Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Idea For A New Book

I couldn't get back to sleep after hubby's coughing woke me at 5:30AM. But I'm so glad I couldn't. I got a gem of an idea for a new book. I'm so excited about it, I want to start right away. It will deal with population control, symbiotic relationships, telepathy, epidemic and threat of extinction. It will take place on an alien world with non-Terran humans and giant creatures (I can't tell you what kind yet - you'll have to wait). I have a fantastic world and plot created. Now, I need the characters who will create the story line.

But first, I must finish Under the Suns of Sarshan and revise the two short stories I drafted in September. Or do I? Can I eat dessert first? Writing is way more fun than revision. Maybe just the outline and some character sketches?

Oh, well. This is my kind of busy! It sure beats TPS reports. ;)

I have to sign off and go write my book reviews--which are also not the new book. Arg! Reviews of Red Thunder by John Varley and Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks coming down the pike at Mostly Fiction.

By the way, I keep sticking my nose back into A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park. It's captivating. And so far it's "Not Another Vampire Story!" Not a vampire in site.

Monday, November 26, 2007

SF Book Reviews

I just heard back from someone willing to review my book. That set me on a surfing binge. I found all kinds of places on the internet where you can find SF reviews. I thought I'd share and save you all some surfing.

Here's the list I have so far:
SF Book Club (at their forum)
SF Weekly at
Quality Book Reviews
Yet Another Book Review Site (Specializing in SF/F/H)
SF Crows Nest
The Bodhisattva

Feel free to add to my list. I'll update it as I receive info. Just add a comment and I'll add to the list. Thanks.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My favorite Reads of 2007

My favorite reads for 2007 are posted at Mostly Fiction. Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks should also be on that list. Just finished it last night. Loved it! My review will be there sometime soon. Oh, and I just remembered! Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore. I just emailed the editor, asking her to add it. I guess I better keep a reading log!

My TBR (to be read) shelf is never going to get any thinner. I keep buying books faster than I'm reading them. You know why I don't read mysteries? Because I'm afraid I'd like them too much! I'm reading A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park now - a recent acquisition - see what I mean? I'll let you know what I think.

Of course there were some "wish I hadn't" reads in 2007 but we won't go there. I'll take Thumper's advice on that one: "If you don't have nuthin nice to say, don't say nuthin at all." We had a code for that in our family. If one of the kids started to forget that bit of advice, I'd thump my foot to remind them.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have to go read! Tomorrow I write fiction, non-fiction and critiques - little time to read.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Alan Alda on writing

I found this article while blog slogging.

Learning to Write with a Sledgehammer by Alan Alda

It's at The Internet Writing Journal, another great find. And I found that from Writers Write. I thought any writers out there would enjoy these goodies as much as I did. Make sure to look at Alan Alda's photo at the bottom of the article. Doesn't it make you smile back at him? Dan Simmons discusses author photos at length in Installment Seven of his Writing Well.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Human with Alien Relationship?

In fantasy and science fiction anything is possible but not always plausible. Let's face it, there aren't too many science fiction novels out there that are 100% plausible. But sticking to the plausible makes for duller reading in a way. The reality about space is that it's well...VAST...and largely empty. Doesn't always make for exciting prose.

So, we've already bent the rules for the sake of entertainment. So what? That's what fiction is supposed to do: entertain! There's a place for entirely plausible SF. In fact, there's even a new genre for it. It's called Mundane SF.

But getting back to the rest of the SF universe, say you meet an alien. Say you're out there in space cut off from most other humans. And the alien is not all THAT alien. Would or could a human be attracted to one? Let's say it's mostly humanoid in appearance. Could we look past the appearance and the taboo? Could we be drawn to his or her personality and mind? Or would we actually find the physical otherness compelling? Or would it just be the attraction to something forbidden?

These are the questions that I'm toying with as I work on rewrites of Under the Suns of Sarshan. Who can guess how we'll react to a situation mankind has never encountered? I can only draw comparisons with Earthly "aliens", people who are very different from us in appearance and manner. Then it's a matter of pulling off that crossing of the line in a convincing way.

Comments welcome. After all, I'm writing for the reader.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Linkage, Shape-shifting and Shape-shifters

My blog time this evening went to adding features to my page. Note that I've added two blog rolls. My writing buddies and SF/F blogs. I'll be adding to the lists every week, I'm sure. I told you this was a shape-shifting blog!

Speaking of shape shifting...imagine if you will...Your ex has asked you to babysit her two-year-old foster daughter. You've got a cold, the girl's a rambunctious little imp and oh, did I mention that she's a shape-shifter? All you have to do is say "no", right? Read "Jolaneering" in the next edition of Nanobison due out "end-of-year-ish".

I also joined Book Place. A place for authors, agents, readers, and publishers to network.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Let's do the time warp again!

My friend and I couldn't wait to go see the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie when it first came out. We came to the theater with high hopes . . . and our towels. You can't go on an intergalactic trip without one! Either we picked the wrong show time, the wrong venue or people who enjoy SF/Fantasy participation were at home playing their RPGs (Role Playing Games). The movie itself was disappointing, although it did have its moments. The lack of audience enthusiasm was sad.

I'm planning to attend BayCon in May. I will definitely catch their showing of Rocky Horror. I first saw it in Seattle's "U" district back in 1980. I wasn't one of those people who liked to watch shows more than once. The only movie I paid to see a second time was the original Star Wars movie in the 70s. But Rocky Horror isn't a movie. It's an event.

When it comes to the smaller screen, I have my stock favorites. I've become a Princess Bride and Jumping Jack Flash nut. If I spot them on the satellite TV's guide while searching for something worthwhile to watch, I have to peek. I have to at least see which scene it is before moving on. And who can resist Modern Problems and Nothing But Trouble?

I wonder if any die-hard Princess Bride fan has had "mostly dead" put on their tombstone.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Immunity Project and Spook Country Review

My story, "Immunity Project" is up at Wayfarer's Journal. It says "Immunity" on the home page and is not listed on the stories page, but at least it's in a readable font size now (long story).

A far-future space-faring civilization experiments on the unsuspecting survivors of the wartorn planet of Kradon. Will Donard let the Krads know they're being kept in an intentionally radiated zone? Will it help them, in the end?

Let me know what you think. And if you'd like to see it "go long".

My review of Spook Country by William Gibson went up this week as well. Find it at

I'm working on my "Favorite Reads of 2007" list for Mostly Fiction. I was ashamed of how few books I have managed to read this year. Toward that end, I'm trying to cram a bunch in before the end of the year. It's funner than rewrites. A guilty pleasure. I'm reading my first Terry Brooks. I don't read a lot of fantasy but I'm enjoying Armageddon's Children so far. I just finished Red Thunder by John Varley. I read the one that follows it, Red Lightning first, last year. Red Thunder will be on my fave list. My TBR (To Be Read) shelf--or shelves rather--are overflowing.

And in my spare time, I have to learn all about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so that I'm not writing to myself here. (@@)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I DON'T believe in curses!

I'm not superstitious. I'm really not. Nor am I paranoid. But after this many mechanical revolts, I'm getting there. I keep thinking about Codgerspace by Alan Dean Foster. An errant cheese sandwich brings sentience to toasters and other assorted computerized devices.

Everything's computerized these days. Let's hope that Alan Dean Foster isn't a modern prophet. Last month three of our household's three cars needed repair. 2 of 3 were the radiator. Then my husband gets a ride to Colma with a friend and his friend's car breaks down. Care to guess what was wrong with it? The radiator. Let me say right here and now that if your radiator fails after reading this I'm not responsible. I can't be. Can I? (crazy thoughts colliding in my grey matter)

So, now it's November. The brand new washer we bought in October didn't last a month. The next day the internet crapped out. That, thankfully was a problem on their end which they rectified in a matter of hours. So, that's two. They say these things come in threes. You know, the "they" who believe in curses, omens and such. Last night my printer decided it was a fine evening to blow a gasket. Almost a year after the warranty period, of course.

3 per month, 2 months in a row. I'm hoping its not 3 months in a row. I love symmetry but I'd rather skip it all the same.

December should bring only good things. Not least of which is the Nativity of Our Lord.

As it happens there is one other thing that's happening for me in December. I'm looking forward to holding my first book in my hands before Christmas.

Know what I want for Christmas? I want all my readers to get out those Christmas lists and put Awesome Lavratt in the right hand column for all those SF/F fans on your list. :)

And get one for yourself as well.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Without Further Ado -- Ugh!!!

How many times must we here this three word "uh"? It's a space saver for masters of ceremonies who aren't really masters. It happens to be one of my pet peeves. If you're at a function in which someone screams after the MC says "So, without further ado...", you'll know I'm in attendance.

Of course, like most of you, I learned at a tender age that when you point your finger at someone, you have three pointing back at you. And I must admit, I have said those words myself, in my early days of public speaking.

We know when speakers are stalling or marking their place because we hear the "uhs" and "ums" and "you knows". Writers do it, too. We hold our place with things like: seems like, were going to be able to, wondered whether he might possibly be, suddenly became aware of, just, so, a little bit, etc. If you can cross out a phrase from a sentence, reread it and lose no meaning, chances are, you were stalling and need to lose said phrase. Did I need the phrase "chances are" here? Should I have started a new sentence after stalling and gone with the more direct: Lose the unnecessary phrase? Direct is always better. Rewrite, rewrite and rewrite. Am I harping?

In case you haven't heard, word economy is in. With so much special-effect-filled media popping at us at an adrenaline pace, we expect things to happen constantly. We can't be bothered with two page descriptions of the garden. Our attention spans are shrinking and so our fiction must make every word count. All our words have to earn their keep or get the axe.

It's a brave, new, minimalist world out there.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Broken Plot Lines

I think I'll have to keep a notebook nearby every time I'm working on my novels. Otherwise, ugly things can happen. Like forgotten threads that never come to fruition. Or a key that was so important and is later forgotten. In my current novel, I introduced a romantic element too early, so I decided to take it out. But when I got to the later chapters in my rewrite, I decided to shift the romance to the minor characters (alien/human btw), then I decided to keep it to the main characters but introduce it later. Who knows? I might change my mind again. But it really effects dialog and mannerisms throughout. Purging must be complete. (@@)

I tend to think there's too much romance in serious SF, but then I see the appeal that space operas with a romantic element have even with guys. They just won't admit it. My SF, so far is never about the romance. I don't even read romance novels. It's okay for subplots, though, if it's not contrived.

Since I've already gone off on a tangent, anyone have the answer to this one? Do couples (or potential couples) fall on each other in a passionate frenzy in the middle of a fight? I see it on the tube all the time and on the big screen, too. And then there's the "after the slaughter quickie. " Are you kidding me? I just can't buy it. I've never heard of this happening in real life.

Of course, in real life you don't pull the arrow out before you bandage the wound in triage. And you most certainly take the feathers off the end before you do. Anyone see Flash Gordon tonight?

Back to the subject at hand. More reasons that notebook will come in handy:

I can't tell you how many times I leave a (______) where an alien word should go because I'm on a roll and can't remember the name. I can't be bothered when the juices are flowing. Then I have to go back and fill in the blanks later. That notebook would have a glossary of alien words.

And in which chapter did she first start calling the Captain by his first name? Am I reverting?

What word did I decide on for the alien captain instead of captain?

It's a lot to keep track of but I guess that's a good sign. If there wasn't so much to keep track of, it wouldn't be a very interesting read, would it?

Fortunately, I have two critique groups to help me catch the stuff that gets away from me.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Template Tantrums and My New Look

I spent my blogging time fighting with the blog template. You see, the calendar at the bottom wasn't very user friendly. Especially when all you know about the meeting of the Redwood Writers' Club is "3PM Redwoo" until you click on the link. After fighting with the formatting on the Google calendar and then with the template at Blogger, I finally settled for this compromise. The calendar's a bit bigger but not centered. But at least it doesn't look pasted on as an after thought like it would crossing the background wallpaper of the old template.

On the plus side, this template looks more SF-like, right? But now, alas, I've used up all my creativity allotment for the day. You'll have to wait till tomorrow for something interesting or witty.

Besides, it's tough to top a flying cow, right? Want an update on that story with pictures?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Raining Cows?

Not much happens in Chelan, Washington. Which is why, when I wrote "Marfina," a story about hangin' with my friend when we were teens, it had to be SF. We spot something fall from the night sky and crash behind Chelan Butte. When we sneak out to investigate, things get really strange...or should I say alien?

And I thought I had a good imagination! Never would I have thought to have the missile be a cow! Mr. and Mrs. Charles Everson, Jr. never would have imagined it either...until one landed on the hood of their minivan while they were driving by the lake last Sunday. They were in nearby Manson celebrating their first wedding anniversary. That will be one anniversary they'll never forget! Read the story.

PS You can find "Marfina" in the anthology, Vintage Voices: A Toast to Life.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Where Does Inspiration Strike?

Muses are fickle beasts. Inspiration flies in when I'm least expecting it. I have no quarrel with its frequency. I'll never run out out of ideas for the next book or story. The problem is that it flies into my head when I have no computer or pen and paper handy. Must I keep a waterproof notepad in the shower? Bring a clipboard when I'm out walking the dog?

I still haven't gotten into the habit of keeping a notebook by the bed. And I'm usually too stubborn and comfortable to go get one. My poor brain being a sieve, I concentrate on the ideas that arrive when sleep eludes me; I dwell on them and spin them this way and that. Then I hope that something sane survives my eventual slumber. Not terribly effective.

I have written down ideas on napkins (not very original, I admit), on the back of grocery receipts and even a few cryptic words to jar the memory on the back of a business card. Of course, if these scraps sink to the bottom of my purse for too long, I'm not be able to read my writing or decipher what my clever key words meant.

My last plot idea got dashed less than 24 hours after it came to me. It hadn't come to me first. It was a two-timer. Or maybe a promiscuous little so and so. The very next evening I found it woven through the plot of an upcoming movie. Bummer! I'll have to sit on it a while now, and make it different enough to get by as an original idea or at least an original way of weaving old ones together.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Nov. 5th - Gunpowder, treason and plot

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Let me first say, Happy Guy Fawkes Day.

Let me secondly say, I'm a tiny bit English. And because it's also my birthday I even hosted a bonfire night one year to celebrate. Why did I want to burn an effigy to celebrate my birth? Sounds a bit twisted when I think of it now.

I'm not going to talk politics or religion here. My point is... Grizzly! The English were very...ah...creative...when they carried out their executions. The conspirators were not only hanged but drawn and quartered.

To celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, children build a "Guy," stuff him with fireworks and he's thrown on top of the bonfire before it's lit.

Then there's the game, "Ring Around the Rosie," which ends in "Ashes, ashes, we all fall down". This of course was about the bubonic plague. Morbid game.

My uncle decided that even the children's prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep," was a scary way to enter that state. Do children think about the words "If I should die before I wake"? Did you?

Every culture has their bogey men, their monsters under the bed or tales of trolls that steal children who are bad. Then there's Grimm's Fairy Tales. Grim, indeed.

I don't need grim. Give me Mary Poppins and a spoon full of sugar anytime.

Love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The re-write reality

NaNoWriMo has begun without me. Instead, I'm working on rewrites for Under the Suns of Sarshan, which was a 2004 NaNo novel. It just goes to show how much longer rewrites take than the initial draft. Especially the slop that you can crank out in a month. I'm big on deadlines and think NaNo is great. I just have too many unfinished manuscripts to deal with before I start something new. I'm hoping to get through the rewrites this month. For a break, occasionally, I'll deal with rewrites on the two short stories I wrote in September. Then there's the... I don't know seventh pass?...on the novel after this last rewrite is critiqued by my group. If all goes well, I'll be sending the final manuscript around to agents and editors in February while I write the screenplay. It's what the story REALLY wants to be anyway.

I'd rather be writing!! (@@)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Blog Claiming

Technorati Profile

Claiming my blog on techorati. Have you?

This is in the ODDyssey category

Sunday before last, we had a visiting priest. His name was the same as my grandfather's. It's a common Portuguese name but not common in the states. I told him that that was my grandfather's name without introducing myself. He was surprised that it could be Portuguese. He later asked me if I did much genealogy research and I told him not lately. He still didn't know my name.

Here's the kicker. He said, "Well, my grandfather's name was George Wilkes." I don't know who was more surprised.

There's more. My husband's grandfather's name guessed it...George Wilkes. Still waiting to hear from him. He snapped my picture and took my business card. I think he's still traveling. I'll keep you posted.

Kicking it off with a new novel

Okay, so I finally gave in and started a blog. You know what they say: Never say never! I will be adding a Google calendar to list local literary events sometime in the next week or so.

The Awesome Lavratt, my first published novel, should be available in December. Here's the blurb that will appear on the back of the book. Contact me if you'd like to pre-order.

Beautiful Aranna Navna plans to conquer the galaxy one planet at a time. She steals the Awesome Lavratt, a mind control device, from a freighter in Horace Whistlestop's junkyard. She takes Horace, too. With the Lavratt, Aranna manipulates the thoughts and desires of everyone around her—until she gets to the Emperor of Calistania. Then things go from bad to worse for Aranna.

The Lavratt, however, has only just begun! Oh, the fun you can have from a small cube with mind control powers. Travel the galaxy with Tyrantz Lavratt.

Silly science fiction at its best. All puns intended.