Tag Archives: writing

I Can Now Speak Like A Dragon

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Well… sort of.

One of my best friends got me Dragon Naturally Speaking for Yule this year because she knows I’m starting to have issues with my wrists and I’d like to minimize the damage I do to them before it progresses to carpal tunnel. I installed the software and began using it today.

My initial review is that I like it, but it’s odd. When I’m typing, I don’t have to actively think about what I’m going to type as long as I have a rough idea of how the scene should play out. I simply let my fingers fly free and watch the scene unfold in words. With Dragon, because I’m not used to speaking so much, I have to stop and think over every single word I say to make sure it sounds right. I’m hoping this will fade over time and allow me to “write” in a smoother manner.

It’s also odd for me to talk so much and, as a result, I’ve been drinking more tea today to help ease the discomfort in my throat. As you might imagine, my bladder isn’t quite so happy with this arrangement. And it’s going to take my poor husband a bit of getting used to since even when I’m talking softly my voice carries through the house. It freaked him out a bit since I don’t normally talk to myself… when he’s home at least.

Ah well… learning a new skill for the New Year. I hope this trend continues. :-)

Weekend Wrap-up and a Snippet

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My husband and I were supposed to spend this weekend working on house projects, but mostly we ended up doing a whole lot of lounging around. We did get the next room on our renovation list gutted. Well, mostly gutted. We’re keeping the wall that has the mural on it so we’ve ripped down the plaster on three walls and the closet. Today we clean out the plaster and lathes we tore down and then begin construction on a retaining wall around the back edge of the driveway.

This week we finally get the outlets in my office grounded so that I can get everything moved in there and my computer plugged in without having to worry. YAY! I’ll post pictures as soon as I’ve got everything settled in there.

We had friends over yesterday to watch some football. Boy was that a disappointing loss by the Patriots to the Jets. Oh well… our season is going better than expected considering the number of injured players we have.

The current project is flowing along nicely and my writing partners are certainly enjoying it. Have a little snippet from it and let me know what you think.

“You’re not exactly what I was expecting for a god.”

He eyed me for a long moment, his gaze piercing and knowing, and then he smiled. It was a slow lazy smile that spoke volumes yet said nothing.

“And what,” he asked, his voice low and purring, “were you expecting?”

He was suddenly standing right in front of me. He was so close I could feel his body heat radiating out from under his clothes. My mouth was suddenly dry with fear and I couldn’t force the words from my throat.

“A hulking Norse barbarian perhaps?”

Before he’d even stopped speaking his features had morphed into a hard, chiseled face with flowing reddish-blonde hair. His shoulders and chest bulked up, straining against the fabric of his shirt. There was something cruel and twisted about this face and I shrank even further away from him.

“Or perhaps a movie star?” His hair darkened and his face and body narrowed and softened and in less than a second I was staring at the comic-book movie version of Loki. Even his voice changed. Except for his eyes, those were the same striking green.

This time my mouth was dry for a completely different reason.

“You like this aspect of me, don’t you? I see it in your eyes.” He leaned in close and whispered the words in my ear.  “And it is one of my aspects. Enough of you humans believed in it with such passion that it has become a part of me. Would you like me to remain in this form; this tortured, jealous soul who would seek to rule you?”

He leaned in closer, his lips just a hair’s breadth from brushing my ear.

“Would you kneel for me?”

Research and the Folly of Google

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I needed to do a bit of research for the newest project I’m working on so I headed to the trusty Google-mobile and typed in “loki mythology”. Down at the bottom of the page I noticed this: Loki Mythology

*headdesk*

Now, I know he’s a trickster god and all, but I didn’t realize switching pantheons was one of his powers. He’s a Norse god, people. NORSE.

I’m Aliiiiive!

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*blows dust off everything*

*sneezes uncontrollably*

It’s been a long time since I’ve ventured back here and for that I apologize. I became a bit of a hermit over the summer and didn’t do much socializing anywhere either online or in real life. But, hopefully, that hermitage is over now. It’s been quite an interesting few months.

My office is finally, FINALLY! at 99.9% completion. We’re just waiting on the electrician to stop over to ground the wall sockets so I can plug my computer in without worrying. We’re also waiting for my curtains to be completed.  Being this close to being able to move in there and not able to do so is killing me.

Since we’re basically done with my office, we started clearing out the next room to be renovated. The original plan for this next room was that it would be my husband’s office/man-cave, but after we cleared all of the stuff out of the room we found this:

Wall Mural

Wall Mural

Right side of wall mural

Right side of wall mural

Left side of wall mural

Left side of wall mural

It was hand-painted right onto the plaster wall and then, at some later date, covered with wallpaper. The only reason we found it before we started tearing the wall down was me seeing the tiniest bit of the fence peeking through a rip in the wallpaper. There’s no signature, but we’re going to talk to the local historical commission to see if they might know who painted it. Since my husband isn’t too interesting in having this in his office/man-cave and neither of us wants to tear it down or cover it back up, we’ve decided to turn this room into the library.

On the writing front I’ve been busy busy busy. I started writing a paranormal romance, but both my writing partners and my agent weren’t terribly keen on my execution of it so I decided to scrap the romance part and just focus on the male protagonist since he was the more interesting character. Unfortunately, as soon as I got rid of the romance and the female love interest, everything sort of fell apart. So that story is on the back burner for now as I try and tease a new plot out of it.

But all was not lost because as soon as I set that aside a brand new story began vomiting itself out of my head. I’m more than 10k words in and I’m still loving it, the characters are still talking to me (they won’t STOP talking to me), and I have a general path to the end (which I usually NEVER have).

I also wrote a piece of flash fiction that my writing partners LOVE, but the market doesn’t since it is apparently a cliched trope. Ah well… I will get it put up here in the short story section at some point.

In little tidbit news: I dyed my hair purple again (it needs to be re-dyed because it’s now faded to pink), I’ve begun to take concrete steps to treat my depression with therapy, I turned 33 yesterday, and I need to get my butt back into an exercise routine because I’ve gained 20 pounds in the last three years.

So, that’s been my life for the last few months. How are all of you?

Wherein I Rant a Bit…

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Agent Rachelle Gardner has a great post up today that was sparked by her reading Steve Jobs’ biography and his line “When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don’t matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off.” and how it relates to the publishing industry.

I’ve felt the same as Rachelle for the past few years. I mentioned on Twitter the other day that I see so many readers clamoring for more urban fantasy books and so many amazing writers complaining that their urban fantasy series was either not picked up or it was canceled. I’ve heard time and time again that the UF market is tight and that demand is on a decline. Well, maybe demand from publishing houses is on the decline, but that’s not true for readers.  When shows like Lost Girl, Supernatural, and Grimm are so popular, how can anyone say there’s a decline in interest in urban fantasy?

What readers don’t want is to pay $8 for a book that is as poorly written, error-riddled, and cliched as the self-published book they paid $.99 for. Not that I’m saying all self-pubbed books are like that. I know some self-pubbed authors who go above and beyond to put out the best book they possibly can. What I am saying is that readers buy books published by a big name publishing house because they’ve come to expect certain standards from those houses. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a sharp decline in the quality of books coming out of those houses. It’s gotten to the point where I won’t pick up a new urban fantasy author until I’ve heard some pretty glowing reviews from people and places I trust (especially now that Amazon has stopped offering their 4-for-3 mass market paperback deal)

The biggest issue, IMO, is that as soon as the genre hit big, publishing houses scrambled to sign as many urban fantasy writers as they could, regardless of how good their story was, in order to make as much money from the trend as possible. When those poorly written, badly edited stories came out, readers reared back in disgust and refused to partake of the dreck they’d been served. Now, the publishing houses, seeing how poorly those titles have sold, are saying that the market is in decline. Ummm… no. It only looks that way because you guys fouled the well.

And, it’s not only urban fantasy this happens to. Every genre that experiences a surge in popularity goes through this same cycle. You would think that the publishers would realize the pattern by now, but no. Or, maybe they do. maybe this is all a deliberate marketing strategy. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I keep hearing agents, writers, and editors all saying that the industry is driven by everyone’s passion for good books and not money. If that’s the case, then why are there so many atrocious books on the market? And I’m not just talking story-wise since that’s so subjective. I’m talking about books with plot holes as big as a house, books that have copy-editing errors on every other page, books that switch POV within the same freaking paragraph. If the industry is driven by a passion for good books, then PUT OUT good books. Otherwise I call shenanigans.

 

Clarion West 2013 and the 2013 Snow-pocalypse

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I’ve decided to take the plunge and apply to the Clarion West Writers Workshop this year. This is a major thing for me for a number reasons.

The workshop is six weeks long in Seattle. Now, for those people who don’t know me in real life, I’m a classic introvert as well as being painfully shy and I get extremely anxious almost to the point of having full-blown panic attacks when confronting unfamiliar situations. I’d be by myself in a group of strangers who I would have to interact with on a daily basis. That thought more than anything scares the pants off me. Even around my best friends I’m reserved and self-conscious. The fact that I’m even applying is an amazing thing and it wasn’t  a sure thing that I was going to apply because just thinking about doing it made my heart race and hands shake. Still does, to be honest and I sent the application in already.

I’ve never been on my own and away from home for so long. I didn’t go to college (if I had it would have been a local college to save money) and I started dating my husband at the end of my senior year of high school, so there was no period of being footloose and fancy free for me. One of my biggest concerns is that I don’t have the mental/emotional preparedness to be away from my support system for so long.

It’s also expensive. The total cost for the workshop itself is $3600. That’s not including airfare which looks like it’s going to run about $500 unless I stumble onto a super awesome deal. Yes, the workshop costs are for six weeks worth of workshops, lodging, and partial board, but when you have a mortgage and car payment and all those other monthly bills, $4100+ (the entrance fee only covers partial board, so some meals will be paid for out of pocket) is a lot of money to be spending on a non-necessity. I can only hope and pray that I qualify for at least some scholarship monies because if I don’t, I’m not sure I’ll be able to attend even if I do get accepted.

I’m also kind of afraid that if I leave my husband home alone for six weeks I’m going to come back to find that the cats have forcefully subjugated him and taken over the house. I wish I were kidding on that, but I’m not. He’s far too much of a push-over when it comes to the cats and they have no respect for him as a leader at all.

Despite my fears, I applied. Now all I can do is sit and wait to hear back from them to find out if I made it in. Only 18 people get picked out of who knows how many hundreds of applications. I’m hoping my writing and my intro letter are enough to sway them to my side. *crosses fingers*

In other news:

On Friday we got hit with what The Weather Channel has dubbed Winter Storm Nemo. Yeah, I’m not sure why they’ve begun naming winter storms, but I think it’s stupid and I’m grateful that it’s just a Weather Channel affectation and not something the National Weather Service is doing.

Where I live we got about a foot and a half of snow dumped on us while other areas got up to three feet.

The view from my porch.

The view from my porch before we started shoveling.

The nearly six foot high wall of snow the plows left on the corner.

The nearly six foot high wall of snow the plows left on the corner.

 

After shoveling. (Photo taken from above, so the actual depth of the snow is deeper than it looks.)

After shoveling. (Photo taken from above, so the actual depth of the snow is deeper than it looks.)

All I can say is that I am so very grateful my husband bought the biggest, baddest snowblower the store offered because we saw too many of our neighbors having issues getting through the deep snow with their smaller ones. Even still, it took us nearly three hours to get the sidewalks and walkways cleared and then another two hours to get through the wall of snow that was blocking the corner.

 

A Look Back At 2012

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2012 has come and gone. Thank the Gods.

It’s not that it was necessarily a bad year for my husband and me, there were the usual ups and downs of life and finances, sure, but nothing devastating. But it was a bad year on a global scale and for a number of people we care about which greatly reduced our enjoyment of things.

Some of the highlights of the year:

My family was blessed with three more babies. I now have a new niece, a new nephew, and a new second cousin bringing the total number of children in my family who are under the age of 18 to 19. As I was making out the To Buy For list for the holidays, I realized that (except for one year) for the last decade there’s been at least one new baby born every year. That’s a lot of kids. So many in fact that we ended up buying presents just for the kids and our parents. Everyone else got homemade cookies.

My husband bought a new truck. This was both a good and a bad thing. A good thing because his Mustang which he’d had for close to eleven years was on its last legs and it would cost more to repair it than it was worth. A bad thing because we were supposed to buy me a new vehicle this year. My last car died right before we bought the house in 2010 and, since we were going to be buying a house, we didn’t buy me a new one then because it would have messed with our debt to income ratio. This year we could finally afford to buy me a car and the Mustang decided to crap out on us. Boo… Hopefully this year we can get me a nice used car since I’m getting really sick and tired of having to rely on others to take me where I want to go.

We got a whole heck of a lot further on my office renovation. It’s still not done, but it’s at about 75% done. Most of the delay right now is because one of corners is a curve instead of a 90 degree angle and it’s taking a lot longer than expected to get it to curve like it should. I’d rather take the time to get the curve right than simply square it off because the curved walls are one of the things I love about this house. BUT! We’re going to be sanding the floor this week and we’ve already got the paint colors chosen, so we’re basically just waiting on that curve to be done and then I’m going to commission one of my husband’s employees to make me some curtains for the windows. And then it’s down to simply getting furniture in there and decorating.

As I talked about before, my best friend and I had started sword training with her mentor. Unfortunately, once summer arrived, her life sort of went downhill and she wasn’t able to make it to practice for several months. As mentioned above, I don’t have a vehicle of my own, so that meant that I couldn’t make it to practice either. By the time her life calmed down and she had the time and mental/emotional/physical spoons to start going again, our teacher had already filled in that time with other activities. So, alas, there is no more sword training for me. I’m pretty sure our teacher was a bit put out by it. I really do feel bad because we were all enjoying it very much and I wish like hell I could have continued it.

I also attempted to go shampoo free last year by using apple cider vinegar and baking soda to wash my hair. That worked quite well for a few months, but then I started to notice that my hair was becoming very straw-like and brittle. So, I am back to using shampoo, but only sparingly and I’m searching for a good organic shampoo that isn’t going to cost me an arm and a leg. In other hair news, I still have a bit of a purple tint to my hair from when I dyed it purple to go to Vegas back in August of 2011. I keep threatening to go have it professionally colored at a salon, but I never seem to find the time. Just a word of warning — Splat Lusty Lavender Hair Dye is not as temporary as they say it is. I’m not sure if it’s staying in my hair because I didn’t bleach the color out of it first or what.

And an interesting factoid relating to the above — the majority of search terms that led to this blog last year relate to people searching for information on Splat Lusty Lavender or No Poo.

The search for a publisher for Lost Souls isn’t going as well as I’d hoped. A person can only hear/read “This is really good, you’ll definitely find a home for it somewhere, but unfortunately not with us” so many times before it gets absolutely depressing. And it doesn’t help when every one of them cites a different reason for passing. It means that there’s nothing to fix and it’s all just personal preference and the slowing Urban Fantasy market driving the rejections. So, I’m working on a story in a completely different genre and hope that when it’s finished the market for that type of book hasn’t passed me by like it did with Urban Fantasy. It really pains me to set Alex, Ryuu, and Vic aside, but I’m hoping that the UF market will see a resurgence in a few years so that I can whip them back out and try again.

Last year I only read 50 books which makes me quite ashamed of myself. I usually read between 75 and 100 books a year. There were a few times where I went for weeks without reading anything. I’m hoping to do better this year and I’m hoping to expand my repertoire a bit more. Most of the books I read last year were fantasy or urban fantasy. This year I want to read more non-fiction relating to history and science. So, if anyone has any favorite non-fiction books, feel free to rec them to me!

And finally, the blogging group I’d been blogging with for the last year and a half has decided to close down. Black Ink, White Paper‘s final blog post was last Monday. It’s both sad and a bit of a relief for me. I barely find time to post here, so trying to come up with good blog posts for over there was starting to get a bit stressful, but I’m so glad to have been a part of the group because it allowed me to meet a number of very wonderful and talented writers.

And that’s about it for last year. There were other things that happened, but I’ve either already talked about them or I don’t feel comfortable talking about them here.

So, it’s out with the old year, in with the new, and here’s hoping it plays out better than before.

ETA: Oh, and I forgot to mention that political differences cost me one of my dearest friends from high school. She’s a dyed in the wool conservative Catholic and I’m a liberal-leaning independent Pagan. Apparently, the religious differences were fine, but discussing politics from the opposite end of the political spectrum equals deterioration. *shrugs* I’m still a bit upset over it even though it happened in March. What made it even worse was that we saw her in public just a few months ago and she tried to make like nothing had even happened. I’m not against reconciling with her and re-starting the friendship since she was the one who ended it, but I do get cranky when somebody tries to make nice in a public setting with other people around even though they haven’t once tried contacting me privately.