17 December 2009

Publishing Crooks

OK, this will be brief, but this is an issue that really burns me up.

I got an email in my Inbox this morning from Wiley-Blackwell, publishers of all sorts of books. I'm on some mailing list they have and get these periodically -- it's basically an ad for news books. I don't mind it, because I love any and all forms of books.

Including eBooks.

Typically, the actual content of these ads don't interest me enough to click through, but this one caught my eye. So I clicked. I salivated over the Description. I drooled over the Table of Contents.

I frowned at the price tag. And then I saw this:

Other Available Formats: Adobe
E-Book


I cheered! I clicked! I had a small myocardial infarction at the price of the E-Book -- which was the same as the fucking hard copy!!!


What. The. Hell.


Seriously?? You're going to charge me $45 for a fucking computer file?? GET WITH THE PROGRAM, PEOPLE!!!


It costs you almost nothing to produce a PDF file. Yes, OK -- you have to recover the cost of setting it up, etc., but once it's set up you don't have to pay for paper, ink, and printing machines to print it. You don't have to pay to ship it to a retailer. You don't even have to pay to ship it to me directly! At least give me a friggin' discount!!!


Arrgh! It's no wonder the major players in the publishing industry are spiraling the drain -- with attitudes like this, they deserve to.


There. I have spoken.

16 December 2009

Breathing Deep

I'm not even sure I can write a proper blog post anymore. It has been so long -- and I am now so used to teensy missives such as will fit into my Facebook status without generating a nastygram -- that I'm not sure I'm actually capable of anything else. So we shall just have to see how long this lasts...

Anyway, Anatomy & Physiology is over. I passed. More importantly, I learned a hell of a lot and feel a lot more confident in my ability to NOT introduce mistakes when I edit medical documents (a huge fear). So that is good.

However, I have decided NEVER to take another class during the fall. With NaNo and then the holidays, it's just too nuts. I'm sure I'll have to eat that 'never', if I ever do get into grad school, but for now, when I'm just putzing around doing whatever the hell I want -- Fall is For Fun. Spring is for classes.

Except for this spring. Because I need a fucking break after that hellacious fall.... heh...

I mean, I really SHOULD take Molecular Bio to get it out of the way, but I think I'll wait and take it next year. Most of it won't be new to me anyway, because most of it is stuff I've (slowly and painfully) taught myself over the last 6 years. Besides, me and Eldest Daughter need some serious dental work, so I need the freelance income and I can't freelance, if I'm trying to get good grades. And once the dental work is taken care of, there's that big, expensive, fucking car we just bought. *dies at recollection of pricetag* (It was worth it though. I love that car already.)

Anyway, my focus at the moment is to breathe deep, get through the rest of the week, get to Florida and breathe deep some more (preferably whilst laying in the sun beside a pool or beach...), survive the Night of the Man in Red, eat waaay too much, and see Avatar. Somewhat in that order. :)

(Wow! That's, like, four whole paragraphs!)

08 November 2009

NaNo 2009 - Snippet!

Oh, my, has it ever been an age since I posted... well, you know the story. Busy, busy, busy...

Anyway, against my better judgement, I'm doing NaNo again this year. But just for the insanity part. :D

My villain just did away with her first victim, and I thought I'd share. Enjoy the evil!

*************

At first, he thought she’d missed, because he didn’t feel anything. But she wasn't acting like she had missed. She was just sitting there. Watching him. And looking thoughtful.

Then he saw something drooping down into his field of vision from above. He could barely see it if he crossed his eyes and looked up, but there appeared to be a miniature dart embedded in his forehead.

“What the… what is that?” he asked, his voice sounding far away.

Wynonna gave him a thoughtful, assessing gaze that sent chills down his spine. Or maybe that was something in the dart. It was hard to say really.

Finally, she answered him. “A prototype.”

And that was the last thing he heard before the dart dissolved into a small cloud of nanobots that bored into his brain.

**************

22 August 2009

Life, The Universe, and The Kitchen Sink

Yeah, yeah. It's been a while. I'd launch a volley of excuses, but I don't have time. xD

And that's the whole story of late.

I've never been so busy in my life. Between kids, work, the official and suprisingly successful launch of the freelance biz, kids' school, my school, etc, etc, writing has suffered. There's a project in the works, but it's slow going. Most nights I have freelance jobs to work on, and by the time I'm done with those, the poor little brain is shot.

And I don't even want to talk about my goddamn kitchen sink (which is usually full of dirty dishes that no one but me seems to know what to do with....).

Oh, well.

My only goal for writing this year, I've decided, is to finish One Thing. Just one single project. Get it done to the point where I would let someone else read it. I'm hoping it's going to be the project I'm working on, but I don't know. It's taking me back to a time in my life that I'd rather forget, so sometimes it's tough to get into it. And there's that lack of time thing.

But whatever.

I'm just gonna keep on keepin' on....

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06 May 2009

Bethanie's Fantastic Summer Reading List

Ah, yes, well part of it anyway. Do not be deceived by its present length -- I expect it to expand. (And please feel free to suggest stories, books, tales, sagas, etc. that you loved or have heard were really great.)

Anyway, The Plan - and I have to have A Plan, because if left to my own devices, I will read nothing but fantasy - is to alternate a fiction with a non-fiction. Why not just give in and stick with fantasy and nothing but fantasy? Well, I could do that. But I really want to read the non-fiction on my list and in order to do that I have to set up the fiction books as Rewards for reading the non-fiction, because otherwise all the shiny fiction will somehow find its way to the top of the pile and then it will be September and summer will be over and I'll still have a stack of non-fiction sitting there forlornly beckoning...

You think I'm kidding?

Exhibit No. 1: Let's take the Oliver Sacks book, Uncle Tungsten. I think I bought it at Christmas, which means I've had it for months. I started it. It's awesome. Oliver Sacks and his family are fascinating and he really did have an Uncle Tungsten and since tungsten happens to be my favorite metal (er, yes, actually I do have a "favorite metal"... um, doesn't everyone??), I can't wait to find out more about it.... But since Christmas I have also acquired four or five or seventeen fantasy/mystery/thriller/etc. books and, the way my brain is wired, they win the Oh-what-shall-I-read tug-o'-war every single time. Hence, the Rewards...

A few notes on the actual List as it appears below:

  • Color coding: Unread books are yellow and orange (alternated just for ease of reading). Green are books in progress (yes, there are currently two -- two is my lower limit and you'll notice one is electronic and the other is a hard copy -- each has its time and place, you see).

  • The "Epidemiology Chapter" is my plan to get through the epidemiology text book that Boss Lady loaned me (three years ago), by classifying it as non-fiction and forcing myself to read a chapter before reading another book from the fiction pile. I think that's doable (if I assign myself the whole book, it'll never happen, so I'm trying to be realistic).

  • About "Twilight". Yes, I know, it's a teeny-bopper book and there has been SO MUCH FREAKIN' HYPE about it, that I almost don't want to read it, but The Husband and I rented the movie last weekend and it actually looks interesting, so I'll get me a copy from the library (hopefully...) and decide for myself.

  • Yes, I know there are holes. I've forgotten some author names and I'm too damn lazy to run to the other end of the house and check and/or look them up on amazon. Sorry. Deal wid it.

  • [EDITED: OK, I couldn't stand it. I had to fill in the holes and add a bunch of the rest.]




Allrighty then. What are y'all reading this summer? What should I add to my list? Suggest away people!

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30 April 2009

Summer Break

I know. It's still spring. But my final exam is Monday, which means summer starts for me as soon as I hit "Submit Quiz", get the news, and calculate my final grade. :D

And I am So Fucking Sick of cramming my brain full of stuff I have to know, that I have actually formulated a plan to spend all summer cramming it full of stuff I want to know just 'cuz.

Specifically, I am talking about Bethanie's Fantastic Summer Reading List. Yaay for summers!! Yaay for reading!!

I plan to post The Official List here and check in with it and check things off and comment and review and contemplate and theorize and otherwise generally wallow shamelessly in my neglected and now-towering TBR pile. So. Be looking for the Fantastic List sometime next week and feel free to suggest any Must Reads on your Fantastic Summer (or Other) Reading List in the meantime (since I just know you're sitting there on the edge of your seat with nothing better to do...).

And we now return you to your regularly scheduled griping about how studying for a final sucks and what the HELL was Bethanie THINKING when she decided to go back to school in the midst of a full-time job, 2 kids, a freelance business....

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23 April 2009

It's Here!!!

It's here! It's here!! IT'S HERE!!!

Witch Ember is here! It arrived this afternoon and I was so busy I never even checked the mailbox, and was shocked and delighted when The Husband brought it in this evening. Yahoo!

I'm delivering it straight to the TBR pile. I'm gonna be good -- I'm not even gonna crack the cover, 'cuz I'm not allowed to read it until after my final on May 4th and I don't want to be tempted and ....

Say! Check out those maps!!

Uh-oh...

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20 April 2009

Cake Wrecks

So a friend at work sent me a link to this blog and it's so damn amusing, I added it to my list of Distractions & Addictions. It's called Cake Wrecks and it's all about... well, let's just say the title is self explanatory...

It's been a great stress reliever over the past few weeks of family, family, wedding, school, work, family, family, OMG-more-family. In a word (or two) it's fucking hysterical. You must check it out! 'Cuz I said so!

Back to searching the archives for the Pepto-Bismal Barbie cake I made for Ms. Six when she turned Ms. Four (or was it Ms. Three...). Heh. No, seriously. Anyway, enjoy y'all!

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17 April 2009

John Lawson's Witch Ember

I did it. I had to. I couldn't stand it anymore.

John Lawson's Witch Ember just sounds too awesome, and it finally popped up used on Amazon at a price I could afford, so I raided the emergency funds (books are an emergency, yes?) and ordered it. So there.

And so what if I won't have time to read it until after my effing A&P class comes to its gruesome and excruciating end in May. And so what if my freelance workload is scheduled to pick up right about then. And so what if my stack of Absolutely-Positively-Must-Read-This-Summer books is already taller than I am. So what!

Witch Ember goes to the top of the stack as soon as it arrives, and if it's here, it gets cracked open the minute I'm done taking my final on May 4th. So there!

.

09 April 2009

Review: Sorrow by John Lawson

First, The Usual Warning – probably, I am not going to do this review thing right. My 'reviews' are more a part of my own learning process as a writer than 'proper reviews’ in the traditional sense. They are more my ruminations, more my thoughts on and reactions to stories I either read or watch (yanno, movies), and more my attempt to process - mainly for my own benefit - the techniques and bits of craft that I most admired (or that didn’t seem to work for me). For that reason, it isn’t enough for me to say ‘I liked it’; I need to think about and say exactly why, so I get very specific.

Oh, and sorry about all the italics and bold and bold-italics in this one. I went sorta wild with it...

There. You have been warned. :)

On to Sorrow, by John Lawson!

* * *


I'm not going to begin with a synopsis or blurb of the plot. I think that's boring. Sorry. I'll tell you there's an assassin and nobody knows who it is, but they need to find out before more people die. That's plenty, right? :) (OK, if you need a real synopsis or blurb, and/or would like to read an excerpt, go to Drollerie Press's Sorrow page.)

I will begin with happily admitting that it was the cover that sold me on this one. What can I say? I'm a sucker for good visuals. I just HAD TO KNOW what those black tears were about. And that's good -- a cover that creates a story question and compells you to buy a book as just as all important as those first few lines you read standing in the bookstore (or sitting at your computer, if you're in an ebookstore...). Those lines should draw you into the story in such a way that you CANNOT put the books down and simply MUST. BUY. IT.

And next I will admit that the first few lines of Sorrow had me doubting the whole purchase thing...

There is a prologue, you see, and prologues are tricky. All the writing books say you don't need them and shouldn't use them and should start the story where the story starts and all kinds of other bullshit that, frankly, isn't all that helpful. As a reader, I think a prologue is totally fine -- as long as it relates to the story and totally draws me in and makes me HAVE TO buy the book.

Sorrow's Prologue almost didn't. I mean, it's neat -- it reads like a creation myth, so it's got a cool tone and the feel of a parable and I could see it being told by elder to a bunch of people sitting around a fire at night.... OK, so, yeah, it created really good visuals there and I loved it when I went back and read it after reading the rest of the book, but as a beginning it was almost too mysterious, plus I'm impatient and wanted the story to start already. I actually thought about giving up on it....

And then, quite suddenly, it ended and I hit this:

They were going to betray him.

Which is the first line of the 'real' story, which grabbed me like a super-size vise grips and never let go, which is exactly what I love in a first line. Bravo!

Overall Impression

Better yet, the rest of the story is fantastic. It's part who-dun-it, part dark fantasy, part horror (OK, I'm a light-weight with the horror, so take that with a grain of salt), and moves quickly through a vividly imagined world with a plot that twists and turns until the very, very, very end. In other words: definitely my kind of book. In fact, not only is Sorrow a serious contender for the Bethanie's Favorite-Books-of-All-Time list, but it has also made the Yes-I-Want-A-Hard-Copy list, which is huge, because there are very few books that merit an allowance of space in my teeny, tiny house, as well as the I-Can't-Wait-To-Read-It-Again list.

The Specifics

Plot. As I've already mentioned, the plot moves quickly. This is always good. What made Sorrow really interesting for me, however, was that the who-dun-it part was somewhat non-traditional. It starts out traditional: there are clues, there are red herrings, there are possible suspects... and then, about two-thirds of the way through the story, you know the Who.

Now I suppose the pundits and mavens will tell us that is a Serious No-No and that John Lawson is a rule breaker and should be locked up writer's prison, at which point I shall happily thumb my nose at them and inform them that Sorrow is a good example when to go ahead and break the damn rules. Because instead of relieving the tension by knowing Who, the tension is instantly 10 times worse. Which makes you keep reading - just as fast as you can - because now you are howling to know WHY!? It's brilliant.

Language. I have read other reviews of Sorrow and several have mentioned that there is a lot of story-specific language, strange/foreign words, and that readers should be prepared to use the glossary. And yes, there's a lot of that and you might prepare yourself to use the glossary frequently or you might steer clear of Sorrow, if you don't like that sort of thing.

Me? I'm a language junkie. I love that sort of thing. For me, there is no such thing as too much. Especially when it's so expertly woven into the story, as it is in Sorrow, that you swear you can feel the fabric of the world the characters are moving in. I mean, it's really well done -- almost Tolkein-esque. Seriously! (And really, you can figure out most things from context, so I'm not sure what all the whining is about in the first place.)

Names. What I did find confusing at times were the myriad names, titles, and forms of address for any given character. An example, and perhaps the most confusing for me, was Hashii, who is referred to by three different names -- "Lord Ash", "Count Hashii", and "Hashii" -- in the section of the story where he is introduced. (OK, maybe the last one shouldn't count, but I'm trying to make a point here, bear with me.) I had to read that section three times before I was certain there was only one character. Even just re-reading it now, I kept thinking Lord Ash was Hashii's boss.

Perhaps my confusion is due to being American and having no clue whatsoever about titles and nobility. Or perhaps I'm being especially nit-picky on this because I'm so very guilty of it in my own writing... :D Could be... In any case, it really threw me in spots and, lesson learned, is something I'll try to avoid myself.

Characters. I suppose it goes without saying that good characters are essential for a good story. Sorrow is full of good characters. They are as vivid as the world they live in, as human as anyone you know, and are drawn with heartbreaking detail, like the woman who makes a doll for every miscarriage she has so when she eventually has a child, it can play with its brothers and sisters. (That one killed me... *sobs*)

The End. Since I'm an utterly hopeless romantic, the ending was not what I was hoping for. It's not exactly unhappy, but it's not happily ever after either. And yet, for all my romantic loyalties, I wouldn't change a thing about it. It was perfectly "right" for the story. And that's where my respect for John Lawson really soared. I hate endings. I suck at endings. I can't write a proper ending to save my life. To see an ending so expertly put together is amazing.

My Only Real Complaint... ...is that there are two other Witch Ember books, Witch Ember and The Raven, that I can't get. Boo! Hiss! OK, I guess you can get them used through Amazon, but they're, like, 40 bucks each or something crazy and, dude, that is so out of my price range. :( Bummer.

Hopefully, that will change sometime soon, but in the meantime, go get you a copy of Sorrow. You'll be glad you did. It's available here from Drollerie Press.

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28 March 2009

Drowning

OK, so it's been a while since I last posted. But we are drowning here. Drowing in more ways than one. Drowning in life due to soccer, school events, and life events (we have a family wedding this weekend, so everyone's in town and wants to visit). Drowing in resposibilities at the Evil Day Job, which is getting perpetually stranger every single day...

Oh, yes. And it's raining.

It's been raining all week. We're supposed to have "possibly severe thunderstorms" today (so the wedding won't be outside this afternoon; poor sister-in-law-to-be :( And actually, we get a break from drowning in soccer today, since the fields are closed, which is good since because of the wedding we'd have been running around like crazy all day. This way we're only running around like crazy half the day....)

I don't even want to talk about school - my school - and the test I have tomorrow and how I haven't even read the chapter yet, let alone done any studying...

Writing, needless to say, isn't even on the damn list anymore.

I mean, story-related things occur to me here and there throughout the day and many times throughout the nights that I'm spending half of awake because I can't stop thinking, worrying and otherwise stressing about everything else. But I'm too exhausted and disheartened to bother even jotting them down any more.

So poor Caleb the Supernatural Bank Robber and Pollo the Dragon-Seeker Pirate are on perpetual hold for now. Maybe permanent hold. I don't know. Maybe I'll try again when my class is over in May. But for now, I'm sick of failing to finish anything. I'm sick of the dread in the pit of my stomach I get every time I think about actually working on a story. I'm sick of everything I read about the writing process making me feel totally inadequate. I'm sick of feeling like I've never had an original idea in my life.

It sucks to be a quitter, and I know that, but something has to give and for the moment, it looks like it's going to be writing.

*theatrical sigh*

Well. Off to study for that test, then...

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14 March 2009

Watchmen

So The Husband and I got to go on one of our very rare movie dates this afternoon and picked Watchmen. Yaay for the small miracle of movie dates!

Almost 30 bucks and 3 hours later, I'm still sort of shell shocked. It was violent. It was graphic. It was gory. It had waaay too many flashbacks and moved waaay slower than I would normally tolerate and yet I've come away from it thinking it was great.

I'm struggling to put my finger on why.

I mean, normally any movie that moves that slow has me yawning, bored and pissed off that I just spent 30 bucks to be bored halfway through and hoping it will end. Watchmen somehow eluded this fate.

I think there are a number of reasons for this. For one thing, there was a giant, blue man walking around totally naked for most of the movie. Two thumbs, way up! ;-D

Seriously, though...

The characters had enough depth to keep me interested. Maybe not as much as I usually like, but there were interesting internal conflicts going on. There were interesting inter-personal conflicts as well -- not to mention the sometimes brutal action going on in the main story line (slow as it was at times).

I had the who of who-dun-it figured out early, which should have ticked me off, but the way it ended left me OK with that. Not your typical Hollywood wrap-up, for sure. So that was good too.

There was also a lot of superheros kicking butt, which I always like a lot. And there was superhero humor and sex and betrayal and - my favorite - an antihero.

I don't know. I'm still struggling with why I wasn't unhappy with it, and the last half was definitely better than the first half, but it was worth the money. Go see it!

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The Grindstone

So a few weeks back a Big Editing Company notified me that they wanted to hire me as a freelance editor, but didn't want me to edit in the field where I actually have editing experience -- they wanted me to edit in the field I have a degree in, even though I haven't done THING ONE in that field for 14 years. I didn't know what to tell them because I was so irritated with their lack of respect for the actual work that I DO and their apparent faith in a piece of paper given to me by my undergraduate university so long ago that it is now lost in the mists of time.

So I did what came natually: I ignored them.

Yesterday they emailed me back, ever so politely requesting that I send them the other stuff they need for me to start editing for them and again suggesting that I edit in that other field.

Perhaps they're hard up for editors in that particular field. I don't know, I don't really care, and my inclination is to ignore them again. However.

Drollerie Press had this great celebration of ebook week and were giving away two free ebooks a day. It was awesome and exciting and now I have a bunch of great ebooks I can't wait to read. But I also missed a bunch, because I wasn't fast enough on the clicker, and so I decided to just outright buy some of those plus few others I've been meaning to pick up, and now.... well, now I have a habit to support.

And the extra income from the freelance work would certainly help support the habit, so.... I'm still annoyed with the Big Editing Company, but now I'm also reconsidering their offer.

In other words, I'm gonna whore myself for books.

I guess there are worse things in life, right?

(Oh, and if the folks at Drollerie Press were hoping that pushing ebooks by giving away free samples would help boost sales, well.... it worked! At least for me and anyone else I can convince to go check them out. :D )

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11 March 2009

Giving Up Writing.

Or: Maybe Not.

So I decided last night that I was done. After reading so many good books lately while occasionally glancing at my growing pile of pathetic, feeble - and entirely unfinished - attempts at writing, I just gave up.

"Fuck writing," I said. "I'm all done. I'll just read from now on. And edit. And maybe review some stuff."

As I left the house at 6 AM this morning, I was resigned to just driving. No more plotting on the commute. No more conversations with my characters during the inevitable stop 'n' go near Trinity Lane. No more feeding Dorothy the Muse with my new favorite song while going 80 in the slow lane. Just no more.

Dorothy apparently took offense at this decision and smacked me upside the head continuously the whole way to work with all kinds of things I've been stonewalled on for the past several weeks. Figures.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet. I may just ignore it and go ahead with the plan to take up something that involves less blood-letting. Like boxing, maybe....

But damned if Dorothy didn't make Caleb all freakin' interesting...

Crap. Crap on a stick, in fact.

.

eBooks: A Rant

So Fictionwise - and it's little brother eReader.com - have been acquired by B&N apparently. I've been an eReader.com customer for ... well, a really, really long time. For me, the initial draw to ebooks was based on 1) convenience (lots of books available all the time, all in my purse on an itty-bitty reading device), 2) ease of storage (ebooks take up no physical space - a good thing in a small house), and 3) PRICE.

PRICE was the big one (that's why it's in caps, heh-heh). Ebooks, back in the day, were cheaper than regular books (paperbacks or hardcover). The people who produced ebooks seemed to understand that since they aren't having to cover the cost of paper, printing, shipping, storage, etc., it ultimately costs them less to produce an ebook and hey, why not pass that savings on to readers. OK, yes, sure - they have to maintain servers and websites and such, but these days, most booksellers have to do that anyway.

The price has gone up over the years, but I don't mind paying 7 or 8 bucks for an ebook. That's about the same as a paperback these days, and let's face it: the economy sucks and ebook producers have to feed their kids too, so I don't mind doing my part. :) And honestly, the convenience and storage features are worth it, so the $7-8 range seems quite reasonable.

So imagine the sticker shock I experienced when I clicked on a link to an interesting ebook in my newsletter from eReader.com and discovered that the fucking thing is $25!!! WHAT?!?? I just sat there blinking at my screen thinking, "You're fucking kidding, right? That's, like, a typo, right? That's the price of a hardcover! I'm seeing things, yes?"

But, no. I was not seeing things. That was the actual price, and folks, that is fucking ridiculous.

Now I understand that a hardcover book costs more to produce than a paperback, and for certain books, I'm not only willing but happy to pay it. But I'm sorry, but I see no reason for an ebook "equivalent" to a hardcover -- other than the greed of the booksellers. OK, if they want to make a bit extra by charging double the cost of a paperback, let's say $15 or $16, for a new release, I'd pay that much (and have) for an ebook that I really don't want to wait for. But I draw the line at paying over three times the cost of a paperback. That's just highway robbery, plain and simple.

Besides that, I'm seriously doubting that authors see anything extra when their ebooks get priced this high. The poor author of the ebook I was interested in unfortunately isn't going to be seeing ANYTHING from me, because I refuse to participate in the greedfest. Bummer. It sounded really interesting too.

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05 March 2009

How Come...

... every time I HAVE time to write, I find a 1001 other things to do instead

and

... every time I'm up to my eyeballs in everything else, all I want to do is write?

Why is that, huh?

02 March 2009

Rambling

I really have nothing to say, but I haven't been writing-writing much lately, since I'm deep in the thinking part of Think Sideways and/or otherwise occupying the brain with kids, food, laundry (and more laundry!), other people's writing, and various body parts (anatomy & physiology, people! heads out of gutters, please...), so my fingers are itchy and I'm here to scratch them, I guess.

Anyway, I spent the entire weekend unplugged. I never even took my laptop out of the backpack I use to haul it to and from work-work. It was kind of nice. I got to sit in different chairs (our wireless router died 2 years ago and we haven't replaced it yet, so being online means being chained to my desk with a little blue cable...).

I got to read One for the Money by Janet Evanovitch. Never read anything by her and it was GREAT! Especially as a study in characterization. Seriously. I think it was some part of Joely's Character Clinic that mentioned if you can remove all the dialoge tags and still know who's talking, you've done a good job at characterization. Well, Janet E. has got that DOWN and it was cool to actually notice for the first time that I had read a whole page of dialoge with NO "he-said's" or "she-said's" at all and never once got confused about who was talking. Wow! Very educational. And entertaining, of course. Stephanie Plum rocks!

I also finished reading Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, and it's great, too. A bit slow, maybe in the middle, but I didn't mind. The characters, the twists, and the general awesomeness of imagination made up for the slowness in spades. Can't wait to read the other two in the series and now I can allow myself to see the movie! (I never, ever, if I can help it, see a movie based on a book before reading the book nor do I ever, ever read a book based on a movie. Not sure why in either case. I just don't.)

Guess that's all. :D Off to work-work!

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23 February 2009

Stupid People

OK, I can tell from the way my face is breaking out that I am PMS-ing and it is, therefore, entirely possible that I am not being completely rational.

That out of the way: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?!!???!!!!!!!!

Honestly. All I want to do is set up my freelance editing business and edit stuff that I want to edit. Is that so hard?

It seems to be.

Here's the sordid story: I'm trying to set up a contract with a company in a non-English speaking country and can't seem to get them to understand that while, yes, I have a degree in a certain social science, I do not really consider myself qualified to edit in that field because I have done nothing in it for the last FOURTEEN YEARS.

Meanwhile, I have oodles and oodles of experience editing in certain areas of biomedical research, areas in which I have undertaken a great deal of training, formal and informal, but which apparently - because I have no piece of paper to declare me competent in that area - counts for nothing.

This is stupid.

OK, OK, I can see that they might want a person with a "hard science" degree editing hard science stuff. That makes sense. To a point. Then it gets stupid.

Because if you have at your disposal a person who is a good editor in a certain area, what difference does their level of formal training make? I assert that it doesn't make much. I may be a bit more cautious when changing certain things than a person with a hard science degree. I may query authors a bit more than someone with a hard science degree. But I'm a damn good editor and I will make the language you use to report your science all shiny and appealing to journal editors. That's what I do.

Furthermore, I really have nothing by a passing interest in my undergrad degree field. I'm sorta just over it.

Which puts me in quandry: What do I do? What do I tell these people?

I've tried already to explain my position, but they aren't listening. My option is to edit in this other field -- the one I've been out of for 14 years -- or... nothing. No contract. No money. No nice little start-up client for my fledgling freelance biz.

Which sucks.

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16 February 2009

Lessons Learned

I thought the Character Clinic (CC101) Joely hosted over the weekend was fabulous! Even though I didn't win anything, I learned a ton about how to build characters and what I like about them - among many other things.

And it's the "other things" that, for some reason, are really churning around in the ol' brain right now.

Two interesting things occurred as a strangely direct result of CC101. One, I'm not prepared to discuss yet. It's still churning, and it ain't turned to butter yet...

The other is the big one for me (a big pain in the ass, that is...): theme. Stories have themes. They just do. Any good story worth the paper or pixels it's printed on, anyway, has a theme, an overriding, overarching thread of wisdom that guides the ultimate outcome. That's how I define it for myself, anyway.

I flat-out SUCK at theme in my own writing.

There are reasons for this.

First of all, I blame the fact that as a reader, I don't like to analyze. I don't like digging for meaning. I hated high school lit classes (and didn't take any in college unless they were in another language). I just about despise what Susan likes to refer to as "great litra-chur", because, dude, I bust my ass all day, every day with job, kids, house, hobbies, etc. I do not want to work when I read -- I just want to be entertained, be lost in another world, be someone else for a while.

Second, I like a story with an adventure best, and that's what I like to write too. My ever-so-logical brain therefore likes to argue: "It's an adventure! It's a quest! We don't need a theme! We just need more monsters!"

Last and most important, I am not a Believer In Things. Maybe I'm overly practical, maybe I'm a die-hard cynic. I don't know. I do know that I don't do god or God or Buddha or Allah or whatever else is out there. If you've stopped by before, you probably already know this.

But it goes deeper than that. And gets weird.

For example, as much as I love a good love story in my adventure or even a well-written romance sans adventure, here's what I believe love actually is:

Ya ready? You're gonna be shaking your head with pity, I guarantee it.

OK, really: Love is...

a biological trick your mind plays on your body to get you to reproduce.

That's it. No cupid. No destiny. No such thing as a soul mate. It's all in the DNA, in other words. All that happy, glowy, goo-goo, ga-ga crap is a mere by-product of a very successful ploy - encoded in your DNA - to ensure that you... make more DNA!

Now isn't that cynical in the extreme? How can someone who believes this at the very deepest core of her being ever write a love story?

Logic says it's impossible. Logic says: Oh, please! Get a grip!

And yet... something about all that reading about character creation this weekend shook something loose somewhere. Don't ask me how, 'cuz I really don't know. And I haven't changed my mind about any of it, but somehow my perception changed.

I think it must have been taking a second look at my favorite characters through other writers' lenses -- Oh, that one's static trait is this! and .... OOOOoooh! It means that! and Heey! He's a Cancer! and so on.

At some point late last night or early this morning, it all shifted and instead of "It's just DNA", I now have "It may just be DNA, but it's going to find you whether you want it to or not."

Makes sense, right? I mean, it happened to me (and if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone...) - I fell in love, I got married and here we are smack dab in the middle of Happily Ever After.

So now I have a theme, at least for Novel #1 with which it fits PERFECTLY (*boggles*):

You can run, but you can't hide. Love is gonna find you whether you like it or not.

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15 February 2009

101 Ways to Love Your Characters: Characters by Collision

OK, like I said several posts previous, yapping about how great my own characters are gives me the willies. But in the spirit of CC101, I will do it anyway. :D OK, I'm not really going to talk about how great they are, but I will tell you the story of how two of my characters came to be.

First, let me introduce Fenn and Kesera, the two main characters from my very own Novel #1 (of spaghettified plot fame...). Fenn is Prince Charming with a tragic past and a drug problem. Kesera is a bi-racial damsel causing distress (to pretty much everyone around her). I like them a lot. They are very patient with me, thankfully, so perhaps someday, when I become capable of plotting my way out of wet paper bag, I will manage to get their story told. :)

Anyway.

The story of the way they came about as characters is sort of interesting (at least I think so), so I thought I'd share it. It goes like this:

I saw this movie, King Arthur, which I absolutely hated almost every minute of (despite the fact that Clive Owen is in it). Leaving aside the idiotic idea that Arthur was actually from the Russian steppes (don't mess with my legends, maaan!), the reason I hated the movie so much is because I never felt that any of the main characters really had anything at stake. OK, sure, according to the plot, they were supposed to, so maybe it was just that the acting wasn't remotely convincing. Whatever. In my opinion, there was nothing worth seeing in that movie. Save one thing.

Now - I made a point of saying I hated almost every minute of that movie. The minutes I did not hate, had him in them:


Only he looked like this:



The actor's name is Til Schweiger and in that awful movie he played Cynric, the son of the invading bad guy. Cynric's story was the only one I cared about in that movie; he was the only one who had anything at stake -- he wanted his father to respect him. His father wouldn't give him the time of day.

None of which matters, because it wasn't his story that stayed with me, but his face. And his outfit. And that braided beard. And the look of despair he had when he finally gave up on his dad.

A few weeks later I saw one of the Tomb Raider movies, the one with the mountain in Africa and the well of life or whatever it was. I don't remember. What I do remember is the guy who played Lara Croft's almost lover, specifically I remember his accent. I think it might have been Scottish.

Anyway, soon after seeing that movie, the accent collided with the face, outfit, braided beard, and look of despair. Next thing I knew, there was Fenn. Glaring at me, all silent and deadly-like. From the deck of a ship headed south, a direction in which he did not want to go.

I had no idea why. I had no idea who he was or what the hell he thought he was doing in my head.

But when I asked him, he told me.

And thus was Kesera born.

Fenn didn't describe her or anything -- he had never seen her himself -- but he told me where she was and when I poked around in her castle, there she was. Also glaring, also kinda deadly-like.

I don't remember now whether her appearance came from a movie -- her hair may well have been inspired by Lara Croft's -- but I know her eyes are exactly like my friend Megan's (bright jewel-blue; in the right light, they almost seem to glow). The rest of her came from a song called The Gypsy Rover. As sung by the Wiggles. (Yes, those Wiggles. Of "Fruit Salad, Yummy, Yummy" fame...)

So - that's the story of Fenn and Kesera and how they came to be. And, yes, most of my major characters sort of "appear" like that -- all dressed up and itching to tell me where they want to go. They are usually made up of bits and pieces of other things I've seen or heard that have run into each other in my brain and melded together to make something new. I guess it's an odd way to come up with characters, but I'm one of those "visual learner" people, so maybe that's the best way for them to get my attention. lol! :D

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101 Ways to Love Your Characters: Neil MeqVren

I think my favorite thing about reading is being in a character's head. Nothing is quite like it. Movies, for instance, are great and I love them, but they can't ever come close to the experience of almost being someone else that you can have when you're reading a story in a well-written, really tight POV.

My favorite example to give of this is Greg Keyes' Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series. It's a great, great series and an amazingly told story. Four books follow a handful of characters caught up in a battle between good and evil. In a nutshell: there are kings, queens, princesses, knights, demons, aliens, assassins, religious cults, magical creatures, and dangerous secrets as old as the world. (Yeah - it's awesome.)

What I really love about it, though, is how the POV switches between the 4 or 5 main characters - a young, very headstrong princess; her mother, the queen; a knight in the queen's service; the "holter" in charge of the king's forest; a novice priest - and several of the minor characters to tell the complete story. Every time the POV changes, the whole feel of the story changes - a whole new world within the world of the story opens up. It's a whole new experience. Sometimes it's amusing, because each character's perception of the other characters is, of course, vastly different from character's views of themselves. Sometimes it's terrifying, because you find yourself in the head of a character who is being murdered. Sometimes you're in the head of the villian. Each time, though, you are totally immersed in that character's experience - to the point where you find yourself missing that character as his or her chapter ends and another character's POV takes over.

Neil MeqVren. Neil is my favorite character in this series and one of my top five favorite characters ever. He has one of the best journeys of any character I've ever read in a book. He is endearing in his innocence in the beginning, then tragic as his all convictions about honor and loyalty are slowly and brutally shattered, then he's charming as he begins to accept that if something might go wrong, you can count on the fact that it most definitely will, and then you cheer when he finally takes matters into his own hands.

The fact that you are so tightly in his head the whole time makes the experience that much better. You are privy to the thoughts he will not allow himself to speak aloud and the feelings he can barely stand to acknowledge at all. I suppose it's the juxtaposition itself -- knowing what he's thinking and observing that he won't say it -- that makes him such a powerfully memorable character. It's what makes him spring off the page, because haven't we all had thoughts we dare not voice and feelings we dare not admit? It says volumes about him without saying anything at all. Brilliant!

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14 February 2009

101 Ways to Love Your Characters: the Darkyn

Yes, it's me again with yet another entry for the Character Clinic! I feel like I'm being totally obnoxious posting this much. Oh, well. :)

This post is another in honor of Joely and her fabulous idea, because it was she who introduced me to all the wonderful characters in Lynn Veihl's Darkyn series. She held a contest, see, and I won a copy of Twilight Fall. Yaay! Winning is good, but being introduced to a fabulous series of books you never knew existed is even better. I liked them so much, I went out and bought them all, and now I am merrily foisting them on everyone I know. :D

Anyway - the characters are what make this series so interesting and keeps me coming back. (That and the writing is really, really excellent, which pleases the editor side of my brain no end and is probably a topic for a whole other post, but whatever.) The characters are memorable, because they are so vividly portrayed -- each one has a very distinct personality.

More to the point of my post, however, is that they stay very much "in character" when they react to each other. This is one of my biggest pet peeves as a reader. Stories I end up not liking are stories in which characters have sudden and inexplicable personality changes. I get really pissed off when characters that are dark and sardonic one minute become sweet and sappy the next for no apparent reason -- other than the author needs them to for the plot to progress. This is something I learned ages and ages ago in high school acting classes and it was drilled into me by one of my favorite teachers of all time. It comes down to this: KNOW YOUR CHARACTER'S MOTIVATION. Every single second you are on stage. Every single page, paragraph and sentence of your story. In other words, KNOW WHY your characters are doing what they're doing. More importantly, however, make sure your reader knows why. Don't assume I'll follow a sudden personality shift, if you've given me no reason for it. Make it plain, make it easy to see. Otherwise, I'll put your book down mid-way through and not pick it up ever again. Lynn Veihl's Darkyn characters never violate this rule, and that's what keeps me coming back.

Some of my favorite characters are below:

Alex. Alex was, before being made into a vampire, a surgeon, a really, really good one. Her basic motivation is to "un-make" herself and go back to being human. Everything she does in the stories is based on this and she never deviates from this basic premise. She also a sarcastic, sharp-tongued, in-your-face modern woman, and she never lets the medieval-minded vampires change that, not even the one she loves.

Jayr and Aiden. The story of these two characters is told in Evermore, probably my favorite book in the series. Jayr, I like because she reminds me of me - reserved on the outside, on fire on the inside, but she'll never let anyone see it, especially not Aiden, the vampire she's loved in silence for 700 years. Aiden loves her, of course, but for his own reasons can't say anything either. Throughout the story they keep coming close to getting together, but it keeps going wrong -- for reasons that you understand completely as a reader because each time, what keeps them apart is based on their own basic motivations.



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101 Ways To Love Your Characters: Miphon, Morgan Hearst and Elkor Alish

Another entry for Joely's Character Clinic:

These are my three favorite characters from the book "Wizard War" by Hugh Cook, which was published in the UK (and possibly Aus and NZ) as "The Wizards and the Warriors". Fabulous book, fabulous author, freakin' shame that it's out of print, in my opinion, and freakin' CRIMINAL that most of the rest of the books in the series Wizard War is part of never even got published in the US, because it's some of the best magic, world building, characters, and plot EVER and ....

Erm, anyway.... back to the characters...

Miphon. I love Miphon. And not just for his green eyes, I promise. Miphon is a wizard of the order of Nin, a weak-ish order of wizards in his world and "lives as as traveling healer with no fixed abode". He is often called a 'pox doctor' and regarded with something just above scorn by his colleagues (two other wizards of more powerful orders), but we instantly like him as soon as we meet him in the book because he is sensible, practical, sort of slyly, mildly sardonic, and seems to have a mysterious past that is alluded to here and there, comes in handy once or twice, and that is never quite fleshed out completely, which leaves you wanting more, more, more about Miphon, please!

He is, in a word, fascinating-from-the-very-beginning.

And he gets better. He makes mistakes - stupid mistakes - that lead to huge problems with solutions that make you want to smack your head when you realize YOU should have figured out the solution to his problem too and way before he did. He is tempted, tempted powerfully, and in exactly the right way, a way that makes you want to scream, "Take it! Take the power! Do it!", because you know he deserves it, you know he's earned it, you're sure - sure - he'll do good with it, and you cheer loud and long when he does - and then he scares the piss out of you with what he starts to do... and then he makes a really stunning and heart wrenching choice that has you all weak in the knees over him all over again.

Mmmmmm'yeeeeeeaah.... Miphon.

Morgan Hearst. Ah, Morgan Hearst... how I love Morgan Hearst! He's complicated. He's flawed... OK, really, really flawed. He drinks too much. He thinks too little. He's an anti-hero -- no, no, he's an anti-hero's anti-hero! He's... well, OK, honestly? Morgan Hearst is a freakin' mess. And you love him for it. You can't help it.

Elkor Alish. A warrior. An unbeatable, flawless, ruthless warrior. Elkor Alish is a tough one, actually. I'm never quite sure why I like him so much... maybe because he's so broken inside... *gulps, sniffs* yeah, that would be it. That, and you want so badly for him to heal himself... he has a tragic past, see - and I'm a sucker for a tragic past - and that makes you feel he really deserves to have it all made better in the end. *sigh*

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13 February 2009

101 Ways to Love Your Characters: Gregar

Entry Number One in Joely's Character Clinic: Well, since I think Joely is so clever for thinking this Charcter Clinic thing up, I thought I'd start off with one of her own characters! Hah!

Gregar. Ah, Gregar... where to start? Well, I'll start with where you can find him: Gregar is a character in Joely Sue Burkhart's book The Rose of Shanhasson. (Go on! Go get it! You'll be glad you did, I promise!)

I always love a conflicted character (as you'll discover in coming posts...) and Gregar is definitely that. He is driven. He has a mission and a duty, and he is honor-bound to fulfill them. However, in his secret heart of hearts lurks an undeniable need that conflicts so deeply with all that honor, that Gregar would pretty much rather die than allow himself to have it. Excellent stuff.

And oh my, let's not forget: he's dead sexy and dark and wickedly dangerous -- in other words, three of my favorite things! :D

In all honesty, though, what really makes me a raving, rabid Gregar fan is that his conflict is one that strikes a chord with me, one I thought was deeply buried, one that drags me out of my warm, comfortable, married-with-two-kids-and-a-steady-job life right down into Joely's Well, the place where all our darkest fears and desires hide and which is terrifyingly similar to my own Well. Which perhaps is why, at a certain point in Gregar's story, I just sat there reading this one page over and over again while I cried and cried and cried.

That's why Gregar stays with me, I guess: I've been there. I've felt that. I know just what he's suffering. And that is the kernel of a great character for me: a character that reflects some bit of being human that I recognize. Maybe it makes me feel validated. I don't know - that sounds sappy as hell, but I'm a sap, so it's probably true!

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11 February 2009

eBooks

(This one's a rambler, guys, sorry. This is what happens to Bethanie when she is subjected to all work and no play...)

I've been meaning to post about ebooks - at length - forever. Of course, my life is such a vortex of unending activity, I have yet to really get around to it.

And since I'm in the middle of cooking supper, I don't really have time now either, but I must put in a plug, because I'm so... oh, I don't know, giddy, I guess, over my latest discovery/acquisition/experience. :-D

Here's the story: I've had a Palm OS PDA for years and years and years. I've upgraded from a Handspring to a color Handspring to a Tungsten E and - finally, a year or so ago - to a Treo. I love them - love them, love them, love them. I mean, I'm practically evangelical about them. Really. Don't get me started on how great they are unless you have 30 or 40 minutes for me to show you mine and all the wicked nifty things it can do.

Including my all-time favorite feature ever, an ebook reader.

Actually, I now have 2 ebook readers on the ol' Treo. One came from a company that started out as Peanut Press (or something like that) back in my Handspring days, which evolved into eReader.com, which is now some arm of Fictionwise, I believe.

And I like it. It works great, has never crashed on me and I have something like 60 or so ebooks that take up NO space in my house and that my children cannot destroy.

However, for the last couple of years, I keep seeing Mobipocket everywhere. I finally broke down today and downloaded it (it's free, but I dislike having two gadgets that do the same thing, so I resisted -- this is the same reason I haven't yet bought a Kindle... although the Kindle 2 is seriously tempting me -- the thing reads to you!). Why now? Well, because I really, really, really wanted a copy of Angelle Trieste's Devil Falls and since I didn't win the contest but was totally hooked by the excerpt posted as part of the contest, I said, "OK, fine. It's time."

So I downloaded Mobipocket, bought the ebook, downloaded it, loaded it on the Treo, and now here I am all ready to read! No muss, no fuss - no gas used up driving to the bookstore, no useless little bag I can't use for anything else, no paper receipt I have to stress over where to store, instant gratification, no worries over what to do with a book I end up not liking, etc.

I am pleased. :)

The moral, or rather morals, of this long and rambling tale of mine:

1. ebooks are freakin' COOL and are just getting cooler.

2. Writers, especially new ones trying to break in to the biz, listen up: Contests work! Posting excerpts works! Posting a link to where I can buy your ebook works great!

3. I want more.

4. Yaaay, ebooks!!!

5. I think that is all. For now.

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07 February 2009

Where, Oh Where, Did Bethanie Go?

OK, it's been a scandalouly long time since I've posted ANYTHING here... terrible!

I have excuses - dozens, in fact - but I'm sick of dealing with them to the point of not wanting to re-hash them here, even if it means missing out on bitching about something. :D

Anyway, I've been working on some posts that are scheduled for next weekend for Joely's Character Clinic, and it's been interesting - and educational - picking apart why I like certain characters so much. There are some striking similarities, especially when it comes to male characters, heh-heh... :)

When it comes to my OWN characters, however, the brain gets all shy and tongue-tied and won't cough up anything. Weird. I suspect this stems from my rather vast insecurities about my own writing -- it seems presumptuous, at the very least, to expound on what makes my own characters so great and/or what clever tricks I use to add depth to them and make them memorable, when not only have I published no fiction whatsoever, I haven't even ever submitted anything, and rarely let anyone read what I've written.

In other words, I'm chicken shit.

Which is not something I will put up with from myself.

*sigh*

So I guess that means I will be forcing myself to write at least one post about my own characters.

But I think I'll save it for last, heh-heh...

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18 January 2009

Online Class

Tuition & Fees: $600.

Required Book & Lab Manual: $335.

Assorted Notebooks, Pens & Binders: $25.

Going to Class at 4AM in My Pajamas: Prrrrriceless!

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16 January 2009

Need Directions To The Nearest Plank...

...so I can walk off it, 'cuz I could really use a dip in the drink today.

It's been a helluva week. It started with a list of 5 papers to edit, submit and/or do something! with (as-soon-as-possible, thank-you-please), which soon grew to 7, then 8, then 10, which is as many as I normally deal with in a month.

Add to that another massive data entry project (which apparently counts as editing, don't ask me why...) and -- drum roll, please! -- a page proof! I knew it! I just knew there would be a page proof this week, since I'm insanely busy. There's always a page proof when I'm insanely busy. Never on a slow week. What fun would that be, anyway?

And then, there are the pirates.

I got frustrated with them for going full-blown novel on me, when all I wanted was a short story, so I fussed, pouted, and was generally very grumpy until they agreed to tone it down. And then I tried to cram them into a 500-word flash piece.

That sorta worked, because I actually FINISHED something for once. But I'm not sure it works as flash, and I'm thinking I'm going to rewrite it in short story form, but based on the flash storyline... if that makes any sense at all...

Probably not. But whatever.

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11 January 2009

Pirates, Walk The Plank, Please

So I’ve already used up 3500 words of my 5000-word limit on the pirate story. That’s good, in a way, because I’ve written a whole bunch in the last few days and I don’t hate it and I love the characters, but…

I love the damn characters and – totally fucking predictably - they’re taking me WAY deeper into their adventures and lives than I have room or any business being in a short story. I mean, I could write 5000 words worth of just backstory! Seriously, if I manage to tell the story they’re wanting me to tell in less than 20,000 words, I will find a fucking plank and walk off it. Gah!

Part of the problem with me writing short stories, I think, is that I don’t read nearly enough of them on a regular basis. I just don’t have a good enough sense of how they’re put together to successfully put one together myself. I’m making an effort to correct that, but … well, there are only so many minutes here and there in a day during which I am not required to be doing something else.

*exasperated sigh*

Anyway, I’m not giving up (since I love the characters so damn much), but I think I’m probably going to have to sit down and think about what the bare bones of the story are.

And then start over.

*blows raspberries*

Some days it just sucks to be me, don’t it?

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09 January 2009

Ta-Dah!! NaNo 2008 Complete! Finally!

It is not pretty. It is not even "right" most likely.

But for now, I don't care.

It's done! It's done! IT'S DONE!!!

I can move on. I can do something else now! I've started a pirate story... ??!?

I know: pirates - WTF, but cool! I'm hoping to cram it into 5000 words and submit it to Membra Disjecta for their March issue.

I'll let ya know how that goes... (Short stories are definitely not one of my strengths as a writer...)

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04 January 2009

Aw, Crap....

Or: NaNo - I Hate It When That Happens

I just realized I took a bit of a wrong turn in my final climax/battle-to-the-death scene. A wrong turn that is going to cost me 1200 words that I spent the last, like, 3 or 4 days writing. Yeah. 1200 words totally wasted.

God damn it, but that SUCKS.

I think I'll go do something fun now. Like laundry or swabbing the kitchen.

Gah!

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03 January 2009

NaNo 2008 – The Final Stretch (I MEAN It!)

OK, I have swallowed my horror at not finishing the story in December and set a new goal of 85K words to reach the hallowed ground know as “The End”. That will add a little over 5000 new words. Which should be PLENTY, dammit.

I’ve got a pretty tight deadline for this – January 12th. That’s when my online Anatomy & Physiology class starts, and since I’ve been out of college for a shocking 14 years (*faints*), I think it’s going to take some adjustment to get used to that kind of brain activity and I doubt I’ll be up for writing much (at least, for a few weeks).

Anyway, if I reach The End before the 85K mark, I’ll go back and work on some of the new scenes I’ll have to add when I edit.

If I’m still not to The End at 85K, I’m just gonna throw a big, fat hissy fit.

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01 January 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, I think I failed to complete even one of my 2008 goals, which is both depressing and surprising. I really thought they were good, achievable goals. Apparently not.

And now that I look back at them, I get the sense that they aren't as concrete as I thought they were when I made them. I mean, I said things like "complete and submit one short story", which is good as far as it goes, but still vague. WHICH stort story? Submit WHERE? Another goal was to complete an edit of either NaNo 2005 or NaNo 2006 - WHICH ONE? I needed to be that specific.

I also didn't set deadlines. I now see that as a real weakness in my plan. Deadlines get my ass in gear. Without them, I don't do much.

That in mind, this year I have made an effort to be really, really, really freakin' specific.

1. Complete the kestlebird story. A kestlebird is a mythical creature in my fantasy universe and I have had a bunch of ideas kicking around and one story started. But not completed. I will complete it this year. DEADLINE: Hmmmm.... let's say March 31st.

2. Get back on track with my writing course. It's Holly Lisle's Think Sideways course and it's fabulous and I'm weeks behind now, even though I'm doing the every-other-week option instead of the every-week option. I need to get back on track with it ASAP, because I'm starting an online anatomy and physiology class January 15th... ack! I can handle both. I think. But only if I get back on track, hence - DEADLINE: January 31, 2009.

3. One complete edit of NaNo 2008. There is a LOT to do on this one. First, I have to complete the first rough draft. The deadline for that is January 12, because my class starts on the 15th and I don't want to be trying to write a thousand words a day while also trying to spend 8 hours a week doing actual classwork. So that is Goal 3a. Goal 3b is to read through the draft and take notes on what to add, what to rewrite, new scenes needed, etc. The Goal 3b deadline is April 30th (I was going to say the 15th, but that's Tax Day, isn't it? Yeah. How 'bout I don't set myself up for failure there, eh?). Goal 3c is to take the notes from the read through and incorporate them chapter by chapter. I honestly have no idea how long that will actually take, but I'll set a deadline of September 3o, 2009, since I'll want to start planning for NaNo 2009 October 1 and will likely get very little else done after that.

OK, I'm going to stop there. That's probably as much as I can handle, so anything I would add (and I have a long list of things I could add) would be pointless.

Good luck to everyone with their goals!

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