Friday, July 30, 2010

Weekly Update

Sorry that this week's posts have been sparse.  I blame the RWA conference*.  Most of my morning reads are absent this week, so I haven't had a lot of inspiration.  Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket.  I hope everyone who's gone is having fun in Orlando, but I'm stuck in Colorado, so I don't want them to have too much fun.  =op

In writing news, I'm hip-deep in editing hell.  I'm editing a different way this time - again.  This WIP is getting printed one chapter at a time.  I bloody up that chapter in the evening, and type in the edits the following morning.  That's if all goes according to plan.  Since I was sicker than a dog Wednesday, the plan didn't happen.  :shrug:  Sometimes life intrudes and we have to roll with it.  I got the new chapter 7 redinked last night.  Now we have to see if I have time to input those changes this morning.  (The cat's supposed to go to the vet today, but since he's gone walkabout, I have to wait until he comes back.)

Speaking of which, Max is doing well.  He's putting on weight like a champ and I'm slowly getting the mats out of his fur, so he looks like a cat somebody loves instead of a junkyard feline.  He's also feeling better, which means he's been the bully of the neighborhood again.  The other day I woke up to find white fur between his toes.  I'm guessing he had a run in with the stray I call Slinky.  He also took off after the stray known as Jay and was gone for a couple hours.  For a neutered guy, he's still all male, I guess.  As for that, he's also taking longer jaunts outside the yard - hence the term 'gone walkabout'.  He was here last night, but he hasn't shown up for breakfast yet today.

How're things in your world?

*Okay, I don't really blame the RWA.  But they're as good an excuse as any.  ;o)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Evil Things

M&Ms with pretzels inside???  Sounds kinda weird, but OMG are they ever good.  How evil is that?

I managed to walk past every other bad-for-you thing in two stores, but the M&M Pretzel package got me.  I mean, I had to try them.  Right?

On the upside, as of today, I'm down to 157 pounds.  That puts me at fourteen pounds lost since the beginning of the year.  So, one M&M can't hurt.  Just one.  That's it.

Okay, maybe two.  ;o)

What food is so good you can't help but buy it, even if you're watching what you eat?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Seasoning with Modifiers

It's been a while since I wrote a post defending those most-slandered parts of speech--adjectives and adverbs--so I thought it was high time.  (Of course, it helps that the gals over at edittorrent wrote a post basically saying what I've been saying all along--modifiers are not the devil.)  It seems like every writing community has its share of people who read somewhere that adjectives were awful and adverbs were the tool of the lazy.  :shrug:  I don't listen to those people anymore.

Modifiers enrich our language.  Like using different seasons in our cooking, though, everything must be added with a light hand.  Too much makes the experience unpalatable and too little makes it bland.  Sprinkle them lightly, but don't stop using them altogether.

I wish people would stop picking on those parts of speech.  Really, what did they ever do to deserve such hatred?   Poor things.  Sure they've also been overused, but is that really the words' fault or the fault of the word handler? 

Anyway, if you think you're using too many modifiers, you probably are.  Look at each one carefully and make the decision based on whether the sentence and your voice really require it.  If so, keep it.  If not, delete it.  Simple as that.  

And for godsakes, don't ladle modifiers on like some kind of chef gone postal.  I'd rather have bland than unpalatable any day. How about you?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Picture Pause - Rainbows

After a storm that dumped nearly an inch of rain in like 45 minutes, we were treated to this lovely rainbow.  So, of course, I had to get these shots.  I hope you enjoy them.  =o)

Look closely at where the alley meets the road and you might get an idea of the river my street became.

If you click through on this next one, you might get a better look at the double rainbow that formed.

And I was lucky enough to get both ends on the rainbow.

It was a pretty scary storm, but in the end, no tornado dropped and the flooding held to a minimum.  Just another summer day in Kansas-lite.  ;o)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bookified - a Meme

Yesterday, Amber Murphy sort of tagged me with a meme that looked like fun.  Since I'm in the middle of fighting with my edits - and just hit a part I marked as R for rewrite, with lots of notes about how the passage is lame and the motivation behind it seriously needs work - I thought I'd take this time to answer the meme.

(Yes, yes, I know.  I'm stalling.  Work with me here.)

So, here goes...

What have you just read? 
I just finished reading Chimera by Rob Thurman. It was a break from her Cal Leandros series, and I thought it was a pretty good read.

What are you reading now? 
 I pulled the next Bullet Catchers novel (Take Me Tonight by Roxanne St. Claire) from the TBR pile - to take a short break from everything paranormal. If I don't mix it up, I feel stale.

Do you have any idea what you'll read when you're done with that?
Probably the next Cal Leandros novel.  I'm enjoying Rob's books and it's keeping me centered on my own urban fantasy/paranormal suspense.  If not that, I picked up a cute SF/Romance that looks fun.

What's the worst thing you were ever forced to read?
 I can't remember the title of it, but it was a nonfiction book my professor assigned for the course Causes and Control of Aggression (I was a psych major at the time).  I read the whole damn horrible thing because he assured us it was going to be on the final exam - and it wasn't.  $35 out the door and since he decided not to use it ever again in any of his classes, I couldn't even sell the damn thing back.

What's one book you always recommend to just about anyone?
I'm not a big recommender.  But I think I usually tell people they should read Allison Brennan's books.  She's awesome.

Do you read books while you eat?
No.  Eating and reading are both very important to me and both should be savored.  That and the thought getting food particles on my books grosses me out.  Although, I think I may have eaten snack foods and read at the same time.

While you bathe?
 If I take an actual bath, maybe.  It's been a while, but I used to get into the whole experience.  Candles, wine, soft music and a good book - nothing like it for relaxation.

While you watch movies or tv?
TV - yes.  I read during commercials or while Husband is watching sporting events.  If it's a movie, unless it's one I've seen a million times, I can't read during it.

While you're on the computer?
Unless you're talking about my own books or books I'm beta or crit reading, no.

When you were little did other children tease you about your reading habits?
 If they did tease me about reading, I was probably so wrapped up in whatever book I had my face pressed into, I didn't notice.

What's the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn't put it down?
The last romantic suspense Allison Brennan wrote, I think.  I know I can't put her books down once I start reading them. 

Have any books made you cry?Too many to count.  Some books I've read a ton of times still make me cry.  Like when Eddie Willers gets stranded out in the middle of nowhere in Atlas Shrugged.  I bawl like a baby, because everyone else made it to Galt's Gulch and he got left behind.  Or when Ann and Dan die in Where the Red Fern Grows.  Seriously, the one getting killed by the mountain lion is bad enough, but when the other one pines to death, it rips me apart.


Okay, now it's your turn.  If you think this might be a fun meme to post, go ahead and do it.  If you do, though, leave a comment so I can check out your answers, too.  =o)

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

I've been hip deep in cat lately.  Okay, so that's pretty obvious based on my last post (and several of the posts before that).  Yesterday I really had plans to work on my book.  Really.  No really, I did.  Then my back went out and I ended up laying on the couch all day.  And wouldn't you know it, the cable went out Wednesday night and it's still not back.  This of course meant yesterday was spent reading and watching videos.

In honor of this day of doing practically nothing from my list of things to do, I thought I'd share the poem from which we get the phrase, 'the best laid plans of mice and men'...  (Sorry, but it's in an old language - Gaelic or Old English I think.)

To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough
by Robert Burns

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
Has broken nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell-
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley,
An'lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e'e.
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

If you go to the site where I got this, it has definitions for all the strange words. For instance 'gang aft agley' - strictly interpreted - means 'go oft awry'. 

Anyway, my best laid schemes got shot into pieces yesterday.  How did your plans for the day go?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Picture Pause - Max

You asked for them and even though they were a longer time coming than expected, here are some pictures of Max. 
 Max looking bored with the situation - whatever the situation may be.

Max in his new box - complete with beach and bath towels for his kitty comfort

Max loving his new daddy's legs.  This one ought to give you some perspective as to how large the cat really is.  When I took him for a quick checkup two days ago, he was ten pounds and he's still fairly emaciated.  We're expecting him to top out around 18-20 pounds once he gets up to a healthy weight.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Top Thrillers

This morning on Seanan McGuire's blog, she pointed out that NPR is currently having a vote for the top 100 thrillers of all time.  (Of course, her novel Feed - as Mira Grant - is on there.)  So, I was looking down the list and voting when I thought about what sorts of books you would think should be on that list.

Personally, the only missing pieces I saw were Allison Brennan's books.  Maybe they were on the long list and didn't make the cut for whatever strange reason.

Okay, so I originally intended to post the list here and talk about the ones I read and the ones I voted for, but as usual, the day got away from me.  Maybe I'll get around to that tomorrow.  It's been crazy busy here followed by bouts of collapsing into a puddle.

So, which books do you think are missing from the list?  Do you even read thriller/suspense?  Am I the only one who's going to print the list so I can figure out which books I should've already read? (I'm such a book nerd.  LOL)

Is everyone else as busy as I feel this summer?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Max - The Kitty WIP

Well, Max is staying here.  He's our outside cat now.  He's still taking medicine every morning - which he hates - and eating like that guy who got arrested at the Nathan's Hot Dog contest.  Unfortunately, I discovered a new problem for ol' Maximillian Mew.  His tongue is atrophied.  This means he can't lick himself or drink water like a normal cat. It's amazing what a gal can do with a turkey baster and a box of baby wipes.  I squirt a little water in his mouth, wait until he swallows and repeat the process.  When he's finished eating or drinking, out come the baby wipes and he's a clean kitty again.

He's like the happiest cat ever now.  Who knows how long it's been since the guy had a real drink or someone who cares enough to get food out of his fur?

Speaking of which, a wrinkle of a different sort entirely also presented itself last night when there came a knock on the door.  A teenage girl and her friend were standing on my porch, wanting to know about the cat.  The girl insisted that Max was hers. First thing I thought was "Oh, so you're the stupnagle who lost him last year."

Nope.  She's the stupnagle who lost him a few weeks ago when I started taking care of him.  Yep, she knew about his broken face, and no, she didn't take him to the vet.  Her friend laughed about it and she acted like it wasn't a big deal.

Needless to say I went psycho-middle-aged-mom.  Here's this animal who's nearly starved to death with an infected, broken jaw and an inability to drink when it's 100 degrees out, and it's no big deal?  Moron.  And she had the gall to get in my face because she heard I was trying to give him away to a good home.  She's lucky I didn't deck her.

Yeah, I know she's young, and I would've been calmer if her friend didn't think it was funny and the girl showed some remorse for Max's condition.  :steam:

I spent most of last night wondering whether she'd come back and steal him away.  She never took care of him in the first place, how is she ever going to give him the treatment he needs now?  Lucky for her, Max was waiting on the porch when I got up.  (I think I figured out who the chickie-poo is, so I can get him back even if he does disappear.)

He's my cat now.  Pictures pending.  He's still looking rough, but at least I got most of the mats out of his fur.  It's a work in progress.  My own little kitty WIP.  ;o)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Picture Pause

I wrote an entire whiny post about how busy I am, but I annoyed myself with it, so I figured why annoy you, too.  Misery loves company, but not that much.

Anyway, instead, here are some pretty flowers for you to enjoy. 

I took this at a local park during one of my morning walks.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lookout. My Genetic Line is Spreading.

This morning at around 6am, my second great-nephew was born. 

Welcome to the world baby Alexander.  =o)

Congratulations to: My niece & her husband on their first born child and my middle sister and her husband on their first grandchild.

(I would've mentioned it sooner, but Mom didn't call until just before dinner.)

Weekly Update

This book is driving me batty.  I'm so close I can taste it, but it's just not there yet.  Soooo, I restarted the rewrites again.  This time around I've gone back to my old standby.  When things are going all squonky on me, the only thing to do is what I like to call the redinking phase.

Redinking - when you use your printed pages, a red pen and a notebook for editing.  I mark up the printed pages with red ink until they bleed, and put larger sections of rewrite in the notebook.  It's messy and inefficient, but it shakes my brain loose.  Paragraphs I couldn't fix on the screen - like they were sacrosanct or something - suddenly become fair game.  It gives me distance.  I think maybe the process tricks my subconscious into believing it's editing someone else's words.  :shrug:

Anyway, as of last night, I've bloodied up two chapters worth.  I have a whole new beginning and when I get everything fixed, the story will be so much better.  By jove, I think I've got it.  We'll see how confident I am in two weeks.

In other news, Max the stray cat was sprung from the vet yesterday and went to his new home.  Unfortunately last night his new home called me and she'll be giving him back this morning.  Turns out Max hates dogs and won't quit spitting and hissing at the poor gal's retrievers.  Back to the drawing board.  So, this morning I get a houseguest - who needs his medicine every morning and in three weeks, a visit to the vet for removal of his jaw wires.  Here's hoping my permanent cat doesn't mind having another cat around or I'm screwed. 

Like I need another stressor in my life.  Sheesh.  Maybe that's why I woke up feeling under the weather this morning. I felt about the same way on the drive to Denver to fly out and see my mom after her heart attack, so it's probably stress.  Why stress does this to me, I'll never know.  :shrug:

What's new in your life?  Do you ever get out the red pen and make your work bleed?

How'd you like a cat?  If you're around the Denver area and don't mind driving, and can give him a good forever home, he's yours.

ETA:  I just saw this link to Slushpile Hell on someone else's site and thought I'd pass it along.  It's a hoot.)

(Pic#1: The batty-over-books bookmark can be purchased from Zazzle.)
(Pic#2: That's not Max.  It's a poster from to show what I imagine he'll look like once he's gained some weight and had a bath.)

 *All images deleted to avoid any chance of copyright infringement*

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mental Disconnect over Rizzoli and Isles

For some reason, I saw the commercials for the new TNT original series Rizzoli and Isles.  I even saw the latest edition of The Apprentice.  Neither of those connected in my mind with Tess Gerritsen's books.  Umm, duh.  I was partway through the series premiere before the little lightbulb went off over my head.  I was like "Oh my god, this is just like Tess's book The Apprentice" and then it all fell into place.  (Serves me right for not visiting Tess's blog in like forever.)

If you like Tess's books, you'll probably enjoy the show.  I know I like the two actresses featured.  The one playing Rizzoli played one of my favorite ADAs on Law and Order.  The gal playing Isles used to be Kate on NCIS.

The only weird thing about the show was watching it after I read The Apprentice.  It's damn hard to fit a whole novel into an hour long TV show, I know, but I couldn't shake the feeling that there were too many things missing.  I also had a tough time believing the Surgeon would've left her alone in a van with her hands taped together in front of her where she could use them to defeat him.  The Surgeon is one of the smartest and creepiest villains I've ever read.  The TV version didn't do him justice.

Having said that, however, I look forward to future episodes - preferably based on books I haven't read yet or storylines all their own.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


As my dear old dad was fond of saying, "Opinions are like assholes. Everyone's got one and they all stink."  This colorful turn of phrase has been circulating in my mind recently and it's made me wonder...

When did opinion get elevated to the level of fact?

Watch the news.  Everyone from an actor to a hairdresser to a senator is spouting their opinion on national television, and more often then not, their opinion is taken as gospel. 

Now, I'm not saying all opinions are wrong.  I'm certainly not implying that having opinions is wrong.  Lord knows I'm one of the most opinionated people I know.  (If not the most.  Thinking about it now, I can't think of anyone... okay maybe my ex-boyfriend... he made me look whiffley.)  In fact, I'd say holding an opinion of your own is important.  It shows you can make determinations about things. 

The problem comes when an opinion isn't based on any kind of facts.  For instance, I don't like Martha Stewart.  I don't have any basis in fact for that feeling.  She just irritates me.  My not liking her doesn't make her evil, though.  And my not liking her shouldn't have any weight in someone else forming an opinion about her.  (And for the record, even though I don't like her, I still admire her ingenuity.  And don't get me started about how wrong I think her prosecution was.  See?  I said I was opinionated.)

Most of the things I say on this blog are my opinions - although some are more opinion than others and are labeled as such.  I figure most of you know that, but there may be lurkers who think otherwise.  Occasionally, if the opinion is strong enough, I'll post links to the facts I used to form my opinion.  After that, it's up to you to form your own opinion. 

Even if I make it to the big time best-selling author realm, though, my opinions will still just be opinions.  Being famous doesn't make someone right.  Sure, I'd like it if you shared my opinions.  What I'd love even more is for you to think about my opinions, investigate them, and if you think I have a basis in fact for my opinion, join me in that opinion. 

And if you think I'm dead wrong - and can support your opinion with facts - disagree with me.  I'm open to changing my mind.  Sometimes.  ;o)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ha-HA, Take THAT

Take THAT you pesky manuscript.  I mentioned yesterday that I was hating the beginning of DLN.  Well, I sat down tonight with the goal of writing and rewriting until the damn thing was fixed.  And after several false starts and torn pages sent to the shredder, I think I've got it.  Yay me.

What it took was printing the damn thing out and then not looking at the pages while I hand wrote the new beginning I conceived.  Yes, I know.  I didn't have to waste pages to do that, but it's part of the process.  (Well, my process anyway.  I also do rewrites with a red pen, but that's me.)

And now, early as it is, I'm going to bed.  Here's hoping the rest of the fixes for this turn out as well. 

What odd things do you do during your writing or editing process?

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm Not Worthy

One of the people who follow this blog - and someone I've been following myself for a few years now - Travis Erwin does this thing called 'My Town Monday'.  Usually he shares interesting things about Amarillo, TX, but this morning the way he did his post was phenomenal.  I was blown away.  Like the way I was blown away reading Feed by Mira Grant. 

I feel totally so not worthy.  Not that Travis should feel guilty at all.  He's been having about as much trouble as I have getting his books published.  I have no idea why.  I've never read his books, but if they're told half as good as that one short post, I'm flabbergasted.  And a little concerned that if he can't get his stuff published, what the hell are my chances? 

Pardon me while I angst for a while.

Of course, in a little while, I'll kick myself in the ass and fight to make bring my work up to that level.  It doesn't help that I'm hating the beginning of DLN right now, and a little bit of the middle.  In a minute, I'm going to start printing chapters and tearing them to pieces. 

I don't think I've ever been this uncertain about the direction a story went or how to make it go where I want it to go.  I'll figure it out.  I might be bald from tearing my hair out and toothless from clenching my jaw, but IT WILL GET DONE! 

Ever read something that made you feel like you were unworthy?  Come on, I can't be the only one.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Top 100 Books that Influenced Me

Drumroll... Okay, so it's not that important. This is just a list I put together of the top 100 books that had some sort of influence - either on my life or my writing.  Not an easy task.  For most of the middle numbers, their spots are interchangeable.

Remember, this list is my opinion only.  If you have any disagreements, submit them in triplicate with carbon paper attached.  I thought about putting a little note next to each giving my reasoning, but in the end, this was just an exercise in procrastination that I found really interesting and enlightening.

As I may have said, some of these books I really don't like, but that doesn't mean they didn't influence me.  Sadly, I never remembered enough details about that one book to put it on the list.

Anyway, here goes nothing...  If you decide to post a list of your own, please leave a link so I can see what books influenced you.

100. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
99. 1st to Die by James Patterson
98. The Tao of Pooh
97. To Sir with Love by ER Braithwaite
96. Cass Timberlane by Sinclair Lewis
95. To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
94. Fearless Jones by Walter Mosley
93. Carrie by Stephen King
92. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
91. Big Red – Jim Kjelgaard
90. The Firm by John Grisham
89. Stalking Horse by Bill Shoemaker
88. Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Travers
87. Ninety Three by Victor Hugo
86. Patriot Games by Tom Clancy
85. The Flight of the Falcon by Daphne duMaurier
84. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
83. Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare
82. Othello by Shakespeare
81. Firestarter by Stephen King
80. Jaws by Peter Benchley
79. The Pillars of Earth by Ken Follett
78. The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough
77. QBVII by Leon Uris
76. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
75. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
74. The Phule series by Robert Aspirin
73. The Vlad Taltos novels by Steven Brust
72. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
71. The V.I. Warshawski novel by Sara Paretsky
70. The Darkyn series by Lynn Viehl
69. The Nine Lives of Catseye Gomez by Simon Hawke
68. Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson
67. The Spellsinger series by Alan Dean Foster
66. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
65. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
64. The Gunslinger by Stephen King
63. Star Ka’at by Andre Norton
62. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
61. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
60. Far Country by Nevil Shute
59. The Hammer of Eden by Ken Follett
58. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John LeCarre
57. Marco Polo
56. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
55. The Stardoc series by SL Viehl
54. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
53. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare
52. Murder on the Calais Coach by Agatha Christie
51. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
50. Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmund Rostand
49. The Walking Drum by Louis L’Amour
48. On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony
47. Calumet K
46. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
45. The Searchers by Alan le May
44. The King of the Castle by Victoria Holt
43. Grow Up America by Dr. Michael Hurd
42. The Mummy by Anne Rice
41. Feed by Mira Grant
40. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
39. 1984 by George Orwell
38. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
37. The Golden Unicorn by Phyllis Whitney
36. The Kill by Allison Brennan
35. The October Daye series by Seanan McGuire
34. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
33. Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett
32. Unchosen by Nan Gilbert
31. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
30. The Savage Sword of Conan magazine
29. Unwind by Neil Shusterman
28. State of Fear by Michael Crichton
27. Don Quixote by Cervantes
26. E Pluribus Unicorn by Theodore Sturgeon
25. The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison
24. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip
23. Watership Down by Richard Adams
22. To Kill a Mockingbird
21. King Arthur and His Knights
20. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
19. The Mystical Beast by Alison Farthing
18. The Stand by Stephen King
17. The World According to Garp by John Irving
16. Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
15. The Wizard of OZ by L. Frank Baum
14. The first six Xanth novels by Piers Anthony
13. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
12. D’Aulaires Greek Mythology
11. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
10. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
9. We The Living by Ayn Rand
8. I, the Jury by Mickey Spillane
7. Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
6. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
5. Animal Farm by George Orwell
4. One on Me by Tim Huntley
3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
2. Anthem by Ayn Rand
1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Any books on here you've never heard of?  I know there are a couple I've never seen anywhere other than my own shelves.  (And a couple titles I need to reclaim.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Prelude to My 100 Most Influential Books

Taking a cue from Seanan McGuire this morning, I decided to come up with a list of 100 books that influenced me in some way.  (Not to be confused with my list of books I think everyone ought to read.)  Until this morning I didn't realize how much work making such a list would be.  I've been at this since I woke up and I'm only at about 60 books. 

In the course of making this list, which I hope to have done sometime this weekend, I discovered a few things I'd like to pass along...

Thing One: I may not have liked every story I've ever read, but sometimes even the stories that disturbed me were influential - like say, Lord of the Flies.

Thing Two:  One of the books that's been stuck in my head for 25 years may be up there, but the title, author, and main character names are gone.  Even so, the scene where they sacrifice the slave to the god by impaling her on his statue is etched in my head in very crisp and horrible detail.

Thing Three:  My Amazon wishlist is now littered with old paperbacks I loved but had almost forgotten.  Like One on Me by Tim Huntley and E Pluribus Unicorn by Theodore Sturgeon.  (Umm, the Huntley should probably be rated R or worse. Purchase at your own risk.)

Have you ever made a list like this?  What surprising things do you think you'd find if you made a list like this?

The actual list will be published as soon as I get it finished.  Whenever that will be.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Well, I finally did it.  I snatched up Max and took him to the vet.

I suppose at this point I ought to back up a bit.  First off, I feed the strays in my neighborhood.  I not only feed them, I name them - because after all, it's the best way to differentiate them in conversation.  It's so much easier to tell Husband that I saw Jay or Tom or Max than for me to say I saw the skinny long-haired black (Jay) or the beefy orange tomcat (Tom) or the scaggy long-haired Maine Coon lookalike with the broken jaw (Max).  Anyway, Jay and Tom are feral, but Max was somebody's baby at some point.  He'd very friendly and all he wants is a little food and a lot of love.

Lately, Max hasn't been looking so good.  I mean, worse than usual.  (He's generally a healthy, if thin cat, other than the jaw thing, which didn't stop him from eating and gave him a quizzical look.  He just drools a lot and it gets in his thick fur, so he looks gross.)  So, Husband and I made the decision.  I'd scoop him up and take him to the vet.  The idea was one way or another Max wasn't going to suffer anymore.  Not an easy decision but one we felt it was time to make.

This morning we woke up to Max sleeping on our porch.  Right in front of the door as a matter of fact.  (Like I said, he had an owner once upon a time, so he thinks he can come inside.)  I put on some gloves and slid him inside the vet's cat carrier.  He wasn't particularly happy about his confinement, but some chicken helped.  Then I took him to the vet.

We learned a few things this morning.  First off, I was right.  Somebody owned and cared about this cat at some point because they went through the trouble of neutering him.  Second, he's a fairly young cat - only 3-4 years old.  Third, he's not contagious, so our fears of tracking some disease into the house with our own cat were put to rest.  Fourth, Max is friggin' huge!  He's underweight and he's still got to be 12+ pounds.  My Kira is around 18 pounds, and he doesn't feel that far behind her. 

Lastly, and most importantly, despite the fact that he's skinny and his breath could take out a basilisk, he's pretty healthy for someone with a broken jaw.  All he needs is a little surgery to repair his face and his shots - plus a bath and a good brushing - all of which Max (aka Maxie or Maxmillian Mew) is now receiving.  As long as everything goes well, he'll be ready to pick up on Monday.

Yay.  He'll be happy, healthy, and back to his attractive self.  And then we'll fatten him up.  (If he's 12 lbs now, he'll be Godzilla-kitty when he fills out.  Whooph.)

Too bad I can't have another cat without breaking my lease.  =o(

Good news is I have a couple leads on people who might be willing to get a new and very personable furbaby.  One of them took a cat I rescued a few years ago, so I know he's a stable pet owner.  He just has to talk his wife into making Max cat #3.

Keep your fingers crossed for Max.  He'll be well soon, but if I don't find him a home, he'll be back on the streets - albeit living as my outdoor cat now.  (The landlady can't complain if he never comes inside, right?)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cha-Ching - The Book Version

Okay, I'm back.  If nothing else, I vow not to buy any more books for the rest of the summer.  (Or at least until the end of this month when a whole bunch more get released.)  (Except for the couple I have to order from Amazon because they're not available at Borders.)

In no particular order...

Term Limits by Vince Flynn* (Political Thriller)
Wizard Squared by KE Mills (Fantasy)
Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison* (Paranormal)
Madhouse: Cal Leandros #3 by Rob Thurman (Urban Fantasy)
Cursors Fury by Jim Butcher (Epic Fantasy)
Rapture Untamed by Pamela Palmer (Paranormal Romance)
Take Me Tonight by Roxanne St. Claire (Suspense)
Chimera by Rob Thurman (Urban Fantasy?)
The Darkest Lie by Gena Showalter (Paranormal Romance)
Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch* (Science Fiction/Romance)

(*New to me author)

Six of the books are part of my continuing manic need to finish series.  One was an agent recommendation.  One was something I heard about on TV.  Two were total impulse buys.

I'll get the rest of the links up later.  Right now, I need to go collapse for a while.

Pesky Mood-Altering Body Chemistry

Yeah, there were two posts here yesterday that aren't here today.  They both seemed perfectly fine when I wrote them, but when I looked at them later, they were both just a little too ranty.  Chalk it up to hormones.  :shrug: 

Today I'm off to get my shot and take care of those pesky mood-altering body chemicals.  This also means I'm off to Barnes & Noble, Borders and maybe Hastings.  Oh, and lunch at a real restaurant.  Add in a little shopping and the shot fades into the background. 

If I'm not too whipped, I'll be back later to share which books I snared.  =o)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Picture Pause

Nothing like a peaceful park-like setting to just relax.  Feel the gentle breeze.  Watch the baby ducks.  Enjoy the rustling of leaves in the trees.  Deep breath in... and exhale.

Feel better?  I know I do.  =o)

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Right Way to Write

Reposted from April of 2008 at my old blog.  I thought it bore repeating this morning.  Enjoy.

It's a question many people ask both themselves and others. What is the right way to write? If you came to the blog looking for an answer, here it is. And it's so simple, you'll smack your head like you were in a V-8 commercial.

Ready for it?

There isn't one.

Not universally for all writers, that is. There may be one right way for you, but as far as I can tell, everyone does it differently. One person outlines; another flies by the seat of their pants. Some people let the story flow and they follow. Others have a clear path and the story follows their plan.

The reason this came to mind this morning was a blog post the esteemed and humorous Travis Erwin wrote the other day. Just a few minutes ago, I went back to read the comments people had made, and one in particular made me think about this topic. The post is about writing yourself into a corner - something I've done on numerous occasions - and the commenter stated that they don't do it any more because they outline.

My initial reaction was: How sad.

You see, I can't conceive of having the entire book plotted out ahead of time. Those times when I have written myself into a corner, while frustrating almost to the point of tears, have forced my brain to think outside the box. Each time, my story has come out better for it. If I'd had everything plotted out ahead of time, those moments of creavity would never have happened, and my story would've been flattened because of it.

Don't get me wrong. I tried this with Caldera. I had the whole thing outlined before I wrote it. And truth be told, it damn near killed the book with blandness. You see, I can't write that way. For me, writing that way was too boring. I knew what was going to happen, and so writing it didn't excite me in the least. It was only after I threw out the outline and just let things happen, that the book shined through.

I tried it the other way, too. I wrote Spectacle without any idea of where it was headed. Everything was new to me. It was great. And it also took me way too long to write because I had to do a lot of deleting, and going back to check facts, and make sure all the loose ends I'd left were tied up, and... Well, you get the picture.

Now, I do it both ways. I plot a little and I pants a lot. (Not a plotter; not a pantser - a plantster.) It works for me.

That's the point of this post. My way is not everyone else's way. I can't do it the way you do it, and vice versa. Guess what? Neither of us is wrong. Each writer is doing it the way that works for them (or they should be).

My advice? If you haven't found the right way for you, read what other writers have done, pick out the parts that work for you, and come up with your own right way. Your books will come out better for it.

If you've found your own 'right way', share it in the comments. Maybe you've got something that could work for someone else.

And for a look at the old comments, here's a link to the other post: Right Way to Write: 2008

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day

The Declaration of Independence

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed ... with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Enjoy these rights today and hold them sacred every day.  Live, be free and pursue happiness wherever you can find it.

 *All images deleted to avoid any chance of copyright infringement*

Friday, July 2, 2010

Weekly RoundUp


Ahem.  Yes.  Well.  This past week saw THE END of this rewrite.  (Although I have this thing where I don't actually write the words 'THE END' until it's a final draft, but that's just me.)  I told myself I was going to wait before I began editing.  Yeah, right.  Like that ever works.  I did wait until the month had officially changed, though, so that's something.

The first thing I did was delete the prologue.  Sure, I love the flashback scene where the reader finds out just how a 20-yr old flapper turns into a Djinn, but it's not really necessary to the storyline.  Those parts of it that are necessary can be woven into later scenes - like the fact that her father was a cat burglar - but her mother being a dilettante? Interesting, but not crucial.  For the most part, Jo ignored that part of her upbringing.  Dear ol' dad  Reggie, though, plays a big part in her character - even after 80 years.  There are little 'Reggie-isms' sprinkled throughout the book.

Anyway, deleting that part was easier than it sounds.  Now comes the hard part.  Line by line editing, checking for consistency both in characterization and plot, and filling in some beginning things that need to happen in order for the end things to happen.  (Oh, the woes of a plansterer.)

In other news, Daughter started her first job.  She's interning (thank you, publishing industry, for giving me that idea) at a property management office.  I figured it was better for her to gain experience than minimum wage, and so far, I was right.  She's learning lots and her new boss says she's a joy to have around.  :beam:  Still no word from the apps she put in for paying jobs, but in this economy, I'm not holding my breath.  Who'd hire an inexperienced kid over someone with experience?   I know I wouldn't.  Better luck next year - after this summer's experience, that is.

So, how's the summer treating you so far?  Anything interesting to share?