Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More Drew Pics

The latest installment is up.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Case Against Artificial Intelligence

Again, I give you The Onion. I must remember to give my laptop kudos for suffering through all my various and sundry crappy drafts. :)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hopefully Resuming Normal Psychological Programming

It's gone. It's really gone. Carson's Learning is in the mail, and I can't change another thing on it for this submission.

Praise all that is good and holy in this world.

I have swung through so many emotions with CL. I've been deliriously, nothing-can-stop-me, look-out-world happy about the story and it's prospects. I've also been so thoroughly disgusted with it that I actually tried to rip a printed copy in half. (I was marginally successful and felt really stupid as I taped the torn sections back together so I could use the copy to revise). I've analyzed and angsted over a teeny tiny plot niggle that I've changed one paragraph of text over and over and over. I didn't go through all this with Human Dignity, mainly because of one big factor.

No one has seen this but Mark and me.

Andi's beta-read fell through, and I didn't have the time or the courage to ask anyone else for the favor. I'm not even going to get into my frame of mind while writing the original draft and making the subsequent revisions, suffice to say that sending this out with only my husband's feedback is not helping my already see-sawing confidence about this piece. Nothing wrong with Mark's critiques, except for the fact that he's about as close as to CL as I am and can't see the big picture anymore just like I can't.

The last week and a half have seen me alternating between thinking CL is so wonderful that big name editors will want me to write a proposal for a three-book deal and thinking it's so bad that the anthology staff will take the time to write a scathing rejection letter. All statistical improbabilities to both extremes aside, this translates to the fact that I no longer have any perspective or objectivity on this story.

I wish I could blame someone or a string of events for how seriously out-of-whack I've gotten over this, but I can't. I'm not so far gone as to puff up my chest and declare myself a true artist because I've sufficiently suffered for this novelette. I'm also not so deluded to pretend that my attitude right now is anyone's fault but my own.

Hopefully within a couple of days, I'll have the distance from this story to smile at my dreams of getting a book deal out of it and to roll my eyes at the silly notion that a busy anthology staff would take the time to lambaste me. And while I wait for their response, I'm going to keep working on other projects as if I didn't have a submission out. That's really all I can do.

I do have one concrete piece of good news about Carson's Learning, though. Final word count: 14,875, down from 18,606. Go me and my mad revisioning skillz.

Friday, May 19, 2006

You Had Me Until the Credits

Mark's graduation present from his parents wasn't your standard gift fare for the occasion. My fabulous in-laws got Mark a generous gift certificate to the restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner and then offered to watch Drew so we could partake of said gift and also go see a movie. A night out as a married couple instead of parents: best grad gift ever! :)

The food was delish, and the restaurant comped a fab dessert as we were celebrating Mark's graduation. We were hoping to catch a showing of Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, but, alas, there was nothing at a reasonable time. So we were "forced" to see Mission: Impossible 3.
I'm still a little shocked, but I actually really like M:I 3. There were a few "ewwww, Tom Cruise" moments at the beginning because his gal in the movie bears a rather close resemblance to Katie Holmes, but that was about it. I think the movie was saved from the Cruise factor because of fabulous writing, great co-stars, and a cool focus on the character and workings of the IMF as a whole. M:I 1 had some of the first two ingredients, and M:I 2 had none of the above (and instead forced handful after handful of bad bad bad bad science on the viewer, and did so while making Ethan Hunt some sort of bad-ass that turned my stomach; even hottie Dougray Scott couldn't save that piece of crap).

The movie starts out with the device of showing a snippet toward the end of the movie and then flashing back to the beginning of the trouble and running in normal time through to the end. I was a bit leery of this tactic as it is so hard to do right.

Damn, they did it right. They did it so right that, even when I knew the characters had to fail in some task in order to get us back to the opening scene, I still sat on the edge of my seat, mentally cheering for success. And the opening scene was so gripping that I was glued to the opening credits, wondering how the hell Ethan Hunt had gotten himself into that mess and how the hell he would get himself out of it.

Did I mention the writing? It was smart, efficient, and still kept me hooked despite my writer mind being able to see the various connections that set up certain plot points. I like a movie that I can appreciate as a writer and enjoy as a viewer at the same time. There's also a fabulous spin on the damsel-in-distress cliché that more than made up for Hunt's "I Am God" role in M:I 2.

By the way, this movie also rocked because it introduced me to the face of Rayn (I've been waiting so long to figure out what this character looks like; none of my previous ideas worked).

The ending was kinda hammy and left a gaping opening for more movies (not in the "badguy-got-away" sense), but it was OK as it focused on Hunt/IMF interactions, something that I thought really made this movie great and reminded me of the 90s remake of the TV show.

But then the credits rolled, and the worst hiphop song I have ever heard starts up. The beat and lyrics were so out of place for the movie. I mean, I felt I needed a Hawaiian shirt and a drink with a paper umbrella to listen to that song. And then I caught the line "getting sick in the hospital" and absolutely lost it. I goofed on this song--apparently one that Tom Cruise asked Kanye West to do--the entire way home.

Unfortunate soundtrack and Katie Holmes-ish look-a-like aside, this was a very good movie and one that I recommend. Definitely rent it, if nothing else.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I've been watching CSI:NY for the latter half of this season, maybe longer. I prefer the original CSI, but the Thursday night time slot is right smack dab in the middle of one of my best writing times. So I get my CSI kicks with CSI:NY on Wednesday night, and it suited me just fine. Until last night.

The episode seemed like it was intended to be a two-parter and someone nixed that idea a bit late in the process and went at the script with a machete. The original murder that started the episode was never resolved. Evidence just sort of showed up with the information they needed but without any clear indication of where it had been found. It reminded me of the first Harry Potter movie in that so much could've been cut to make for a more connected, even experience.

And then there were the gross factual errors. CSI would not be running the show after a bomb goes off, especially if Homeland Security AND the ATF are right there. A large group of folks would not be allowed back into a building unless they were wearing hard hats and some sort of engineering type of person declared the building structurally sound. Two CSI guys would not be allowed to defuse a bomb when a bomb squad had plenty of time and opportunity to get there first (and we know they had plenty of time because after finding the bomb, we cut to the two CSI guys all decked out in protective gear; if you've got the time to get that kind of gear, you've got the time to call in the pros). It seemed they were trying to do strange things with human anatomy when they did a close-up of the abdominal wound. And, cool as it may be, do we REALLY have the tech to turn on someone's cell phone remotely?

Ugh. I know that shows like CSI and Crossing Jordan tend to have some lines blurred when it comes to questioning witnesses, running investigations, etc, but c'mon. I can suspend disbelief only so far.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Writerisms, Onion-style

Leave it to The Onion. They have a great snippet about one budding writer's tendency to overuse a particular word. I could think of a few writerisms of my own, and I tend to keep a mental list going whenever I read a book (usually along the lines of "Damn, she really likes the word 'azure'").

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 Advance

Mark got all spiffed up in a silly robe, a silly--and nonfunctional--hood, and a silly hat on Friday. He and our buddy PJ led in a group of 5,610 also strangely dressed folks to much cheering and playing of "Pomp and Circumstance." All the hard work of writing and defending his thesis may be ahead of him still, but Mark's hard work of the past six years was honored and celebrated in the CU commencement ceremonies, the majority of which occurred on a field of metal flooring under a very hot sun.

Drew lasted long enough to see Daddy process into the stadium and take a seat before letting it be known that the sun was not his friend and he wanted shade. He was still with Daddy in spirit because he kept the graduation program in his hands and mouth at all times. Except for the times when the strange texture of the fieldhouse attached to the stadium became too absorbing of his attention.

After the agony of all that time in the sun, we went under a big tent for the departmental program. Drew was very well behaved until the end, when he was just too tired. So right about the time that everything was done and everyone wanted to say hi to Mark's bouncing baby boy, said boy was passed out asleep on his Momma.

Despite all the sun (and the insanity of leaving the house to get to the stadium by 8:00, which resulted in Momma completely forgetting to eat or even drink some water; not good for all that sun), it was a great day, and it was very satisfying to see Mark get all that special notice and treatment for the years of coursework and research, even if he did get his degree conferred in advance of the official receipt of it. He's more than earned a day in the spotlight, a hearty "Huzzah!" and pat on the back, a special mention in a thick program and on a smaller stage.

Of course, after he actually writes his thesis and defends it in front of his department, he won't have a celebration on this kind of scale. But you can be sure that the jubilation will be just as hearty, and there will be far more alcohol involved. :)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Best Smile Ever

Drew gave me the best Mother's Day present yesterday: he slept in, woke up with the biggest grin, and laughed as often as possible. Minus the sleeping in part, this is his usual day, but it still made yesterday seem extra special.

Drew's giggles and grins have a way of doing that. There's just something about his obvious joy that can turn the grayest sky blue for a moment. And I'm not saying that because I'm his Momma. His smile brightened the morning of a young woman who had just missed her flight out of DIA. He drew a crowd of servers and busboys at The Melting Pot this weekend, and he entertained them all while they smiled and cooed and laughed. The power of Drew's little face all scrunched up in a grin is amazing.

I know that as he grows, he may not always smile and laugh as freely. He may turn his face away from strangers instead of staring at them with fascination as he takes in the world. But right now, I'm amazed at my happy little boy and his ability to infect others with his happiness.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

More Fantasy Cliches

Via Tambo, put your heroes and villains to the cliche test. I went through the hero test, checking everything that bore even a hint of a resemblance to Rayn. Scored a 94. Ouch. Went back through and unchecked everything that I had a "yes, but" answer that put a decent spin on the cliche and scored a 27. My villains did the best at 13 and 18, but then my villains tend to be my best drawn characters. Wish I knew why. *halo*

Friday, May 05, 2006


Don't know where Mark found it, but here's my blog in jive.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

FanFic Redux

Last week, I made mention of the infamous Marion Zimmer Bradley Darkover case. I'm proud to say that my quick recitation of the popular understanding of the facts didn't really come down on one side or the other. I'm also proud to say that I have since tried to delve deeper into the matter after seeing a few "um, that's not really relevant" comments elsewhere. And when I say "elsewhere", I mean in Anna Genoese's recent posting about fanfiction, which led me to the monstrous Making Light thread (!!!750+ comments!!!), and to various legal-type links from there.

In those many, many comments, after the MZB incident got bandied about and was met with less-than-universal acceptance, Mercedes Lackey (apparently as close to the cat's mouth as we can get now that MZB has passed) provided the details of the situation. Meanwhile, Teresa Nielsen Hayden was crafting this analysis of the MZB affair. So there you have it: what really happened in the MZB case, and a good analysis of why it's representative of other things for authors to watch for rather than of how fanfiction causes problems for authors.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Yes, but...

Via Denver-based agent Kristin Nelson, I've taken this Fantasy Novelist's Exam. And failed. But only on a couple of questions (which got my ire up, actually). Some of them are just plain funny.

9. Does your novel contain a character that is really a god in disguise?
She's only in disguise to specific groups of people in my story. The reader knows she's a "god" from page 1. Does this count as a failure?

10. Is the evil supreme badguy secretly the father of your main character?
No. Definitely no. Considering what I have in minde for Book 3, that would give everything a decidedly VC Andrews bent. No.

16. Do any of your female characters exist solely to be captured and rescued?
Actually, my male character is the one who gets captured and rescued, but that's Book 2.

28. Is this the first book in a planned trilogy?
D'oh! But this is where I started to get mad.

29. How about a quintet or a decalogue?
OK, so my Velorin series is sitting at a projected six books, the first three of which are a trilogy, the latter three being their own stories in the series. Now I'm irked. Just because a fantasy story is epic in its structure means that it must be a Tolkien derivative and therefore bad?

49. Could one of your main characters tell the other characters something that would really help them in their quest but refuses to do so just so it won't break the plot?
Ah, my pet peeve in all fiction, fantasy and every other genre. If your story goes on for pages only because folks who had good reason to talk about the matters at hand suddenly decide not to, I will Get Mad. I did read a good exception recently, but the characters all realized they weren't talking to each other and why, and it was actually a bit of a big plot point and thematic for different cultures coming together under difficult circumstances. (Really, go read Elizabeth Vaughan's Warprize.)
53. Heaven help you, do you ever use the term "hit points" in your novel?

56. Does anybody in your novel fight for two hours straight in full plate armor, then ride a horse for four hours, then delicately make love to a willing barmaid all in the same day?
I can't help myself: would it be more believable if he forced himself on an unwilling beerwench instead?

65. Do you not realize it takes hours to make a good stew, making it a poor choice for an "on the road" meal?
Obviously the examiner has never experienced one of Rachel Ray's 30-minute "stoops."

My mini-rant about trilogies and such aside, this was a fun little test that pokes at all the tired fantasy cliches. But many a wise editor and author has said that cliches are cliches because they work. The trick is to write them well.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Be Gone From Me

It meant staying up a bit later than I had intended, but I finished the revisions for Carson's Learning last night. It was a necessity. Over the weekend, I managed to reach that point in a story when you despise every word, every image, every plot point. I pushed myself to finish the revision, though, working mostly on blind faith that my subconscious (aka the Muse) knew what it was doing. Honestly, there are changes I made last night that I have no idea if they make sense for the story. Hell, I could've suddenly made the ending a big deus ex machina cliche and had the characters turn out to be robots in someone's futuristic version of The Sims, and I probably would've written that in with the same "gee, I hope I started threads for this stuff earlier in the story" attitude I had last night. After I collapsed in bed, I tried to summon up some positive thought for CL. I think I managed to tell myself that I had done very well with the last lines of the last two scenes before the negative tirade of what I hadn't done very well drowned it out. And then the jitters started: what if this does get published? Nevermind the fact that I'm submitting it to an anthology whose sole purpose is to seek out fiction that breaks genre rules and boundaries, I was suddenly worried that CL had BROKEN GENRE RULES AND BOUNDARIES! What had I done? If I can't put it into its niche, how can I sell it? And even if I can sell it, how will readers know what to do with it? And even if readers know what to do with it, it's going to get ridiculed by peers and industry pros because it has no niche. And...and...and....

So I have sent this bad boy far away from me, into Andi's capable hands for a critique. I'm trying hard not to say good riddance to bad rubbish because I know I love this story, and I know I can make it good enough to sell (that is, I can do so once I have Andi's far more objective comments to assist with the final revisions). But I also know that if I see so much as a page from this story right now, I will shred it gleefully into teeny, tiny pieces and sprinkle them into a toilet.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Drew's First Feaver

I arrived at Drew's day care on Friday to find my son just not himself. Not only did he just look tired, he also had to be held so he could rest his head on my shoulder. He had been that way for an hour or so, but didn't have a feaver and seemed to be teething hardcore. Within another hour, his temperature spiked up to 101.7. Tylenol brought it down overnight, and we spent almost all of Saturday keeping the feaver down and letting him lounge all over us. He perked up in the afternoon, acting more like himself. We thought we were out of the woods until he woke up early that night and hurled (mostly all over himself, but Momma got nailed with a few stray spits). He was fine after that, except for some lingering Momma-clinginess yesterday and a bit of an odd behavior with his right ear, which we'll be monitoring and will bring him in to the doc if he's still doing it this afternoon.

Mark and I did very well with Drew's first illness. There was no panicing, no rushing to the emergency room, none of that stuff. There was confusion as to why he got sick this time when he's not in direct contact with anyone who's ill as compared to a month ago when Mark and I were sick as were several of the kids at day care. And, of course, there was a strong desire on both our parts to snap our fingers and make our little guy feel A-OK. Taking care of him this weekend made it very clear just how active and independent the Drew Monster is ordinarily. I guess it was something I took for granted.

The weekend was definitely more exhausting than usual. And it was significantly less chipper as we were lucky to get only a couple of Drew's smiles and missed out on his amazing belly laughs. I never take those for granted--I always seek those out as often as I can to carry with me--but I hadn't realized just how much missing those abundant laughs and grins would bring me down. I find myself staring at the picture of his whole-face smile more often than usual.

This does not bode well for my psyche during the gloomy teenage years.