Friday, December 30, 2011

Blog on Fire-Nicole Zoltack

It has been many a moon since I've handed out one of my own Blog on Fire Awards.
I was waiting for an extra special one, I reckon.

Where Fantasy and Love Take Flight is the blog of Nicole Zoltack author of one of my faves, Knights of Glory.

On her bio, Nicole says she writes, '...mostly fantasy romances, but also paranormal, YA, MG, PB, horror, contemporary, historical (medieval), and combinations thereof...'

Take the time to check out her blog and books.
Easily worth it.

Fifth Day After Christmas

I feel like the guy who loves the first snowfall of winter. Lovely white, shimmery stuff.

But when more snow falls and it turns into several feet of shoveling, snowplows, and power outages, the charm is lost.

Christmas is over and Lady Gaga is back.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fourth Day After Christmas-Comments

No more tips.

Bing Crosby is out.

Bitch Came Back by Theory of a Deadman has taken his place.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Third Day After Christmas-Tip #3

Decisions, decisions. When to take the tree/decorations down?

I wait until after New Year's Eve.

This gives me a week to rest up from the excessive cookies, candy, family (yeah, I do get tired of my relatives after the first hug), and leftover turkey.

*shiver* Okay, the thought of turkey leaves me nauseous.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Second Day After Christmas-Tip #2

Two recipes.

I’ve learned the wonders of white whole-wheat flour. Chocolate chip cookies, banana cake, sugar cookies—all came out super. Even the hubby, Mr. What-Is-This-Sh**, couldn’t tell the difference.

And the hot rolls *sigh*. Try this recipe in your new breadmaker:

1 ¼ cups warm water
2 T butter
3 T brown sugar
1 ½ t salt
3 c white whole-wheat flour
3 t yeast

Set the machine on 'dough' cycle. When it is ready, form into approx 16 rolls in a greased 9 x 13 cake pan. Let rise 30 min. in a warm place. Bake at 400 for 19 minutes. I use stoneware so adjust accordingly.

Recipe #2:

I’ve learned the wonders of egg substitutes for homemade eggnog. Great.

Especially after I added the jigger of rum.

Oh, momma.

Monday, December 26, 2011

First Day After Christmas-Tip #1

Pets and tinsel.

If your tinsel disappears, don't fret. You will see it again.

But it won't be shiny.

Friday, December 23, 2011

I Choose Joy

I Choose Joy.

Some people find the Christmas season irritating.

The lights, the crowds, the commercialism.

I am not one of those people.

I Choose Joy.

I love the lights, the family gatherings, the smells of pine and sugar.

I love the songs especially the Bing Crosby tunes from my childhood.

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas
Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town
And Silver Bells.
Love Silver Bells.

Funniest song ever?

There’s Something Stuck Up In the Chimney.

To paraphrase a famous quote about choosing to be happy, I choose to love Christmas, the season of Joy.

Merry Christmas to All

Friday, December 9, 2011

How to Waste Time While Editing

My first draft waits. Editing is the objective today. Nine o’clock rolls around – designated for writing or my leave-me-the-hell-alone time.

I open the crit documents from two of my betas (Thanks Charity. Thanks L. Blankenship) alongside my draft and begin reading, editing, comparing, etc.

My Blackberry dings indicating I have mail.

Laura, a new follower on our crit group at UnicornBell, is responding to my comment on her blog.

How nice. I flit to her site and remember that I need to sign in to Blogger having signed out to check other accounts on Google. ( sidebar: I have three accounts and they drive me crazy)

I sign in and see something new. Google books.

I check it out. But it doesn't list one of my favorite books, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

I Google Patrick and find his website. I click on his blog. Cool blog. He mentioned the RP game, Skyrim.

I Google Skyrim.

I go to Amazon to read information on Oblivion, The Elder Scrolls, and Skyrim.

I check reviews on another site.

*coffee break and check our wood stove*

Back to computer.

I realize it is 11 pm and time to start dinner.

Wow. I got so much editing done today.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

First Draft Completed

When does a manuscript come together?

If you answered, “While slicing potatoes for dinner”, then we have something in common.

First draft of Wishes is complete. Editing commences immediately.

Beginning word count November 1st: 76 K

First draft completed December 5th: 97 K.
I believe a double arm pump is in order.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Jokes for Friday

(Cuz I got nuthin' else)
Joke #1

I went to a psychiatrist hoping he would cure my problem.

“Doc, I’m going crazy. I think something is under my bed and I can’t sleep.”

“I can rid you of that delusion. See me three times a week and I’ll cure you.”

“How much do you charge?”

“Eighty dollars per visit,” the doctor said.

“Ouch,” I said. “Well, I'll sleep on it.”

Six months later the doctor met me on the street. “Why didn't you come see me about your delusion?”

“Well, eighty bucks a visit three times a week for a year is an awful lot of money,” I said. “A bartender cured me for $10.”

“Is that so,” the doc said. He sneered. “And how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?”

“He told me to cut the legs off the bed. Ain't nobody under there now.”

Joke #2
WARNING! Risqué.

 What is the difference between a lover, a hooker, and a housewife?

Lover says, “Harder, harder.”

Hooker says, “Faster, faster.”

Housewife says,

*pause for effect*

“…beige…..I think I’ll paint the ceiling beige.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


November word count:

Beginning: 76 K
Ending: 92K

Though it isn’t completed, I am satisfied with the word count. I broke through several levels of angst, head banging, and general malaise to get to this point. A monumental achievement, I assure you.

First paragraph. Tell me if it is a hooker, er, um, hooks you.

His lazy strides across the mall caught my attention. Like he had time to kill and everyone else could wait at his leisure. Most galling was how people moved out of his way without disruption. No glares. No commotion.

I don’t think the word count will go to 100K but if it does, I will have enough storyline and volume to fiddle with now.


Untraceable is available. Visit SR Johannes and join in her book launch tour today.

Last thought (well, not my LAST one)
Looking for good writing-type music? Download the score to the video game, Assassin’s Creed.
HoChiMomma! Who woulda thunk it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Excuses, excuses

I used every one of them. Excuses, that is.
Busy, tonsillitis, vacation, or the best one of all.

“Not Today. I’ll Do It Tomorrow”.

This isn’t about writing.This is about exercising on my treadmill.

My current wip suffered along with my lazy ways. For me, Butt In Chair, the necessary element to a writer, meant blogging, checking other blogs and Amazon music, and research of improbable new tools.

I signed up even though Ambition rolled its eyes. This path was very familiar.

I snarled, dug deep, and cut back on goofing off the intensive research and wrote through several sticking points in my manuscript. My intended antag slapped me upside the head and told me to look elsewhere for the mastermind of all mayhem.

*OT- Don’t you LOVE those Allstate ‘mayhem’ commercials? Especially the ‘blind spot’. LOL*

Okay, we’re back.

To make a short story long, I had to buy a ticket to ride the roller coaster. Or muscle my way in since the Muse had left me. Once again I turned to my treadmill to clear and focus my mind. See here for an earlier post regarding this phenomenon.

Since then, my Stats returned to the land of Satisfactory:

Beginning Word Count: 76,225

End of Week One: 78,393
Week Two: 82,610
Week Three: 88,100

Bonus:  two miles every day and minus ten pounds.

Birth of a Novel + Lady Gaga + Treadmill = Completion of a MS.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Twilight:Stirring the Pot

My mom said the word ‘hate’ is like a curse in the eyes of God. I rarely use the word when describing ‘things’ let alone humans.

So you could say the word bothers me.

Why do people hate Twilight?

All of us have opinions. I understand the vegetarian’s viewpoint regarding eating meat and agree with them to a point. But I am a carnivore. No need for either of us to get huffy just because we don’t agree.

With that in mind, there are books that I didn’t care for, the writing and the storyline:
  • Water for Elephants
  • The Notebook
  • Interview with a Vampire
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

There are books and authors I love:
  • Lord of the Rings
  • The Kingkiller Chronicles
  • Mary Stewart
  • Jim Butcher
  • Kevin Hearne
  • Patricia Briggs
  • Patrick Rothfuss


Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

Why the vitriol against Twilight and the author?

Reason #1: Terrible writing

Yeah, debut authors should be perfect in every way *smarmy much?*

Reason #2: Poor role model

Seriously?! Since when do writers fret over role models? Pick up any YA and show me a good role model that fits everyone's concept of the word. This premise leaves me scratching my head and makes me wonder if they are reading the same books I am.

Reason #3: The movies are stupid.

*smacks forehead* Clearly the person who said this isn’t a reader and depends on the big screen to review books. Read Gone With the Wind for perspective.

Reason #4: Bella is moody

*gasp* ReaLLY? A teen that is moody? OMGosh, how unrealistic.

I read Twilight three years ago and my world changed for the better. I quietly indulge my love for the books. Why do people loathe the books to such a degree that they froth at the mouth? Popularity might be the answer. Or the lobsters in a bucket simile. One lobster crawls to the rim and the others pull it down to their level.

At any rate, the word ‘hate’ and acidic comments thrown at the novels make no sense to me. If you don’t care for the books, great. I didn’t like A Discovery of Witches either but that doesn’t mean I don’t think ANYONE should read it or would enjoy it.

Am I being unreasonable?
(btw, I don't care for the movies either but dang, that RPatz is breathtaking)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Holy Epic Fantasy, Batman

Birth of a Novel-week 3

Week One:76,225
Week Two:78,393
Week Three:82, 610

When my antag looked me in the eye and told me its story, I knew things would change in my MS but didn’t know how much until this last weekend.

Where did the evil start? What was the catalyst? And why.

In writing the history, backstory turned into epic fantasy. Revelations sprang from every character, from human and non-human.

This happened in my first completed novel, Of Oak and Dragons also, backstory to explain the whys and wherefores. Someday I will return to that first manuscript.

Wishes took a distinct turn from mild YA to Contemporary Fantasy. Now the backstory has evolved into Epic. I am as involved as any first time reader, wondering how it will end.

“It’s alive. It’s alive.” – Frankenstein, 1931

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Golden Blood

Golden Blood by Melissa Pearl is about a teen girl afflicted with more than the usual high school angst of friends, classes, and that cute boy in the front row. She is a time traveler. And sometimes missions get in the way.

Ms. Pearl debut novel is YA and a reading treat. She kept me guessing until the end, setting up conflicts and mysteries that bounced my emotions around. As the MC grows in character, she gets the proverbial rug pulled out from under her.  Great storyline.

I enjoyed the detailed world-building Ms. Pearl created. With layers of intrigue and what-ifs, I dropped into her alternate universe without struggling to understand.

A Great Read. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Very Interesting

Unintended consequences

When the antag in my wip claimed, “I am innocent,” I had much to consider.

My new antag is less evil but this is worse for the MC because the villain’s goals are righteous. There are no gray areas; no compromise or empathy.

Composing the history behind the antag’s resolve became the untended consequence. A good thing actually since different paths opened for me to take.

A big wow, creative-wise.

Another unintended consequence was not so good.

Several weeks ago, we hired a roofer to install new shingles on our house.
Last night we had our first measurable rainfall.
This morning we woke to *major* leaks resulting in damage to sheetrock, lighting fixtures.

Before the roofing job, our roof did not leak.

The unintended consequence? The act to forestall a problem caused the event to occur.
And I am learning the art of breathing deep and talking to myself.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Charity's Birth of a Novel

Week One: 76,225
Week Two: 78,393

Progress for Wishes

At first, the totals may give a dismal picture. Two thousand words isn't fancy dancing. But I have an excuse.  My antag said he didn’t do it.

Humph. That’s what they all say.

Then the MC refused to play ball. She also said he didn’t do it and everything changed.

The path shifted.  Re-writes and much research became the norm.

The bright light hit me in the excerpt below:

“Good Lord,” I said. “What are you, a vampire wannabe?”

 I wondered how I’d noticed him at all. Dressed in black from the ground up, boots, loose slacks, and a billowy shirt. It gaped at his throat and for a moment, my imagination carved punctures on his neck.

A swift look down then back at me. Collin’s brow scrunched into a frown. “A what? Vampire? No.”

And for a moment, his startled eyes were huge, startled. The smart-ass man, furious and impatient with life dropped from his expression. “I just like black,” he said simply.

“It’s a good look,” I blurted.

His mouth dropped. We stared at each other, me confused. And him…well, I couldn’t tell what Collin was thinking. It was as if I had slapped him with a dead fish, the surprise on his face was there for me to see. The term is ‘discombobulated’, I believe.

“What are you playing at?” he said low.

I have the ending written. It is clear in my mind. That didn’t change. But now I have to join the three sections: the main MS, the ending, and now the new antag.

Don’t you just love when the voices change their mind?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crit My Crit

I moderate a crit group, Unicorn Bell with three talented writers, Charity, Marcy, and Tara.  

Yesterday I analyzed and posted a submission.


Did I help? Is my crittering right on or a load of used hay? Is the revision appropriate or stepping over the line?

We appreciate comments here and at Unicorn Bell.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Birth of a Novel

Title: Of Wishes Made
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Wordcount: 76,225

Shamira has a knack for controlling animals. For her, being a whisperer and farrier doesn’t mean only voice and body language. Her thoughts alone master vicious dogs, frantic horses. For Sham, controlling animals isn’t hard. Dominating humans even less so.

Of Wishes Made began in December 2010. A Whole Eleven Months ago. And I am 15-20 K words from the end.

Why it isn’t finished:

I was busy.
Aliens sucked me into their mother ship and took me to a dimension without Word doc.

Although I am not participating in Nano with the blog chain’s help I hope to complete Wishes by December 1.

Or return to the other dimension where chocolate and Doritos have no calories.

Hm. I must give this more thought.

Brooke Busse 
Charity Bradford
Elizabeth Poole 
Fida Islaih
Lena Hoppe 
Mia Hayson 
Miranda Hardy  
Nyxie Moon 
Tessa C
Elizabeth Davis 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Chimney Smoking

After a DIY project re-fitting our chimney (“Chimney liner. What’s that?), we are up and running. Finally.

We’ve heated our 92 year old house with a wood stove for thirty some years. The money it saved in propane bills is enormous especially in a drafty house like ours.

But with harvest (done btw), we didn’t get the rest of the pipe up until Saturday. It’s been fifties and lower sixties in the living room but hey, that’s why we have blankets. And a cats.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Birth of a Novel

My crit partner and pearl of great price, Charity Bradford created a Nano blog chain with best buddy Elizabeth Poole.
“We decided that every Tuesday during the month of November, participants in the blog chain will post their updates. You can tell us about your novel, post excerpts, complain that all your characters are already dead and it's only chapter 11, whatever. Go wild.”

It is an aid to Nano, National Novel Writing Month, but should be of interest to any writer. No need to be a participant of Nano just gotta be a writer. And since you are reading this, you are qualified. LOL.

Go check it out and sign up. This business needs good people and Charity and Elizabeth are two of the finest.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Hop Blogfest

Scariest Movie of All

It has no CGI, massive blood loss, or chainsaws.

What it has is sound. A crash in the night, loud knocking, that trapped sensation, and human reactions. Of terror, horror, and madness.

It is The Haunting, the 1963 version of the novel by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House.

The most chilling line comes after something begins banging on the bedroom door that Nell, the protagonist, shares with another woman. She reaches out to take the other woman’s hand as the crashing at the door continues, seeming to ebb, and then returning with an echoing boom.

Nell complains that the woman is crushing her hand. When the room falls silent, Nell sees the other woman isn’t close enough to have been the one holding her hand in the dark.

“God! God! Whose hand was I holding?”

Ms. Jackson wrote outstanding literature including The Lottery and The Daemon Lover. To mix it up, she also wrote Life Among the Savages, about raising kids in a old house, one of the most humorous books I’ve ever read.

What is your scariest movie?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

(True) Spooky Stories, Part II

The Scream

We stood at a juncture a ‘T’ in a hallway of an old building we were remodeling. The floors were a terrazzo stone pattern, mottled gray, and the walls newly painted ivory.

The building had stories of haunting, of dark-robed ladies gliding down the halls and of cold winds in the tunnels as if a specter had rushed by in a hurry.

But those were just stories and I shrugged them off. I loved them of course as I love any fiction but that was all.

As we talked that day at the T juncture, three others and I, a woman screamed.

Imagine a throat-tearing sound from a horror flick. Then place it in an empty building.

I flew down the hall that faced us. Without a doubt, the woman in trouble was right in front of me behind the closed door in the hallway. But when I jerked the door open, no one was there. Confused, I looked around and saw I was alone. None of my co-workers had followed.

All of us heard the scream and all of us reacted. For me, the sound came from the hallway directly in front. At the same time, two of my co-workers ran down the right hand hall sure the scream came from that direction.  But no one was there.

The other co-worker ran down the left hallway. Empty.

The four of us had occupied the same area. All of us heard the kind of scream that turns guts to water. All of us swore it came from a different area.

We found no one.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Hop Blogfest

Suspense writer Jeremy Bates (oh, really. Like the motel??!) is sponsoring a cool event.

Scoot over and sign up. Looks like a ghoulish good time.

(True) Spooky Stories

Dumped. What a word to describe the end of a relationship. And just as I finished wrapping his Christmas gift in red foil paper. Too late to return it. No one wanted an engraved wristband with someone else’s name on it anyway.

A storm roiled the clouds over my house and miles away lightning stabbed the earth as I stood under the porch roof watching.

Relationships never worked out for me. They blew up at the worst times. Now, once again, I was alone. Anger mixed in equal measures with hurt.

Why can’t I find that special person, the one meant for me?

The desperate plea crushed me. I squeezed my eyes shut.

A flash of light clawed at my eyes then a blast of thunder followed by crackling. Like plastic scrunched together, a sure sign of a close lightning strike.

And then a voice inside my head.

*wait until spring*

Air left my lungs as I contemplated my sanity. And the tone of the still, quiet voice.

Five months later, daffodils were in bloom and college commencement invitations sent out when a strange man laughingly sprayed me with a water hose at a gas station.


We celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary next week.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Will Eat You

You can see where cartoon characters get their angst

This Massey is eleven years old and makes short work of a field of soybeans. Our red Chevy truck is a ’73 model and the white International (not pictured) is an old, gray bearded man to a mechanic. It was new in 1970, the last of our shade tree, repair-them-ourselves vehicles.

We begin our sixth week of harvest on Tuesday. It’s been a smooth run this year with little rain and no major breakdowns *cross fingers, knock on wood, spit over left shoulder, conduct burnt offering ceremony*

This week – the good Lord willin’ and the creeks don’t rise -- we’ll combine our last field of beans and put the equipment to bed.

Farming is business like any other. Difficult some days and life at its best on others. Early mornings, late nights. No different from a mother rising at 4 am to get the kids ready for school I think. Or the commuter braving a traffic jam and snarly boss.

Best thing about farming? No one tells me what to do. Let me reiterate -- No. One. Tells. Me. What. To. Do.

Independent much? Eh, a little.

Worst thing about living in the country? No pizza delivery.

Got any questions for me about farming? What we grow or how we grow it? Prices? Subsidies? (For the record, IMHO subsidies help the ‘big’ farmer get bigger and crowd out the small farmer)

It is a good life, a private life and a place where Fantasy rules.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I-Need-a-Joke Day

A farmer had five female pigs. Times were hard, so he took them to the county fair to sell. At the fair, he met another farmer who owned five male pigs. After talking a bit, they decided to mate the pigs and split everything 50/50. But since the farmers lived sixty miles apart, they agreed to drive thirty miles each, find an empty field, and let the pigs mate.

The first morning, the farmer with the female pigs got up at 5 A.M., loaded the pigs into the family station wagon, the only vehicle he had, and drove the thirty miles.

"How will I know if they are pregnant?” he asked the other farmer.

"If they're lying in the grass in the morning, they're pregnant. If they're in the mud, they're not.”

The next morning the pigs were rolling in the mud. So he hosed them off, loaded them into the station wagon, and drove the thirty miles to the empty field to try again.

This continued each morning for more than a week.

The next morning he was too tired to get out of bed.

"Honey,” the farmer said to his wife. “Please look outside and tell me whether the pigs are in the mud or in the grass."

"Neither,” yelled his wife. "They're in the station wagon and one of them is honking the horn."

Friday, October 14, 2011


I completely forgot about the Pay It Forward blogfest over at Matt MacNish's blog.


My apologies.
Head on over there and sign up. His site is the one amateur and experienced writers go to for superb crttering.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Heaven Came Down

“Is this heaven?”

“It’s Iowa.”

“Iowa. I could have sworn it was heaven.”– Field of Dreams

If I have a choice in the matter, October in Missouri will be my Heaven.

The colors of autumn, bronze and orange, butter-gold and green.

The breeze in the evening, cool with a tang unlike any other time of the year.

Halcyon skies are crystalline, the skies especially blue.

Cows bawl at feeding time.
Turkeys warble in the misty dawn.
Leaves tumble and wrestle, caught in a dust devil.

The bustle of combines and trucks, tractors and people.

Yellow corn hisses down the bed of a truck and into the jaws of the auger. Men hurry, cuss mightily at mechanical breakdowns, calls of ‘bring dinner to the field’.

Late nights. Early mornings.

Harvest. Of Time immortal.

Heaven came down
And Glory filled my soul.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Joke of the Day

Why a joke for the day? Because Blogger won't let me comment on Unicorn Bell and I have nothing else to give.

I had a problem with my computer yesterday, so I called Eric, the 11 year old next door whose bedroom looks like Mission Control and asked him to come over.

Eric clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem.

As he was walking away, I called after him, “So, what was wrong?”

“It was an ID ten T error,” he said.

I didn't want to appear stupid, but nonetheless,
An, ‘ID ten T error’? What's that? In case I need to fix it again.’

“Haven't you ever heard of an ‘ID ten T’ error before?” Eric asked. His smirk was beginning to annoy me.


“Write it down,” he said. “You’ll figure it out.'

So I wrote down.


I used to like Eric, the little bastard.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dark Shadows

As a kid, I tripped and splattered on the sidewalk, nearly crippling myself. I was running home to watch Dark Shadows after school when the bus let me off late.

Dark Shadows. It was so different, so very hip, the water cooler program of its time, and the one everyone talked about next day. Some of the bloopers were hilarious too.

I have an original, 45-rpm record of Quentin’s Theme. *swoon* Barnaby Collins was my second fave, right after Quentin. He was my first ‘Edward’.

Johnny Depp as Barnaby and director Tim Burton think they can re-make this show. Um. I don’t know.

I like Mr. Burton and Depp but this is one classic TV show that should probably not be defamed, turned into a camp-type production. Re-Made into their ‘vision’.

Depp would have to be one fantastic looking dude/vampire for me to convert. That's him in the middle, looking rather Jonathan Frid-esque. And where is Quentin?

Oh, well.

To all those lovers of Dark Shadows, are you anticipating this movie a) Eagerly b) Suspiciously c) Don’t give a flying fig?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WTH is YA?

To answer the above question, YA changes with the times.

In past decades, the definition of YA was The Catcher in the Rye, Bambi, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Oliver Twist. Seriously, can you imagine kids reading one of the above on their own without a school report looming? Well maybe Mockingbird but what about the rest.

Animal stories dominated the shelves as well as what is now labeled literary classics.

Black Beauty, Irish Red, Misty of Chincoteague.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Great Expectations, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Stories about teenage drug dependences, graphic violence, and death almost non-existent.

Alice in Wonderland, Chronicles of Narnia, The Call of the Wild, The Black Stallion, Little House in the Big Woods.

But the kids grew into adults and wanted more. They pushed the envelope on youth oriented material. And their audience responded.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Diary of Anne Frank, My Brother Sam is Dead.

YA became less a genre than a category, a cacophony of different voices covering social issues, literary, and sci-fi and horror.

The Babysitter, Vampire Academy, The Lord of the Rings.

New sub-categories burst onto the scene with names like steampunk and dystopia that had to be Googled.

Clockwork Angel, The Hunger Games, Hush Hush, The Hunger Games, Twilight.

Aside from any morality issues of teens exposed to TMI at an early age, some of today’s books make me feel like a cat stroked backwards. Annoyed.

Many of the books are carbon copies. I’m not talking about subject or content but prose. First person, smart alec girl with a past who is kick ass at – fill in the blank here. All of them talk the same with the similar vocabulary. Blech.

My pet peeve, my problem, I reckon. I hate to see so-called ‘recipe’ type books. But writers read a book, like it, and want to see more. Or (heaven help us) see a profitable trend and want to cash in.

The YA bookshelves are wide-open for any genre, full of promise and mayhem. But golly people, give the Rose/Clary/Nora/Grace/Katniss spin offs a rest. We liked them as a trickle. The flood? Eh, not so much.

Whadda you think?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Agents and Their Responses to Queries

Janet Reid has an excellent post concerning queries. She gives her opinion of Rachelle Gardner and Jill Corcoran and their method of ‘no response means no’.

Far be it from me to get in the middle of this discussion but maybe a sidebar is in order.

After researching an agent and agency, employing hours and days of work, please Mr. or Ms Agent let me know if you’ve received my query. It can be an auto-reply or a rejection.

(At this point in my writing career, if a rejection pinches my ego, I figure that is MY problem not yours.)

Have a website or a Publisher’s Marketplace page. This seems rudimentary but I see this often. If you don’t market yourself, how can you market my manuscript?

Keep your site updated. Come on, are you really so busy that you can’t take ten minutes to post something more current than 2009?

List your preferences. Again, this seems like a ‘duh’ but sadly it isn’t. Tell me exactly what you do not want. This saves us both time and work.

If you are not taking new clients and routinely deleting/shredding queries, please let me know. Don’t coast.

I realize you receive queries that don’t follow the rules and that you must wade through the mucky ones to find the gems. But I’ve taken the time, Mr. or Mrs. Agent, to research and read your submission guidelines line by line, Google all your interviews, study your blog and website. Please respond in some fashion even if it is with a ‘no’, a form letter, or an auto-response that you received the query.

Believe me, the phrase "no news is good news" is a horrible way to conduct business.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Visualizing Fight Scenes and Critiquing

Want to run a questionable fight scene through the ringer of fellow critters? Go to UnicornBell to submit your problem child for help.

Before I compose a fight scene for my manuscript, I first map out the steps, the action, and the weapons.

And I watch Jackie Chan. A lot.

Videos, movie and competition matches, play a large part in my research. Not so much car chases though since they are mostly *ABC stuff. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

But let’s set the record straight. The hands down, best fight sequences, best car chase scenes (IMHO) are in The Bourne Ultimatum. That cop car, coasting down the speed barrier is, well, I could watch it three times, re-wind, and watch it again. Super.

Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee (if you can find his stuff), are two of the best. I slo-mo the action, note the placement of their feet especially and body.

The defensive tactics I learned as a CO is invaluable; where to place the hands, slapping the palm, and turning the thumb just so to release an opponent’s grip.

Use what you have, take martial arts classes, watch videos. All this helps to visualize that fight scene. Then your MC can pop open that can of ass whoopin’.

Again, if you want to run that problem child of a fight scene past like-minded individuals, go to Unicorn Bell and submit 250-300 word excerpt (with a lead-in) to beccoff(at)nwmo(dot)net.

*Already Been Chewed

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Sign of Fall

We call it the Gathering, the fall migration of our barn swallows. They sit on the power lines, sway in the breeze, and seem to count their numbers before leaving.

They’ve abandoned their nests; the young have followed them into the sky. Now they wait until everyone shows up.

Who is missing? Are they counting heads? Or are they looking for the youngest to strengthen? Do they wait on the weather?

They begin their gather at the end of August, filling the lines until it curves down into a half-smile.

We hurried them along this year. When our barn began to lean, we knew its days were numbered. Built in 1918, it had served its purpose and did not owe us a dime. Better to put it down gently, lovingly than let it fall in pain, piece by piece.

We dropped it and the barn swallows immediately began their Gathering.

And then, one day we woke, and the barn swallows were gone.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Of Tonsillitis and Book Reviews

Lemme tell ya, tonsillitis and reading a fantastic series of books just plain goes together. I know. I did it over this past week.

Before I get to the meat of my posting, one question; isn’t tonsillitis a kids malady?

But I digress.

Prick your ears my children on this bit of sweetness, the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne.

It begins with Hounded, continues with Hexed, and I just finished the third in the series, Hammered.

Everyone who aspires to sit beside published authors has acquired the irritating habit of ‘editing’ as they read books. I see wall-to-wall alliterations, bad grammar, overuse of pronouns, and think how the hell did this person get an agent let alone get published wonder if reading every new book will hit me this way.

I began Hounded and my editorial eye kicked in immediately. But nothing happened, no critiques exploded to kill my concentration. *whoa*

For me there are three kinds of books.

One, a book I immediately sling to one side and expand my mind by mowing the lawn instead.

Two, a book I like, dig in and devour. But muddled prose and unnecessary characters fill the pages and I begin skipping paragraphs then pages to get to the end. Usually I re-read them thoroughly.

Three, the last kind, the novel that I savor, roll over my senses, and absorb every word w/o skipping a word.

Not many books have had that effect on me. The King Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss is one. Now, the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne is the second.

How good? I bought the series for my Kindle but now I must have them in book form. They are too good not to feel the paper under my fingers as I read.

And my tonsillitis is succumbing to pills I swallow twice daily. Of which I forgot to take because I was writing this. ACK.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hail, Wind, and Time

A harvest of dashed hopes.
That's what a pair of hailstorms across Nodaway County Thursday and Monday means for farmers, many of whom will lose all or virtually all of this year's corn and soybean crop-Maryville Daily Forum.
Many in this community lost their crops last week to a double-hit of 70 mph wind and hail that fell for 20 minutes. The storms stripped the corn, beans, and pastures.

Bins lay twisted. Trucks upside down.

East Coast Friends. My thoughts are with you as Irene bears down.

Take care.
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