Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Christmas is a time for friends and family. They ARE the holiday. It draws families together, and makes friends appreciate just how lucky they are to have these special people in our lives. It’s a manic time, rushing to get presents, wrap them, decorate, parties and dinners. But it’s a happy time, for giving is what makes it rare, special. It’s giving love, and that always warms the heart, so much more than getting.
As we age, the kids grow, then it’s a little harder to hold onto that magic of childhood Christmases. Why I love watching A Christmas Story and Ralphie’s quest for a Red Rider BB gun. Times were simpler then. It must affect Ted Turner the same way, since TNT runs twenty-four hours of the movie every Christmas.
I cherish images from Christmases past. Those memories live bright and shining in my mind.
Times change. Christmas is no more the hunt for a Barbie Doll, a bike or a BB gun. Kids want their own computers, cell phones, I-phones, MP3 players…lol, stuff that was only seen in Bond Films when we were kids. And this Christmas is harder than most for so many. I have so many dear friends going through troubled times. Several have had surgery, others face surgery come the first of the year, and too many of our sons and daughters are still overseas fighting in a war that is coming to parallel Vietnam. We little understood that war; we little understand this one. We just know our precious children are dying in some foreign place and have no real idea why. BRING THEM HOME. American needs to take care of America. The billions spent on this war could do so much good at home.
Recently they extended unemployment because of the recession. Recession. It’s been a long time since we have heard that word, but that’s what the US economy is seeing. While the US government is wasting billions in fighting a war with no end, people on unemployment were seeing it run out. Families face a bleak Christmas this year because our government would rather send billions overseas, than millions at home for the people who are in need.
Some of you are asking me how Diane Thompson is doing. She is the sister of Dawn Thompson and lost her job while nursing Dawn in her final hours and hasn’t been able to find a job since. Diane “Candy” has a hard time walking, has no car and is far from a bus line, so it’s really made it hard. One job was perfect for her, but they took one look at her wobbling gate and turned her down. The world is just not accessible to someone who cannot get around good, who cannot stand for eight hours at a cash register. Her unemployment was extended 7 weeks, not 14 like most of the nation. New Yorkers didn’t get the full extension. It’s allowed her to stay in her apartment until January, at which time she faces an eviction notice. She is 61 ½ years old, not old enough yet for Social Security. So she is facing a very dismal start of the New Year. She won’t get Social Security until she is 62 (July). She needs medical help bad, but the government won’t give it to her until the unemployment runs out. So she is getting by…just barely. Christmas is very bleak for her. I sent her a small gift, a music box to cheer her. Not too expensive as I knew she could use the money to make ends meet. I used the rest to pay her phone bill so they wouldn’t cut it off. I found a wonderful place that makes delicious meals, which are sealed and can be delivered, so she will have a good Christmas dinner. It’s so sad that Dawn had such a struggle the last year of her life, and now her sister is going through the same thing.
Why friends and families are so important. They are there in hard times. It’s a Christian duty to help, and truly, giving makes you feel so good.
So treasure those precious friends and family…we lose too many of them.
Then it’s too late to say I love you.
My Best for you in 2009,
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I remember what it was like to be a new writer. I tell myself that often. Some days, when I'm learning something new about the NY machine or something similar, I believe the lie that I remember what being new was really like.
Then comes days like today. I signed onto a contest forum and started reading the threads. Many of the questions were things I wouldn't have had to ask, and I passed over them. They're new authors; they're doing what they should...asking, learning... I remember that. That's what being a new author is; that's the process.
Then I came across a set of questions from first-time novelists, anguished... "What do I do? What does that mean? How can anyone learn this? I'm going to fail, because I don't understand..." It's heart-wrenching, and I find myself reaching out to those new authors and offering information...mentoring, anything short of editing them, because I just don't have time to do it.
Was I never that scared new author? Was I always like I am now, save with less personal experience and information at my disposal? Or have I simply forgotten what that panic and anguish was like?
Assuming I was once that scared newbie... Does it make me less to have forgotten something so elemental and stomach-churning? Or does it mean I've just grown and see it with a clearer eye, the internal voice that assures me: "Asking is all right. It's not the end of the world. The worst they can say is 'no.' I can learn this. I want to learn this, to improve my craft and my professionalism. If I fail today, I move on and succeed tomorrow."?
And does it make me a better mentor or worse that I can assure them that "This too shall pass." while I seem to have forgotten how horrible this phase is...or never knew it?
Friday, December 19, 2008
1000 words a day everyday for the month of January.
Well it’s time for me to get back on track and write regularly. My baby is here, and I have no more excuses, but plenty of deadlines piling up in my near future. To make this work as a career, you have to do two things. Write regularly, and promote what you write. If you are missing one or both parts of the formula, your sales are going to suffer, and you will never get better. Craft is perfected by practice..
There are always reasons to put it off, family should come first. Then you have to prioritize. Money second or third depending—but if you’re writing to get rich—Ahem—you may be in the wrong field. This year we had a lot of setbacks personally, my husband went blind in his right eye, and had multiple complications like glaucoma and extremely painful migraines. I had gotten pregnant as well, and now have a newborn to care for. We had to replace the drainage pipes under the bathroom floor. I didn’t write much of anything. Most of my published books had been written the year before. My time, energy, and pocketbook has been drained, but I will always come back to my first love of writing despite the barriers.
I need to set some achievable goals to get my writing all done. So, for the month of January, I plan to make it a month where I write everyday. 1000 words a day will be enough to finish a novella—and more than enough to get my two major projects done.
Paris Bites rewrite ending lost on computer--20,000 words
Untitled (my first m/m story)—10,000 words
Some people are already doing great, writing 10 pages or more everyday. Others, may be lucky to write that in a month. You may set your goal higher or shorter. This is my goal, because I feel it’s the right amount and that my family won’t suffer for 4-5 pages a day. Fellow authors, please feel free to join me if you can. Tell me what you are working on and post how much you were able to write today. Being accountable to someone will help motivate you (and me).
I plan to post all the updates to my yahoo loop. So join me here:
Unleash your passion
French Kiss—A passion in Paris protects Sarafina from a dangerous murderer.
Available at Phaze Books
One Touch, One Glance—a sweet anthology that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside after you read it.
Available at Freya’s Bower
I sent out an SOS to a NY pubbed friend asking about her process. How does she start a new project? I thought I might get a tip or two that would propel my muse and me in a new direction. I got that and more! Wow! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!!
Her example and comments simmered for a few days and my muse took notes. When the muse was ready, I experimented with a few new tools.
Believe it or not, the main tool I played with was pen and paper.
"Oooo," you say with a sarcastic tone. "You actually set your computer aside and wrote with a pen? How...radical!"
For me, it was radical. I hate to write by hand. I have a nervous condition that causes my hands to shake. Writing by hand neatly (which is strangely important to me) requires a lot of energy. BUT my friend had commented that writing by hand in the early stages slowed her down, forced her to inhabit the characters longer, to get to know them on a deeper basis.
Considering that writing by hand is irritating and hard work for me, I avoid it like the plague, but something in her words struck a chord. I decided to play with that particular tool, reasoning that if I was uncomfortable, I might actually discover why my character was uncomfortable. A very good thing for me to know considering I tend to want everyone to be happy, and happy characters don't provide the tension needed for good reads.
The experiment went well. I discovered things about my characters in those hand written notes that had never occurred to me before. I learned that my hero's motivations were nearly 180 degrees off of the standard ones I'd assigned him in earlier character studies, and...wait for it!...my muse revealed that I had the wrong character being killed and refusing the Light in order to save the world from an unexpected evil.
No wonder I hadn't been making progress. My muse needed to stall me until she could tell me I had everything backwards! Since we're still learning to play well together, it took slowing down with the hated pen and paper to allow her to speak.
Note to self: Slow down at the keyboard. Relax. Don't be so focused on where you think you're supposed to go that you drown your muse's voice.
Note to muse (who is also myself!): Learn to shout!!
To learn more about Debbie, visit her at her Flights of Fantasy site.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Whether it’s in an interview, a live chat, or an author’s corner, there’s one question I get asked more than any other: “Where do you come up with your ideas?”
Most writers have their answers, ranging from dreams to song lyrics to spontaneous explosions in the frontal lobe. Really. For myself, there is no set answer, I often free associate. I’ll see an image, that leads to a thought, which leads to another thought, and then a scenario begins to take shape.
I used to think that I had a pretty rich imagination, till I entered the world of speculative fiction. Now I’m humbled on a regular basis, and even further humbled that I speak with many of these brilliant people on a daily basis. So needless to say, blogging about creativity feels a little wrong. But there are a few things tossing around in my brain.
So, you want to write a story. You have an idea there in your head, but it hasn’t come to fruition, or you simply have that pent-up, frustrated need to say something…to express yourself. Where do you look for inspiration? How do you convince the Muse to whisper in your ear, to light that spark in your heart? Once it arrives, how do you hang onto it?
I’m feeling pretty dry these days. October was its usual brutal self, reminding me that all the really awful things in my life happen in October. November just reminded me that the holidays are coming and I’m broke, because of some awful thing that happened in October. And December…don’t you just want to kick her jolly red butt?
Hey…there’s a story there somewhere…
I pried the January novella from my hard drive and sent it in, now I have to come up with something for my March slot. I’ve got the beginnings of three novellas and none of them want to fly. I’m frustrated, angry. I’d spit at my screen, but in all likelihood, the goober would run down and short out the laptop. I yell at the dog, who decided that the laptop is simply an extension of my lap, and therefore, fair game. Never mind that he's a full grown Siberian Husky.
I give up and go lie down, pull the covers over my head and try for a nap.
Paydirt. There it is, the missing element to that Vamp novel. Right there in Technicolor and surround-sound. But it’s not my priority right now. I get up and take notes, my nap aborted by my imagination.
Back to the computer, and instead of writing, I go wandering around the stock image sites. Again, paydirt. There’s my werewolf, looking at me with ominous splendor. Quick as a wink, his personality quirks come into the picture; his character sheet begins to fill out. He wears black silk shirts and a bolero hat like Stevie Ray Vaughn used to favor. He was a high school music teacher, but lost his job because the girls (and some boys) couldn’t deal with his potent and alluring pheromones. He’s macho, virile, and so very shy. The principal’s daughter hid in his car after school, showing up in his house later that night.
Good thing he plays the guitar.
Back to mental wandering. I go out and take a walk in the newly frigid air. We’re having a cold snap, and it feels good to stretch my legs and look at the changing landscape. How did people cope with Redding before air conditioning and central heating? Brutal hot summers and wet, miserable winters. I think about my family before they came to California, when they lived on the reservation in Washington, and how during the winter, the baby’s wet diapers froze on the clothesline inside the house.
I swear to everyone that a day doesn’t go by when I don’t write something. Well, that’s true, I’ve written two blog entries today, but I haven’t worked on a story for quite some time. That’s because my creative self needs a re-charge now and then. Just because I’m not writing doesn’t mean that I’m not creating.
This week has been personal. My daughter called from St Maarten with the stunning news that she won a huge, international culinary competition. In between Googleing her pictures and talking on the phone, I cobbled together a book video, spent time at a chat, and made some jewelry while watching Ghost Hunters.
While all this is going on, a story is growing at the back of my mind; characters are taking shape, dialogue bubbles through my awareness. In a day or three, I’ll be back at the keyboard, completely oblivious to the annual misery of October and the dry spell that followed. March’s novella will go in; I’ll meet that April deadline, and continue to develop my workshop project.
Do you sort of see where I’m going here? Writing is a discipline. Most arts are. It’s hard work. You will not accomplish anything unless you put your hands on the keyboard and start.
But there is also an element of creativity, when you simply must unleash your mind, turn it loose to wander and process and scramble things around. You must feed your mind, as surely as you feed your body; exercise your brain, or that muscle will become weak. Nurture your soul as the precious treasure that it is. Tend to your body, feed it well, take it for walks, (or work-outs) and get enough sleep.
So here is your tip for the day: Take fifteen minutes every day that is “between time.” On your way home from work, stop at a park or somewhere else that inspires you. Simply sit and be alone for those fifteen minutes. Read a bit of a book, write some poetry, pray, meditate, or do whatever eases your soul.
If you work from home like I do, leave. Go out and get away for a few minutes. I like to go to the lookout over Shasta Dam, it’s close to home, safe, and the view of the Three Shasta’s is beautiful.
That’s it. Fifteen minutes of between time. A little daily gift to yourself.
To learn more about Belinda, or to find her books, visit her website at:
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Rowena Cherry's Crazy Tuesday show - Men in Shorts (and Kilts)
You can join panelists: Rowena Cherry, Deborah Macgillivray, Diane Davis White,
Jacquie Rogers, Emily Bryant (Diana Groe), and Jade Lee - December 2nd, where
we will be discussion such a weighty top on Voices of the Internet Radio.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
So, I thought I'd start a discussion.
Have you ever seen a problem, and had an idea for a fix, but no one to tell? Moreover, your idea wouldn't fit into any science fiction or fantasy work you have in progress? If so, please comment.
Bricks and Mortar Chain Bookstores
I'd like to sort out the bricks and mortar book chain stores, such as Barnes and Noble, Borders Books, and others. They've become glorified warehouses with a few comfy chairs, a coffeeshop, and soft toys and confectionery.
While it isn't impossible to find any book that ought to be in stock, many books might as well not be there. They're at ankle level, or you get a crick in your neck looking up; they're spine out and jammed together. If they're autographed, no one can tell.
A booklover has to know what he or she wants before he or she goes there, and the chances of being distracted or frustrated and leaving without buying are quite high, unless there is a major sale going on.
For everyday browsing, my local library is much more welcoming. At least, I'm allowed to use the computers to help me find what I'm looking for.
Barnes and Noble, Chapters.Indigo.ca, Amazon (not that Amazon counts), Borders. Books-A-Million all have websites and online stores. Some offer book clubs. Some offer discussions and forums and book-related social networking. Some are well done, and some are not very easy to navigate.
The only problem with buying a book on the internet is that you have to wait until and while it ships, and you may have to pay postage (and even tax). The advantage of your local chain bookstore is that you don't pay postage, you get your book immediately as long as it is in stock, and you can read as much of it as you wish to make sure you've a good chance of enjoying it.
So here is what I envisage as the future of chain bookstores:
Barnes and Noble (et alia) as a book-related internet cafe! (Warehouse attached).
I foresee lots of chained-down, but free-to-use computers all around the perimeter, and in a central reservation, too. I mean LOTS!
Booklovers would go to a comfy captain's chair, log in with their Barnes and Noble card number (or not), check their own emails (because we all do, don't we?), then migrate to the B&N bookclub and bookstore online...
Or, they'd simply type in the name of their favorite author, or the title of the book they want, and call up covers, back cover blurb, first chapter, last page, author's blog, author's website, author's booklist, book-trailers, reviews... all that useful stuff.
Of course, this could be done from home, too, in the same way that we can buy a flash drive at a compelling price online from Circuit City, then drive fifteen miles to the nearest participating store to pick it up.
Books could be sorted by subgenre. Award-winning, humorous futuristic Romances with plus-size psychic heroines (such as Insufficient Mating Material) could be virtually "shelved" in all six categories.
Book store patrons would choose, click, discover where the book was shelved (or else, they'd order it from the comfort of where they were sitting and a bookseller would fetch it from the stacks and have it waiting at checkout), pay online, then maybe finish their beverage, check their email again; pick up their purchase, and leave.
Local authors might take advantage of the facilities and actually write in the bookstores. (And be available to autograph books on site). Virtual signings could be a snap.
Anyone with a power outage or ISP downtime (or unpaid cable bill) could use the bookstore computers. What a service!
It could take book related social networking to a new level. What do you think?
What's your beef? And what's your solution?
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Another time What if comes in handy is when a scene isn't working. There are questions to ask. What if the scene is told from a different viewpoint? What if the scene is deleted? What if the tangent taken leads to a dead end? What if the characters' motivations are weak? What if the setting is changed? The questions and the use of what if continue while the story takes place and during the revision. What if are magic words. Janet Lane Walters
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Tell her to have the senat
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Not that I write it, yet, but Steampunk is where the writer changes one invention from the time of the industrial revolution, such as H.G. Wells's "The Time Machine". That was the "age of steam", hence steam punk.
More recently, there is "cyber punk" which I suppose relates to choices made in Silicon Valley in the 1980s. One of the hallmarks of punk writing is that it explores the road not traveled and the consequences of a different decision whether made by a scientist, a businessman, or a politician (I assume).
I'm using "gunk" punk because if steam is what the Nineteenth Century machines are remembered for, then gunk might be what petroleum-driven cars leave behind. Or maybe I've been watching too many STP commercials.
So, what if... in the 1940s American didn't have a manufacturing industry and depended on Germany and Japan? I'd probably be blogging in German, right?
History is being made right now, that's why I'm laying claim to "gunk punk" (unless someone has already thought of it, or someone has a better name). Peter M DeLorenzo of autoextremist.com
http://www.autoextremist.com/current/ may have done so, but he doesn't write fiction as far as I know. He has a jaw dropping rant going on.
Peter is also selling an alarming book (non-fiction) titled "The United States of Toyota."
Alarming cover art.
I am now imagining myself as a writer in, say 2020 (hindsight pun!) looking back on the third week of November 2008 when Congress made a catastrophic vote NOT to make a loan to the last American car companies.
It's a "Mad Max" world now. Or perhaps it's Mary Doria Russell's "The Sparrow" world with a touch of "1984". The Jesuits and the Japanese rule. We have an Emperor. And a Pope. And a third Minister of some sort, because good things come in threes.
Onstar speaks to us in Japanese in our cars. We cannot turn it off. They got Murdoch, too. And Comcast. All our Direct TV has Japanese subtitles. We cannot turn it off. Big Brother looks a lot like Vladimir Putin with Botox to get rid of the ugly Western crease in his eyelids. He tells us what to think.
America is bankrupt. When the world bank foreclosed, one of the creditors took Hawaii, another took the island of Manhattan, another took the Great Lakes for the water. No one wanted Detroit... I could go on. In a grim way, this is rather fun.
Maybe my imagination is overactive. I hope so! I was having trouble fitting any kind of Romance into my budding novel of milieu.
My point is, pay attention to the information that is available, and store it up for future reference. (Thank goodness for flashdrive!). There's a massive dissonance right now between the truth and what people are saying in the media.
If interested in GM's version of car myth vs fact visit http://gmfactsandfiction.com/
Friday, November 14, 2008
they can be found on http://internetvoicesradio.com
The Sunday evening specials are in celebration of a theme related to animals and conservation. The "Crazy Tuesdays" can be anything related to romance and writing.
On Tuesday (the day before yesterday) I spent two hours chatting about
internet promotion with Penny Sansevieri of http://www.amarketingexpert.com about
what she does to promote authors, and what savvy authors are doing to get the word out
about their books, and what makes a good website first page. On the air, Penny and I visited her author marketing expert home page and she explained why it was designed to be effective. Then we looked at mine!
Two days before that, last Sunday evening, my guests were Joey W Hill,
Judi Fennell (visit her site and try to win one of three holidays),
Sandy Lender, and Jo Webnar. We were talking about manatees and
mermaids and how sailors could possibly have mistaken manatees for cuddly mermaids blowing kisses.
Excerpts were read. I have no idea how someone came to ask Judi about the sexual logistics of being a merman with a tail. (It was probably me!) However, Judi mentioned that the correct name for a fish's wedding tackle is a gonopodium. Who knew? Since a
merman would be an aquatic mammal, I am not sure why it would need a
modified anal fin. Whales and dolphins (etc) don't need a special name
However, I googled gonopodium, and much to my delight, I found that it was indeed a very impressive adaptation for targeting what needs to be targeted. Researchers had done the inevitable research, and it seems that female fish are intrigued by--and attracted to-- a male with a very large gonopodium. So, the males have adapted, everywhere except those that live in a geographic location rich in predators.
Next time I go to a doctor's office, I'm going to watch the goldfish more carefully. I'd always assumed that what I've occasionally seen trailing behind a fish was a partly eliminated streamer of the previous day's lunch.
All the best,
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Janet Lane Walker invited a series of guest authors to submit one or more of their villains to be interviewed on her blog. If I could relocate the link, I'd post it here, but I can't.
Last Thursday, one of my favorite sfr blogs, The Galaxy Express, had a fabulous piece about what makes Darth Vader such a great villain.
So, if a villain casts his long, dark shadow over an entire series of books (as my ancient, evil Django-Ra does), is a dramatic monologue in his POV a good way to introduce new readers to the last book in the series? LMK.
Allow me to introduce myself...
I am the god-Prince Django-Ra. To my face, you should call me "Your Highness" or "Sir". Behind my back, I presume you will call me "Django" pronounced "Jan-GO"... The D- of Royal names is silent.
So, little Earthling, you are cautiously curious about me.
Know, then, that I am exceptionally gifted and exceedingly dangerous. I can read or wipe minds with ridiculous ease, just as I am reading yours. I play god-level chess, and am one of the most formidable Duplicate Bridge players in all the galaxies. Certainly I cheat. A god-Prince must be seen to win!
What's that? Ah, yes! You may well wonder whether or not I can read the mind of my favorite great niece, Electra-Djerroldina, the Volnoths' queen. She wears the most perplexing… Hah! but I will not tell you.
As you see, I enjoy excellent health –yes, sexual vigor, also—despite my advanced years. In my day, I was a superb star-fighter pilot with many kills to my credit... and to my discredit. Friendly fire is such a useful expression, isn't it?
Of course I have killed friends. And family. And lovers. We all do. It is inevitable. The Djinn bloodline is almost extinct. There are desperately few full Djinn females left for us to fight over. Those that there are, are taken. Alas! Which leaves lesser beings such as yourself, whose innards are not strong enough to endure multiple impregnations by a Great Djinn.
You are skeptical! Consider my great-nephew, the Crown Prince Tarrant-Arragon. He searched the galaxies for gestates. Yes, gestates. In our World, we measure time by the female cycle, and by the duration of a Royal pregnancy. His new Mate –or "wife"—is half-Earthling. He is beside himself with worry that she may not survive the birth of his heir.
Have I confused you? Every book has a genealogical table either in the front or at the back. Or visit the official family tree at http://www.rowenacherry.com/familytree It is…ah, economical with the truth. My own bastards, for instance, are not attributed to me.
Why do I do… what I do? I daresay I have bad Djinn genes. I enjoyed a deeply disturbing childhood. My twin brother died in what you would call his crib. I had nothing to do with his demise. It would have done me no good to expedite his departure from this life. We had vigorous, older half-brothers who were Heir Apparent and second in line to the Imperial throne, and it was beyond my strength and powers to remove them from my path.
Indeed, I was obliged to feign an interest in lesser-being members of my own sex in order to bask in the variable star-shine of my big brothers' tolerance. As long as they thought me "peculiar", they did not see me as a threat. Eventually, as you see, I...ah... outlived them.
Their untimely deaths brought me no particular joy. I did not get what I've always wanted.
What's that? I want to experience the Great Djinn rut rage. Earthling, do you understand what the rut-rage is? It is a drive, a sexual madness, a mating frenzy. Pure Great Djinn males, such as myself, have saturniid glands that can smell a full-Djinn female who is approaching oestrus from as many as fifty of your miles away. We then fixate upon that "scent love" sight unseen, and become obsessed with her.
Did I once have a "scent love"? Yes, but I never was in a position to claim her. My muscular half-brothers had Helispeta, consecutively. I, alas, would have gladly stood in line but Djohn Kronos and Devoron-Vitan made war over her, and Helispeta took sanctuary on your planet, Earth, beyond my reach. Not that she ever knew of my passion.
After she was lost to me, I tried to experience the rut-rage with others, even with my nephew's Empress, Tarragonia-Marietta, but met only with frustration. You may read my great nephew's love story, Forced Mate, and also Insufficient Mating Material for a less subtle view of my exploits.
Hmmmm. I believe I smell heightened excitement. My foolish, frivolous great-niece Martia-Djulia's forced Mating Ceremony must be about to begin. You will excuse me....
Just as I prefer my heroes to be slightly morally questionable, so I like my villains to be likeable --or at least entertaining-- when they want to be. As I wrote of Tarrant-Arragon (who is either hero or antagonist) his civilized veneer curls up at the edges.
Django-Ra is my most heinous villain. He and Helispeta saw the trouble begin in the electronic prequel Mating Net, and have seen it through Forced Mate, Insufficient Mating Material, and now into Knight's Fork. That's why I chose dramatic monologue by him to introduce you to his wicked world of the Tiger god-Princes of Tigron.
Some villains are too interesting to be killed off. But, if it seems that a happy ending depends upon their death, who is to do the deed? Can the heroine remain a romantic heroine if she kills the villain? Is it acceptable if she kills the villain by accident, or in self-defense, or in defense of the hero or some other vulnerable character?
Princess Leia strangled Jabba The Hutt. That was cool. Eowen killed the undead Ringwraith King. That was cooler.
Ditto for the hero. There's not so much of a double standard about a hero's activities. He's usually a knight or high-ranking professional warrior. Nevertheless... Luke didn't. Aragorn didn't.
Is it a cop out if the villain is simply hoist by his own petard (which literally means blown up by his own bomb)? I don't think so. There is a certain satisfaction --a "thusness"-- to that turn of events.
What inspires my villains? Not just the exquisitely courteous arch-villains of the Bond movies. For me, the most memorably wicked villain in literature was the Duke in Robert Browning's poem "My Last Duchess". He doesn't make The Daily Telegraph's list of Literature's 50 greatest villains -- http://tinyurl.com/50-villains
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Give Your Thanksgiving Tribute Gift Today
Click here to donate online and pay tribute to a special cat in your life.
As cat lovers, we all know the joy that a cat can bring into our lives. As loyal companions, our feline friends add richness to our days as they play at our feet and snuggle in our beds. We often find ourselves talking about our cats with our friends and laughing at their many zany moments. These wonderful cats are surely something to be thankful for.
And even more, we should be thankful for the feral cats who provide richness to their caregivers - those who visit them daily to provide food, shelter, and care. These cats, who never snuggle at our feet or sleep in our beds, still bring joy to us each and every day as they frolic and thrive in their outdoor homes.
This Thanksgiving, please give a gift of $15, $30, or even more to pay tribute to the special cats in your life – and to the dedicated citizens who work every day to protect our nation’s cats. We will put your donation to work to end the killing of cats in our nation’s pounds and shelters and lead the movement for their humane care.
With a gift of $15 or more, you can post a special tribute to the cats in your life for all to see at the Alley Cat Allies’ Thanksgiving Gallery. The gallery is a unique way for you to express appreciation for the cats in your life – and to help protect cats across the nation at the same time.
Please consider this special way to pay thanks to the cats in your life this Thanksgiving. With your support, Alley Cat Allies can end the killing of cats nationwide.
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Monday, November 3, 2008
When I closed the door on Ananda, that day thirteen days from when she became my Sharpness Wife, she became a Sharpest Wife. And so began one hundred and sixty-nine days of my Atonement.
author of Bright Star
When evil is done for the greater, a price must always be paid.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
By Brenna Lyons
Every author comes to this moment eventually. The moment in question is the moment when you realize that truth really is stranger than fiction.
When you write an incredibly complex and seemingly nonsensical series of choices, made by a character or group of characters, that lead to an odd end...and you're not writing some sort of parody, you're told it's too outrageous, and no one will believe it. But, when someone really does makes that series of nonsensical, complex choices, it's fact...and while readers of the news reports still can't believe it happened, the facts are there, and it did.
How is an author to win, in such a situation? We get slammed for writing characters that are TSTL (too stupid to live), but people like that really exist. We get slammed for writing characters who are too two-dimensionally simple-minded and/or petty, but they exist. We get slammed for writing characters who are wholly evil and just get off on making other people miserable, but that's your basic emotional vampire in the flesh.
This is an almost comical hole in the idea of book realism vs. book fantasy world. Even books set in the "real contemporary world" and billed as being "non-fantasical" have elements of fantasy to them. By insisting that authors not write people as screwed up as they really are, we often create a fantastical world, even in books that aren't supposed to be fantasy.
Anyone who says a character can't be that stupid needs to read the military accident reports I used to get. Better yet, read the
Now, I'll be the first to admit that characters like these aren't your typical hero/heroine material, unless you want to write the stereotypical hapless idiot hero. But, that doesn't mean that these characters are somehow unreal. In all actuality, an entire world full of competent, intelligent, nice people is about as unreal as you can get.
Oh yes...I've written that world, come to think of it...
Saturday, November 1, 2008
It's newish, but it might be a way of getting more exposure. Chats/Talks are posted on the same forums as all the other discussions going on between librarians (real ones), booksellers, readers.
My chat is
Obviously, I would greatly appreciate a lot of activity on my chat, but I'm delighted to share another good promo tip as well.
Knight's Fork: PNR Reviewers' Top Pick for September and October consecutively.
Monday, October 20, 2008
What is it that Scotty from Star Trek always says? "You cannot change the laws of physics."
I'd have to agree with the dear Mr. Scott. Many people think that writing fantasy means you can do anything you want. Maybe if you set it outside the known universe (not outside the galaxy but outside the universe), you can.
We write fantasy or science fiction or horror...not delusions...not misinformation. Readers in the know expect a certain amount of fact and reality, even in a fantasy world.
What are some of the worst offenders I've seen?
Rust! What rusts? Rust is, by definition, ferrous oxide. IOW, it's the state that occurs when unbound iron is exposed to oxygen. UNBOUND iron. That's why stainless steel and surgical steel don't typically rust. If it's made right, it's not unbound. It's been forced by heat and blast into a bound state. Any other type of unbonded steel is able to rust, if the bonding is removed, just like iron does.
Silver doesn't rust. Silver does tarnish, but it's a largely non-reactive element. That's why it's used in electronic components on seagoing vessels, where corrosion runs rampant.
Gravity! Gravity can be calculated by the distance between two bodies with mass and the relative mass of each body...as well as other gravitational pulls acting on those two objects. I once read a book (a wall-banger, I admit) where the author had people in Earth's stone age jumping 30 feet in the air. Now, the Earth has gained some mass from falling space junk...just as we've lost mass from objects we've shot into space. We have not gained enough mass in a few dozen millennia to allow this sort of thing.
Authors don't just need to be well-versed in grammar and self-editing. If you're writing about something that has a scientific base to it, you should research it appropriately first. When I wrote TYGERS, I researched brain functionality, seizures, and tigers for the book.
So, what's your opinion? Does this sort of thing drag you out of a story? What are the worst offenders of it you've seen?
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Never in my tamest dreams did I ever imagine that I'd see one of my covers on the same page as a quote by Barbara Cartland.
Thank you, Just Jinny. You've got me thinking.
“A historical romance is the only kind of book where chastity really counts.” ~ Barbara Cartland quotes
Does chastity count?
In my debut futuristic romance, Forced Mate, chastity counted. Technically. Royal males tended tended to cheat, but an heir to the Tigron Imperial throne was legally required to take his Princess Consort's virginity at their Mating ceremony.
However, Forced Mate was an affectionate spoof of a historical romance, so Djinni-vera's story isn't particularly interesting as an example.
My next heroine was a widow, and reasonably sexually continent (my editor abhors that expression) more for lack of opportunity than anything else. When opportunity knocked in the buff and ripped form of Commander Jason, whom she took to be a lesser being, totally unsuitable, sexually safe, and deliciously beneath her, she took him to bed, made a video the occasion, and got herself into trouble. A Royal shotgun wedding was the result.
Again, Insufficient Mating Material could have been an historical romance if it hadn't been in outer space.
The heroine of Knight's Fork is an Imperial Princess. She is also a Queen because she is married to a King. Her King is an alien and a lesser being, so he cannot impregnate her. She requires a sperm donor. No chastity there!
However, her choice for a potential stud has sworn a vow of chastity. Sexual chastity. (During poverty awareness week, I learned that chastity doesn't necessarily refer to sexual abstinence. Chastity can refer to absolute respect for oneself and others.)
Carnal chastity matters very much to 'Rhett, hero of Knight's Fork.
What about other authors' fantasies, futuristics, science fiction romances, spec roms, space operas and even paranormals?
Where do we stand? Does chastity count for some of our heroes and heroines? In other words, does Barbara Cartland's quote still apply?
I think editors of pulp fiction assume that in the future, human scientists will have solved all the problems the fear of which keep us chaste: social diseases, unplanned pregnancies, disapproving parents/pastors/presidents... Is there anything else?
Therefore, and rather conveniently (given that sex sells) our heroines of the future can have as much--if not more--zipless fun as the bad boys of history.
I wonder, though. If there's no risk, no danger, no love, no reason--as we understand it--for chastity to matter, will it?
Interjection: they're just playing Viva Viagra on the TV. Why is this issue (is it an issue?) so normal and socially acceptable? What effect will Viagra in our drinking water (you know it is getting there after it's been passed by our water inspectors) have on future generations? Why is there such a burning need for these products (or is there?)
Possibly, it is more likely that in the future there will be new reasons for chastity. I'm thinking of Dune. What a hassle to get in and out of those suits! What a waste of water! What happens if in the future, we are rationed to one bath a month (whether we want it or not)? Perhaps we'd spray ourselves with futuristic Febreeze, and rub ourselves with minty fresh hand-sanitizer.
On that happy thought, I will leave you.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I've just signed off the radio after interviewing Brother Jerry Smith about the work of the Capuchin brothers in Detroit.
I thought I'd done my bit, but Brother Jerry's words changed my mind.
He runs so much more than a soup kitchen! There is an acre and a half on Meldrum (Detroit) where the brothers and volunteers and soup kitchen patrons who want to give back not only grow organic vegetables for the soup kitchen, but they receive vegetable waste (and dead leaves and grass clippings) to be composted for organic fertilizer. (By appointment, please. Telephone 313 579 2100 ext 204)
They buy their seeds.
They also have beehives, and at this time of year, they are bottling honey.
The brothers are very close to starting their own bakery. At the moment, they teach men who have been incarcerated, or who are recovering from addictions to bake breads for the soup kitchen and cookies and cakes for sale.
The Capuchin order was started by St. Francis of Assisi. When he sent his brothers into the world to make a difference, St Francis charged them to change lives by the way they lived. "If necessary, use words," said the saint.
A Tale of Two Sister
The sad story of Dawn and Diane Thompson of New York, USA.
I won't address the many hard knocks that hit the Thompson sisters through the years. Life tends to visit death, loss and unfortunate circumstances upon us all. It's their later life-and death of Dawn-that touches my heart and mind on this day meant to bring world consciousness to the ugliness of poverty.
Eleven years ago, Dawn was hit in a car accident that left her unable to walk. She could barely take more than two or three steps, dragging one leg. She had rods in her arms, and due to improper care in hospital, she lost the use of the last three fingers on her left and right hand. They were curled back and could no longer respond for her. From that point on a wheelchair was her only means of moving about. There was a settlement for the accident, so she was able to get along.
The government provided her $565 per month in disability (I have no idea why so LOW), meaning she would have had no means of existing without the settlement. They originally provided her with an aid in the morning to help bathe and get her dressed. Another came in the afternoon to do errands such as pick up medicine, fetch groceries and do laundry. A third came in just before bedtime to help her undress and get into bed. Three years ago, they decided Dawn was getting too much aid, and cut her aids for afternoon and evening. Afternoons were difficult, but the night aid really was missed most of all. It was very hard for Dawn to get out of the wheelchair after sitting in it for 12 hours straight. Sometimes it took her an hour of battling just to get into bed. This was a woman in her late sixties and riddled with pain and arthritis. Each night was dangerous on her heart.
Dawn's plight became more acute at the end of 2005. She had an accident that nearly killed her-the wheelchair malfunctioned and tossed her into the dishwasher, ripping open her thigh. She was lucky she didn't bleed to death. Medical expenses mounted. Yes, she had Medicare. But co-payments and so many medicines she needed were not covered by the government support saw her money from the accident settlement eaten up by these expenses. She was forced in the spring of 2007 to sell her pre-paid funeral policy just to pay her rent. She had to choose between food and a roof over her head. Things grew so grim, that I began sending her food and cat food. Author Rowena Cherry was another who sent money to help Dawn, as well as my dear friend Monika Wolmarans. Monika is retired and on very limited means herself, so her giving to help Dawn really touched me. I thank both ladies for their caring about Dawn's plight.
Dawn fell had to be hospitalized, and things spiraled out of control. People couldn't understand how a woman with over a dozen books out for two publishers didn't have plenty of money. Well, sad fact, new authors don't make big bucks, and often you have to wait 2-3 years before you are seeing money from your books. The money those books would earn would came way too late to help Dawn.
During her final days, her younger sister, Diane, stayed with her as much as possible. She was a driver-education instructor and basically the only person there for Dawn in her final days. She requested family emergency leave, and was refused. Then she requested vacation time - time she would spend easing her sister in her final moments. The hard-hearted boss refused to give her vacation time. Instead, she was forced to choose between obeying her boss and being there with Dawn in her final moments. I am eternally grateful she chose to be there for Dawn. I do not want to imagine how horrible it would have been for my friend had she faced dying alone.
Only, the problems started for Diane. Diane-called Candy by her friends-was fired by her hard-hearted boss. She is sixty-one, has trouble walking without a cane because of arthritis in her knees. She was forced on unemployment, which barely paid her rent. What money she had in reserves went for food, electric and phone. Very quickly, she was facing little food in the house, losing electric and phone service. Unemployment was extended three months. We are hoping they will extend it another time, but so far that hasn't happened. Things are getting grim for her, and once again, I am sending food shipments. Once again Monika, who has so little, is sending money to help.
Candy is sixty-one. Recently, she went in for a job interview and the lady took one look at her slow gait and told her not to bother applying. Candy doesn't own a car, doesn't live near buses (couldn't walk to them if they were near), and is in an area too far from anything that might provide a job. Even if she could get to a job, it would have to be one where she could sit down. She just cannot stand all day. Within a few weeks she is going to be facing some ugly decisions if she doesn't get some help from somewhere. There is a period of about seven months before she can get Social Security. She might qualify for disability, too, but she would spend months, even years getting that. She needs help NOW.
What are the answers? I don't have them. I do know the American government allows their seniors to live on next to nothing. Rent subsidy for New York is only about $350. WHERE can you live in New York for that? The answer from the social worker - "You can't. You will have to go into a group home, but you don't want that as it's nothing but drug addicts." Candy was denied medical aid. This woman NEEDS medical care and cannot get it. She checked into Meals on Wheels and was told sure they could add her, but the meals came with a fee. A fee? She cannot afford anything. She is facing winter afraid of losing heat, electric and being thrown into the streets.
There are untold of Dawns and Dianes out there. Too many. The government just bailed out the economy, gave out rebates earlier this year to everyone. But nothing to help those who really are in need. Both Diane and Candy worked all their lives, paid their taxes and Social Security. Yet, when they needed help it was and isn't' there. How can this United States sentence their elderly to this sort of humiliating and life threatening circumstances?
Someone needs to care. We all need to care. Time ran out for Dawn. Time is running out for Candy. How many others are facing the same sort of scary, grim circumstances as the holidays approach? When you sit down to your turkey dinner come Thanksgiving, take a moment to consider those who won't have the comfort of family, a safe place to live, and food on the table.
Don't say how sad. DO SOMETHING. Demand of your representative to ensure better care for our elderly; look around you, see how you can help. Millions are being collected for the poor in other countries, which is perfectly fine, but who is looking after the poor and sick and helpless in the USA? "Family and friends" should come first before we pour money into other countries. Is a sad state of affairs. We are always ready and willing to donate money to a good cause. Help is needed right here at home. It should be made easier for people to qualify for funds, red tape should be cut. It is very humiliating to apply for welfare or for help, it takes far too long to receive funds and the deserving cases are getting nothing, or have to fight over and over and have to wait until it is too late.
And on a more personal note we all need to do more to help family and friends - shame on those who turns their back on their family and friends when they need help. Bad Karma will come visiting you one day!