Friday, September 30, 2005

Bargaining Power

At last we finally have something to entice Andrew to leave his comfy, responsibility-free dwelling. His first trip. Mark and I won free airline tickets last night. On a whim, we decided to grab dinner at a local fast food place. For some reason, Mark ordered a large drink rather than the usual medium that we split and refill as often as necessary. The cup had a game piece on it, which neither of us would've noticed if the cashier hadn't mentioned it. I pulled off the piece and read "Winner: 2 domestic airline tickets!" I didn't think much of it, since I never win those things, and figured we'd have to sign up to redeem on-line--but only after agreeing to buy Napster for a year or some other such restrictions. But, no, we really won one of ten airline ticket prizes (odds of winning it are something like 1 in 23,000). Well, I should say we potentially won it. The sweepstakes folks have to verify our eligibility and blah, blah, blah.

How does this figure into Drew's imminent arrival? Simple. We made a deal. We told Drew that if he gets my water to break no later than before I leave my due date check-up at the doctor's on Monday, then he can come with us wherever we decide to go. If there's no water breakage by the time I leave the doctor Monday morning, then it'll be a nice Mommy and Daddy trip and Drew will stay at home. It's up to him. :)

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Andrew's snug as a bug in a rug. Healthy as can be and showing no signs of wanting to get out into the world. My bod, however, is showing signs of distress. But only enough signs to get them worried and make me bleed and pee for the lab countless times, not enough to make them induce labor. Everything keeps coming back within normal limits--so far (the latest round of lab work is still waiting to be analyzed). It's not fun to go in every week, get that "hmmmm" frown when they look at my blood pressure, swollen ankles, and friggin persistent weight gain. (I never, EVER, want to be told that I've put on six pounds in one week again, and I also never want to see the number 220 on a scale under my feet ever again.) But then I'm always told that everything's still within normal levels, though just barely, so see you next week. Gah!

I know it's best to wait until nature takes its course if everything is otherwise healthy. But this is really frustrating.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Why I'm Not Watching the Recent Spate of Major Network SF

Just in case you've missed my gushing about the shows of SciFi Friday and the various and sundry cool SF and Fantasy movies that have come out over the past few years--oh, and let's not forget the subject matter of my writing and the books I read--I'm a big SF and Fantasy buff. So you might be surprised to learn that I have no intention of watching Threshold (CBS), Invasion (ABC), Surface (NBC), or Killer Instinct (Fox). And you might be even more surprised to learn that I have not been tempted once to watch any of these shows. Well, I did try to catch some of Invasion during the Law & Order commercial breaks last week, but that was more because our dinner guest was somewhat interested in the show. Why would a SF and Fantasy fan not be interested in these shows?

First off, the Killer Instinct promos showed BIG, HAIRY, UGLY SPIDERS crawling over people. I have better things to do with my time than watch a TV show as phobia-conditioning therapy. Plus, I can't for the life of me figure out what the hell the show is supposed to be about other than watching creepy crawlies do their icky creepy crawly thang.

Secondly, the promos for the other three shows always struck me as promos for a mini-series at best but really more appropriate for a made-for-TV movie. I either couldn't get a sense of what was going to happen in the show, or I couldn't find a thread that would last for more than a few episodes, making me wonder just the heck I was supposed to be watching. I'm suspecting this is more a fault of the network advertising campaigns than the writing quality of the shows, but I'm not in the least bit driven to find out if I'm right. Let's look at each show.

Threshold - There's an alien invasion coming, and they've used some cool looking crop circle symbol to brainwash us (I think?) in advance of their arrival. That's all I got from the promos. Cool premise for a movie, maybe even a mini-series, but a full-blown series that is supposed to have staying power for more than one season? I'd need to know more about why the aliens are invading or just what the heck they hope to accomplish other than "take over the world." Yawn. Why would I watch that show when I can watch the SG-1, Atlantis, and Battlestar Galactica summer season reruns on SciFi instead?

Invasion - Aliens are HERE! And a young girl's mother smells funny! Watch this show! Yeah. That was the gist of the promos I saw. And the snippets of the premiere I caught last week didn't even get me caring about any of the characters, with the possible exception of the cat that ran out in the storm. Again, why are aliens here? A premise of "aliens used a hurricane to cover their invasion" is not going to get me to watch a TV show. Again, why? When you've got two other shows running with "ALIENS ARE COMING/HERE" as the hook-the-viewer premise, you'd think one of the networks would try to find a way to make their "oh no, aliens" show at least sound unique. And "Mommy, you smell funny" just don't cut it. I haven't been all that enthused with Law & Order for a while, but I'd still rather watch that than Invasion.

Surface - This looked like a cheesy SciFi original movie from the first promo I saw. Not only did I have no sense of a premise that could fill a series, I was left wondering why I should care about an alien from the deep brought ashore. It should really tell you something that I don't even consider this show procrastination-worthy material for my Monday night writing times.

When you pitch a series to me as part of a fall line-up, you've got to do a couple things. First, you need to hook me with a complete premise. Just screaming "The ALIENS are coming! The ALIENS are coming!" ain't gonna do it. That's hardly a premise. The aliens are coming to do what and why. That would be better. It'd be even more complete if you worked in the human response. You know, the conflict. The premise the major networks gave for their SF shows is the query letter equivalent of "Please buy my 150,000-word epic fantasy about an evil sorceror." Yeah, that'll grab an editor or agent right out of their chair. Second, if you want me to invest my hard-earned free time in your new show, you better give me a sense that this will be viable series for at least one season but hopefully more. Pitching me an incomplete premise is not going to instill any confidence in this matter. And, for cryin' out loud, if your competitors are running with similar shows, spend some time telling me why yours is unique when you pitch the darned thing.

I dunno, maybe I'm not their intended audience. Maybe these series are pitched to short attention spans who think the premise of "AACK! ALIENS!" is enough to waste an hour once a week on. Maybe market research demonstrated to the networks that promos don't have to provide a complete premise or the sense of series longevity. But as a SF and Fantasy fan, reader, viewer, and writer, the networks really failed to generate even a smidgen of my interest in these shows. Even the curiosity of "is it the writing of the show itself or just the network promotions" isn't enough to get me to watch even one of these things.

Or this could just be a sign that I've outgrown television as a viable use of my free time. That a show has to offer more than 30 or 60 minutes of passable entertainment for me to take the time to watch it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Writing Status

It's been a while since I posted an update on my writing. The last you heard, I was buzzing over a great crit and perhaps letting my head swell with the possibilities. Since then, I've been revamping the first 15K or so of SoD, and I just started into the new stuff. My word count has increased, but I can't remember the exact total, so the sidebar's not updated as yet. It's somewhere around 23K, thanks to the new scenes I've added to the first bit I wrote and the new material I've just gotten to this week.

I'm really glad I went back and overhauled the first 17K I had written. The beginning is much stronger and actually introduces and emphasizes the correct threads. The following scenes got rid of the vague "we're sorta doing and saying what needs to be here, but don't ask us to get specific" writing that plagues the first 20K of my first drafts as I figure out just what the hell I've begun. I have a very clear sense of direction and purpose for writing the rest of the first act, a lot of the details of Acts 2 & 3 have revealed themselves, and the arcs of the characters over the course of the entire series are gelling a bit better for me.

I guess this means I've figured out something about my writing process. I can do a good amount of planning to get me going, but I'll probably still need to stop and go back over the first 20K to get a better foundation. This process may have to be repeated as I go through the book. I think this is what really tangled me up in The Maque. I thought I could keep moving forward, and that taking notes on the scenes I wanted to change, the plot threads I wanted to tweak or introduce, and the character arcs I wanted to adjust would be enough to address the evolving work. Not so. No matter how meticulous my notes on those changes were, I still tried to keep it all in my head so I could maintain a clear picture of what the previous parts of my book would one day look like to help me write the new stuff. Doesn't work for me. If I figure out how I need to change the stuff that's come before where I'm at, I will most likely need to go back and make those adjustments. I can't let go of it, because I need it to remind me what I have to do as I move forward. Too many balls to keep juggling.

Now I'm writing brand new stuff again. Like what I'm getting. I still hold out hope that I'll be able to get a lot closer to 60K by the end of the year, but as long as I don't gum myself up like I did for HD or The Masque, I'll be happy. Just keep things moving and flowing and the book will get finished.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Things I Already Know About Drew

Andrew is playing the "Maybe-Maybe Not" game with my uterus. Had a couple of promising moments this weekend with patterned contractions--then Drew changed his mind and everything stopped before we hit an hour of fun. If he wants to make his 8:26 PM on Sept 26 deadline that he reported to Mark, he needs to get moving. I'm all for a fast, painless labor, but somehow I doubt I'm gonna be holding this kid by 8:30 tonight if I ain't feeling nothing to make it happen at 3PM. Anyway, I don't know what this littly tyke's going to look like, what color his eyes will be, how big he's going to be, etc. But there are a few things that are certain.

  • Blood Type - Mark and I have the same exact blood type. Andrew is going to be O+.

  • Buffalo Bills Fan - Mark's from Buffalo and his family his very enthusiastic about this team. It's a good thing I've liked them myself since their amazing comeback win over the Oilers all those years ago. If Andrew doesn't get the hint and cheer for Buffalo to the exclusion of all other NFL teams, Mark may insist on drastic measures such as shock therapy.

  • Strong Feelings About Science - With Mark and me rearing this kid, Andrew is either going to appreciate science the way we do or absolutely despise it because his parents are such geeks. Ambivalence is not an option.

  • Strong Feelings About the National Park system - Same reasoning as above. Either he'll love it like we do or get sick of it as we drag him camping all over the place looking at nature. But we might have some problems if Drew can't see any beauty in the Grand Canyon.

  • That's all I can think of at the moment. I've said this before, but I'm tired of the guessing game and really just want to meet this guy. I'd like to see him smile, look into his eyes. It'd be nice to see the kid I've been nurturing and protecting for the past nine months.

    Friday, September 23, 2005

    Bite Me, Murphy

    Applying for jobs while nine months pregnant ain't easy. The only upside I've found to it is that the market is so tight right now that I'm not getting interviewed, so it's a moot point. That just changed. It should also figure that within minutes of receiving information that made me glad I hadn't been called for an interview with one company, that company up and calls me for a phone interview. It's also a testament to Murphy and his friggin' law that, despite the fact that I was interviewed over the phone, it still came up that I was pregnant because she needed firm dates on when I could start and how available I would be for an in-person interview over the next couple weeks. Still, I think I did very well in the interview. I'll be hearing back in the next two to three weeks.

    I would like to mention how I think I fooled Murphy, though. I played this game with myself in junior high that imagining/day-dreaming about a boy asking me out meant it was less likely to happen, so I would day-dream about another boy asking me out to at least not decrease my chances of the one boy paying me attention while still giving me the fun of doing that silly girly-girl day-dreaming stuff. Never really worked, except to distract me from what I really wanted (which actually worked with Mark, as all the stupid over-analyzing stuff I tended to do in the first phases of attraction became focused away from Mark, thus making it easier for things to go well with Mark, and, no, I'm not going to try to re-read that to see if it made any sense). So last night I put together a scenario of me being in labor during my phone interview today, or what would happen if my water broke. I had plans of action and various stock things to say, all the while knowing that I was doing an end-run around Murphy's Law to ensure that neither thing would happen. Apparently, it worked.

    And now you know way too much about the silly twists of my thought patterns and processes.

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    Threads of Malice

    Tamara Siler Jones needed someone in my region to serve as an advance reader and hype-generator so she sent me an advanced reader copy of Threads of Malice, to be released October 25. I read her first book, Ghosts in the Snow, earlier this year. The book was a thoroughly enjoyable read--good mystery, neat concept with the ghosts (the sleuth, Dubric, is cursed with the ghosts of murder victims who haunt him until he solves the crime). Tam did a great job of keeping you constantly doubting whether or not you should ignore the obvious suspect because he was the obvious suspect. While it's the first book of a series featuring Dubric and his team, it's not a necessary read to understand the events of Threads. But it does give you an excellent introduction to the world and the characters and you've got a month to wait until the next book is released, so go read it! On to my review of Threads.

    One by one, young men in the kingdom's outer reaches are vanishing into the dark. So far, two bodies have washed up on the local riverbank. But Dubric Byerly, head of security at Castle Faldorrah, soon realizes there are countless more victims... for it's his curse to be forever haunted by the ghosts of those whose deaths demand justice. Only, these latest ghosts are unlike any Dubric has ever seen – their tortured bodies bearing witness to horrors beyond imagining.

    The latest to vanish is Braoin, a seventeen-year-old painter whose mother came to Dubric's aid when he most needed it. All Dubric knows is that the boy is still alive. But time is running out, and it isn't only Braoin's life hanging in the balance. If Dubric can't untangle the twisted web of clues and lies and find his way to the killer, one of his own pages will be the next to die....

    This is an absolutely phenomenal book. While Ghosts is more of a forensic thriller that happens to occur in a fantasy setting, Threads is a seamless blending of the two genres for a unique and engaging read. Dubric gets away from the castle and into the common areas of his king's lands, and I think that's what really pulls the fantasy into greater relief. There's such a richness of character to the land and society that Tam describes and uses for her story. The world's magical backstory takes on a greater role and adds a gruesome and far-reaching twist to the stakes of the crime.

    Tam doesn't pull any punches in this book. She doesn't gloss over any of the awful details, and she puts her characters in real danger--no one is safe. That's a hard thing to do as a writer, and something most readers really appreciate. The mystery has a couple of layers, which allows you to solve some of it before Dubric & Co get there, but leaves a lot more to be revealed than you might think. This makes for a satisfying read on many levels. Also, the characters grow and reveal more of their depth in this novel, further enhancing the reading experience.

    Threads of Malice is an excellent book that weaves a page-turning mystery into a complex fantasy world populated with rich characters. Ghosts introduces Tam's unique genre blend and story, and Threads pulls you in deeper, clearly demonstrating that Tam is an author to watch and this is a series to collect and give to friends. How many times can I say "highly recommended"? Go buy Ghosts and pre-order Threads (preview Chapter 1 and Chapter 2). Now, people! :)

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005


    Well, the DDJ may have just ensured that Drew's going to make his Big Debut this weekend or early next week. Just had a meeting where it looks like a big project that's been festering for the past three months is finally going to sprout wings and require lots of work on my part starting next week. With the way Murphy's Law has worked for me this year, things can be interpreted one of two ways. The DDJ is going to get screwed because my darling son appreciates irony and will see how entertaining it would be to guarantee my absence for six weeks minimum right when they'd need my expertise and manpower the most. OR, Murphy will think it best to screw me over so that my last week or two at this job is spent always on my feet, running here and there, answering tons of phone calls, and just generally expanding on the "joy" that is the last month of pregnancy. It's a toss-up, really.

    Quiz Time

    Your Birthdate: June 15

    With a birthday on the 15th of any month, you are apt to have really strong attachments to home, family and domestic scene.
    The 1 and 5 equaling 6, provide the sort of energy that makes you an excellent parent or teacher.
    You are very responsible and capable.

    This is an attractive and an attracting influence.
    You like harmony in your environment and strive to maintain it.
    You tend to learn by observation rather than study and research.

    You may like to cook, but you probably don't follow recipes.
    This number shows artistic leanings and would certainly support any talents that may be otherwise in your makeup.
    You're a very generous and giving person, but perhaps a bit stubborn in ways.

    That's kinda fun. Especially the bit about being a good parent. Now that an internet quiz has said it, it must be true! Drew will be so happy. :)

    Monday, September 19, 2005

    Need Inspiration?

    Via Lee Goldberg, I've discovered a brilliant time-waster of a plot generator. Lots of fun to be had, and here's the next novel I'll be working on.

    Wacky Wednesday
    an original screenplay concept
    by Kellie Hazell
    Science Fiction: An absent-minded scientist teams up with a well-built female cyborg to commit the perfect crime. In the process they betray a kind hearted prostitute. By the end of the movie they chase 4 washed up ex-SNL cast members and end up winning the admiration of their universe, living happily ever after.
    Think Gone With the Wind meets Contact.

    Now, if only I can figure out what an absent-minded scientist and a well-built female cyborg would consider the perfect crime and how it might involve a kind hearted prostitute.... My mind will spin on this for hours.

    Hungry & Waiting

    Last week I started a new habit: eating three dinners. I would swing into somewhere on my way home and pick up a quick bite, eat a full dinner with Mark, and then eat a very big snack before bed. Mark was aghast for much of the weekend, watching how much I ate. I can't help it, I'm that hungry. This is because of two things: Andrew's hanging out lower than before so my stomach has more room for food, and Andrew's spending all his time just putting on the weight so he naturally needs more fuel. This means I'm going crazy with food. It's a strange feeling to finish a large meal and realize that you could eat another one right away.

    It's also strange to be in this holding pattern of "any day now". Andrew and my body are doing about the same as they have been for the past couple of weeks, making me feel like I'll be nine months pregnant forever and making the idea of actually delivering and caring for this child seem an impossibility. It's very strange. Mark and I are trying to convince Drew that he wants to show up this weekend. We'll be at the hospital Saturday morning for their baby gear garage sale, and we're hoping that I'll be walking through the first stages of labor while we peruse the sale and snatch some more goodies for the kid. Really, it would be very handy for him to start thinking it might be Time while we're finishing our shopping so we can just load up the trunk and then head on up to Labor & Delivery for the Big Event. Andrew's been fairly cooperative throughout this pregnancy, so here's hoping he decides to oblige us with this convenient time schedule.

    I really do hope he comes in the next couple weeks. I'm starting to get a bit stir crazy, trying to make sure I've got my work stuff all settled every day before I leave, trying to stay normal with my writing schedule, trying to keep myself calm and relaxed, and trying to pretend like it doesn't make me twitch every now and then that life is poised for a big huge change at any second and I have to be ready for whenever and wherever and however it decides to happen. I'm doing OK with the work stuff. My back up will be able to take over without a hitch no matter when I start labor. The writing stuff works best at work, surprisingly. But my down time at home is becoming more and more focused on preparing, pretending that the nursery doesn't feel alien, and doing quiet things with the hubby, cherishing these last few moments as the couple we've been for the past four and a half years and anticipating the family we'll be in a few short weeks.

    Talk about a head trip. But through it all, I can't get over the excitement of Andrew. Among all the worries about parenting and health and adjusting, I'm really looking forward to getting to know this little guy, figuring out what his smiles will look like, what his favorite books and toys and music and foods will be, seeing what sort of boy and teen and man he will become, learning how his life will affect mine. So hurry it up, Drew. We're eager to meet you.

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Levels of Tiredness

    I've found that "tired" just isn't descriptive enough. There are levels of tiredness, types of it. The tired you feel after a night fighting insomnia is much different from the tired you feel after having sleep interrupted periodically for potty breaks. The tired you feel after waking up at 4:30 AM due to overactive stomach acid is much different from the tired you feel after just not getting enough sleep. I'm betting that the tired you feel due to caring for a newborn is going to be different from all the types of tiredness I've just described.

    The insomnia and stomach acid tired types are the worst. You're tired and you really, really want to sleep, and it's dark out, and the bed is comfortable, and you still have a good couple of hours until you have to get ready for work. But you physically can't sleep. Not because you're doing anything, not because you chose to stay awake, but because your body just isn't getting it. Which is really frustrating because you know your body is going to be complaining about the lack of sleep for the rest of the day as if it was somehow not its fault. I absolutely can't stand that type of tired. It makes me very cranky. It's especially bad if you're in your first trimester of pregnancy and your tummy refuses to handle any beverage beyond water until noon and you know your body can't handle caffeine after noon without staying awake past midnight that night. And it's horrendous if the insomnia or stomach acid sticks around for a period longer than a week without relief. And if it continues for twelve weeks, then things get bad.

    Squished bladder and painful hip tired isn't fun, but it's infinitely better than the above. This is because the sleep you do get is usually damn fine sleep. Deep, lasting for at least an hour at a stretch, if not two. And once you visit the bathroom or shift positions, you can usually go right back to sleep without too much trouble. That, and you probably won't have tummy issues to contend with in the morning and can find yourself a nice caffeine jolt somewhere (she said as she finishes her iced mocha).

    I'm curious--in that scientific way that years of prepping for a career in research will never let me avoid--how the newborn tired will feel. I'm betting that it'll be much more like the squished bladder tired than insomnia. I'm hoping. Plus there's the added benefit that I won't have to deal with the DDJ while the newborn tired is at its worst. This has got to help matters. And, since misery loves company, it's gotta be better than even squished bladder tired because I won't be suffering through it alone.

    Tired is never pleasant--unless maybe it's "I just accomplished a lot of stuff today and I'm tired but it feels damn good to have all that done" tired. But there are some types of tired that are infinitely more preferable than others. I'm hoping newborn tired will rank in the better levels of tired. If nothing else, the joy of caring for a new life (that's no longer putting my stomach on the fritz or squishing my bladder) should keep us away from the hell of insomnia tired.

    Thursday, September 15, 2005

    Ticking Bomb

    I've dropped. I'm dropping slowly. I'm really getting bigger. I look ready.

    I've heard all sorts of things from my coworkers regarding this belly o'mine. Whatever. It all feels the same to me: crowded. They've put up a "betting" pool for when Drew's going to show up. No money involved, just bragging rights. Four people put me down as delivering after my due date, and I wished them very bad karma for it. One of my darling coworkers is convinced Andrew ain't showing up until Oct 10. He's based this on his experience with pregnant women. And I ask him if he had to work with said pregnant women, cuz it's rude to guess a woman's going to be a week late! :) Drew's even in on the action himself. Mark said our darling son informed him that birth is expected at 8:26 PM on Sept 26. We'll see. Mark's betting on Sept 25, and I'm thinking Sept 28. Time will tell. I've just had such fun with Braxton-Hicks, that I'm hoping I'll recognize the onset of labor when it's time. Or maybe I won't, and I'll be one of those lucky women whose water breaks, they go to the hospital ready for a good twelve hours of fun, and they find out they're already 8 centimeters dilated and it's about time to start some serious pushing. Ah, such a sweet dream.

    My main problem now is sleeping and moving around. If a full bladder isn't waking me up, it's my hips screaming in agony from the pressure of my body pushing them into the mattress. Granted, the hip pain is a good sign that my joints there are gearing up for some serious give so Drew can pop through, but it friggin hurts! And everytime I stand up, my uterus becomes a nice, hard, solid ball of contractions and doesn't ease up until I sit back down again. So much for all the filing that I have to do.

    But at least we're prepared for the Big Event. Well, as much as you can be. Even got the car seat OK'd by the fire department yesterday. Drew will be as protected in a moving vehicle as we can make him. Unless he's shorter than 18 inches at birth. Then we'll have to get a loaner car seat until he grows into the one we have. Apparently the harness isn't designed for short babies.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005


    Neil Gaiman observes that SF seems to be most spot-on with predictions when the work in question is not regarded as SF. Seeing as how Human Dignity was accused of not being SF by several a few years ago, I'm worried. Granted, I wrote the damn thing because I thought we were heading that way, and I wanted to do the young, naive, maybe the world will listen to this, warning thing. Maybe if HD never gets published, I'll never have to sit through the "this isn't SF" discussions that will keep me awake at night, wondering just how often Neil Gaiman's observation comes about.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    Photo Phun

    Mark's updated our web site. Here's the nursery pics page. There's other fun stuff up there. We still haven't done all the backgrounds and captions, and, of course, there are still some missing items from the nursery--notably a baby and a crib--but this gives a neat look at what Drew's getting himself into. Also, it's nice to have photographic evidence that at some point in 2005, I was thin and fit into pants without elastic waists or big, cotton panels.

    Monday, September 12, 2005

    Relationships = Best Conflict

    I've done a lot of thinking this year about the place of romance and relationships in my writing, the books I enjoy reading, and the shows I enjoy watching. A few more observations hit home this weekend. Whaveter the big, cataclysmic Problem, I don't care nearly as much about it if there's no romantic tension anywhere to be found in the story, probably because it's easier to relate to the bigger problem through the romantic tension than it is to relate to the bigger problem by itself. The romantic tension gives me the best access to the fictional world/problem created, which makes sense because I tend to look at the world as a matter of how I relate and interact with others, not so much as what happens in it. Not sure that made a whole lot of sense, but moving on.

    This is why I don't write romance. The romantic tension isn't everything to me but a portal to What Matters, an expression of it, an extension of it, an tangible and understandable way to experience it and all its repurcussions. So I could never write a novel where the romantic tension is the focus. But neither can I write a novel without romantic tension as a major plot point.

    I finally understood this by reading Janny Wurts's Curse of the Mistwraith and watching the latest Stargate Atlantis episode. Curse is the first of a supposedly nine-volume saga. I'm really having a hard time reading it because of Janny's writing style. She writes in an odd omniscient voice that's heavy on telling rather than showing. It drives me batty because I feel like I can never get into any of the characters' heads and get to know them. There is one exception, though, and this is the reason I keep at the novel. I like the story, and I can access it through one character Janny always seems to write in standard 3rd person, stationery point-of-view. It's a sorceress who, in addition to having a role to play in the Bigger Issues facing the world, is developing an attraction for one of the major characters. I keep reading just to get to this woman's scenes. The story flows for me when I read from her POV, and everything that was hazy and confusing before makes sense. The tension is there, not just the romantic tension, but the conflict of the dilemma her world is facing as well. I've started skim-reading the rest of the book, mainly because I know the big points will be told to me in rather obvious language so I won't get lost. I don't know if I'll continue reading this series, as nine books of this style may be impossible to wade through. But I will finish this book, regardless of the frustrations I have.

    Similarly, Atlantis ain't doing a whole lot, and last week's episode wasn't all that grand from a plot or writing perspective. But it nailed something: romantic tension. I kept watching because they wrote that part right and the performers nailed the execution. Sheppard and Tayla had an awkward moment that didn't really get resolved to anyone's satisfaction other than that they were both relieved it was over and handled in a way that they could ignore--at least in theory--that it ever happened. How perfectly human, and how engaging for watching their future interactions. Wier and Skinner (can't remember his Atlantis character's name, nor can I reliably spell the actor's last name, so I'm going to mix shows here) have had a few moments of a vague something this season. Nothing too impressive, just something that made me pay closer attention every now and then. But this past episode, they really hit some pay dirt. Nice and subtle, something is there, but they have a lot of other conflict and tension to deal with between them that you get the sense that there might be a really big explosion between them. These two bits of romantic tension didn't really get me caring about the episode itself, but it did make me eager to see the next one. It got me caring more about the Bigger Issues the characters in Atlantis are facing and how they were going to deal with them.

    That's the key to romantic tension in novels and shows and movies. It has to be done in such a way that the reader or viewer cares not just about the characters' relationship, but how that will impact how they deal with the problems they're facing. As great as Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy is, it fails horribly in the romantic tension department. The Aragorn-Arwen relationship never really had much of an impact on the story. If the two of them never resolved their conflict, no biggie. We never got the sense that a failed relationship between them would negatively impact how they dealt with Sauron and the end of the age of elves. It was still a nice little story, and it was sweet that they love each other and got to be together, but it really didn't enhance the overall story all that much, at least not in my opinion. But we had enough character conflict elsewhere to give us much the same sort of access that romantic tension affords. Sam and Frodo's friendship, the Boromir-Faramir-Denethor familial affection triangle, Eowyn's infatuation with Aragorn, and Merry and Pippin's friendship. These character interactions were so well done that the Aragorn-Arwen relationship could stand as something separate without detracting from the story.

    I feel like I should have some sort of conclusion to all this rambling. I really don't, other than to expound on why I write romantic tension in all of my novels but won't write a romance novel. It's neat to uncover the bits and pieces of my writing and how it came to be.

    Thursday, September 08, 2005

    Good Job, Drew

    Had my Week 36 check-up yesterday. (Holy cow, where in the world has the time gone? And why won't the next four weeks go faster? :)) Andrew is head down, facing my back, just like he's supposed to be. And it turns out that my cervix is 50-80% effaced and I'm about a centimeter dilated. Granted, I can stay like this for weeks without any further changes, but it's still a good sign for an early delivery--especially since I've worked to that centimeter in the ten days since I was in the hospital for the stomach stuff. And I was only 30-50% effaced then. If labor starts now, they won't stop it. We're in the home stretch. The little suitcase for the hospital is mostly packed (there's a few small things we need to purchase yet and toss in there), the nursery is fairly well set up (pictures are being developed and should be posted in the next week or two), we've got a coupon for diapers at Costco that's valid as of this weekend (yeah for bulk buying), all the paperwork is filled out, our car seat will be OK'd by the fire department next week, and there's a big used baby gear sale in a couple weeks to help us snag some more stuff we need at low, low prices. It's all up to Drew and my bod now. My son seems to know what he's doing, at least. Hopefully my bod will catch on.

    Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    Meme Time

    Joel tagged me again. Time for the Seven Things Meme.

    Seven Things I Plan to Do Before I Die
  • Visit Alaska & Hawaii

  • Take Mark to see where I grew up in Europe

  • Raft the Colorado River, particularly the Grand Canyon segment

  • Visit Greece & Egypt & Australia

  • RV with Mark around North America, seeing the sights and annoying Andrew and Baby the Second in their adulthood, spoiling their children

  • Write all the books and stories sitting in my head

  • Get at least one of said books or stories published

  • Seven Things I Can Do
  • Write and revise a novel

  • Sing without making dogs howl

  • Dance without killing myself or innocent bystanders

  • Explain my master's thesis ("Purification and Analysis of DCHQ Dioxygenase") and many other complicated scientific concepts in terms anyone can understand

  • Sing the jingles for all the service announcements I grew up watching instead of commercials on the Armed Forces Network

  • Understand, write, and speak German--to various degrees of success

  • Describe what the former East Germany and East Berlin were like and what it was like to live in Germany when the Wall came down

  • Seven Things I Can't Do
  • Read Tolkien (love his stories, can't get through a page of his storytelling style in less than ten minutes)

  • Understand Reality TV (nor do I think I want to)

  • Draw anything more complicated than a stick figure

  • See a spider without squirming

  • Understand electromagnetics (I hope to try a community college course at some point and see if I can't remedy this one day)

  • Live in the Midwest

  • Successfully make a French Silk Chocolate Pie without my mother or one of my grandmother's watching

  • Seven Things that Attract Me
  • Real smiles

  • Real laughter

  • Great arms

  • Brains

  • Sense of humor

  • Empathy

  • Integrity

  • Seven Things that I Say Most Often
  • Make exaggerations involving the number 5 (I've got about 500 hundred things to do today, etc)

  • Get up, lazy butt (Mark is not much of a morning person)

  • Yes'm (I'm not sure why, but people have started calling me Miss Kellie at work, and "Yes'm" became my reply)

  • October 3rd (Gee, wonder why)

  • Gotta love it (said in response to some of the more endearing things that happen at the DDJ)

  • Hmmm...I can't come up with any more than five at the moment.

    Seven Celebrity Crushes
    Gah, I'm so sick of celebrities right now. The few I find attractive, I end up putting in my stories. Jamie Bamber from Battlestar Gallactica and the guy who plays Helo on the show (need to get his name) are my hotties of the moment. I appreciate a lot of the pretty faces, but it's been a while since I've done the gushing, girly sigh thing for any particular celebrity.

    Seven People I Want to Do This Meme
    Not into the tagging thing. If you see this and want to take a stab at it, consider yourself tagged.

    Friday, September 02, 2005

    Rough Week

    Last weekend's lovely stay at the hospital shook me up more than I realized. I was so uncomfortable, so miserable, so weak, and so very, very afraid that my icky health was going to make Drew show up earlier than he was supposed to. All the confidence that the childbirth classes had built up got swatted away in 24 short hours. I spent most of this week unable to build up the energy or desire to do much of anything. Spent a lot of time staring off into space. All the horrid news from New Orleans didn't help matters, either. Everytime I got a glimmer of life going back into me, I'd see the latest headline and go crashing. Especially when they mentioned the pregnant women or those who had just given birth struggling to get out of the city.

    So I spent today clearing the gunk out of my head, catching up on some rest and relaxation, finally getting a hair cut after nearly a year without, trying out a new body wash scent (hmmm....cherry blossom). Taking care of me without a whole lot of references to the outside world or Andrew's impending arrival. In fact, the only pregnancy sort of thing I did today was rub my belly as the little runt within squirmed and shuffled and stretched. It was a good recharging day, something I needed.

    Now I've still got a three-day weekend to do some work in the nursery, clean the house up a bit, do the laundry, and buckle down into some writing. I'm not going to let myself start spinning with worry about going into labor or tragedies beyond my control elsewhere in the world. I'm going to focus on the things I can do right now. Go back to that whole "day-by-day" living thing I was trying to do better as a New Year's Resolution to begin with.

    Thursday, September 01, 2005

    Spoonful of Sugar?

    There was a picnic at the DDJ today. I didn't go because Drew isn't all that interested in generic hotdogs and hamburgers, nor did he care to let me schlep the ten minutes to the other location where it was held. So I got to hear all the fun second-hand. Anytime coworkers come back in saying both "company holiday" and "bad news" loudly, you gotta wonder if you're being had. But no. At noon today, the company president just up and announced that tomorrow would be a company holiday. So yay four-day weekend! But he also pointed at my side of the company as not bringing in a profit and mentioned that he had some bad news, but that he wasn't going to give it to us today. So contemplate the bad news over your generous gift of a four-day weekend.

    Have I mentioned lately how much I love Corporate America? Being a self-employed writer is appealing in SO many ways.