Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Heroines Have Always Been Tomboys

My heroines are not girly, and my crit partners are never sure how to handle that fact.

Take Bebe for example. She's a doctor born to wealth and privilege but has a tendency to self-medicate after a stint with Doctors Without Borders in Africa. Her drug of choice - Jack Daniels.

Samantha can name all thirty-two starting NFL quarterbacks and still cheers for her beloved Rams despite their move to St. Louis.

An Amazon-trained warrior, Phillippa bakes a mean apple pie and decorates her kitchen in blue-check gingham.

I've had to fit into the male-dominated farming, computer and legal professions all my life. I learned to speak sports and cars at an early age. In the late '80's, I roomed with a female cousin, a cop in D.C. when the city was the murder capital of the U.S. My first martial arts instructor was a female fifth-degree black belt.

Think my past leaks into my writing? Makes me wonder what my crit partners really think of me.

If Friday Is Black, Does That Make Saturday Gray?

Absolutely no writing had been accomplished the last three days, except for a lo-o-ong letter to a close friend.

Thursday was spent playing various board games. (For once, I actually kicked butt in Monopoly. If you've ever played with DH, you'll understand what an accomplishment this is!)

Friday I avoided going anywhere until I had to go to the day job. Again, I spent quality time with the family and eating pie. Then soaked my aching muscles once I got home from work.

Saturday? Would someone please explain the necessity of extended malls hours on the second day after Thanksgiving? My closing partner and I twiddled our thumbs for the last two hours of the evening. I could have gotten four-six pages written in that time. Time for another soak. Thank Sekhmet for a garden tub and sandalwood and lime essential oils.

*sigh* I'll be so glad to be back on a regular writing schedule come January.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


It's been a rough year on a number of fronts, but today I'm thankful I'm not celebrating in a hospital room. Fourteen years ago, I sat by DH's bedside after his second surgery relating to his colon cancer. The surgery itself was a sucess, the path reports were clean, but there had been complcations, so DH was reduced to eating green Jell-o for his dinner.

After spending our first and second Thanksgivings dealng with cancer, neither of us can really view turkey dinner in a positive light. I'll make it any oher time of the year, just not today.

The one exception was last year. GK begged and begged "to eat what other families eat on Thanksgiving." So we relented and I bought a turkey. And guess where GK ended up? Yep, the emergency room with a broken arm.

So today we're all thankful for the roof over our head, the Cincinnati chili slow cooking in a crock pot, and that no one's in the hospital.


And on that note, please say a prayer for writer Jay Lake and his family. Jay underwent his own cancer surgery yesterday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NaNo - Day 25 - Why Writers Write

NaNo Progress - 17,100 words

I know I'm not going to make the 50K mark at midnight on the 30th. I had a good cry about not reaching my goal, DH fed me Haagen Daaz Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream, and we had a long talk about my writing and chances at getting published. The great thing about DH is he believes in me. That belief means everything when I'm self-flogging about bad ideas, sucky characterization and pathetic plots.

Normally, I'm not the self-pitying type. If a concept isn't working, I lay it aside and move on to the next. We talked about recent publishing brouhahas and the waiting to hear about fulls sitting on agent desks. Then DH asked the significant question, "So what do you want out of this writing thing?"

Thirteen years ago, we'd just moved to Houston, 1200 miles from family and friends. I was attending law school full time and felt woefully behind compared to the other first years. (I was considered a first year because South Texas College of Law had a slightly different curriculum than the University of Toldeo, and I still had a bunch of basic courses to take.) And to top everything off, DH had a work assignment in Kuwait that lasted a month.

While in the grocery store feeling lonely, I spotted Harlequin's new Love & Laughter line. The book that attracted me was Stephanie Bond's IRRESISTABLE? I tossed it in the cart, my reward for getting my tort case studies done.

And later that evening, I never laughed so hard in my life. When I saw it was Stephanie's first published novel, I sent her a letter telling her how much I loved her book. It was the first time I ever sent a fan letter to a writer, and I was surprised to get a reply from her a few weeks later. We've kept in touch over the years.

And that's what I want to give to some other reader I told DH, a couple of hours of pleasure and fun when she's having a crappy day and needs an escape.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Harlequin Did What?!?

The first hint I got of the brewing trouble was a e-mail on an RWA chapter loop yesterday. My first thought when I read Harlequin was starting its own vanity publishing division was "typo." Followed by "WTF?" Followed by "why the hell would the Torstar board dilute the brand of the one freaking section of the corporation that's made money for the last two quarters?"

RWA has a policy of only promoting non-vanity, non-subsidy publishers to its membership. So in response to Harlequin's Tuesday announcement, the RWA Board released a statement today that Harlequin is no longer an RWA-eligible publisher. To the hundreds of RWA member published by Harlequin, it means they are now not eligible for the Rita award.

Didn't the folks at Harlequin learn anything from all the companies that have crashed and burned since 2001? Contrary to Gordon Gecko's statement, greed is NOT good.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NaNo - Day 11 - Why Am I Doing This Again?

Word Count as of this post - 13,102

I'm behind. I'm way f***ing behind. *sigh* I should be hitting 20K about now.

I think the difference is 1) my total commute is now 40 minutes instead of the 10 it was last year at this time thanks to a transfer and 2) I'm homeschooling GK. Both put a huge crimp in my day. Last year, I'd put GK on the bus, write for four hours straight, do some errands and meet the bus before heading for work.

I'm trying to count my blessings. I have a job. GK can name every rocket used in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. I have fulls sitting on the desks of agents, dammit!

But this story just begs to be told and the words are not getting their chance to appear on paper! (Well, actually a screen.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nano - Day 9 - Things That Make Me Laugh

Word Count as of this Post - 11,041

If you're a Star Trek fan and you haven't checked this out yet, go to Wil Wheaton's Memories of the Futurecast. Listen to his podcasts, then buy his book. It's worth it just for the K'lap joke.

(I know. I'm so f***ing juvenile.)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

NaNo - Day 7 - You Know You've Been Doing NaNo Too Long When. . .

Word Count as of this Post - 8,422 words

I had a very strange dream last night--strange in its relative normalcy. Ususally, I'm Capt. Piccard guiding the Enterprise-D, or I'm saving the remains of humanity after an apocalypse, or I'm being chased by vampires down the dark Houston downtown streets.

In this dream though, I was at a writer's conference where Neil Gaiman was the keynote speaker. After the speech, Mr. Gaiman complained about he was oh-so-tired of restaurant food, and I invited him to my house for a home-cooked meal.

The house we arrived at wasn't my current home, but the house where my husband and I lived back in Ohio when we were first married. Mr. Gaiman then said he really wished he didn't have to go back to the hotel at all. I apologized for not having a guest room, but he was welcome to the living room couch. He graciously accepted and hugged me because he REALLY did not want to spend another night in a horrid hotel room.

Unfortunately, that's also when DH arrived home from work. Mr. Gaiman quickly steps away and defends my honor, to which DH replies that I only like men 6'5" or taller anyway. Mr. Gaiman, slightly offended, says that if it weren't for the terrible humidity, his hair would poof properly, therefore he would be taller than DH. With a quizzical look, DH asks why Mr. Gaiman doesn't find poofy hair annoying. The two men quickly launch into a discussion of the inherent quirks and pitfalls of poofy hair.

When my son arrives home from a visit to the neighbor boy's house, he's not terribly enthused about another of my writer friends attending dinner until I explained that this is the gentleman that wrote 'The Graveyard Book.' Mr. Gaiman's level of coolness rises in his estimation. He then proceeds to sell Mr. Gaiman on the excellent quality of my pumpkin pie. Mr. Gaiman replies, 'Your mum's pumpkin pie sounds lovely.' So now I have to rush to Kroger's since I have no pumpkin in the cupboard.

We have lovely meal of roast beef, homemade noodles, and green beans during which Mr. Gaiman and I discuss the respective merits and problems of our current wips. Once GK's in bed--after Mr. Gaiman has shown the proper respect for his Star Wars Legos collection--Mr. Gaiman and DH launch into a technological discussion of the problems with Vista and why you need ant traps in the house to prevent the them from nesting in your brand new modem.

A little bored with the men's technobabble, I resume working on my NaNo wip.

Is this boring? Well, maybe. But the dream version of Mr. Gaiman gave me some wonderful tips on my current project. For that, I thank him profusely.

Now, as long as Neil's next journal post doesn't begin with "I had the oddest dream where a fan invited me to her home after my speech at a writer's conference and she made the most marvelous pumpkin pie. . ."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NaNo - Day 4 - The Bitter Wannabes

NaNo Word Count As Of This Post - 5,964 words

I love reading the blogs of industry pros and other writers. It's great to get tips and tricks from others in the same boat as me.

What's sad is the amazing amount of bitterness, recriminations and down-right nastiness I'm seeing in the blog comments lately. It's been bad. Really bad. To the point where blog administrators are approving comments before posting, turning off anonymous posts, or disallowing comments altogether.

*sigh* I don't know about anyone else but I try to purge that kind of negativity out of my life. It's just not freaking productive. This business is hard enough without self-defeating attitudes.

Now, back to the writing. . .

Monday, November 2, 2009

NaNo - Day 2 - Why I Don't Have to Be Michael Jordan to Enjoy Basketball

I was highly disappointed reading yesterday's blog post from a published author I repsect. She shared the sentiment of several other published folks that NaNo encourages the uninitiated, the uninformed and the just plain untalented to try to write a novel in one month. That the novice writer doesn't understand the pain and sacrifice that a REAL writer goes through to produce a novel.

On one hand, I can see her point. NaNo is a major commitment. Hell, writing itself is a major commitment. The creative process of a lot of experienced writers, both published and unpublished can't handle this type of pressure cooker environment.

But all NaNo does is encourage people to put their creative pens to paper and TRY. NaNo will not turn anyone into Hemingway or Nabokov or heck, even King, nor does it claim to. But NaNo may get a nascent Harper Lee to see the potential in herself.

There's a big difference between me shooting hoops with my son and being arrogant or ignorant enough to think I've got a shot on a NBA team when I have no training or experience.

But playing at such an amateur level also doesn't mean I can't enjoy the game. And who knows what will be sparked in my son's imagination if he's willing to work.

Michael Jordan put in a minimum of twelve hours of practice when he played for the Chicago Bulls. If I'm willing to put in that kind of time and practice to become a professional writer. . .

Well, that's the difference, isn't it?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaNo - Day 1 - The Pet Dilemma

I'd planned on my blog posts being the warm-up exercise for starting NaNo each day. As you can tell by the time of this post, I probably won't get the full 1,667 words typed before midnight.

After pulling a full day at the day job, I came home to a serious family discussion. Our pound puppy, Haley, hasn't been doing very well lately. It started with accidents in the house. She hasn't had an accident in nearly fourteen years.

She's been stiff and arthritic for the last couple of years, but the pronounced difficulty in walking meant no more jaunts to the park two blocks from our house. The last three times we went, DH had to carry her home.

The bizarre behavior came next. She would get lost in the house she'd lived in for the last thirteen and a half years. Or she'd obsessively walk in circles in the middle of the living room.

The inability to keep food down followed. We switched to soft food, which seemed to help for a couple of weeks, but she's still not eating enough to stop from losing weight at an alarming rate.

Then the sweetest little dog in the world bit me twice in the last two weeks. When she brushed against GK's legs, he reached down to pet her, an automatic reaction, and she snapped at him. Thank goodness she didn't make contact. As for DH, well, we were blessed he didn't need stitches.

So tomorrow we take her to the vet and we have to face the fact we may not be bringing her home.

Happy Halloween/Samhain/New Year!

In honor of the holiday, check out the bestest theme song of the bestest Halloween movie EVAH!

Feel free to sing along.