Monthly Archives: March 2009

Monday, Monday

It is very Monday-ish today. The weather is warm, but the sky is overcast and of course, I’m freezing in the newsroom. (Stupid vent that blows down my neck.) I have on my sweater and the “blanket” (which is really more of a shawl or cape, but it’s big and blankety) to keep warm. And I’m in a Bleah mood. Or maybe it’s better defined as a “Don’ Wanna” mood, ’cause I just don’ wanna do much of anything…and I have a LOT of stuff to do.

I did get the parents’ tax stuff mailed off to the accountant today, so that’s one thing ticked off my list. The fella spent yesterday working on Our taxes, which meant I was in my cave (I’m tellin’ ya, that office is Really Dark–all the light is on one side of the room, the hurricane shutters block most of the outside light, and it’s got dark paneling for walls. It’s a cave!) putting in the rest of my expenses and stuff in the bookkeeping program. And printing them out 3 times, because I didn’t do it exactly to suit him…

But, I’m caught up with all my receipts and royalties now, and we got the taxes mailed off. The fella set aside several thousands of $$ to use for paying them, and we did have some to pay–a little over $20. Yep, twenty bucks. We are all relieved.

I worked on cleaning up Harry & Elinor today. Not literally. I had to tweak an early scene so I didn’t entirely eliminate all the conflict, and I had to go ahead and do it now, because if I don’t know they’re conflicted and how they’re conflicted (and I’m going to have to do a major introspection or introspection-and-dialogue scene with Elinor to explain why she’s in conflict), I can’t write them that way. She may have some serious buyer’s remorse in the next little bit.

I really needed to do this, but I NEED to move on too. I’m doing a Book-in-a-Month Writeathon with my friend Anne Marie Novark in April. I am hoping I will get a lot more done.

And maybe I’ll post again sometime later in the week, because this is a very Monday-ish post. Mondays are so bleah… At least this one is.

On Writing, Blogging, and Editorializing

Now that I’ve written the title to this blog post, I’m not sure what I wanted to say about those topics. Let’s begin with this one: editorializing.

See, my dayjob is at a newspaper. I’ve always been a newspaper reader, even before I got to college and majored in journalism. I tend to read stuff in them, and then–many times–want to argue with the things I read. Which is kind of a lot what bloggers do. But see, being on staff at the paper, I can’t write letters to the editor. However, I CAN write columns. (They’re not actually editorials, since I’m not an editor, but merely a lowly editorial assistant.) So, I wrote one this week. About reading books–recommending that if people want to escape from reality a little while, movies are fine, but books last longer and have a lower cost-per-escape-time ratio. They’re trying to muscle me into writing a column more often–but I don’t know if I can stand once a week. I’ve done that, and sometimes I wrote some really drivel-y drivel. It may be “occasional.” Like whenever I think of something I want to write about.

Blogs are sort of like editorials for everyman. Letters to the universe, instead of the editor. Sometimes they’re read by millions–or thousands. Sometimes, they’re read by friends and family only. Hopefully the readership of this blog runs into the dozens. :)

Blogs are like editorials that people can write instant rebuttals to in the comments. The technology makes it easy for flame wars to get going, because people can just pop off. And there are no editors to clean up their grammar and turn their gibberish into logical sentences. (I’ve cleaned up a LOT of letters. What people mail/e-mail in looks a lot like some of the blog comments. Only less coherent, some of them.)

Let’s see–so I’ve blogged about editorializing. And blogging. So. Writing. Peh. (It’s like Meh, except more puffy, with a P.)

I’ve been making fair progress on the writing, since my realization of what the opening scene should be. Even though I have been smacked in the head with another story that has insisted on being written. I write the contracted book during regular writing-work hours, and have been writing the other one during the hours I would ordinarily be reading or watching television. (My current Netflix movies have been waiting for 2 weeks for me to watch them.) So I’m not taking away from the Official Book. It’s actually been working pretty well. This other one–I’m not even sure it IS a book. It might be. So I’ll see where it goes for a while. Even though I feel guilty, I’m doing okay on The Book.

Well, except for today. Today was a bust. First, I took the granddog to the beach for a walk, and even let her off the leash. She ran and chased the birds into the surf, and ran and ran, and did Not run off across the jetty, or bother the 2 people on the beach, and when she got tired, she came back and let me put the leash back on her. And because she chased the birds (seagulls and willets) into the surf, she got all salty and sandy. So I gave her a bath when we got home. (Mostly because she was stinky to start with.)

Except Dolly didn’t want a bath. She so didn’t want a bath, that she pulled out of her collar (which she didn’t do on the walk). I had to pick up wet, salty, sandy, stinky dog and Carry her to the hose/shampoo. She is not a particularly large dog. But she ain’t no toy poodle either…

She got her bath, though. Then I went inside and took one. Between the walk, the dog bath, my bath, the laundry, and all the other sundry things I had to do, it was getting late, I was feeling cranky, so I didn’t write today. There. I confessed. Sometimes I skip a day writing, even when I’m on deadline. I am hoping this will help … clear my palate. Or something. I think I’m about to run down with this side-writing thing. Right now, it’s feeling very Mary Sue-ish, so if I can’t fix that, it may not turn into a book. And I have A Book to write.

One I am liking, actually. I like how it’s going. I need to go back and tweak some of the early stuff so it doesn’t erase the conflict, but I think I know now how to do that now. Harry needs to shut up. He’s a talky kind of guy, (Some guys are–my oldest grandson is getting in trouble at school for the exact reason his dad used to–talking too much… ) and he believes in laying his cards on the table–but he doesn’t need to lay out quite so many of them. And he needs to be just a tad more aggressive.

Speaking of grandsons–they didn’t get to come last weekend. Just their dad. So all my boys–the fella and the two sons–had a boys’ day out and went Gulf fishing for the day on Friday. They caught two meals worth of vermilion snapper, which is not the same as red snapper, which is not in season. I’ll post a picture of the fella’s ginormous red snapper he caught. The youngest caught a 28-inch amberjack he had to throw back, because amberjacks have to be 32 inches to keep them. But the snapper was excellent. They invited me, but…

So. There you have it. Opinion, and news. What more do you need?

A Minor Tire Crisis

So, yesterday was my local, land-based RWA chapter meeting, about 40 miles away up on the mainland. I always leave work early, because there’s some serious construction on the freeway around NASA, and there’s some serious rush hour traffic leaving the island at “regular” quitting time, and I hate rush hour traffic. So I was driving along, maybe 10 miles off the island, and I noticed I was having to pull the steering wheel really hard to the right to keep the vehicle straight on the road. Bad enough I realized something was seriously wrong. Then somebody pulled alongside me, pointing at my left-front tire and mouthing things like “flat tire.”

So I thanked them, and pulled over to the right lane, hunting for an exit–which was very close, as was a business driveway I could pull into. It was thumping really bad by the time I got stopped. When I got out and looked at it–eek! The tire was shredded all the way around.

Of course, I’m off the island. I have no clue what’s around me or any place I can call, so of course, I call the fella. As I am talking to him, this young man pulls up and asks if I need help. Those of you who know me–or have been to my website and seen my picture–know that I am so white, I practically glow in the dark. Even my hair is white. (Okay, it’s more silver, and it looks even silverier in photos, because it reflects the flash…) The two guys who stop, because a second man stopped before the first one could get out of his car–a young black man, and a biker. Okay, the biker worked for the local hospital, but still…

Chris and Gary worked and worked to change the tire on my massive beast of a vehicle. (Yes, I drive an SUV. I drive the least of anyone in our family, so I get the beast.) I didn’t even hold the lug nuts. Just watched–and okay, I did unwrap the spare. It was all zipped into a carpet cover. Otherwise, it was all them. They were true gentlemen, and I appreciate so much what they did for me.

I drove on to my RWA chapter meeting, listening to the road thumps all the way there, praying I didn’t lose another tire, and trying to remember whether they’d replaced the spare too, when they recalled the original tires… (Never did remember.)

At the meeting, Kimberly Frost, author of Would-Be Witch, spoke on “Scene and Story.” And it helped me out with this book I’m working on, the third blood magic universe book.

See, I started the story with one scene. And then I decided a different scene–even though there are no monsters–might be a more dynamic opening. So I set the original opening scene aside, and wrote this other scene as my opening to the book.

But then, Kimber said that our opening scene needs to connect with the main conflict in the book. So, of course, I started thinking–does it?

And I realized that the Original opening scene Does, while the New Opening scene does Not. See, the working title of this book is Harry & Elinor Fight Monsters. And the Original scene has Harry and Elinor fighting a monster. The New scene has them dealing with a secondary bad guy, and it’s mostly Elinor, not Harry & Elinor together. It’s an important scene, because it creates a lot of complications to the story. But it’s not the Main conflict. So– I flip-flopped the scenes again, and now I’m up to 50 pages along. I’m still tweaking the opening, but at least it’s only tweaks now, and not trashing and completely re-writing. (Though I wouldn’t have trashed it. Just moved it to later…)

And that’s where I am today. The older son and grandboys may get to come visit tomorrow. Cross your fingers. :)

Readers, Writers and how they (should) relate

Haven’t posted a blog here in a week, so it’s time. Because, you know, I try to post at least once a week. I can’t manage to post every day, but once a week–you can check by and see what’s new, but I don’t overburden anybody. (Especially me!) (I’ll get round to the topic in the title, eventually. Bear with me.)

I did an essay for Dear Author on Why I Read and Write… Y’all can go read it. And tomorrow, I’m posting a blog at To Be Read: So Many Authors, so little time… about how I’m so forgetful. (I was supposed to blog on Monday over there.) So it’s not as if I haven’t been blogging at all.

I have been thinking, off and on, about readers and authors and the relationship between them. It started with all the sound and fury over the fourth Twilight book, when so many readers got all up in arms about the way Meyers finished her series. Then I wandered across the post at John Scalzi’s Whatever blog about “Pissy fans,” which got me to thinking again (though it’s really about other factors). Plus, there is the perennial Hate for Laurell K. Hamilton for the direction she’s taken Anita Blake–which doesn’t bother me at all. I still glom onto the books… Suzanne Brockmann even had problems with readers getting upset because certain characters got together with characters other than those that were expected–or hoped for. And now, I think all of that thinking has gelled to the point where I know what I think, and I think maybe I know why I think it. (Profound, I know.)

This may relate to a long-ago post of mine (I’m not going to go look it up right now because I’m supposed to be doing Bulletin Board) about Protecting the Work. Because I firmly, truly and deeply believe The Story Belongs To The Writer.

That’s why I started writing stories in the first place. So I could tell the story I wanted to tell. My story, not somebody else’s.

I read Hamilton’s books to see where she’s taking the characters. I’m along for HER ride, not mine. If I didn’t like where they were going, I wouldn’t ride along–I’ve stopped reading a number of authors for just that reason (George R.R. Martin’s series among them–well written books, but not for me)–but I sure as heck wouldn’t get mad at them for not writing the story I wanted. Because it ain’t my story. It’s theirs.

I think this is why I stopped writing fan fiction long before I really got to writing my own stories. I understand loving the characters and wanting certain things to happen. I can even understand feelings of ownership, because of that huge love, but guess what? Readers don’t own the characters. And if the author sufficiently motivates the event–the love affair with the new/different character than the one the reader wants/expects, say–I’m perfectly willing to go with it.

In the case of Brockmann’s Dark of Night, in which characters who have been pining for each other through five or six books wind up with someone completely different, the book worked perfectly for me. I think in part it’s because “real life” doesn’t always work out like we want it to–but if we’re open, we can see that the change of plans is even better than what we originally thought we wanted. Maybe the folks who got all upset are that way in real life too–wanting what they want without being open to the possibility of something else. Or maybe not.

My point is–and I hope it’s clear that I have one–the relationship between readers and authors must include the recognition and acceptance of the fact that The Story BELONGS to The Author.

By publishing a book, we are inviting the reader to come along on the journey with us, whether for one book, or fourteen–but the author is still the one in the driver’s seat. That’s just the way it is, my dears.

If you want to tell a different story, Go for it! Write the story the way YOU want it to go. But please, use your own characters and your own universe. And that story will belong to you. Until then, enjoy the ride!

NEW BLOOD is in the bookstores!

Yes, THE BOOK IS OUT! I haven’t seen it in stores yet, but I am reliably told that it is there. AND, it got a really great review at Sarah and Candy’s blog. I’m tickled about that. Y’all should go read it. I think they’ve cut off the sign-up for the book giveaway, but I’m giving a book away at the RWA published author chapter blog: To Be Read–So Many Authors, So Little Time… next week, so if you go by there and comment, you might win a book.

Um–what else is going in my life? Not much. I’m busy revising The Book Formerly Known As Old Spirits, and writing back cover copy for it, and writing articles, and doing blog interviews. (I’d post a link to the interview, but I can’t find it–the wonderful person who interviewed me e-mailed and told me where it was, but now I can’t find her e-mail… Sigh.) I’ve received some other very nice reviews. They’re in my e-mail–and out and about. I’ll put a couple on the website. I’m just hoping lots of people will buy it, and like it.

That’s about it. Went to see the parents last weekend. Have to go back again soonish. To work. (sigh) But I have a friend I haven’t seen in AGES who will be coming by and we’re planning a visit. It will be fun! I also want to get my Waco buddies down for a visit, but don’t know when… Lots of stuff coming up. Not so much going on now.

TBR Challenge Book #1

I have read a book off my TBR challenge.

SABRIEL by Garth Nix.

This is a YA fantasy. Sabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, who makes the Dead behave. In the Old Kingdom, where she was born, the Dead don’t like to stay that way, and to come back into life, they have to eat living things. So they need the Abhorsen to make sure the Dead stay dead. There is, apparently, only one Abhorsen at a time. She’s just graduating from boarding school across the Wall from the Old Kingdom, where magic mostly doesn’t work when she gets a message from her father. He’s not quite dead, but he’s stuck in Death, and he’s sent her his sword and the bells he works his magic with. And Sabriel is off on a huge adventure. This was a pretty good adventure story, though it didn’t go very deep. Emotionally, it tended to stay at the surface. Don’t know if I will read the other books in the series. Maybe if I can get them at the library…

I don’t even know where my TEXAS RANGER book is. I’d been carrying it around in my bag to read, but the bag was getting heavy, so I took it out, but where I set it??? No clue… Sigh.

Will write more later. After I finish tomorrow’s revisions on Book II. Which is acquiring a new name. Heart’s Blood, is what it’s looking like… Romancey and ties in with New Blood.

I’m reading Silent in the Grave now…