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Archive for January, 2012

A Month of Letters

I’m participating. This might normally serve as a warning, but I decided to let those who wanted letters to volunteer and I’m winging the rest. I plan on mailing the letters, as per the contest, in February. I will be posting a blog about each letter, in detail, as they are received.

Unless, of course, you want your name left out. Coward.

I’ll bring the Jiffy Pop!

ETA: No, your personal, sensitive information won’t be in the “details”.

A Month of Letters 

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Remove from device.

Tap cover, remove from device. I have come to appreciate that feature on my Kindle. Oh, and the bookmarking thing. Just awesome. Everything else about it? *meh*

I’m not going to turn this into a review of the Kindle Fire, because it’s not. I love the thing as a whole. It’s nifty for midnight raids on Facebook. This is about my experience with the primary purpose of the device. E-reading. Simply put, I’ve found that, so far, I really don’t like e-reading all that much.

I had the Kindle app on my laptop and in spite of having around ten books, I only read maybe two of them. It was offensive to my eyes, big time, to use that particular reader. And by offensive I mean my eyes didn’t like it. It was too different, too NOT a book. I felt too much like I was at work to read that way. I was miserable because I had a book on there that I really, really wanted to read and just couldn’t make myself stare at that screen.

Enter the husband. Enter… The Fire.

After playing with my precious for a few hours, it was time to read! Sync! *deflate* Yep, still offensive. Not enough to prevent me from finally reading that book, but still offensive.

The print newspaper in town has changed their fonts a few times and each time they did it took time for my eyes not to find the change offensive and actually enjoy reading the paper again. I’m guessing it’s the same situation. Let’s play a game!

To prove my point to myself, last night I put the reader and a trade paperback, side-by-side. The physical book is the new hot author in Big Six YA – to me, anyway, but I think I might be slow on that subject - and the e-book is a parody on writing. I have read a few chapters of each, already. I open both, pick them up, and look between them. I want to read the parody the most, but my eyes are ‘happier’ over on the YA. It felt more familiar over there, warmer, more comfortable. The reader felt a little cold and awkward in my hand.

Exceedingly funny to me because I really don’t like the YA, so far, but that’s where my eyes wanted to be. My brain, however, wanted to be with the parody. The parody won out in the end, but the test did prove my point: What’s familiar is more comfortable and you will gravitate to it, maybe even kick and scream in rebellion, until you get adjusted. Until that new thing becomes familiar.

I’ll get used to e-reading, I’m sure. Hell, I’m just now getting used to the fact that the industry I knew fifteen-twenty years ago is very different now. VERY different. I’m adjusting, it just takes time.

But… ya know what I hate-hate-hate about an e-reader?

‘Remove from device’ has proved to be not nearly as satisfying as throwing a disappointing piece of shit across the room.

My husband would kill me.

p.s. My Kindle has a name. It’s Harvey.

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Sing along. Ten points if you get it and raise your lighters. Don’t forget the lighters!

Now back to business.

At the ass crack of dawn I wake up and find a new blog post that set off alarm bells in my head. The tone of those bells ringing so true, I have to share.

Anyone that can go on at length about quantum physics and set lighting makes my inner QED geek *squee* like a little girl. But that’s not the subject of the blog in question. What Rachel got me with this morning was “Why I don’t edit or proofread these blogs”.

See, she has this inner editor that’s a bitch on wheels. Well, apparently that chick has a twin sister that lives here with me. My muse, he’s a flashy queen and can be a brutal little shit when he needs to be, but my inner editor is like freaking death from above and attacks me much as Rachel’s attacks her.

I spent a good two hours writing last night’s blog because my inner editor not only stood over me with her razor blade coated cat o’nine, but then she started whispering shit in my ear. “No, you’re not being a bitch at all… keep writing… you’ll only hit delete after you’ve wasted two hours on the thing. You hack.”

Hmm. That’s the same damned thing she does to me when I’m trying to write. I’ve forgotten how to just vomit up words, which works best for me, and then edit over them later because my inner editor has taken over my brain. She makes me want to edit while I’m writing and I’ve noticed lately how awful the results can be if I allow that to happen. The first half of my book, written when I could vomit and ignore her, reads fairly well. The last half… oh, my.

Sometimes, her snarkiness brings my writing to a crashing, bloody full-stop. I look up at her and she wrinkles up her nose and waves a dismissive hand. “No, no, it’s fine… keep writing.” I hear her mumble as she stalks a circle behind me. “Hack.”

So, not only is my inner editor wrecking my flow, but she’s feeding that big no-no. Self doubt. I escaped her clutches last night and managed to post the blog. I’ll tell ya’, though. She was hovering over my ass the entire time I was trying to watch a movie.

“That last paragraph? What did you say? Were you clear? Are you sure? You know, you suck and nobody really wants to read that shit. You’re a hack, you can’t help it. Bless your heart.” Followed by a condescending pat on  the head. She’s obviously Southern.

For the love of all that’s good and holy in this world, will someone kill this bitch? Kill her with fire.

“You missed a word up there. Go back and fix it.”

Kill… her… now.

It still matters, trust me. But there is a time and place for addressing the things that matter and while I write is just not it.

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May 20th – January 20th

Ok, so it’s actually January 21st. Moving along…

I’ll start today’s blog with a confession. I’m an idiot. There, I said it. Now let me take it back since I’m done being my own worst critic, for the moment. I’m not an idiot, I just care. Let me explain…

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday and because I thought I was sounding snarky, I didn’t want to blog about it. I do that. Come on here, type-type-type and hit delete because sometimes I really should keep my mouth shut and not hit ‘post’. In this case? Nope! Changed my mind! It’s not snarky. It’s the truth and it’s how I personally feel about it. Here goes!

Two weeks ago the man who signs my paycheck at the day job went into the hospital. He’s still there and the outcome is uncertain. To say the situation as a whole is tearing up my nerves a bit is like the understatement of the decade. When my nerves are frayed and I’m unable to focus to write, I research the industry to death. I read and reread sites like The Absolute Write Water Cooler, Writer Beware , and my personal hero, Terrible Minds – Chuck Wendig. I do this because I want to know everything I can about everything. Publishers, agents, writing advice, who is starting a new imprint or expanding distribution, everything. An impossible task, but I’m damned well going to try.

One link led to another and I ended up somewhere new, not at the above mentioned links, and in my state of wrecked nerves I see where someone says that grammar and basic writing rules, arcs, plot holes, etc., “those things”, don’t matter as long as readers like the story in the end. And they were serious. And they had supporters.

My head rotated and green shit splattered on the walls.

If all of that didn’t matter, I’d have had my file open and been up to my eyeballs in everything I needed to work on instead of taking that hectic time and educating myself about the industry and the craft in general. I could barely form a coherant sentence to blog at that point, much less edit, but, hey! “Those things” don’t matter, so why was I wasting time waiting until I could focus to write? Hell, I may as well have just sent this puppy straight to Penguin right then, because it doesn’t matter!

Thank gods, I didn’t.

It matters, people. It really does. After twenty-plus years of writing I’m so far, far from perfect in my own literary skills, but I know “those things” matter and I will never stop trying to improve. I’ve been working on this book, specifically, since May 2010 and I’m now half bald because it matters. I’ve just today finished reading over my MS from start to finish and *BLAH*, in my opinion, what a wreck of a mess it is! Sure, my beta reader liked it, but I didn’t ask for her editorial opinion, I wanted to know if the story flew well enough. It flies, but it has a gimpy wing and it needs work. This book will not be finished in a year’s time – not a month, a year – because it matters. So, for five minutes I’m calling myself an idiot and I’m moving on, back into the trenches. Because it matters and because I care about “those things”, I won’t be just blindly tossing the MS out there. And neither should anyone else.

Have I mentioned that “remove from device” is my favorite feature on my Kindle? No? Hmm… another blog.

You know, I may never get published. I may never get a snazzy blurb for the cover of my book from one of my heroes. (Don’t worry, Anne, I’d never ask YOU, ha-ha). I may never be anything more than some chick who thought she could write a book. If that does turn out to be the case, it won’t be because I willfully and stupidly thumbed my nose at what matters the most and didn’t bother to try.

It’ll be because no matter how hard I tried, no matter how many times I stalked Grammar Girl in my spare time, I’m really just an untalented hack.

That’s something I can live with.

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I fully cop to the fact that I know just about nothing on how to work the finer points of this blog. So consider this my weak attempt at a blackout.

Here’s Chuck Wending’s blog:

Why SOPA And PIPA And Other Anti-Piracy Bullshit Measures Matter To Writers

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/01/18/why-sopa-and-pipa-and-other-anti-piracy-bullshit-measures-matter-to-writers/

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Yes, it has. But that’s fine. I was too close to the MS, as they say. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. When I printed it out for myself a few days ago, I was immediately catching nit-picky stuff, so my view is obviously a little better. Let’s play catch up so I can use it as an excuse not to get back to work on my notes. :-)

I had lunch with the first stage beta reader yesterday. Imagine my disappointment to learn that the used bookstore that took the place of Books-A-Million had taken out the coffee shop and all the chairs and tables. BAM was never ‘charming’, but it was the best I could do around here and they removed everything I liked about the store. They ruined my store. I was pissed. We found somewhere else to go, not nearly as conducive to the work at hand. Must find a new retreat.

I have different expectations from different levels of beta reading. Lex is a level one, which means she’s well read in the genre and can give a reader’s opinion. Well, I made her cry. (I touched on this back in the Resolutions blog.) So, I know I did something right with at least that chapter. She’s asked for backstory on Juliet, the zombie. Maybe a short, a novella just for Juliet? I might happily do it if Juliet would tell me her backstory. This MS was plotted from the get-go, save for Juliet and one other character. They were the total result of ‘pantsing’. So, that request is on a short list over to the side along with the synopsis for book two. (Book Two. *sigh*) Does it bother me that she cried over Juliet, but not over Lien? Yes, sort of, because that means I may have missed the mark with him and he needs a review.

I knew what Lex loved, she was forthcoming on that, and I had a lot of mental notes on that part from a few weeks ago. So, I asked her what she hated. Nothing.

*pry-pry-dig-dig* Yes, you did. I know you hated something. And I wrote it, so I know where the plot holes and blaring mistakes lie. LOL! 

She hated Nita. Not that she disliked how she was written, she just hated her. That was a shock. *snort* But that answer started the information flow. Once I got Lex talking, I found I’ve apparently described the interior of Luce well enough, but not the exterior. *facepalm* She’s never been to New Orleans and can see the city, the swamp, etc, in the MS, but Luce’s exterior was lacking. Great catch! I missed that, totally. Will do. “The “tingle”, what was that? And why is Julian so hesitant to kick Fernando’s ass?” Wonderful. That’s the kind of thing I needed to hear.

From a reader’s point of view, I have what I need for my notes on another editing run through. She confirmed a few concerns I had, myself. This will be like.. Draft 4. It moves on to level two and three betas in a few weeks. Lots to do… and I’m screwing around on the blog.

It’s hard, after putting it away for so long, to just jump right back into it. But really, writing the blog is useful in that way. It gets my brain working and knocks the dust off.

Thanks for listening. :-)

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~ A Room of One’s Own ~

I chose that title for the blog for a couple of different reasons. Mostly because of this one sentence… Wiki

“The title also refers to any author’s need for poetic license and the personal liberty to create art.”

My reasons have pretty much been remedied in the last seven months, one only yesterday.

When I bought my first desktop computer – which I still own – I had a desk in a corner of a sun room. I shared that desk and that computer with the ex-husband, even to the point of not having a separate email address. If you know me at all, or have learned anything about me in the last few months, that shit did not fly with me for very long. He got his own computer, but he eyeballed my desk every day, crinkling up his nose in blatant disgust. Eventually, I moved my desk into one of those large semi-walk-in closets with the folding doors. Doors closed, you could never tell that the wicked-wife had beads, pictures, notes, and other assorted insanity all around her desk. To get to my closet, I had to walk the gauntlet through his collection of music equipment. Yeah, he was a musician. *eyeroll* As long as I could close the doors and hide my inner freak from his hypocritical ass, his mouth stayed mostly closed. Mostly. But that also meant I wasn’t free to sit there when I chose.

We divorced in 1999 after ten years. The irony of it all is that same closet became his closet for his music equipment when he remarried. *smirk* Karma is lovely.

After that, my desk became the center of my various homes for about six years. My Interview with the Vampire poster never far away, The Axe ™ always at hand. A delicately twisted iron guitar covered in beads and masks hung where I could see it and remember collecting all those things in New Orleans. I could, and still can, tell you the story behind every bauble. When I bought my house, the desk moved from room to room. It had a sun room. Yes, the desk went there and finally stayed. I think that was part of the problem.

For a lot of reasons, some years back, I stopped writing for several years. During that time my desk went *poof*. Dismantled and mostly packed away, my imaginary friends went quiet. I shared the computer, when I bothered to use it, with the brand new husband.  The only things of mine still there around the computer, other than little trinkets, were the poster, the guitar, and The Axe ™. Those I didn’t put away.

Already long story short, one day my imaginary friends woke up. I started visiting the computer more often. I bought a new laptop. Now I needed a desk. Needed … a desk.

I am not “normal”, thank you. I did not go out and simply get a “desk”. I bought an upright piano that had been converted into a desk. The keys are gone, the writing surface is where they once were, but the wires and other guts remain. It weighs a solid half-ton. It … went into the sun room beside my old desk, which at that point was completely Bobby’s desk. I have a neurotic thing about people being behind me in general, but especially so when I write. It’s a trust thing. The desk was an epic fail. I returned to the living room chair, or the corner in the kitchen, which had become my new writing havens. Years pass.

When I decided to go whole-hog on the book, I told myself that I needed a desk. I needed my things around me again if I was going to seriously write. I needed my comfort zone back! I guess I also needed Bobby to see my freak flag fly and make sure he wasn’t going to crinkle his nose. When I started the book, he was crinkling a little as it was, would he get worse if I flew that flag too much?

I stayed hiding in the kitchen, with my back to the wall. Bobby’s crinkling faded, thank gods, and I wrote over sixty-thousand words.

*GASP*

Imagine that. I didn’t need my desk to write. But…. I still wanted it.

That piano desk’s wheels are so firmly dug into the hardwood floor now that the only way it was going to move was an earthquake. Well! Tried that! Seriously, there was a small quake a few months ago. It broke the ornamental concrete wall around my house. That desk didn’t move. Now what? I’m not going to go out and buy a freaking desk. I forget about it… sort of. New Year’s Eve, one of my neighbors about a half-mile away sat out a desk, well used, at their curb. I told Bobby that I wanted it. His nose crinkled. I panicked. Was it too much to ask?

We went and got the desk.

He even helped me firm it up with some well placed screws when I wanted the shelves removed from the hutch so I’d have more writing space. The one computer in the house with no wireless Internet has a monitor the size of a TV. I’d like to use that to try and fight the temptation of Facebook while I write. (Gods, I swear I will get a new monitor. Maybe the curb can help with that, too?) Needed the space, shelves gone. I have a desk.

Bobby’s crinkle was only because he figured a “curb desk” would be kinda’ beat up and I did sort of blurt the request out of the blue when he was concentrating on something else. It was more a ‘did you just grow six heads’ crinkle than a ‘freak’ crinkle. It is beat up, and I don’t care, I’m a few levels happier. He said he’d get me a brand new one for Xmas next year and I’d apparently be ecstatic. He’s more right than he knows.

It took me all afternoon New Year’s Day to move things around in the spare bedroom, The War Room, to where I could use the room and it still be a spare bedroom. Not because it was hard work, but because I was still afraid. Scared to death the crinkle would curl up on his lip for real as I set out things that are eclectic at best and special to no one but me. The very last things to move were the poster, the guitar and The Axe ™. My hands were shaking the whole time.

That was yesterday. He hasn’t said a word… and I haven’t been in the damned room since.

I’m sitting in the kitchen at my laptop while I write this, my back is not to the wall anymore. I noticed that change a few days ago. He just woke up and walked up behind me… and I let him.

Sometimes a blue curtain is just a blue curtain. Sometimes a desk is not a “desk”.

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