Tuesday, September 30, 2008
It wasn't the plot which was as standard as the list of ingredients on the cereal box. I wish I knew why I read from chapter one to the end. Regency set, cold hero, TSTL heroine. Big misunderstandings etc.
I want you guys to tell me why I held on but then I'd have to put up the name of the book and I can't to do that unless it's someone who's sold a gazillion billion copies and I don't think she has. But really. I could see why I'd force myself to read it if I'd paid good money for it, but it came from the library. Maybe I thought there'd be twists and it wouldn't be so paint-by-number to the very end? That had to be it. Why else would we finish books that don't grab us? WHY? Could it be all about the hooks? (picks up copy) Naw.
And that's boring, even for me. I might hunt down the two reviews (the only two I've gotten) post the good bits, and make you have to google if you want to read the meh/ugh parts. It seems only fair.
So okay SBD is about reading as a writer. Saturday I went to a Mary Buckham workshop (and she's great, btw.) that reminded me about scene and sequel, and hooks and I'd forgotten about them. Not exactly forgotten, just not thought about them. And much as it's good to be reminded of this stuff, and shove it all into the active part of the brain, there are consequences. When I pick up a book, I start counting hooks. And I start noticing when scene and sequel are reversed. The writer's brain is not welcome when I'm reading unless I want to figure out why a book works or doesn't and I just don't. I do NOT want to be a writer when I read.
I want to read Jennifer Cruise for good escapist fun, not for Craft. But it'll be at least a week before my writer brain shuts up. In the meantime, I'll read non-fiction and maybe literary stuff. It'll have to be really edgy literary because even those guys follow the hook 'em in stuff. I guess it's back to the old writers who don't hold so tight to the rules. Been a while since I read Northanger Abbey. I bet I'll see hooks everywhere though. Yeah, I can even think of them right off the bat. First line of P and P. Hook.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Hey, you can either watch that Couric interview over and over or generate some answers that make even more sense!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I didn't make a birthday cake for the first time in years because my best birthday present ever is off at college and didn't need one from me. And I got this randomness from BOY2 who is currently my favorite boy ever because he's the one who came thru. He is zippy zen.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Yo, I just wrote one with piggy shapeshifters--they weren't heroic. I'm thinking Turkey Warrior next. Not sure how the characteristics will shift with the h/h into human form. Maybe they can encounter danger every time there's a heavy storm. (even though it's a myth that turkeys are so stupid they can drown whilst looking up during a rainstorm, it's a GOOD myth. One I'd stick with)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.
I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transaction is 100% safe.
This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.
Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.
Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson
Monday, September 22, 2008
I am tired of characters and books that take themselves seriously but in fact are as shallow as a mud puddle. I won't read them any more. If you're going to be that shallow, at least reflect sunlight and don't pretend to examine murky depths that don't actually exist.
The one good thing is that these are all library books. We're economizing in a big way. No banging agaisnt the walls with books I had to pay for.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Too bad all those lovely stories are off into the void. Kind of like those mandelas that the priests make of sand and then destroy.
I'm wondering about the point of blogging too. I used to have a huge audience-a couple hundred a day--and its dwindled. Most peeps would say that's the sign this blog's day is done and I should sign off.
But naw. It's fun and I guess as long as that's true, why not?
I suspect by now people get that having a blog isn't much of a marketing tool (except if you're someone like PBW. She comes off as a professional and that has to improve her writerly presence and aura) ....unless you promote the hell out of the blog and why do that when you're supposed to be promoting the books? On the loops there are people who swear agents/editors make sure you have a blog or other web-presence. I expect those are agents/editors who are bored and curious and avoiding work like the rest of us blog-readers.
Or probably they want to make sure they don't sign on a writer whose nickname for her current agent/editor is WhoreDog.
My guess is when they read your blog, they're vetting the person, not the promoter. Hey you do know that "Vetting" comes from veterinarian? Before a race, you get an animal doctor to check out those horses. No, really, that's the origin. And I hope you love that as much as I do.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
2. I didn't get a cat before my husband got all anti-feline and huffy about it.
3. I didn't plant enough tomatos. Never, never enough tomatoes.
4. I didn't go for a better color blue in the dining room and I should have removed the switchplates before painting
5. I didn't sell, sell, sell.
6. I didn't finish the work I was supposed to do yesterday. Or the work I was supposed to do last week.
7. I didn't start that novel. Or finish that other one.
8. I started this list because it's a gorgeous day and I'd rather be outside.
well, that's an easy one.
Bye! There might be thirteen, but don't hold your breath. I'm my own boss and, sad to say, I'm really losing control over the crew these days. Arrrr. There be a sad lack of discipline which leads to mutiny. Maybe for TLAPD I'll overthrow control of this ship and go get a 9-5 job at last.
Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream
The New England middle-class's TS Eliot. No Latin or fancy pants education needed and yet, like TS's stuff, you end up with......huh? WTF? I've had that phrase stuck in my head all night like a song fragment. "The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream"
Question du jour: Is this A. better than B. worse than or C. about the same as having the lyrics to Dancing Queen stuck in there. I guess it depends on whether you want to hum the words or ponder them.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
2. I have an autographed copy of As Darkness Falls by that premier Australian Writer Novelist Knitter Person, Bronwyn Parry. MINE. My copy. GO buy your own.
Monday, September 15, 2008
But le sigh.
Turns out my favorite sort of blogs aren't book review blogs or promo blogs or even kerfuffle blogs but the bits of people's lives now and then blogs. The "scene just outside the window, the weird plant I found on the walk home, the exchange I overheard on the bus" blogs. Those blogs have the rants that make me either want to say GO! YEAH or Huh, never thought of it like that. And then there are the occasional reflections on the past or the future and those make me want to weep because I'm reminded of the amazing resilience of people.
I don't have the same urge to abandon this blog because I don' think I usually put as much of myself into mine as they do theirs. So it'll never be as lovely or thoughtful as theirs. On the other hand, quantity rather than quality means I'm always here. Waving! Hi!
Write again soon, guys, even if it isn't a heart-breaking, life-afirming personal essay. Just go for the life-afirming one. A quick line to say "still out here, living."
JMC? Suisan? Anyone else got an SBD today? It is Monday. :::More sighing:::
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I mean, tchah. It would have taken fifteen minutes of talking to someone, or even watching them at work, to get this right.
1. Yarn shop employee There's a lot of yarn shop action featured in this woman's books. And there's also much talk about how a character has to wait and wait weeks to learn to knit because the yarn shop owner hasn't set up knitting classes and the poor woman running the shop is too exhausted to teach the classes. Excuse me? Learning to knit isn't rocket science.
I worked in a yarn shop for a couple of years and I would teach 3-10 people a DAY the basics of knitting. People who'd never been in a yarn shop before would wander in on impulse, and if I wasn't wildly busy, I'd show them how easy it was to knit and teach them how. We had grubby skeins of yarn and needles by the cash register just for that purpose. Of course we'd do that--otherwise we would have lost half our sales. Well, maybe not half.
We did have special classes in the basics because they were fun and because people liked to socialize. But there's no way I'd ask a customer to wait for weeks to learn to cast-on and do the basic knit stitch while I got the energy together to set up a class. My manager would have killed me.
Plus the fictional woman who runs the fictional shop never ever seems to spend a minute of time putting skeins back on shelves after customers put them in the wrong spot or disarranged a nice display. That was a big chunk of the job right there. Cleaning up after the customers.
2. Car repair service manager. In this book, there's a man who put himself through school to be a mechanic. After years he's worked his way up to....SERVICE MANAGER! Ta DA! No excuse, like the female who's attracted to him got the title wrong, because, dude, that's how he introduced himself.
Um. The service managers are the lowest of the low in the shop. Okay, maybe the parts manager is lower. But not much. A service manager has to know how long a repair will take--and there's a grubby oil-smeared book that spells that out for him (probably grubby oil-smeared computer now. We had flipping fiche machines). He doesn't have to know how to do the repairs.
He or she has to answer phones, take appointments, pump brakes when needed, sometimes change oil if a mechanic is too busy. No way a garage with more than a few people on staff would ask a fancy trained, well-paid mechanic to take the job of scheduling maintainance appointments or listen to customers ranting.
It's a job of groveling to the customer AND the mechanics, with only some passive-aggressive power. At the start of the day, over coffee he or she has to describe jobs and symptoms to the professionals and beg picky mechanics to take particularly badly-paid jobs. Of course if the mechanics weren't careful, and didn't pay attention at those meetings. they'd get landed with the icky jobs--the ones that always take longer than the scheduling book says they will--there's the passive aggressive part. I was only an assistant service manager, though I took over a few times when Andre went on vacation. (I sucked at it)
I did scheduling, answered phones and did parts runs. That last part of the job meant I got to see that the system in our garage was pretty much the norm, No way someone would use a skilled mechanic as a service manager. Even over at the big dealer, where the manager wielded more power than Andre and I (we worked for owner/mechanics), the service manager was merely a go-between, keeping the customer and the mechanics from actually having to deal with each other.
I guess the word "manager" makes the job look impressive. It's more like a character in a book talking about working as a hair stylist and announcing that, after years of work, she's landed the job of receptionist.
Anyway. Are you asleep yet? The moral of the rant is finally here:
If you're going to describe the day-to-day life of professions in books, particularly common ones, it's smart to know the basics. Of course she's a gazillion-books-out famous author and I'm not--so me telling her how to do HER job is kind of funny.
Friday, September 12, 2008
She's been hanging around the kitchen sink for about three months taking up a fair chunk of space.
Her web is kind of odd--she lives on the window sill behind that glass vase most of the time. There's a tunnel-like hole in the web that she uses to come up now and then. I took her picture the last time she did. She has another hole at the other end and she's pretty tidy. After she eats, she drags the leftovers out and dumps them out that other end. I've taken to clearing that part of her web because the bug bits are gross.
Her web is always sort of tattered because she tries to build where we don't want her to go so we have to do deconstruction. To make up for undoing her web, I occasionally herd some of the fruit flies over her way. Yeah, Leslie, we still have the damn fruit flies.
I don't know what kind of spider she is. If you recognize her let me know. If she's something deadly horrible, let me know very, very soon. We've done okay together but I don't want to be washing dishes a few inches from something that'll make my hand fall off if she bites me. After all our time hanging together, I wouldn't squash her but I might take her outside.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
But then I remembered that my policy is I don't do those Sept. 11 things.
And anyway, Aya just posted a new comic book online. The cover art reminds me of the old children's book stories about Tim who was always going out to sea. Edward Ardizzone illustrations. (Sorry, Aya. I know artists hate being told, hey that looks just like so and so's work. But there it is.)
Okay. I'm going to slog through more revisions and then go read her comic book.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Sigh. Back to work. That might be the end of our Bonnie Dee - fest. But while you're checking your watch, waiting for the drama that is Kate and Her Computer to come to a sad, predictable end, go read Mrs. Giggles's review of Bonnie Dee's book.
Life imitates art? One can only hope…
Elena is a by-the-script actress whose co-star, Michael, has a gift for improvisation that drives her crazy. Fighting a fiery chemistry, they work to keep their on-stage romance where it belongs—on the stage. But a year-long road tour stretches before them. How long can they keep a lid on their simmering passion?
When his left-behind boyfriend, Tom, seems withdrawn on the phone, Denny questions his lover’s faithfulness. Their once-solid relationship faces its biggest test during the long separation.
Inexperienced Gretchen is thrilled to land her first professional role in the musical, Transitions, but the pressures of performing are more than she bargained for. Entranced by her wholesome sweetness, Jake, the pit guitarist, endangers the very qualities he admires by giving her a “little something” to take the edge off her nerves.
Every night for a year, they’ll play out a “happily ever after” on the stage. Before the last curtain call, will life imitate art?
Excerpt 1: Michael and Elena
Elena glanced at Michael again to find him looking back at her. His gaze slid away immediately.
Her heart thumped. He’d caught her looking. But then she realized he was watching her, too. Was it possible he was interested in her?
Stop it. Grow up. She’d seen backstage romances flare and just as quickly burn out. It was childish to confuse stage passion with the real thing. They were professionals, for God’s sake.
Elena concentrated on putting everything she had into the song. As the company reached that soaring final note, she stared at the empty seats and imagined them filled, only a few weeks from now. Her heart soared along with the music at the thought.
Walking from the stage afterward, she felt a hand on her arm and turned to find Michael beside her. Her stomach jolted at his sudden appearance. Being near him was like being caught in an electromagnetic wave of charisma.
“I’m giving you a heads-up now so you don’t yell at me later. In the bedroom scene, I’m going to pick you up and carry you to the bed. We’re supposed to be passionate and yet we stroll across the stage. It’s awkward and weird. But I wouldn’t want to take you by surprise with spontaneity and piss you off.”
“Did you check with Pender?” Elena felt her blood pressure rising. “Michael, we’re two weeks away from opening, and you’re altering the staging. You can’t keep changing things on a whim.”
“Pender hasn’t complained lately.”
“He gave up. Since you go right on doing what you want anyway, he quit trying to rein you in. That’s why I’m stuck doing it.”
“Maybe he likes my instincts.” Michael’s lazy smile made her temper burn, but also started heat blooming in her belly.
“Fine. But this is it. After tonight, no more changes. And if Pender complains about this, it’s all on you.”
“This will be a lot better. Trust me.”
Surprisingly, she did. His instincts were good. And beneath her protest, on a very fundamental level, she wanted him to scoop her up and carry her in his arms.
“You know I’m all about winging it,” Michael continued, “but maybe we should practice a couple of times to make sure I can lift you without throwing my back out.”
He took Elena’s hand, and his warm flesh sliding against hers gave her another of those ridiculous stomach flutters. He led her to an empty dance rehearsal room backstage. There was a mirrored wall with a bar along it and a well-polished wood floor. The smell of old sweat and new varnish perfumed the air.
Elena watched Michael’s reflection in the mirror as he spoke. “Okay, take it from your line, ‘We shouldn’t do this’.”
It felt odd without the apartment set around them. She pulled her eyes away from the mirror and looked up at Michael.
“We shouldn’t do this. What about Richard?”
Slipping an arm around her back and one behind her thighs, Michael interrupted her next line, lifting her easily off her feet. Her arms automatically went around his neck, and she gave a little gasp of surprise.
“I don’t care.” Michael’s face was close. His breath puffed against her face and she smelled the sharp scent of breath mint. He bent his head to kiss her then stopped.
“Wait a minute. This is awkward. I can’t kiss you after I’ve picked you up. Do it again.” He set her down on her feet.
Elena held onto his shoulders for a second as she got her balance. Her body vibrated with excitement, but she managed to snap, “Don’t step on my line this time.”
She delivered her speech again, finishing with, “He trusts me!”
“Tomorrow you can tell him it’s over, but I’ve got to have you now.”
Michael pulled her into his arms, planted a searing kiss on her lips then scooped her off her feet. He carried her a few yards before setting her down again.
They remained locked in an embrace, both a little breathless as though they’d done an entire dance number instead of a simple lift. Elena glimpsed their reflection in the mirror. They looked really good together; Michael’s blond-streaked hair and her dark curls, his sleek, swimmer’s body and her petite, compact figure, his pale skin and her tan flesh. They made a sexy couple.
“How’s it going to work with laying me on the bed? Are you going to just drop me on it?”
“Hang onto my neck and drag me down with you like you’re frantic and can’t wait. Kathleen and Aaron have been fighting their attraction through three scenes. I think that’s enough foreplay, don’t you?”
“Mm-hm.” Elena’s nipples were tight and hard, pressed against his chest. Her sex clenched simply from being kissed and picked up a couple of times. It was annoying how her body betrayed her.
“Okay.” Michael finally stepped away from her. “Let’s try it that way tonight and see what Pender says.” He glanced at his wrist, but he was wearing his character’s leather wrist cuff instead of a watch. “It’s probably time.”
“Uh-huh. Don’t want to piss off the stage manger.” She felt him following her from the room as if their bodies were connected.
When they reached the stage, everyone was in place. Elena and Michael separated and went to opposite sides of the apartment set. Elena sat on the ratty couch, one leg hooked over the arm, a textbook open on her lap. Her face was turned toward the book, but her eyes watched Michael stalk across the stage like a cat. It was easy to get into character. Like Kathleen, she couldn’t keep her eyes off Michael/Aaron.
He stood in profile, his angular face dramatically lit by the stage lights as he gazed out the fake window. His sharp cheekbones, hard jaw and full lips were attractive, but it was his eyes that seized Elena’s gut and twisted. They were indigo in shadow, but brilliant as sapphires when they caught the light.
Elena turned her attention back to the textbook and concentrated on using her real attraction to Michael to create Kathleen’s unrequited love for Aaron.
The house lights went down and the overture began.
Monday, September 08, 2008
* * *
In which I sit myself down and ask myself some stern questions.
WHAT'S GOING TO TAKE PLACE IN LESS THAN A MONTH? I'll have a new book out.
WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING NOW? The same thing I always seem to do when I'm about to have a new release. Ranting about politics and using foul language in those rants. Thus alienating a good share of my potential readership.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? I can't help myself? And yes, okay. I can't do promo worth ......ummm beans.
IS THERE ANY UPSIDE TO THIS? It's good to know there are predictable events in life.
I MEAN ANY UPSIDE FOR KATE? No, not really.
WHAT WAS THAT? I CAN'T HEAR YOU. No. There is no upside for Kate or Summer in this.
WILL YOU PLEASE, PLEASE POST BONNIE DEE'S EXCERPTS? Well. I have to write about 2ooo words to keep up with my challenge. And I have a writer's meeting with Terry and Jes at 1. After that?
ALL RIGHT, BUT DON'T FLAKE OUT.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
I've been a mother for almost 18 years. And I can think of one time only that I didn't strap a boy in in--when we were driving across a parking lot. One time only. Even when my goddamn back went out and putting the toddler in the far car seat and putting that buckle over his head was agony (whoa, do I remember that) I made sure he was secure. When they screamed and struggled to get out of their seats while we were on the road (and toddlers always go through that stage at some point) I didn't give into their tantrums.
It was a simple choice. For the last 19 years, my 3 kids have been the most important thing in my life. My job to keep them safe comes first. If there was anything I could do to make ensure their safety, I'd do it, even at the cost of my eardrums. Not to mention I wanted to teach them to obey the law and that's an easy way to help them learn.
Listen, I'm not unique. This is basic parenting (for grown-up parents, anyway). I've talked to other mothers, swapping stories about listening to 2-year-olds scream for miles because they want out of their seats.
Now it turns out that Sarah Palin, The VP Fabulous Mother Figure, disregards the law with her babies, or at least with Trig--and more than once. Some people might think it's just is another sign that she's a risk-taker, someone willing to embrace life to the fullest and not bother with stupid little laws.
If she wants to do that with her own life and body, I say feel free. She should be allowed to be a fool and pay the consequences and I can even see how that's an attractive trait. But with her kids? Especially when she uses those kids as props to point out she's a mom first and foremost? Fuck that.
Palin's disregard for her kids' safety in small yet vital ways (starting before Trig's birth) annoys the hell out of me. And probably also annoys Britney who got loads of crap for doing the same thing . Family private matters aside (and yeah, sure, we all get to decide how we raise our kids--even people who trot out those kids at every opportunity. Her family should be private, even if she makes them public) how about this: the fact that she blithely disregards the law, calls it petty, probably should worry everyone in the country.
And yo? Anyone with a half a brain knows there are real and important reasons to use a car seat, especially young babies with those fragile necks (shaken baby syndrome, anyone?).
Not using a seat shows a typically teenage disregard for common sense, a basic "I'm above the law" attitude and an inability to think ahead to possible consequences. Ummm. Yeah. Just the sort of person we want running the country ---again.
Update: Here's the article that got me ranting.
and here's the throw-away passage that really got me going. . .
Palin held her baby in her arms as the warden drove a short distance around the facility, said corrections director Joe Schmidt, who sat next to Palin. A few days later, the governor got a warning from her public safety commissioner that someone had complained that she did not strap Trig into a car seat for the ride. Palin dismissed the complaint as petty, and the commissioner, whom she appointed, took no formal action.
Another update: I got a nice note from someone who pointed out that life in Alaska is more informal. That this might be a cultural difference. I say unless they've managed to suspend Newton's third Law of For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction in Alaska, it's a bullshit excuse. There may be fewer cars on the road, but until there are none--and the moose and other widelife learn to avoid all roads, no. Sorry. It's still BASIC PARENTING EVERYWHERE. And it's also THE LAW in ALASKA
**I bet she chases her kids off the computer faster than I do. I'm kinda lazy that way.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
But I still enjoys emails like this "She lives kinda near Russia so she's a foreign policy expert. I'm about an hour from the ocean. Can I call myself a marine biologist?"
So enough, enough. How about books?
I have the Good Books all lined up but I'm out of escapist trash. Got any ideas? I'm sort of sick of spies and murder in rrrrromance. If I'm going to do murder, how about a mystery.
Monday, September 01, 2008
I understood their point, thought I couldn't really empathize until I started following the work of a good writer. She's funny and smart, but I decided to stop reading because she harped on a topic I thought really wasn't particularly my business or that I found interesting.
I'd read a passage and think:
Why on earth do I want to know something so entirely private?
Or, why do you think I should care about the details?
Or, close the damn door!
Or, yeah, yeah, get onto the next part. Get back to the other stuff.
Or, sure, it's really that great for you? That ecstatic every time you do this? Surely that's an exaggeration?
Or, don't you have a more interesting way to Express Love?
Or, you sure are self-righteous about this. Get over yourself.
Only she wasn't writing sex or writing about writing it (like I'm doing) . She was writing about her relationship with her God and prayer.
Oh, okay. I get it now.
I'd publish details, but she's a good person (even if she is obsessed with Teh Anti-Sex for young people) but she knows I was reading so, eh, never mind.