Saturday, December 30, 2006

It’s that time of year again…

It’s that time of year again…

I gave up doing New Year’s Resolutions many, many moons ago. I do like to take a moment and reflect upon my mistakes and successes of the past year and set goals.

Looking back on it, I failed most of my goals this year. Maybe that’s an ominous warning I should heed. Nonetheless, I will make new goals.


The largest mistake I made this last year was losing a friendship. At one time, I had three friendships falter and I managed to mend two of them. One is gone and sadly, I think that one is gone forever. During my 31 years of life, I have lost one friend to argument/disagreement/misunderstanding. I think this one is the result of misunderstanding. I’m still not sure which one of us had the misunderstanding, if it was my fault, her fault or a general breakdown with equal blame on both sides. I’ve spent a great deal of time looking back on my behavior and the accusations thrown at me and, for the sake of my sanity, I still don’t see what I did to cause what happened. I do see where a few times, I may have been a bit self-centered and perhaps what I see as a little thing wasn’t so little on her end.

Either way, I’m done beating myself up for it, officially, come Jan. 1st. I will not let this baggage taint my new year.

The second largest mistake I made the last year is self-evident with my hospital visit. At times I pushed myself too hard, didn’t take care of myself properly, and didn’t get the medical attention I needed. I’m no longer a spring chicken and need to learn that medical problems won’t go away if ignored.

I also think I goofed off a bit too much during the year. There’s nothing wrong with taking breaks, but I think, at times, I slid a little too much into the Type B parts of my personality and squelched the Type A.


I earned three writing contracts in 2006. In 2007, I’d like to see a minimum of six.

Do not lose another friendship.

Take better care of myself.

Work more diligently with a writing career. Now that I know that this is a real option for me, I need to make it work and work to make it.

Take more time for friends and family.

All in all, I think those are good goals. Sure, some of them are vague and perhaps, I should have specified something like “write a minimum of 3k words every day,” but I’m going to go with what I have.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year and may 2007 be more productive and prosperous for all of us than 2006!

Once in a lifetime meme

Once in a lifetime…

I’ve been tagged again.

Pick one thing you’d like to do before you die, but most likely won’t.

I’d like to visit Mars. Don’t look at me like that, I mean this. I would love to do some interplanetary travel. I doubt I’ll ever get to do this, because, well…I don’t think science will progress fast enough to enable this kind of affordable tourist traffic before I die. Of course, if I win a big lottery I might be able to talk to Russians into taking me to the moon.

In the meantime, there’s always science fiction. ^_^

Wish me luck. ^.^

I wrote a very short het story. O.O I know. I don’t believe it either. Took me a while to find some potential publishers for it as I’m not familiar with the het market. I wrote this thing many months ago and figured it wasn’t doing me any good sitting on my HDD. A rejection is better than not trying at all.

So, I’ve found a few publications to try. Please, wish me luck as I dip a pinky toe into this genre.

Five Things You Don't Know About Me

Tag I’m it. Five Things You Don’t Know About Me.

1) I’m left handed. Hey! No one said these had to be scandalous or anything.
2) In HS, I was a founding member of my school’s FCA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I wanted to join the clergy and I went so far as to line up a scholarship and gained acceptance to a religious school. I write m/m erotica now. My how things change.
3) I consider myself a simple mountain girl with a coal miner/electrician for a father and a school teacher for a mother.
4) My first jump into “faghagdom” was when an exboyfriend, Eric, came out to me.
5) I have helped drag queens “tuck and tape.”

Friday, December 29, 2006

Creative Characters Part 2

On my last post, I mentioned using dialects as a way of adding a bit of depth and color to a character. I've used another way of fleshing out the quirks of a character and this tactic nearly made delete the entire chapter.

OCD. People, in real life, have this. Characters, in fiction, can have this. It's a major pain to write, but I think in Purposed Chaos (no publisher yet) it pulled it off well. I have a character who has developed a problem with 1's, 4's, and 7's. His actions, sitting down with two cups of coffee, washing his hands twice, etc turned out to be easy to handle. His dialog, on the other hand, was painfully difficult. I couldn't let any of his dialog contain 1, 4, or 7 words or any combination of words that would end in 1, 4, or 7. So, no 11's, 14's or 17's. Teens in general were avoided because they start with a 1.

It made the character quirky and it served a purpose in the story, but it was rather difficult. If you have the patience for something like this and the eye to notice when you stray from the OCD, I highly recommend it.

Creative Characters

Character creation is a difficult and complex process. I've spoken to several writers and not two of us seem to do it the same way. Some start with the "job" or "goals" of the piece and devise a character to achieve those goals. Some start with a personality type skeleton and flesh out as the piece develops.

I don't think any way is right or wrong. Whatever works for you and your writing is what you should do.

One thing I particularly like is playing with the speech patterns of characters. I've been told that if you have crafted your characters properly, then you shouldn't need dialog tags. I'm not sure that's true, but I do like it when characters are, indeed, that distinct.

In Full Circle (to be released in a couple of weeks), I created a character with a very distinct dialect. I see you rolling your eyes now. I'm not talking about the kind of writing that only Mark Twain can pull off. I'm talking about the use of idioms and speech rooted in a different time era than the other characters.

In Full Circle all of the characters are children of whatever era they were born in or created in. Some have been able to acclimate themselves to the cultural changes of the centuries and some of them have not. Kendrick is a character who is comfortable and "in place" inside the room, but uncomfortable and "out of place" in time. Byron is a very modern character and I can easily see him walking down the street of today or yesteryear. Phineas, however, is special. His life's circumstances have prevented him from fully comprehending that he isn't where he use to be. Phineas is stuck in the Old West.

This made his dialog very difficult. It became so problematic that by the end of the novel, I told my editor, Tami Parrington, that I was killing him off as soon as I could. She told me it wasn't fair to kill off characters because they are hard.

She might be right, but I'm still gunning for bumping him off.

I like reading characters like this, but they are a major pain to write. Luckily, I live in the Information Age and I have access to the internet. Finding a print resource for speech patterns, idioms and etc of the Old West proved taxing and I found this little gem…

Most of the characters in the story (and the reader too) won't know what Phineas is talking about when he refers to "Company Q" or what he really means when he says, "You done woke up the wrong passenger." Fortunately, Kendrick and Bob are there to translate what he says. I think his presence adds color and depth to the story and I recommend giving it a try. Just don't blame me if you want to kill off the character who is providing that color and depth.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Idiotic Idioms

The English language is a funny beast. We have sayings that we all know and use, but don't really understand.

Heavens to Betsy is one that springs to mind. Who is Betsy and why does she deserve all the heavens? AND how did that get turned into a default exclamation? Charles Earl Funk in his book "2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings & Expressions" is stumped by Betsy too. He thinks this phrase is at least a hundred years old and it breaks geographic boundaries. This one has been relegated to "source unknown" and its roots have been gobbled by history. Some speculate that it has something to do with Betsy Ross, but the usage seems to indicate otherwise.

Ah, Betsy, a woman who knows the power of mystery.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Humor of Editors

It has come to my attention that my favorite arcane and obscure dictionaries are falling to the ephemeral nature of the net.

Please, let's all have a moment of silence to think about the lost knowledge, useless as it may have been, that those wondrous clearinghouses put at our fingertips. Tissues are available next to your keyboards.

Everyone ready to continue?


I may not be able to provide the same type of Word of the Post like I did before these resources went to the net graveyard, but I'm still going to try to provide some kind of word trivia.

The first one will be….

Word of the Post

Some editors have a sense of humor. Don't look at me that way. It's true. Oh sure, we all know one or two editors who are actually human and we have to keep reminding ourselves that they are, in fact, editors. However, did you know that the editors of Merriam-Webster have a sense of humor?

Well, in 1934, they did. For those of you who are playing along at home, I'll direct you to page 232 in "One-Night Stands with American History" by Richard Shenkman and Kurt Reiger.

In the scientific community, density is abbreviated as D. or d. With that you have a recipe for humor. Add in one careless assistant. Mix in a helpful assistant. Top with editors who wanted to see if anyone would notice. Fold all the ingredients together and publish at 1934 degrees for several additions and you get the nonexistent word "dord" which was never a noun that meant density.

According to Shenkman and Reiger "dord" stayed in the dictionary for "several additions" and was removed when new editors took over control.

It's amazing to me the things we can get away with when dealing with language. A friend of mine, who I met while attending field school in Guatemala, was working on his PhD in linguistics. He told me if I ever need a word and didn't have one to make up something and put quotes around it. I'll never forget his words, "Put quotes around it and, poof, it becomes a word."

I wonder if "dord" had quotes around it in the 1934 Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Scene of the Post. Mark and James, you're up.

Mark hunched over his desk. Papers, stacked six inches high, flanked his shoulders. The green desk lamp gave off way too much heat for his work-weary eyes. With the adding machine keys perfectly memorized, the steady rhythmic clacking created its own industrial music.

The Pennsylvania calculations needed to be done by the meeting tomorrow and he'd fallen behind due to the extended meeting today. Meetings. At times if felt like the Census Bureau had more meetings than anything else.

With the muscles in his hand humming and vibrating, Mark sat upright in his chair and rolled his wrist. There had to be an easier way of doing this.

"Break time?"

Mark turned in his chair and looked up at his friend James. Friend. Just friends. Why did it have to be that way? Mark nodded. "Yes. Pennsylvania's population dord won't find itself."

James hiked an eyebrow. "Dord?"

Mark nodded.

"Dord." The first time James said the word it sounded like a question. This time Mark couldn't tell if James was confirming the word or trying not to laugh. James shook his head and chuckled at a joke only he heard. "That's not a word."

Mark crossed his arms over his chest. "Oh really?" The office rivalry between the two language swashbucklers had reached legendary status. Offices around the country took pools on which of the two men would stump the other and now, Mark, trailing by 2 to 1 odds, could nearly taste the lead. "Care to put a little wager on that?"

A grin slipped on James's face. A little smile that served as James's poker nemesis. That smirk told Mark when James was bluffing. "What do you want to wager?"

Mark smiled trying not to gloat too much. He suspected he failed to hide his confidence. "I think you know what I want."

"That again?"

"Yes, that again."

"Fine." James turned toward his desk and Mark opened his bottom desk drawer. James returned armed with an Oxford Dictionary.

Mark readied his Merriam-Webster Dictionary and began the countdown. "On three. One, two," This was going to be so very good. "Three."

The two men flipped through their associated reference books. Paper flew through the air at such speed the black ink appeared gray. Streaking nouns, pronouns and verbs marched past their fingers faster than any paper manufacture ever intended.

Finding the appropriate page, Mark's index finger slid past "dorab" and disregarded the "dorbeetle." "Dorcas" received no attention and his heart raced when his finger crested "Dorcopsis." The blood left his face when "dordogne" appeared next. His eyes flicked back and forth trying to pull the word "dord" out of thin air. No, this couldn't be. He saw this word in his dictionary at home last night. The plain paper between the two entries mocked him with its whiteness. Speechless, he looked up at his rival and friend. The word wasn't there and no amount of will would force it to appear.

Sighing, James slammed his dictionary closed. "You're right. It's a word. I stand corrected."

Mark's mouth fell open. "What?"

James smiled and clutched his "defeated" weapon to his chest. "Dinner. My house, right?"

Mark nodded and wished he could ask someone to explain what just happened. "That's the bet."

James smiled again making his eyes twinkle. He leaned toward Mark and whispered, "I plan on a better dessert this time." James's breath washed across Mark's neck making the tiny hairs on his skin stand on end. "Come prepared to leave very satisfied."

Mark watched his friend walk off. Confused and slightly aroused, he wasn't sure if he wanted an explanation anymore. Still, his competitive streak pleaded for clarification. "This does, technically, count as a win for me, right?"

James waved without looking back. "Oh, you're winning all right."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

My Obsession.

I have this thing in my head that makes me latch on to new things hard and fast. Sometimes I get bit by something that makes me stay with it for years (like Gensomaden Saiyuki). Other times my interest fades once the shiney wears off.

That's part of the reason I love writing. I can use my latch-on-ness to its full capabilities. My stories tend to be between 20-50K words. Long enough for an e-book, but not so long that the shiney wears off before I'm done writing it.

This does pose a problem for my longer pieces… I have a WIP that's already at Epic Novel size. It's taken me quite a while to get it this far and I've learned that it will have to be broken into smaller books for it to be publishable.

Oh great joy. Who---oopie.

This is bad and good. Good in so far that it breaks it into new shiney bits and I can work with my flakey personality. Bad in regards to the story doesn't make sense unless you get the whole thing.

So, now, my big one sits on my HD about three scenes away from finished while I figure out what the heck to do with it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Gotta keep the lights on.

Due to the fact that my power company, net company, and local grocery stores do not accept payment in muse, there will be, occasionally, paid advertising on my blog. All opinions stated by me are just that—my opinions. The adverts will be chosen by me and written by me. Since this is a writing blog, I will do my best to relate everything to writing. Don’t think I can do it? You don’t know me very well. It’s going to be a challenge, but I like challenges. Some people call this selling out. I call it not going hungry.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Anthropology and Writing

At first glance these two seems unrelated. Anthropology is the study of man. Writing is…well…a reflection of life. I don't care if you write fantasy or non-fiction, its life. There must be some sort of cultural common ground between the characters and the reader in order for the reader to "get it."

Knowing that the Zlpork wants his slitch means little to us. But if we learn that Zlpork is the hero and slitch is his soulmate, then we can relate to it. Suddenly, we want Zlpork to find his slitch and live happily ever after.

I once referred to the anthropologist's job as holding a mirror up to life and interpreting the reflection for those who can't see it for themselves.

That's the same thing writers do. We look at life, even when it only occurs in our heads, and we tell the people who don't share our mind what's going on. We show off the reflection of our creation.

Why not show off the creation itself? I firmly believe that no piece of writing will be exactly how the author sees it in his or her head. Even if it's as true as true can get and no detail is missed, the reader still interprets it and filters it through their own perspective. Thus, what the reader sees is the mirrors reflection not the object itself.

At least that's how I see it.