Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bring It, Nano!

The regiment of daily medication is pushing me back into the realms of the Healthy; the in-laws have left us after five days of grandparent fun. Between illness and in-laws, I was fretting about being even the little prepared for Nanowrimo that I had planned, but that all changed, thanks to an ethusiast author signing and a little e-mail from Chris Baty.

The author signing was preceeded by a reading (of a short story) and a Q&A session. I came away enthused about the craft I'd chosen and ready for daily writing again. But moreso, I want to enjoy the writing. I get to dreading Rough Drafts to the point of paralysis. This nano I get the chance to Get Over It, Already, and just have fun writing.

Chris Baty's e-mail reminded me that writing is all about opening doors and seeing what's on the other side. And I want to open those doors! I want to see where they go!

So no outlines for me! No synopsis! No long, drawn out, pre-planned plot! I'm going into Nano this year with just a handful of colorful characters: a sufi dancer named Argent Rose; her wise-cracking bodyguard, Saia; Rinker, the tinket-box maker; the red-coated homeland guard and their Visigoth adversaries. There might possibly still be a convent of rebel nuns and a witch with a penchant for making golems. At this point, I'm leaving all the doors wide open.

I have no idea what the landscape will look like on the other side, but I am looking forward to the voyage there!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Eyes half shut

I'm so sleepy I feel like I'm walking around with my eyes half shut.

I have Halloween off and I'm thinking about spending it taking a nap. But instead I'll try to pull my act together and get this place ready for a party for the kids and their friends, complete with homebaked pies and cookies, pizza, hot cider, mulled wine for the grownups, candy, scary movies, and of course midnight writing. If any INKers would care to join us you're more than welcome! BTW I plan on using only minimal brown sugar and honey in one of the apple pies, no white cane sugar, and a thin crust. Not sure if that helps. Also I'm planning on having fresh chopped up veggies, oil and vinegar dressing for dip, a cheese platter, cream cheese and dill for the celery, and probably some cold cuts. I may also finally grab the diabetic eating recipe book we have at BiMart that has some sort of apple bake on it that looks fabulous.

One must be fortified for writing, after all, with healthy goodies. And I'll need plenty of propping up. There's a lot of writing to do and I want a big, big head start for Nano this year, after just missing the finishing line last year. I'm not sure what's going to happen when I start writing on Mayhem. One thing for certain--it will feel very good to embrace these characters once more, people who have become almost living friends to me over the years.

Monday, October 29, 2007


There is a great discussion on Wyrdmiths about writing and publishing short stories. I found it timely considering how we'd discussion writing short stories at our last get together.

Rather than be swayed to stay away from writing shorts, I'm rather more inclined to try my hand at them. I like the discussion on how short story writing can give a writer more chances to take risks in writing and explore different techniques. It makes sense to me to do that in a short rather than in a novel; the time commitment is so vastly different between the two that I could see the benefit of playing with the craft in a short more than in a novel.

I also think I'm going to subscribe to a couple of genre magazines to read more in the market. The more I read shorts, perhaps the more I'll start thinking short stories. It's a working theory, anyway.

I am going to finish editing A Fool's Errand, too. I like the idea of trying to submit it. And maybe brushing off my other two finished shorts with edits. And maybe trying to think up so more ideas.

After Nano, of course.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Card in my pocket

I have a business card in my pocket for a salesman at Portland, Oregon's Power Mac Pac. Man I love those guys ...

It looks like there's a good possibility (keeping my fingers crossed) that we may be able to get an iMac by the end of November!! Okay, that was totally out of control there. I wasn't going to use any exclamation points. But I'm extremely excited. I was going to get a G5, but I found out that I'm waaaaaaay behind the times. For one thing, all the Macs now have dual processors, the primary (original) advantage the G5s had over iMacs when I was shopping for them. Another thing, with rare exceptions all the iMacs have CD and DVD burners. Who'da thunk? The sweetest part is that the older iMacs work fine with Apple's new, bulging Leopard version of OS X. I have to admit that my heart kinda sunk when I saw the advertising declaring "300 new features!" I don't want those features, dammit! But I don't want to be caught with an outdated operating system on the web again. And it turns out that we get Leopard free.

Yes, I said older. In this case, having an older iMac is a bit of an irony. You see, they're still on the market, but a certain company has made a heap of money on a wee thing called iPod and iPhones and that gave them the capability to produce fabulous new stuff. This fabulous new stuff got sent out while the 'old' iMacs were still brand new, they themselves having only recently come out. The new ones are only about $100 more and come with lots more memory, and are faster, etc. so these 'old' iMacs are now being discounted. This makes them affordable for us. Besides, there's not much point in a fractional amount of more speed when we're on dialup. As long as Leopard boots up blindingly fast, I could really care less.

I could blah blah blah about this a whole lot more, but right now I'm just basking in the possibility of, for example, accessing certain features of my blog that are invisible, being able to visit certain websites without crashing, having updated security protocols so that I can do online banking again (I used to online bank but last year in January the entire secure universe upgraded, leaving me behind) and so forth. And it'll be neat to peek at the weather forecast without actually opening the full webpage. I'm not sure how they pull that off, but it's fascinating, and brilliant for someone with dialup. Get me *just that* on the webpage, without the ads and stuff. And there she is. Yay!

Oops, I'm still blah blah blahing. I'll stop now.

So keep your fingers crossed for me that the Nissan doesn't break down or that I get a call from a relative who has a health emergency or some other such that will shatter my excitement in one swell foop. I can wait until next spring, but UHHHHHHH!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bad Dreams

I know I haven't written in too long because I start to have very vivid dreams. Last night I had not one but about one an hour. Obviously I didn't sleep very well. Normally sleep cycles don't allow for dreams to be that close together, from my understanding anyway. The ones I remembered were all nightmares. One was me trying to survive a tidal wave, and of course because my brain is implanted with this information, the water came in surges that usually raised the water level very rapidly but not so much in cartoon waves but flows. It was also hugely windy. In the second dream, while trying to arrange for a new place to live in an apartment which was hugely stressful (how did I lose my house?!) I looked out the window and saw these men killing children with axes. The last one I remembered was us having recently moved into a two-story condo on the water. I was missing my garden but trying to keep a positive attitude when Huntress got out, went for a fish by diving in the water, and then couldn't get back onto dry land. She swam like crap and started drowning.

All three dreams involve water. If you're Freudian, it's supposed to be all about sex. I'm thinking it's more like about loss and being unable to breathe. I found it interesting that in all three dreams we were displaced from our home. The more I think about it, though I doubt many of you will hold to this theory, the more I think I was sharing dreams and emotional space with Dakota. True or not, the only way to slow down the flood of horror will be to write so my brain is too tired to be creative. Then it'll be back to the usual--shopping, housework, and back in school dreams. It doesn't take long in either direction. I have to not-write for 2-3 days to start dreaming like this (guilty as charged) or a few hours for one day to stop.

It inspires me to write lots before I go to bed, even though I'm tired. But if I'm sharing Dakota's burden ... I hate to leave her alone.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Motivation From the Car Muse.

Watching the evening news tonight, a story about the severe drought in the U.S. south perked up my ears. Lake Lanier in George is drying up if you haven't already seen the report. My eyes went to the manuscript before me. Lake Lanier. Yep, there it was. One of my secondary characters in my car novel comes from a wealthy family who builds communities around the usually beautiful Lake Lanier area. Hmm, that information may have to be adjusted in the final draft depending on the situation down there.

Last week, I was in Barnes & Noble bookstore; not a local one but one across the river in Oregon. As I browsed the markdown book aisles, I ran across the obligatory 'exotic automobile' area and, I'm not kidding here, the exact second I picked up a book on Super Cars, the music on the store's speakers switched from some pop ditty to "Lil Darlin'" by The Diamonds. It's a tune from 1957, a favorite amoung some car enthusiasts, myself included, and is featured briefly in my car novel. I've gone years upon years without hearing that song anywhere but my own music library, yet there it played, out of the blue in Barnes & Noble...but only, I'm convinced, after I touched that car book.

Things like this, little things that make me think of a piece of writing I'm usually involved with at that time, happen a lot to me. I've got a list of other coincidences that relate to the current novel I'm working with but the two above are the ones that come readily to mind. And rather than think of them all, as odd or unusual as they might seem, as nothing more than coincidences, I can't help but see them as motivational pushes from my muse. It's odd but works for me.

Go on, Car Muse. I'm listening.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rein in the Urge to Plan

I got ahead of myself when I said I was leaning toward writing Golem God. And my muse reminded me of as much by chucking another rock of inspiration at my cranium. So I now have four, count them, FOUR story ideas for Nano. They are, in order of appearance:

Chesspiece (historic adventure)
The English Boy (historic paranormal)
Golem God (fantasy romance)
Death Follows After (historical mystery)

Yup, they all even have titles. How's that for thorough?

And they each have a synopsis. And research, but those needing it. At least enough research to hold the story together in the synopsis. Chesspiece needed the most, as it is politically involved and I had to brush up on my early 1970s history. But Death Follows After is a close second, since I can't decide if I want to set it during the Regency period (think Jane Austen) or the Victorian era (think Sherlock Holmes). I'm still waffling on that point. I have the feeling the Mr. Allen (the hero in the story, who is also an American) will be the deciding factor, since I haven't fully realized his backstory.

You know, it's rather fun having four stories to work up at once. Because then no matter which one gets Nano, I'll still have three worked up story ideas for next year, whenever I have a yen to work on a new story. It's rather nice, considering I use to struggle to develop one story.

I think all these story ideas is a sign that I've matured as a writer. I'm able to see more than just a scene or two of a tale, with a few quirky characters. Now I'm seeing beginnings, middles, hints of endings, main and secondary characters, settings, and backstory, all coming at me like a legion of toy soldiers holding out pointy little bayonets. It stings a little at first, but I immediately want to write on each of them, but I just slap a sticky plaster over the urge and jot down notes.

I suddenly went rather British sounding, didn't I?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Aisle of Dr. Murrow

I just started reading the Island of Dr. Moreau, as in three pages barely got started, and I'm already sucked in. Man, can H.G. Wells write! I'd keep reading except I have a tonne of housework, writing and painting to do. I read in the bathroom and sometimes in the evenings. That's my 'my' time when I let myself relax without feeling guilty. Anyway, I think my painting pace will suffer greatly. I'll be reading instead of working on extra painting at night.

It's an especial treat to read this particular book because it's an antique: 1927 edition. It includes the novelization of the screenplay by Silva after the Wells text. The book just feels good to hold, and I wonder who's owned it over the years.

It's also fun to read because of a cowritten book Ris and I are working on. It puts the animal people of our book into literary historical context. Because of the significance of a particular hallway in our book, I made up the giggling secret nickname for our book just now--the aisle of Dr. Murrow. Too bad we don't have a Dr. Murrow--but that would be way more than a nod to Wells. That would be going too far.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Nano Plotting

I'm not plotting, exactly. I'm picking up ideas to throw into my nano novel.

I think I'm leaning toward writing my newest story idea, Golem God. It's a fairly straight forward fantasy-romance plot, with two competing old gods, a hapless mortal woman, and a golem man created to protect her. I'm keeping the plot fairly wide open to possibilities.

I've found a couple of ideas to throw into the story. One I found in an online news article. Nuns took over a convent when the Vatican tried to replace their vision-seeing Mother Superior. There was also a Franciscan friar involved. I'm sure that's going to end up in the story in one form or another.

The other is having one of the sirens from mythology turn up singing karaoke. That's just makes me laugh.

I started a notebook to jot down anything else to comes up. As I said, I'm keeping an open mind, so if anything interesting comes your way, add a comment. Especially if it is religiously or mythologically inspired.

I should add that witch into the story who was the lead character in a really bad short story I never finished that involved a golem. Which is where I got the golem idea from. Heh. She was a fun character.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

It's all downhill?

If it's all downhill from here, maybe I can stop pedaling so much and just let gravity take me.

Yep, I was outside gardening until 8pm (and yes, it was dark) getting those last few chores in. I still have a tree to plant, but other than that, the bulbs are in, the new lavender plants are in, and I've got enough rock in on one of our steeper slopes that the earth won't slide now that the weeds are no longer holding the bank together. When I was done for the night I looked up at the sky and watched the clouds float in, first as little individual puffs, then lots of puffs cheek to fluffy cheek and finally as a solid mass that walled off the stars.

Why is this important to writing? Because once those clouds start doing their thing, they probably won't stop raining on us until sometime in February. Well, sometimes we get a really cold night and end up with the frost thing, and snow in January, but reality in the Pac NW right now means rain and lots of it. And the rainy season means it's time to write.

Yes, Ris, I am going to sign up for Nano. When? Um, real soon! In the meantime I have lots of writing to do on Masks. I've been away from writing long enough that I'm going into major withdrawals. One of the main symptoms--vivid dreams with involved storylines. Last night I was a madam starting up an all male gay bordello, and someone accused me of stealing 1.9 million dollars, so I decided to set out and prove my innocence in between helping my guys set up their rooms.

I have so got to get to writing.

Hopefully I'll have more opportunities to post here, too. I dread trying. Often the computer crashes, or it says the post was saved and then there's nothing, not even in the part that's supposed to be all autosaved.


Oh, and if I want to guarantee a crash, all I have to do is try to comment on a post. Weeeee!

I have so got to sell my writing so I can buy a new machine. Poor old Gypsy just isn't doing very well these days. Alas! So, let's hope that the weather goes downhill so I can build up some momentum and get writing things done. And art. And housework. Am I forgetting anything?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Goodness, the nano site is slow! I can hardly do anything on there. I got a nanomail and it took ten minutes to read and respond to it. Brings back memories. And sympathy for Kami's ongoing connection plight.

So, Kami, have you tried to sign up for this year's Nano? Still going to, right?

I had yet another story idea last night. That makes four new ideas, three of which are nano prospects. Once more, I'm just synopsising what I have on the idea. I'll pick the one I'm going to write on November 1st.

Meanwhile, it's all Inkwell Cult, all day. Okay, not all day, but I've spent all morning working on it. I'm excited for the story and I like where it's going. Thanks loads to the group for helping give me more focus on the opening two chapters.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Exercise: Cover Quotes and Blurbs.

In my quest to learn everything I can about the authoring business (in between reading, writing, plotting and losing electronic devices), I've been seeing a lot lately on cover quotes, also called blurbs.

Apparently, when you've got a book coming out and you mention to your agent you like such and such author, a good agent just might contact the agent of that author and ask if they can send a copy of your book to them and get a cover quote for the next printing. If the author likes your book, they might authorize the use of a cover quote to help sell your book.

Ingenius! Especially if the author actually reads your book.

"Doesn't suck," would be a great Stephen King quote I'd like to see. I think he might actually do this some day.

"This book could stand on a shelf next to any classic," is another good one. Technically, if the spine of the book isn't mush, I guess it probably could stand next to anything -- a work by Shakespear or a bowl of tapioca equally well.

One I'd like to see is "Bigger than the Potter series!" Then discover what the publisher left out was "[This author's ego is] Bigger than the Potter series!"

And how about one of your own pseudonyms blurbing about your own book. "C.S. Cole's 'Enthusiast' is like The Fast and The Furious on speed," Carole Cole, a reader in Vancouver Wa.

What cover quotes would you like to see for some of your own works? What quotes would you rather NOT see?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Getting Carded

I finally ordered business cards. The price was just right--free! And not the print 'em yourself variety, either. They are coming from VistaPrint, an online printing source that my mom's using for her big party invitations, so I've seen what they can do. They ran a special, 250 premium business cards free except for shipping.

It's funny how long I messed with the wording. I kept calling TC over to have a look. I like what I ended up with. Detailed without being too much, I think. And hey, free. I can always do another set if I end up not liking them or I change my genres.

The best part is the little feather quill and inkwell design. Very fitting for Inkwell Cult. I'm excited for them to come in, but I have to wait til the end of the month. I opted for the slowest, and least expensive, shipping. Hehe.

I feel all professional. You know, without the income.

Friday, October 5, 2007

I Have Nothing to Say

But I wanted to post something. Unfortunately, my head is rather empty today. As far as writing goes, I've been laboring over the Inkwell Cult excerpt making revisions. I did have a rather ingenuous idea this morning of my villain making Maud use the inkwell to write a letter to Travis, which would potentially alienate him from her, given what the inkwell curse. That could be much fun.

I'm still undecided about which story I'll write for Nano. Oh, I know, I'll share the first couple paragraphs of the really bad synopsi I've written for each potential nano novel. Because I love to share!

When Clair Demont agreed to attend the rally for the women's shelter, she was expecting to carry a sign and walk in a circle in front of the county courthouse. She did not expect to be set upon by police. And, yes, her reaction was probably a bad one. Running from the police is never a wise choice. But the shouting and bullhorns, sirens and screaming, and then the protesters taking up rocks and homemade weapons against the police had terrified her. She had to get away from what was fast becoming a tragic news event.

But she didn't expect to be corner be a giant of a man who would have looked more comfortable in a pro wrestling arena than on a side street. And he moved so fast, like a bull charging. Her panic got the better of her as she tried to push him out of her way. But the connection from that touch, the vibrate aliveness the infused her with an arousal as dangerous as the man himself, froze her in place. And then, rage twisting his features, he hit her.

The trip to the hospital was a blur that cleared fast when she saw him standing outside the curtain of her ER room. Either her fear or his anger pulled him out of sight, and the lack was a sudden emptiness. And then confusion piles on top of fear when she isn't released with a ticket or a hand-slap, but remanded into police custody and taken out of town to the new prison. . . .

The English Boy:
Maddy Fitzlaird is happy in her service as scullery maid in the Lord Warrington's household. The Lord and Lady aren't the most devoted of masters, or parents, for that matter, to their young son, but the work is steady and her position solid. Until the Lord and Lady decide to take a sudden trip overseas, without their own personal servants. And with their son, who've they've never taken with them anywhere. Maddy is as uncertain as the other servants, but when she is chosen to journey with the Lord and Lady to serve in their servant's stead, her uncertainty takes a decidedly different turn.

For while she is excited at the opportunity to see a new land and possibly raise a little higher in the servant ranks, the whole journey feels wrong in a way she can't explain. When she is given more and more duties to tend the boy, she grows more attached to the clever child, wondering why his parents don't see what she sees in the child.

Their destination is a blip of a country in the shadows of craggy, stern mountains. The Lord and Lady are welcomed like long lost relatives and the boy swept away and out of Maddy's care. No longer with a charge, Maddy is sent among the household servants, who she finds to be welcoming, but odd, refusing to speak of certain matters and warning her of rules that, in an English household, would just be ludicrous. Certain rooms, which marked by a special dial on the door, are not to be entered. Certain foods that are never allowed. Places not to go after between dusk and dawn. Clothing she cannot wear and scents she should avoid. . . .

I did warn you that they weren't very well written. There is just enough of the plot and details in each synopsis to remind me of the major plot points, but to give me enough room to maneuver anything new into the story. I like both ideas, actually. Chesspiece takes a political/action/paranormal twist and The English Boy has a horror element I've never written before--and it is decidedly neither a vampire or werewolf story, though it could be either by the sounds of the synopsis.

Then there is always Bishop Takes Queen, though I haven't worked up the synopsis to it yet, or one of the other stories I've just barely started and could toss the opening and rework it for Nano. That gives me several choices. Too many choices, probably. I'll have to work up the remaining synopsi and then, I don't know, pin them to a wall and throw a dart? Toss the titles into a hat and draw? Put them up as a poll on the regional Nano forum? It would be fun coming up with a one-sentence description for each story.

I have a very strange idea of fun, don't I?

Okay, back to Inkwell Cult.