They hover just below the ceiling and then reach up with their front legs. Once their front legs touch, they swing the rest of their body around. Heh. I told you it was totally useless.



Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Random Thoughts

WTF? Who got coffee on my Caps Lock key?* :grumble: Umm, it was me, but I don't remember doing it, and it's irritating.

In other news, I've restarted my mission to get healthier. I'm back on my 1300-1400 calorie a day diet, and I'm exercising again. This means: A) I'm hungry, and B) I'm sore. On the upside, my jeans are already starting to feel more comfortable. Yesterday's workout was a killer - for me, anyway. We (my daughter and I) only exercised for about 20 minutes, but we went through a range of things, and now I'm feeling the burn. Push-ups are evil, btw. And if you've never walked up and down stairs for a few minutes straight, you probably aren't familiar with how necessary your quads are for things like standing up and sitting down. Somebody slather me with Aspercreme.

Did anyone else get the Dilbert daily desk calendar for Christmas? I love Dilbert, but so far this year, the comics are lame. Last week was all about Scott Adams getting trapped in the strip, and while it should've been funny, it just wasn't. Here's hoping they pick up later in the year. I still have pages from a Dilbert calendar I had back in Michigan - they were that funny.

Due to hubby's ongoing computer problems, and daughter's online classes, my computer time is seriously curtailed. First thing in the morning and late at night are the best time slots for me to accomplish anything, which means if you don't see a post here in the morning, you may not see one. The limited time at night means I need to utilize every bit for work.

Which is my way of saying that, yes, I am writing again. Not new words, but I am working my way through Nano. Still loving the story, but as I go through the story trying to pick up where I left off, I can see some things that I definitely need to fix. Right now, I'm just making notes in red whenever I find something, as well as changing typos as I see them. I'll reserve the real editing for when I finally finish the book.

You know, the last couple autumns I burned up the keyboard. First I wrote Blink in the fall of '06, and then I wrote RTL in the fall of '07. The fall of '08? I got partway through Nano. :grrr: I'm such a slacker. And spring is usually my slow time. Not this year. I got work to do. If the mid-winter blahs try to catch me this year, I'm just going to have to kick the shit out of them.

Speaking of Blink, I still need to re-write the beginning, but after I get done with that, I'm going to be looking for readers. It's a speculative (i.e. dystopic, futuristic - think Hunger Games or Fahrenheit 451 or Anthem) that should appeal to YA as well as adult readers. And I'll be looking for Nano readers as soon as I get this sucker finished.

Anyhoo, work calls. What random thoughts do you have today?

*Turns out it wasn't coffee. It was grapefruit. Daughter dear ate one when she was doing Physics and it squirted. She's been properly chastised. ;o)

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Big Chapter... or What Not to Do During First Draft

So, I am trying to get back into the swing of working on Nano again. It ain't easy, lemme tell ya. Of course, it would've been a whole lot easier if I had done one simple thing while I was first-drafting.

You know, like put in chapter breaks.

Sitting here looking at where to begin catching back up with Randi and Jack and Vic, I was faced with the daunting size of chapter 15. (Hereafter known as The Big Chapter.) You see, way back when I wrote chapter 15, I must've been on a roll. I just kept typing and typing, and before I knew it chapter 15 was fifty-plus pages long. Never one to heed my own inner warnings, I forged ahead.

And then I stopped writing. After which, I came back to find myself thoroughly lost, without so much as a bread crumb to guide me back onto the path. It was either start over from the beginning (actually, in this case, the midpoint) or tear my hair out trying to figure where I went astray.

Usually reading a last chapter shakes something loose, but in this case, the last chapter was 192 pages long. Just the sight of that huge sea of text looming over me was enough to send me running back to my notebook. :shudder:

Tonight, I waded in and decided to tackle the beast by doing what I should've done in the first place. I put in chapter breaks. I didn't much care exactly where - except for the obvious fact that each was placed at a scene break. It doesn't really matter where they are, just that they are.

Heh. The little hang-ups we writers get ourselves tangled up by.

This done, though, I feel much better about wrestling the story into place. Even scanning through the pages tonight, I got a better sense of who my characters were and how they all fit together. I even saw a few places where I had changed the gist of a minor character, and realized I now have to go back to the beginning and make him who he really is. Good stuff wandering through pages.

And if I'd done this sooner, I could already be deep in the fixes rather than trying to write the end so I can get to the fixes.

Some days I could just throttle myself. Know what I mean?


Sunday, January 11, 2009


Well, I'm still battling the crud from hell on hubby's computer, but tech support is being awesome, so I can't complain. It seems that this latest batch of boredom-induced, geek-vengeance is the very newest of its kind. (BTW, way to take geek-vengeance on a self-avowed geek. Thanks you moron.)

Anyway, in the midst of this severe PITA, I have managed to get some things accomplished. Since we're sharing my computer, I've been working with my handy-dandy notebook and nifty ink pen. It's not so bad, really. Sometimes I shift over to the by-hand method to shake the muse loose, and it seems like it's working for me.

First off, I started by working on the story idea I got the other night. Not much actual story on paper yet, but I have a lot of worldbuilding I need to do before I know who my MC is and where she's going to go.

Then, I shifted my brain over to Blink. I thought about some things that might need changing - like the entire beginning of the book - and I brainstormed for ways to dig out of that hole.

Finally, after over a month, I took a look at Nano. I still think the beginning is awesome, but I can see where some of what I wrote in the first few chapters clashes with what I wrote near the end. Lots of stuff to fix, but that's what editing is all about. I do have some good notes to work from to fix the beginning, and I'll be working as I go along. I know I haven't finished the book yet, but I have to start from somewhere after all this time away, and the beginning seems like the best place to go. Maybe I'll get partway through this edit and remember how exactly I wanted everything to come together at the end.

All in all a frustrating weekend, but productive.

How are things in your neck of the woods?

PS. Oh, and to put a little perspective on things: If you haven't heard about it by now, writer and blogpal Travis Erwin lost his house to a fire last week. I meant to post about it earlier, but as with everything, it slid through the sieve I call my mind. Travis really is a good person and a good writer, so if you have any way you can make his life just a little bit better, please help. (Even if it's only to pass the message along by posting about it on your blog.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Malware Alert

I had several things I wanted to talk about this morning, but despite my post yesterday, my intentions really did go to hell.

I did get some writing accomplished during the day, but then I was presented with major computer issues (not this computer - my hubby's) that I had to address. I'm still addressing them this morning as a matter of fact. To that end, please be aware of a new vicious piece of malware calling itself Spyguard 2009. It mimics actual spyware killing software, and to the untrained eye could pass for real software - except for the fact that you never remember actually downloading this crap onto your computer.

When it first presents, it's scary as hell. It tells you your computer is loaded with viruses and trojans and other disgusting stuff created by people with nothing better to do. This fear will be especially true for those of you who know your way around a hard drive, because it tells you that it's going to delete some 'infected' files - like regedit and sys.com. :shudder: Never never never touch those types of files.

Anyhoo, I knew it for what it was, and I've been working ever since to get the insidious piece of crap off his computer. Tenacious little bastard that it is. Oh, and another gem that comes with this malware is it leaves the door open and invites other crap to take up residence on your computer. Nice. To the creators of programs such as these, I only have one thing to say: Get a girlfriend already (one that doesn't require inflation). Find another outlet for your sexual frustration - you know, something that won't cause pain to other people.

One more thing... I will kill this thing. It may take me all day, and ruin my friggin' newfound intentions to write, but I refuse to be defeated by some wastoid who lives in his mother's basement and who can only get his rocks off by writing malicious software.


BTW, you don't have to do anything special or go anywhere you're not supposed to be, to get this crap. It just hides in the code on websites and plants itself in your computer. Once I kill this crap, I'll update and let y'all know how to get rid of it yourselves.

*Update 2:24pm: Still battling this damn thing, and even though I bought the software that's supposed to be able to kill this thing, it's still alive. F!#$%&ng Mother F%!#$rs Now waiting for an email back from tech support.


Thursday, January 8, 2009


It was fully my intention to blog yesterday, but as my father always said "intentions are for shit". (He was a doer, not an intender.) So, needless to say, my post didn't get written.

For the past month, I have been intending to write - and we all know how that's worked out so far. I sit on the couch during the day, thinking about writing. I tell myself "tonight will be the night", but when the night rolls around, the computer sits here humming to itself while all my good intentions go to hell.

As someone once put it: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.*

It's like the blanket I intended to make for myself once I finished the x-mas present blankets for my mother and mother-in-law. The first strip has been half-finished since the beginning of December. It's sitting in a grocery bag next to my spot on the couch. My crochet hook lays on the table above it.

Yesterday, despite the useless intentions which never seem to get me anywhere, I did something. I got back to crocheting for one. And for another, I took out my handy-dandy 5-subject college-ruled notebook and I worked.

Last week I got an idea for a new story. It wasn't much. Just a kernel of an idea really. A 'what would happen if the world was this way'. I didn't have a plot. I certainly didn't have characters. I just had a glimmer of what I wanted to explore. Well, last night I took the kernel and brain stormed how to make it into a real story. I wrote pages of questions for myself and answers that were, more often than not, lame as hell. I wrote until I thought maybe I had the beginnings of being on the right path toward having a plot and characters and scene. Then I went to bed.

Intending to sleep of course.

Heh. My brain had better ideas. Much better ideas as it turned out. I had a main character. I knew where I wanted to start and what the general plot would be (at least for the beginning). So, I dragged my butt out of bed about fifteen minutes into it, and walked back out to my notebook. It only took me a few minutes to write it all down, and then instead of intending to sleep, I really did.

This morning my notebook is still sitting in the middle of the couch where I left it. It's ready for me to read over what I created last night (because instead of intending to remember it all in the morning, I got up and saved my thoughts onto paper). I'm ready to get back to work again.

Now I don't mean to say that intending to do something is never a good thing. Intentions can be fine if they're followed up with actions. Otherwise, they are, as my father put it, for shit.

What are you intending to do today, and what are the chances those intentions will be accomplished? Personally, I intend to write tonight - even if it's just me and my notebook hashing out the guts of my new story.

*Of course, in Michigan, the road to Hell is paved with asphalt.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


BFFF is short for Big Fat Frickin' Failure. Old Year's Day (or New Year's Eve) morning I was wallowing in a case of BFFF. Looking back over my sum total of non-accomplishments has a way of doing that to me. I mean, if you really don't have a lot to show for twelve months of life, you really can't help but feel like you are an expert in mental masturbation. And I don't know about you, but for me that spells failure.

Anyway, I thought I was over the whole BFFF thing... that request for full got me over it. Right? If someone wanted my work, I wasn't a total failure. Right? That feeling lasted four days.

Yesterday morning as I was getting prepped to start the new year right, I got an email that pretty much took me right back to BFFF status. It was a rejection on the full I just sent.

Now, if said agent is somehow reading this post, I don't want her to think any of this was her fault. I was already most of the way there anyway. But here's how it went...

I saw the From and the Subject, and I cracked in half. Part of me was sure it was her saying she loved it and wanted to represent me. The other part was certain she was rejecting me. Half of me was excited and wanted to pop that bad boy open so I could bask in the glow of success. The other half knew better. I listened to the happy half, and the unhappy half spent the rest of the day saying "Told you so".

As rejection letters go, it wasn't a bad one. I think she said she loved my voice. I think she even pointed out a particular scene she liked, and said some other nice things. (I'd go back and check, but I'm not in a place where I can re-read the letter yet - not even to send the 'thank you' note she certainly deserves.) Regardless of how nice and helpful she was, the sum total of it was she wasn't accepting me for representation. I was so close, but I failed... yet again.

Of course, as luck would have it, I was halfway through the letter when I realized my daughter was standing behind me (and she reads over my shoulder on occasion), so no matter how I felt about what I was reading, I couldn't let myself show any reaction. She was so excited about the full, I just couldn't ruin her morning, too. (Dude, if you're reading this right now, get back to Physics or else.) So I sucked it up. I closed the mail, shifted it to my Agents folder, and went outside for a cigarette - to compose myself and get some badly needed nicotine into my system. I didn't have time to deal with it. The resumption of our routine came first.

The falling apart would have to wait until later.

Instead, I took my daughter through our new exercise routine. Nothing like a workout to distract a person. (And for which I am paying mightily today.) Then we did our morning errands. No time for worrying about being a BFFF while you're running errands. Then school started and for the next few hours I was blissfully distracted from that little piece of reality.

Except when she was working on her own. When she started Physics - which she has to do on my computer (get back to work already, junior) - I was left without distraction. I tried reading, but that only made it worse. I tried crocheting, but that activity only allows my mind to wander. When I was on my dozenth row and starting to feel weepy, I stepped outside.

I've talked before about the stages of grief and how they fit into the whole rejection thing. You really do have to go through them before you can come out a whole person on the other side. Needless to say, I'm still working on them. On the upside, I didn't set fire to my manuscripts and quit the business. (Not that it didn't cross my mind.) I'm still here. I'm not working right now, but I'm here.

I'm not over feeling like a BFFF, but the only way to really fail is to quit. I haven't quit yet. Like the poem says, the road I'm trudging feels like it's all up hill. But I haven't quit.

I just need some time to get through this.

Please understand, I'm not typing this to ellicit sympathy. What I try to do here at The Writing Spectacle is give my readers an unvarnished look into the life of a writer. Sometimes good things happen, and sometimes they don't, but whatever happens, it's all part of the game. Some of this shit hurts like hell, but writers either get over it or they really are BFFF. Maybe some writer reading this will see they aren't alone, and it will give them the courage to keep going. If that happens, at least something good will come of this.

At this point, I don't know if I'll ever be able to put 'published' in front of my writer status, but I'm still writing.

And maybe that means I'm not such a BFFF after all.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Rough Day

It's been a rough one. The above poem says it all.

I'll be back when the BFFF feelings go away.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Never Let A Month Go By

Seriously. I last worked on Nano a month ago yesterday, and sure enough, I'm lost.

Take it from me... Never never NEVER let a month go by without working on your WIP. Of course, I didn't think it would be so long when I typed those words on 12/3. If I had expected this length of time to go by, I might have made some notes about where I was headed with this.

Did I?

Ummm... no.

I do remember I'm only about 10K words off the end. I think I had everything thought out. I was ready to move ahead with it, but I got lazy. I took a couple days off. Then that thing with my mother happened. Then I had holidays to prepare for... and to recover from. "I'll start back where I left off after the New Year," I said to myself. "It'll be no problem." Yeah right.


This too shall pass. I'll have to go back and re-read what I already have so I can pick up the thread again. It'll take some time, but I can do it. It'll just be a pain... a pain I already knew better than to open myself up for again.

So, take it from me. Never do this to yourself. It's just not worth it. Take a day off here or there if you need to. Take a week if there's an emergency. If it's more than a week, pick up a friggin' notepad and write your ideas down before you lose them.

Tomorrow, the journey of rediscovery begins. Wish me luck.


Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 Books Read

It's that time of year again... Time to wrap up last year's reading list and begin one for 2009. At last count, 2008 was left after reading 73.5 books. (The .5 is for the last book, which I started on December 31st and finished today.) That's up 3.5 from the year before. Not a great gain, but it's probably better than in 2006 - before I began keeping track.

As before, they're in the order in which they were read - with the most recent book at the top. Right now, it looks a little lonely, but I'm sure it won't be by itself for long.

Cutting Edge by Allison Brennan (8/14/09)
Planet of the Damned by Harry Harrison (8/8/09)
Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper (8/5/09)
Charmed and Dangerous by Toni McGee Causey (8/4/09)
Marco Polo by Keith Miles & David Butler (6/27/09)
Highland Scoundrel by Monica McCarty (6/20/09)
Eve of Darkness by SJ Day (6/14/09)
Burning Alive by Shannon K. Butcher (6/13/09)
Vamped by Lucienne Diver (6/10/09)
Blood Magic by Jennifer Lyon (6/9/09)
Death Masks by Jim Butcher (6/6/09)
Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (6/5/09)
Master of Craving by Karin Tabke (6/3/09)
Summer Knight by Jim Butcher (6/2/09)
Highland Warrior by Monica McCarty (5/30/09)
Beyond Varallan by SL Viehl (5/25/09)
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (5/23/09)
Fatal Secrets by Allison Brennan (5/23/09)
Wives and Sisters by Natalie R. Collins (5/19/09)
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan (5/12/09)
Shoot/Don't Shoot by J.A. Jance (5/3/09)
Grave Secrets by Kathy Reichs (4/30/09)
Small Favor by Jim Butcher (4/26/09)
Gods of Manhattan by Scott Mebus (4/22/09)
The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance by Various (4/2/09)
Sudden Death by Allison Brennan (3/29/09)
Killer Year: Stories to Die For... by Various (3/22/09)
Deader Still by Anton Strout (3/20/09)
Dead To Me by Anton Strout (3/19/09)
Grave Peril by Jim Butcher (3/17/09)
Highlander Outlaw by Monica McCarty (3/13/09)
Superstition by Karen Robards (3/11/09)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (2/27/09)
Vanish by Tess Gerritsen (2/25/09)
Footloose by Leanne Banks (2/22/09)
Unwind by Neal Shusterman (2/19/09)
Deal Me In by Cynthia Thomason (2/18/09)
Grow Up America! by Dr. Michael Hurd (2/17/09)
Pride by Rachel Vincent (2/12/09)
Dogs and Goddesses by Crusie, Stuart and Rich (2/7/09)
Jewel of Atlantis by Gena Showalter (2/4/09)
About a Dragon by G.A. Aiken (2/3/09)
StarDoc by S.L. Viehl (1/30/09)
At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost (1/29/09)
Whisper No Lies by Cindy Gerard (1/28/09)
Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (1/27/09)
Devil May Ride by Wendy Roberts (1/23/09)
Stay the Night by Lynn Viehl (1/22/09)
Smiley's People by John LeCarre (1/18/09)
La Vita Nuova by Dante (1/12/09)
Heart of the Dragon by Gena Showalter (1/5/09)
Omega Games by S.L. Viehl (1/4/09)
The Stone Bull by Phyllis A. Whitney (1/3/09)
The Quest for Cosmic Justice by Thomas Sowell (started in 2008... finished 1/2/2009)

ETA: Just for kicks, I decided to add the date I finished the book to this year's list.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

HAPpy New Year

Have any of you ever seen Showboat? (The old movie version with Katherine Grayson, not the theater version.) Well, the subject of today's post is a nod to Joe E. Brown's memorable New Year's line in that movie. I love that scene, and that character, and heck, I just love Joe E. Brown.

But that's not what the post is about.

Yesterday, I spent a large chunk of the morning writing a post wherein I waxed philosophic about the total bleh of 2008. Truth be told, it wasn't a bad year, but it wasn't a great year either. Wrapped into one big ball of twelve months, it was mostly unmemorable - at least on a personal level.

Anyway, I wrote most of the post before I had to go run my morning errands. Of course, my daughter wasn't ready to go when I was, so I left her and just got donuts while she finished getting ready. Donuts in hand, I arrived home to find her putting her coat on, so it was all good. And just before we stepped out the door, I checked my email - because it never fails... I get home from errands to find one of my used books sold or something, and then I have to go back out again. I didn't sell a used book yesterday morning, but I did have a different happy email in my inbox.

I got a request for full.

So much for nothing important happening in 2008. (Okay, so I also got a full request in May, but since nothing ever came of that, I wasn't thinking of it during my bleh moments yesterday.)

Since the partial was sent back in October, I was pretty certain the whole thing was dead. When the request came, at first I thought it was another rejection. I'm standing over the desk thinking as soon as I open the email and verify I've been dumped again, we can go finish our errands. I even read the first few words and thought 'rejection'... and then came the words '...I enjoyed reading what you sent so much. I would love to read the full manuscript...' My daughter squee'd when I read it aloud, and she ran over to give me a hug. I just stood there with my mouth open, not quite believing what I was reading.

Let's be honest... Lately, I've been feeling like a BFFF (and I don't mean Best Friends For Friggin'ever - think more along the lines of Big Fat Frickin' Failure, with 'frickin' being replaced with its less PC version). The first couple years it wasn't too bad, but these past couple... Well, when New Year's rolled around and I looked back over the previous twelve months - with no measureable progress to show for my efforts - it's not hard to feel like a BFFF. This year was worst than the last, of course, and not only were the previous months bleh, but the next twelve looked like more of the same. Bleh, bleh and more bleh. A never-ending, ever-winding road of bleh.

And then I got a full request from a big agent who actually sounded like she loved the first three chapters. Here's hoping she loves the rest.

I'm trying really hard to not get my hopes up, but since I lay in bed last night envisioning what having an agent would be like, that endeavor is failing big time. If nothing else, though, that one glimmer of hope is going a long way toward pulling me out of my funk. Thank you, Ms. Agent Person. Even if you ultimately decide not to take me, you've given me enough rope so I can climb up and get back to work.

So, here's to a Happy New Year for all of us. May we all see good things in the coming twelve months.