Sunday, February 28, 2010

And now for something completely different

This has nothing to do with writing really, other than perhaps staying alive to write another day. However, when I saw this on Janet Reid's blog last week, and having walked away from a horrible car accident with nothing more than a few bruises just months ago, I knew I had to make time to share it.
(You may want to get a tissue first.)

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Novel in a Blender 2

Back in the mid-eighties, I branched out from mainly reading fantasy and fell upon sci-fi. These books were littered with male main characters. Which is fine, yet, not as fun for a young women looking for someone of the same gender to identify with that wasn't playing a dutiful secondary character or love interest.

Ms. Wildstar was having a hard time finding a spine, and I needed some inspiration, darn it. I wandered off to the bookstore.

What's this, a women in a lead role and a man as her underling? I like it!

I quickly realized that this was the final book in a series, but it sounded so good, I didn't care that the other books weren't available in the store at the time. When I finished it, I hunted down the original three books that had been published ten years previous. The first of which turned out to be C.J. Cherryh's first published novel, the Gate of Ivrel.

In trying to get back to my original mindset now that I'm working on the sequel, I've pulled the Gate of Ivrel back off the shelf. Unlike many of my other old favorites, this one is still as good of a read as it was before my critiquing eye ruined my joy of getting lost in a novel. It's currently in my coat pocket so I can squeeze a few pages in where ever I happen to find the time.

Neither of these novels appear to be sci-fi upon first glance at the cover, which is probably what drew me to them in first place -- having just come off a fantasy binge. There are swords, magic and horses, and gates, various planets and time travel! Yes, young readers, there were transportation gates before any Stargate movies or series.

This is where the seed for Jumping came from as well as the inspiration for a certain Mr. MC's name, whose original name was much more befitting of Ms. Wildstar's early draft than that of her current bossy incarnation. Though, you won't find Mr. MC's teen self milling about the Barthromians, he's been reincarnated -- the only character to date to have had that honor.

If you happen to be looking for a book/series with an old race that used time travel and transporation gates, a strong female lead, magic, swords, an honorable but conflicted male character, no swearing or overly adult situations, this one might be for you. Who knows what seeds might get planted in your head.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quit watching me!

As I sit here, I can't help but feel the gaze of unreal green eyes. Why unreal? They're cybernetic implants. They can see in the dark, but they don't glow. I'm never sure when they are watching or who happens to be playing with them. Which, you can probably imagine, is a little unsettling for me as I often write in the dark -- less distractions that way.

When is too much tech bad for a story?

- When the word count gets crazy high.

- When your MC starts to sound too much like a superhero, and she's not.

- When the tech creates plot holes the size of Idaho.

- When your realize it's nothing more than ornamental because that scene you intended to use it for never came into being.

What to do about it? Whip out the editing knife.

Ms. MC narrows her freakish green eyes. The iris is solid green, no pupil. They give me the creeps. They kind of creep out Mr. MC too, which is another issue, because he's supposed to be somewhat attracted to her.
"Just what do you think you're going to do with that knife?"

"Hold still, this will only hurt for a couple minutes until I find/replace all mention of your artificial eyes."

She hops up on my keyboard and stomps on the space bar. "You're going to do what?"

"Get off there!" Empty pages fly by as the curser speeds down the screen. "Look what you're doing to the document!"

"I happen to like my eyes." She lays off the space bar and crosses her arms over her chest "You can't just delete them, there's an entire chapter of backstory that shows how and why I got them."

"I know. That's the whole idea. Have you seen the word count lately?"

Ms. MC snorts. "Why would I care? You knocked my pov to the backseat, remember?"

"Exactly, and that's why you don't need as much page time." I grasp the knife and go for her eyes. Two minutes and a lot of struggling later, we're done.

She shakes her head and blinks, holding her hands in front of her face and peering at them. "Huh, they don't look any different."

"Notice anything else?" I point at the new short scene that took the pace of the entire chapter of backstory.

"I don't have to lose my original eyes in a horribly graphic and painful scene that made our readers say 'euw'?"

I put my knife down. "Nope."

She peers over the edge of the desk at the characters below and waves to Nekar. I suppose it makes sense that they'd be getting along better now that the eye gouging scene is gone. I smile to myself.

Nekar looks up from his adverb crate and gives her a tenative wave back.

Ms. MC stops waving and flips him off.

He spins around, pulls two words from the stack and whips them at her.

Hatefully and Vulgarly make it as far as my chair.

So much for getting along.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My mojo is back!

My laptop arrived (again) this afternoon. This time, I plugged it in right away and was relieved to see that it is charging. It's now loaded with my latest updated files. I'm all comfy with my blankets. My type is no longer lagging between my keyboard and my monitor. Now, if it weren't for these two new mysterious pin prick spots on my monitor that appear to be in the screen itself as they wont wipe off no matter how hard I try... that are right in my line of sight as I type and are blatently apparent on a white screen... which I type on all the time...

But it works and I'm cozy and I should be writing. This sequel isn't going to write itself. Apparently. I've given it a couple days to try. No luck.

Guess its up to me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Novel in a blender

My more recent novel efforts have rather flowed onto the page by themselves. Mostly thanks to NaNoWriMo and the need to produce a plot and a host of characters out of thin air in thirty days. However, my first novel took forever to write and was influenced by all sorts of things. The novel grew and morphed as life experiences, books and tv shows were added to the blender.

Where did I fall in love with sardonic character voice, assassins and the idea that assassins can be heros too? Right here.

Vlad Taltos is the man. His telepathic jhereg companion is a close second. Their thoughts and private conversations still make me laugh outloud. I've read this book -- along with the rest of the series -- so many times over the years that the spine is more cracked than printed. Pages are falling out. The cover is taped on. Yep. I enjoy it that much.

When the internet hit and authors got websites, I even reached out of my writing cave far enough to email dear Mr. Brust to gush about his wonderful book. And he emailed me back. That was many, many years and many computers ago. I don't remember exactly what was said on either end, but I do remember that it made my day. Likely several of them.

That's when it hit me that authors were real people, not just names on book covers that I looked for on my weekly trips to the bookstore. It also then occured to me that I liked to write and I happened to be a real person too. hmmmm

Saturday, February 13, 2010

But if you keep drinking milk...

As I unpack my newly arrived shipment of exclamation points, I look over to see Ms. Wildstar frowning at the shadows beneath my desk. Since Marin had vanished into the blackness of the dustbunny wildlands, I'd been going about my days without too much annoyance from discarded characters. I mark a full week down as a record, sigh, and give the angsty teen the attention she's craving.


“Look at them.” She points to where I can now make out two people sitting on the ground holding hands, gazing at each other and doing all that lovey-dovey crud that generally makes me queasy.

“Is that Zsmed?”

She twists her fingers in front of her and nods.

Is that jealousy I spy? I look a little closer and it all becomes clear. “Delilah? Is that who he was with last week when I was looking for him?”

She bites her lip and nods again.

Ms. Wildstar’s friend and cast off from failed cheesy sequel 1.0. Ouch. Not that I can blame Zsmed. See, I got a little carried away with Delilah. Her name was totally intentional and played up every aspect of her biblical namesake. I should also mention that she has a killer body, and we’re not talking murder here. Oh, and one more thing…

“Hey, Zsmed, you do realize she’s only seventeen, right?”

“What?” He drops Delilah’s hand and runs over to me. “Look at her, she can’t be seventeen.”

I pat the distraught fighter pilot on the head. “You weren’t created yet, but see, there were these milk commercials...”

He gives me one of those raised brow what-the-heck-are-you-rambling-about looks.

“When she was created, I was a teen, and therefore most of my characters were teens. But teens are typically gawky and unsure of themselves and have zits. I needed her to fit in with the other characters but fill her role in which she needed to be really attractive and confident. And there were these commercials were they took those teens and told them if they drank milk, they’d be hot and healthy in a few more years.”

“You made Delilah drink a lot of milk?”

“Um. No. I gave her the hot college girl’s body but made her seventeen, because that’s the age everyone else was in the story.”

He turns bright red. “But that means I just spend the last week…”

“Yeah, but maybe her parents are okay with that, I mean, she is an alien after all”

He goes from red to white and grabs ahold of my chair with a trembling hand. “She’s what?”

“Sorry, I probably should have made her blue and given her some tentacles or something to clue people in. Besides, what do you care, you’re not human either.”

“True.” Zsmed takes a deep breath.

“Just be glad I wrote you with short hair. No telling what she might have done.”

He runs his hand over his head and grimaces. “I think I’m going to lay off the women for a bit. If you need me, I’ll be over in the corner sorting adverbs with Nekar.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

From yay to YAY!

Remember what I said about not hearing back on a submission in the last post? Well guess what? I just got good news on my short story submission! Solitude will appear in the Fall 2010 edition of Tales of the Talisman!!!

I may need to break out a new crate of exclamation points!

Friday, February 5, 2010

From yay to disappointment

I wish that had to do with hearing back on a submission. The limbo of not knowing is not a fun place.

Deep cleansing breath.

Today, the delivery truck pulls up and I'm jumping up and down because my laptop has safely arrived back home. The angels sang. The sun shone. I grinned from ear to ear.

I pull my beloved laptop from the box, untangle the charger and run upstairs for some long overdue bonding time. The computer boots up. Glee! All of my programs and settings are just as I left them. With no time to waste, I get comfy and do a little web surfing.

What? I should have been writing? Yes, probably, but I'd been doing that all morning on my desktop computer. My characters are demanding to be written, and I couldn't make them wait for the laptop. I'm well into chapter two of the sequel as of this afternoon and I'm quite excited about how its coming along.

With my celebratory web surfing cut short by having to get some work done--the kind that actually pays the bills--I plug the laptop in to charge and wander off.

Four hours later, I grab my thumb drive, ready to transfer the sequel back to its rightful place on the laptop. I open the laptop. (insert long string of profanity here) It hasn't charged. (insert cursing of repair workers) Why did I send it in the first place? It wasn't charging! I send the adapter. I sent the battery. They knew the issue.

Yes, I had a fine rant going by this point and felt that a customer support chat window just wasn't going to be a good option. I needed a live human. Not so that I could chew them out, but because it’s so much easier to be nasty through words on a screen. Since there are probably hundreds of these support people, the odds that I would connect with the one I really wanted to rant at were darn slim.

The helpful phone service person did far more testing than the online service person did and decreed that I needed to ship my beloved laptop back.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Lost: Mojo - if found please return...

My laptop, my writing baby, is out being serviced for power issues. I've been spoiled. Now I'm unable to get into the writing mode at my desk. Give me a soft bed or a couch. Make me warm and cozy! But no. I'm sitting in what used to be considered my comfortable chair, at my quiet keyboard with my nifty mouse and large monitor.

You know what? My chair isn't near as comfortable as the couch. My keyboard lags! How on earth did I never notice this before? Have I just become that much faster at typing? I don't think so. My mouse makes my hand cold. My monitor... okay, I like the bigger monitor. But the fans on my computer emit this high pitched hum that sits right on the edge of hearing. It's so distracting. How did I write like this, happily, blissfully, for years?

I have a first page to get ready for a contest. I worked on it on and off all morning. Tweaking a word here and there. Deleting this and adding that, all within the sacred 250 word limit. I've stared at it so much, I don't know if its complete dren or if it works.

Laptop, return to me! I need my writing mojo back!