Thursday, November 29, 2007
I read for the moment.
You might say, "Huh?"
And if you did, I would explain that I don't store massive amounts of literary trivia in my head. I don't have the plots of every book I read memorized, nor do I keep track of characters or situations from other people's novels. [Unless I'm in the middle of editing of course.]
In essence, what I read goes in, rolls around in my head until I read The End, and then the file is purged to be replaced by the next book I read. Sure I retain a general feeling of good will toward a story that I particularly liked and I do have a few permanent records in the wallbanger file that I can call to mind whenever the discussion of train wreck plots or TSTL characters come up, but on the whole, I don't remember much of what I've read long after I've read it.
Is that bad? I mean, I read a lot of books. I don't memorize them. I enjoy them for the moment, and then I move on. I tend to only remember how I felt when I finished a particular book. Good or bad goes in my mental database, happy or disappointed. The rest gets deleted to make room for more.
Maybe that's why I can read books over again that I've read in the past. The knowledge that I liked the book remains, but the details of the plot have been erased so they seem brand new.
Or it could be that I could use massive doses of ginko.
Do you retain the plot details of any book you read? Can you name seconary characters in them - not just from your all time favorite books or the classics that you've written essays on for school - but from the majoity of novels that have made their way through your TBR pile? Or do you read for the moment, enjoying the plot and characters in the NOW and then clearing that space in your brain for something new when you're finished?
Monday, November 26, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Weekday holidays always screw with my perceptions.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
My daughter went outside to go to the bus stop and after a few minutes she came back and said, "There's a doggy out here."
We had a stray Golden Retriever pacing around outside our fence. The poor boy was cold and thirsty and exhausted. He had a collar but I wasn't quite sure I wanted to grab it to look at his tag. I gave him a bowl of water pushed under the fence and DH called the police.
While we waited for the police, the dog wandered among the houses, just desolate. He didn't know what to do with himself. The neighbors all came out and while he seemed friendly enough, he was definitely in distress so no one really wanted to get down and grab that tag.
The police office finally pulled up and got out of his car, leaving his driver's door open. He followed the dog around for a bit and tried to give him a biscuit we provided, but the poor pup was too tired to eat much of it. He gave the officer the slip and climbed into the driver's seat of the police car!
Poor pup finally found a warm dry place to sit down and he wasn't about to budge. He made a few half-hearted nibbles on the biscuit, but could not be enticed to climb out of the car. At least the officer could read his tag and disocovered our wayward traveler was not local - he'd come from several towns away. No wonder he wasn't budging now that he was finally sitting down.
I thought we were going to need a SWAT team to get the dog out of the seat. The officer was about to call for reinforcements when Goldy finally decided to move to the passenger seat. The officer took a blanket out of the trunk to cover the now 'wet-doggified' driver's seat and drove off to the station with his 'new partner' riding shotgun.
I hope Goldy makes it home to someplace warm and dry, and I hope they eventually get him out of the police car.
Friday, November 16, 2007
I just got a phone call from my friend, K. She's known for those 'and now from left field' type questions and today was no exception. Here's how the conversation went:
K: Listen to what I'm saying and fill in the blank.
K: I said to my husband, "Do you have any _______ to me going out tonight."
What's the missing word?
Me: Ummm...objection! Do you have any objection to me going out tonight!
K: Yes! That's it! Oh my God, that's it.
Me: Yay! What did I win?
K: Nothing. I've been wracking my brain trying to complete this sentence. My husband thought the missing word was 'repute'.
Me: Do you have any repute to me going out tonight?
K: Yeah. I knew that wasn't it.
So the conversation turned to how often we forget words, simple, everyday words that are part of our conversations. I do this all the time. Usually it's nouns - "Where's the thing?" I'll ask my husband. "What thing?" he'll reply. "You know, the thing to turn the thing on?" "You mean the tel-e-vision re-mote?" He sounds out the words like he's talking to someone who just flew in from Jabib.
It's annoying more than anything. I'm not embarrased by my dwindling vocabulary because apparently everybody has the same problem. I'm just inconvenienced. I think maybe I need to make some flash cards for ordinary objects and commonly used phrases so I don't have to call anyone and ask them to fill in the blank, and then not offer any kind of prize if they get the answer right.
Does anyone have any repute to that?
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
It's the age old debate all writers face. Do we go where the money is, write what's selling at the moment in order to keep paying the bills, or write what we love because that ultimately gives us a better chance of wowing the pants off our readers [assuming someone buys our stuff] and it makes us happy and content?
The consensus of course is to write for happiness. It's like marrying for love. You shouldn't do it for any other reason. Nevertheless, despite the virtue of that addage, there's still that lurking need to earn a buck and that insidious envy of the authors who just happen to LOVE writing exactly what's hot at the moment.
Ms. Summers said she had an epiphany of sorts and decided to write only for herself regardless of the salability of those stories. She's happier for it, and I envy her that decision. I've never actually said to myself, or anyone else, I'm writing for the money. I'm not...really...but I am trying to make a living at writing. I've wanted writing to be my full time job my whole life. Not a hobby, not a side gig, but my one and only career and now that I'm smack dab in the middle of the growing pains of said career, I have to balance the need to earn [and hence justify doing ONLY this] and the need to write because I love it.
The whole point of always wanting to be a full time author was that I wanted to have a job that I loved. Not just something I could tolerate doing until retirement, not a job I hated that paid well and therefore would never be worth quitting, not a job that just filled the hours until I had enough money saved up to quit and play around all day. I wanted to LOVE going to work, to get up in the morning and look forward to my daily tasks.
I know that's a lot to ask of any career and/or job. Probably 98% of the people I know either actively despise or at the very best tolerate their jobs. The all play the lottery with the idea in mind that if they hit it big, they'd hire a limo to drive them to work one last time so they could Quit with a capital Q.
Not that I would look a lottery jackpot in the mouth, mind you, but I really never wanted that - essentially to spend all my time daydreaming of the moment I could quit my job. I wanted to do something that I would do even if I had all the money in the world, a career that would only become more enjoyable if I didn't have to worry about how the bills would get paid.
So what I need now is an epiphany. The ability to look at my work and say, I love this even if it doesn't earn me a lot of money and I love it enough to knock myself out working at it so that one day it will make me a lot of money, and I love it enough to write what I want to write and not worry about what's making money these days because I'll be happier in the long run.
If anyone can get me a price quote on that epiphany...
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Today's pet peeve is the propensity for customer service representatives to tell people what they 'should have done' to avoid a problem that more often than not, was not their fault to begin with.
Case in point: I was due to receive a check approximately two weeks ago. [Not a royalty check, btw - nothing writing business related.]
Normally the checks from this establishment are cut and mailed immediately and they arrive within three business days. Fast efficient service.
Well, I'm still waiting for my check. Obviously it's lost in the mail. Granted the USPS has been known to deliver something from Alaska to New Jersey in three days and something from walking distance the next town over in a week and a half, but seriously, after ten business days I'm a little jumpy that my money is lost.
So I called the business in question [a bank] and politely asked what the problem could be. I realize if something is lost, it's not their fault or mine, but the fact remains my money is in limbo somewhere. I got the anticipated - "Give it a few more days because we don't feel like researching the problem right now and maybe if we're all really lucky it will go away." I agreed reluctantly to wait a little bit longer for money that should have been in my hands last month. I'm annoyed but hey, I realized a stop-payment costs money and time and they're hoping they won't actually have to do any work to correct the problem. That would have been fine, but TWICE the customer service rep says: "You know, we offer Fed-Ex service for $5."
This is her way of telling me what I did wrong was to not pay to have my check FedExed to me when normally it arrives for free in three days. After the second time she reminded me of their FedEx service I got a little miffed and I told her, "Obviously that's a great idea, but it doesn't help me recover this missing check, does it?" I also went on to say that if my money isn't secure, and I can't count on it being in my hands when I need it, perhaps I shouldn't use their services at all.
Anyway, the point of my rant is, this isn't the first time a customer service rep has pulled this, "Here's what YOU did wrong," deal on me. It's one thing to suggest alternatives, but when a customer has a problem, the last thing they want to hear is 'coulda shoulda woulda' from the customer serivce rep. Help me solve this problem first, before you tell me how I could have avoided it all together, especially if that avoidance includes paying extra.
Is jsut me? Or have you ever had to deal with the 'Here was your first mistake' spiel from a customer service rep?
Sunday, November 11, 2007
* * *
4 Blue Ribbons! If you are looking for a fun, quick read—U-4EA is for you. – Eileen, Romance Junkies
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Not write faster. Read faster. She's retired, an avid reader and like me usually has a towering TBR pile but she's actually reached the end of her pile and she's bugging me to get finished with the next Stephanie Plum novel so she can have it.
I've created a monster. I've been loving Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series and I'm up to Hot Six. I gave the first few to my mother to see how she'd like them - we usually have vastly different taste in books. You'd never catch her with JK Rowling or Karen Marie Moning and I don't have a taste for Maeve Binchy or Debbie Macomber, but with both agree on Janet Evanovich.
She just ordered the rest of the series from Hard Eight up. [Yay for me!] But she's literally timing me and threatening to read ahead without me. [Ga' head, don't come cryin' to me when you're confused about what's going on.]
My fear is that if I don't finish up Six and Seven fast enough, she'll hold Eight for ransom. I guess I'd better put aside my WIP and get reading. I don't want my Mom mad at me.
Friday, November 09, 2007
For my first post I was going to talk about ellipses since they're one of Jennifer and Bernadette's big problem areas, but having hopped around the blogosphere yesterday and ran across a post on editing by fellow author, editor and cover artist, Rene Lyons, I thought I'd pick something even more basic and discuss the evilness of editors.
There's always been the stereotype of the Evil Editor - take for instance The Evil Editor's Blog and Angela James's Nice Mommy, Evil Editor blog.
Perhaps we like to perpetuate the myth so that authors are a little bit afraid of us. Maybe some healthy fear is good, but when it creates an adversarial relationship it's very bad.
I'd just like to dispell some of the idea [but not all of it of course] that editors, whether internal or external, aren't all bad. Sure we like to redline the absolutely best paragraph in your WIP and tell you it's purple prose. Yes, we enjoy making you weep with comments like 'headpopping, ouch!' or 'WTF?' scribbled in the margins of your manuscript next to the blood and tear stains you've left there during your own laborous process of producing your baby. Trust me, it's a blast for us, but our goal isn't to leave the writer a quivering mass of raw emotions curled in a ball under her desk. [Though we'd like some photos of that if you have any]. Our goal is to help the author create a better story.
Whether you're dealing with your own internal editor [and I'd like to meet her, btw, because I'm forming a support group] or someone who works for your publisher either for cold hard cash or simply because they get off on the smell of red ink, bear in mind that editor's are people too. Some are more experienced than others, and some of what we gleefully type into those gray word bubbles in the right margin, are simply opinions. Some of what we tell you is not opinion, it's fact. It's okay to keep certain suggestions and chuck others, but please consider all of them and weigh whether or not your ms will be better having taken the advice of your editor.
I've heard of big wig authors who are so popular, so well-selling that they can request [or perhaps are offered] a no editing clause in their contracts. When Jen and Bernie get to that stage [did I say when??] I plan to be standing right beside them ready to smack their greedy little hands with a ruler if they decide to sign such a contract. I want them to be able to put in their contracts that they will get the 'best, toughest, most experienced, kick a$$ editor a publisher has' because I believe you want someone who is tough enough to tell it like it is. Those authors who eschew editing --- it shows. Let's be honest. It shows. You don't want that. Do you?
So, my point for today is, embrace your editor. You don't have to be afraid to challenge a suggestion, but don't look at an editor as an enemy who is going to rip apart your work. I prefer the 'machanic' anology. I'm here to look under the hood and tell you where that rattle is coming from so your story will purr like a kitten and be able to carry you the distance.
We're not evil. Gleefully macabre, perhaps, but not truly evil.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
This is why I edit and edit and edit before I submit anything. I messed up some hair color too, but for some reason eyes give me a lot of problems.
There are only so many reasonable eye colors for human characters. And only so many ways to decribe them. I've done violet eyes, whiskey colored eyes, smoke colored eyes, moss green, jewel green, forest green, amber, chocolate brown, pale blue, sapphire blue and indigo.
We put a lot of importance on eye color - I guess because it's a definite characteristic. Like hair color and skin color, eye color helps to really define a character in the reader's mind. You can describe someone's height or build, but I believe readers spend less time imagining exaclty how tall the hero is or how broad his shoulders might be than they do trying to picture his eyes or matching him against their ideal blond or dark-haired heartthrob.
Do you worry a lot about eye color as an author? What about as a reader? Does it make a difference to you if a character's eyes are blue or green or jewel-toned or silvery or dark or is it something you just file away and don't think about until you realize the eye color described in Chapter One isn't the same as it is in Chapter Ten?
If readers ever remember one of my characters for their eye color, I can only hope it won't be because that color changed halfway through the book.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Normally I go in at night and help tabulate election results and handle phones when the polls close [everybody calls to find out who won the minute the polls close - as if we have the answers. News flash: We don't. We have no clue who won anything until the tapes in come in from the polling machines, but I digress.]
Today I went in during the morning to do some work and to cover the phones while my boss toured the polling stations and I fielded a bunch of typical phone calls, mostly: "Are you closed today?" Since I've already answered the phone, people generally don't believe me when I say, "Yes, we're closed. I'm just here answering phones to tell people that we're closed."
Hey, this is government, folks. It's how things work.
The thing that got me most today, though, was the woman who said, "Oh, that's right. It's a holiday."
Now, I know she meant, obviously a government holiday. The day we elect our government officials is also a day all the government officials have off, explain that one to me?? But beside the obvious irony, I thought to myself, is it REALLY a holiday?
"Holiday" is a contraction of the words 'Holy Day' - therefore, is a day off in honor of the government [decidely unholy, let's face it] really a holiday, or just a day off?
Granted there are days of the year, the Fourth of July, for instance, which while it's a secular holiday, a government holiday, a Federal holiday, could also be construed as a 'holi-day' because it celebrates freedom. Likewise I suppose for anyone running for public office, Election Day would be a solemn and celebratory occasion, if they win of course. If they lose, then it's crap.
I'd like to propose that certain days be designated 'UnHolidays' - not because they're bad or evil, but because they are not necessarily holi/holy in any way. Election Day should be one of those UnHolidays. Everybody can have the day off, no problem, but let's not call it a Holiday because there are no parties [well again, unless you win the election] and there are no gifts, festivals, services, rituals or Hallmark cards designed to herald the occasion.
What do you think? Is Election Day a Holiday or an UnHoliday?
Monday, November 05, 2007
I’ve been seeing this phrase a lot lately. It’s one of those things that pops up, like a message here and there. I did a little digging and discovered it’s a favorite title for science fiction and paranormal TV shows.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 6 – Tabula Rasa, the Scooby Gang loses their memories thanks to Willow’s amnesia spell
LOST – Season 1 – Tabula Rasa, flashbacks of Kate’s pre-crash Bonnie sans Clyde existence
Stargate Atlantis – Season 4 – Tabula Rasa, staff members lose their memories courtesy of an alien virus [damn those alien viruses!]
There was even a Season 2 episode of the animated Justice League called Tabula Rasa.
It’s an interesting concept, the idea of a clean slate. Have you ever wished you could start over? Would you do if you had the chance to begin anew – maybe not as a baby, but as a young adult, or even a new writer. What would you do differently?
I don’t know if I would, but it’s certainly an interesting concept for a story.
Speaking of stories btw - I hit my goal of 200 pages on my ST paranormal WIP. Hopefully this one will tie into the world I created in Uncross my Heart. Two hundred or so pages to go, but hey, halfway done ain't bad.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Ursula seems a fitting moniker for the entity that now haunts my dreams and makes me edit them, and who won’t let me just type out a first draft on the computer without making me go back and fix all my typos immediately. Ursula is also the one who torments the hapless authors who are assigned to me when I freelance. They can tell you, she adores red ink and comment bubbles and will wax rhapsodic on any editing related topic.
Ursula is a cruel mistress and she has a lot to say, so I’m thinking I might appease her by letting her take over my blog once in a while to talk about editing. Stay tuned for the first official installment of ‘Ursula Says!’
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Last night I dreamed I was writing a Stargate fan fic. Haven't done that in years [write fan fic, I mean]. I sort of miss it. It was fun to have ready made characters to play with - but I digress...I was writing a fan fic, and seeing the scenes in my head in my dream which is a little weird. Daydreaming in one's dream.
I remember looking down at the paragraph I had written and realizing it was all passive verbs so I started crossing out and rewriting. I actually woke up reciting lines from the story I'd been writing.
It just goes to show you, the internal editor never sleeps. Now I'm even editing my dream stories. I wonder if IE [internal editor] gets paid to work 24/7 or if she does it just because she loves it. Either way, she needs a vacation so I can get some sleep and enjoy my stories without having to edit them in my dreams.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Ever feel like that? Like you just don't get what you're looking at?
I feel that way a lot.
Usually the 'Huh' is followed by an 'Are you kidding me?' Yesterday was a case in point.
DH and I had the rare opportunity to go out for lunch. He had the day off and we had some errands to run, then decided to stop at a popular chain-style eatery for lunch. I'd never been to this particular place so I was looking forward to something new and I picked a trendy sandwich and salad combo and he decided on a sandwich and chips.
The clerk could not take our order because the computers were down.
We stood on line for maybe ten minutes while the employees and the manager shuffled around behind the counter looking like glassy-eyed pinballs. Nobody knew what to do.
While the line got longer behind us, the manager apologized for the computer snafu. "It will be just a few minutes," he assured us and then everyone stared at everyone and shuffled from one foot to the other and contemplated their navels.
I did a 'Huh?' Back in the good old days when I worked in retail [I was a teenager] - we did of course rely heavily on the computerized cash registers to tell us what to do, BUT we also had to know how to add up a customer's purchases and figure taxes if necessary and make change. Granted credit card orders which are a lot more prevalent today, would pose a problem if the computers were on the fritz, but cash was something you could keep on working with.
I wanted to climb over the counter and yell at the manager. "Has anyone got a calculator and a pen? Why can't you take orders the old fashioned way, make change and keep the line moving so people can eat [during the lunch rush?]."
The computer did not tell them to do anything by hand, therefore they could not.
Eventually they started taking orders and we actually got our lunch and ate it - but like a number of other customers, we hadn't paid for it first. After we'd finished, DH went back up to the counter and repeated our order so they could punch it into the computer and we could pay for it. I wonder how many people just ate and left, since the staff were completely unable to take anyone's money while the computer was down.
It boggles the mind.