Saturday, July 30, 2011

Taking a Break

I'm totally fried.  With everything going on in my life and in my head, I need to take a little break from everything.  I'll probably still be reading blogs and visiting Facebook, but I probably won't be posting anything - at least for a few days.  (And hopefully no longer than a week or two.)  Maybe by then, I'll have my head out of my...  dark place.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Something to Talk About

Anyone?  Seriously.  I mean, I could rant about the debt ceiling.  I mean, I'm sick to death of hearing about another round of 'eek, eek, whatever shall we do?' that I could scream, but I'd rather not add to the mess.

I could talk about my day - which consisted of taking the cats to the vet (one at a time, because Kira hates Max) and doing a never-ending pile of laundry.  But really... bleh.

We could talk about Alex Trebeck and his amazing attempt to chase down a thief.  He snapped his achilles tendon, but security caught the bitch, so it's not all horrible.  Way to go, Alex.  Full of trivia and courageous!  Too bad the body betrayed you or I'm sure you would've kicked her ass.

I got the first bill for Daughter's college...  I definitely don't want to talk about that.  CSU raised their rates (they should hire me to cut their expenses so they wouldn't have to raise rates, but they wouldn't like my suggestions... they never do) and I about barfed when I saw how much the first semester is going to cost.  At least we saved enough to not have to go into debt about it (okay, maybe her senior year, if costs keep rising), but still... :urp:

I finally vacuumed.  And now it needs to be vacuumed again.  Kira seems to think a clean carpet is a sign that she needs to clean her fur by picking out tufts and spitting them in the middle of the living room.  Where she finds tufts to spit is beyond me.  She's a shorthair and I brush her every night.  I swear she's got magical powers.  (Like rapid shedding on vet day.  I was covered in cat fur.)

Mosquitoes should be outlawed. 

And there's the dryer telling me switch loads and fold clothes.  Talk amongst yourselves.  What kind of random things do you have to talk about today?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Don't It Just Figger

I'm up to my ass right now.  In the next month, I have a vacation planned - an actual one where we leave the house and junk, I cart my kid off to school... Okay, those are the only big things, but there's so much prep work beforehand, I'm feeling a little like I'm drowning in a sea of lime jello (and I hate lime jello).  I've got to clean the house, sort through boxes of stuff, help the kid pack. Plus, I decided to reorganize and do an inventory on my store. 

Anyway, I'm up to my ass in alligators and the swamp is rising.  So what happens?  After months of totally not feeling creative at all, and not being able to write new words, I got a flash of inspiration last night.  The beginning of a new book sprang into my head like Athena rising out of Zeus's noggin.  I jumped out of bed to write it down, of course, and in the clear light of day, it's pretty damn good.

But I don't have time for this right now.  I want to sit down and writewritewrite, but I have to cleancleanclean ('cuz like who wants to come home to a messy house and I've left some of it too long anyway).  :headdesk: 

Don't it just figger.  I swear my muse has it in for me.  Silly trollop.  Where was this inspiration when I was sitting around watching my dust bunnies grow?  Absent, that's where.  But today, when I had promised myself I would tackle washing that big bag of old clothes so I can get them out of the basement, I get inspired.  Sunuva...

What do you do when inspiration strikes but you're already committed to other things?  You know, like rewriting this NaNo novel I've been typing away on for the past month... 

(Note:  I am not complaining.  Not really.  This post was meant to be funny griping.  I'm just happy to feel like writing again.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Take All the Time You Need

You might not know this about me, but I lurk around query critique websites.  Sometimes I comment.  Sometimes I just read other people's queries, trying to learn from their mistakes, or I read the comments trying to learn better ways to do things.  One thing I've noticed - that I've been guilty of myself - is that the queriers don't seem to take enough time to absorb comments before they churn out another version of their query.  It's especially troubling when the query goes up one day and the revision goes up the next - and nothing has really changed. 

People, people, people.  Come on. 

I, of all people, know how hard it is to be patient.  I want it done and I want it done now.  If it has problems, I will fix them, turn it around and crank it out.  And more often than not, the newer version still sucks hard.  The main cause?  I didn't take enough time. 

Take the time you need to digest what people are telling you.  If what they're saying is that you need a major rewrite, take all the time you need - and recognize that 'all the time' is going to be a helluva lot longer than 24 hours.  Even if you work non-stop for 24 hours.  (Something you should never do, because if you're at that kind of frantic stage, you need to step away and gain perspective anyway.)

Anything good takes time.  Learning takes time.  Allow yourself time to learn and grow and get good.  It may be frustrating, but it's so worth it in the long run.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ack, I Did It

I joined Google+ last night.  I still don't have it all figured out, but I can see this turning into a major timesuck. 

Anyway, if you're on Google+, let me know so we can like be friends or buddies or circlers - or whatever G+ calls us.  Find me under the same name as here - B.E. Sanderson.  Or if you're not on it yet, but might like to be, let me know.  I guess I can invite people there like I can with Gmail.  :shrug:

The world, it's a changin' place.  Roll with it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Drawing a Blank

I lay in bed at night thinking up new and awesome posts.  In the morning, those wonderful ideas are gone like butterflies on a windy day.  This is one of those mornings.

So, I'll leave it up to you. Tell me something good.  Did you read an awesome book recently?  Get some incredible news?  Find the cutest little pair of shoes?  See a little falcon bathing in the neighbor's sprinkler*?

*That last one happened to me Tuesday on my morning walk.  We have a pair of Merlins living nearby and one of them was enjoying a bath on the sidewalk.  =o)

(Picture borrowed from a shot someone took at the Colorado Raptor Center in Pueblo, CO.  This Merlin is a little darker than the one I saw, but you get the idea.)  *Image Deleted.  If you want to see a merlin, go there and look.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review: Creep by Jennifer Hillier

Today I'm going to cheat and snag the review of Creep by Jennifer Hillier that I wrote yesterday for Amazon...

I sat down this morning with Jennifer Hillier's debut novel, Creep. Twelve hours later, I felt a shiver go down my spine as I read the last few words. From start to finish, Ms. Hillier nailed this story. True, I don't think it's a typical 'edge of your seat' kind of action, but the mind-blow from scene to scene definitely makes this a page-turner. The main characters are sympathetic without being wimpy. The villain is unabashedly bad, but with enough charm to not make him flat. And the twists this author throws at you will keep you reading - to the exception of things like lunch, housework and those re-runs I'm glued to every afternoon. Definitely worth the money and the time. Just make sure you don't have anything pressing to do - like sleep or eat. 

It's a psychological thriller.  I'll admit that I haven't read one of those in a while, back I really like Jennifer as a person, so I thought I'd take a chance.  It really was worth the money I spent and the day.  (Okay, sure, I didn't spent the entire twelve hours reading.  I had errands and junk, and yeah, I didn't miss lunch - I wish.  But it did take up most of my afternoon reading, and even after the power* came back on, I left the TV off so I could finish the book.)

And if you can't take my word for it, here's Amazon's Product Description:

If he can’t have her . . .
Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behavior. And when she began an affair with sexy, charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, riddled with guilt when they weren’t, she knows the three-month fling with her teaching assistant has to end. After all, she’s finally engaged to a kind and loving investment banker who adores her, and she’s taking control of her life. But when she attempts to end the affair, Ethan Wolfe won’t let her walk away.
. . . no one else can.
Ethan has plans for Sheila, plans that involve posting a sex video that would surely get her fired and destroy her prestigious career. Plans to make her pay for rejecting him. And as she attempts to counter his every threatening move without her colleagues or her fiancĂ© discovering her most intimate secrets, a shattering crime rocks Puget Sound State University: a female student, a star athlete, is found stabbed to death. Someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex, and blackmail . . . and before she knows it, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with the lover she couldn’t resist—who is now the monster who won’t let her go.

Anyway, get over to your favorite bookseller and get yourself a copy (unless your favorite is Walmart, because last I checked, they didn't have a copy on the shelves - I had to order mine and wait a week :pout:).

* Oh yeah.  I lost power for 3 hours yesterday, so that helped me finish sooner, but I would've still finished last night.  Probably after reading while I ate dinner.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Back to the Beginning

Ah, a couple of days off can do wonders.  I made a decision.  And I didn't even know I made it until someone asked me if I was still feeling blue about writing.  Funny thing is, even as craptastic as my writing has been, I'm not feeling all that blue.  Explaining that to her made me realize something.  As long as I'm not angsting over whether my stuff is going to get published I'm better off.  I'd almost dare to say I'm fine.  :waits for lightning to strike:

So, understanding that, I'm taking a sabbatical from trying to get an agent, sell my stuff, get published, etc.  I'm just going to focus on my writing and see how things go from there.  I'm going to try to go back to the beginning when I wrote stories because I loved to write them.  I'd like to go back to the time when I could write without constantly worrying about every little frickin' pronoun, adverb, adjective, dialogue tag, etc. but I'd have to totally retrain my brain and wipe out 7 years of writing advice.  

Then again, maybe I need to do that.  I don't know if I can.  I just know I miss sitting down to write without the constant voices in the back of my head doubting every syllable I type.  I think after 7 years of advice, I have too many people in my head.  (And it was already crowded enough in there, thank you very much.)

Wish me luck as I venture forth into the brave old kingdom.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Thanks to everyone for their words of encouragement.  I still don't have the answer, but like a man abandoned in the desert, I keep crawling forward.  Sure, I won't really die if I stop, but giving up is never the answer.  So I crawl until I either find water or I find the strength to walk without it.

Right now, crawling means working through this round of edits.  Type-y Type type.

What are your plans for this weekend?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What's the Point?

When I started this journey seven plus years ago, I didn't have an exact goal in mind.  I tried to write books several times over the preceding years, but I never finished one.  I guess my initial point was to finish a damn book.  And then?  Get it published, of course.  It seemed so easy then.

Man, was I stupid.

Anyway, after those seven years & seven months, I'm wondering what the hell the point is.  I've written so many books I lost track of the number.  I've received so many rejections, I could wallpaper the entire inside of this house and have a few to spare as wrapping paper (or litterbox liners).  I've studied umpteen posts, joined and left several forums, had and lost crit partners, beta readers, and blog followers.

This year has been the second low point of my career.  The first was after Spectacle (my first book) got rejected to death and I felt like maybe I couldn't write my way out of a paper bag.  I got over that one but it took me nine months to write anything again.  That one felt horrible.  This one somehow seems worse.

It's been since about February - when I finished the first draft of my NaNo novel - that I wrote anything I really felt good about.  You know, new words that made me feel all shiny inside.

I read somewhere that it took Ken Follett something like 11 years to sell Eye of the Needle.  11 years?  Seriously?  And the other day, I was grousing about the 'why am I doing this' over at Janet's Journal when Silver James said it took her 20 years.  I guess looking at that, I shouldn't be whining.  I just don't have the faintest clue how they did it.  How do you keep slogging through this day after day for that many years without either going insane and shooting off your writing hand or giving up to find some less heart-stomping occupation - like unwanted-puppy euthanasia technician.

I know...  Boo-hoo, whoa is me... blah blah blah.  Blech.  I'm tired of myself, and I don't know what to do.  I feel like I've done everything this industry has asked of me.  I wrote the book of my heart... Nope.  I wrote something trendy and now... Nope.  I wrote and wrote and wrote... Nada.  I've worked and reworked and edited and re-edited and rewritten everything from my queries to my synopses to whole damn books, trying to make something happen.  I've taken everyone's advice - from casual blog readers to betas and CPs to published authors who've chimed in to help.  I'm still sitting here, writing for my own enjoyment and it's not so frickin' enjoyable anymore.

It kinda reminds me of that song from A Chorus Line - Dance 10 Looks 3.  Maybe I need the writerly equivalent of a boob job.  I wonder if some literary tits and ass would do the job.  I wouldn't be myself anymore, but maybe that's what it takes.  Sublimate everything to reach the ultimate goal of seeing my work in print.

Nah. I can't do that.  I like my tits and ass the way they are.  Sure, they could be firmer, but surgical procedures are a too drastic to consider.

So now I'm sitting here at 41 wondering if I just wasted a large portion of the past 7.583 years.  I'm middle-aged for crissakes.  How many more years am I going to spend sitting at this computer typing stories no one wants to read???  Seriously.

Is there a point?

To this post?  Probably not much more of one than venting.  To continuing to write?  The jury's still out on that one.  What's your point?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

She Did It

After buckling down and spending the first portion of her summer break with her nose in an Algebra book, the Kid finally passed that damned math entrance exam.  And now she's registered for a real math class that counts as a prerequisite for other stuff she needs for her degree instead of Math for Basketweavers which doesn't count for anything in her chosen field.

That's a load off my mind.  Now we can both have some semblance of a real 'summer break' (i.e. nothing resembling school) and I can focus on writing again.  Weeee. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Picture Pause - Stormie Weather

Since we have more weather headed our way, I thought I'd post some weather-ish pics. 

This one didn't hit us.  It was headed for Nebraska.

It looked scarier than it was.

I learned from Reed Timmer's book that those up there are called mammatus clouds.  We call them 'cottage cheese clouds'.

And after the cottage cheese clouds left, we got...

If you look closely, you can just see the faint rainbow.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

What I'm Up To

I know I've been kinda quiet about my writing lately.  I feel like a huge toad because, ya know, this is The Writing Spectacle - not a 'my kid got into college and I have cats, so I don't have time to write' blog.  Yeah, sure, writers don't have to blog about writing every single day, but every once in a while, I should probably write about like ya know WRITING.

Anyway, sorry if you came here expecting more writerly type posts.  As I feel more writerly again, I'll get back to that.  Which leads me to what I've been up to - other than college and cats.

I'm smack in the middle of re-typing my whole damn 2010 NaNo manuscript.  (Okay, not quite in the middle, since I just finished Chapter Three last night.)

WHY?  you cry.

Because I wanted to try something different with this manuscript.  My usual process is write the first draft, print it out, make it bleed red ink, and then type in the edits.  This time, though, the edits are sufficiently massive that I figured if I just fixed those things in red, I'd miss a whole bunch of other things along the way.  Hence, the re-typing.  I'm catching all sorts of things that need clarifying or that are way out there, or the places where I strayed off the path of the story.

It's a pain, but it's working well.  I'm falling in love with the story all over again.  So, I've got up to Chapter 26 printed, through chapter 13 red-inked up and I just finished typing Chapter 3 back into the computer. 

It still needs work, but at least now I can see the individual trees in the damned forest.

What are you up to these days? 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Choosing Where to Spend Your Book Budget

Thanks to everyone who told me something nice or commiserated with me yesterday.  I might make that a regular feature of the blog - because we all need to hear nice things every once in a while.

As for today's post, I got to thinking this morning...  With money being tight all over, what do you do about spending money on new-to-you authors versus authors you've been reading forever? 

On the one hand, I love discovering new authors and making them old friends.  If I never tried a new-to-me writer, I wouldn't have found Seanan McGuire - who I crush on in a way only a writer could.  I wouldn't have discovered Laura Bickle or Nancy A. Collins - ladies who gave me awesome new series to read.

On the other hand, I want to keep reading all these series I'm currently reading.  I have to see what happens to Toby Daye, and what the people of Golgotham are up to and whether the fire investigator in Detroit gets her man.  I need to see how Jim Butcher resolves the fact that he killed Harry in the last book, but he's still the MC of this damn series. 

I need to place a book order today.  I'm late buying blog-buddy Jennifer Hillier's debut novel Creep, and I want my purchase to reflect in her first week sales.  And Daughter is hounding me to buy Kevin Hearne's latest release Hammered (even though I still haven't started books one and two of that series - she's addicted to it).

How do you choose what to spend your book budget on?  Do you even have a budget?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tell Me Something Good

Anything good.  It's been a depressing couple days - what with that murdering bitch getting off scot free, and the feeling I might have to crush some else's spirit, and the idea that somewhere along the way common sense took a vacation in the world, I need to hear something good.

Anyone got a puppy I can snuggle?  Max is too wet* from our recent storm and Kira's not in a snuggly mood.

* He has a custom-made kitty condominium complete with upper deck and beddy-bye blankie, but nooo, he'd rather sit on the garbage can.  Doofus.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Flipping Past the Naughty Bits

I love romance.  By the time I was old enough to give a damn about boys, I'd already cut my teeth on Harlequins by the bucket-full.  The thing about the old Harlequins, though, is that they're heavy on the romance and light on the sex.  And that's how I like my reading material. 

Nowadays, I've moved away from reading straight romance.  I read romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and loads of things that have a tinge of romance in them.  The problem with the first two of those categories - or at least it would be a problem if I let it - is that while they are romances, they're also filled with naughty bits I'd really rather not read.

Why am I not letting it be a problem for me?

Because I flip past the naughty bits - scanning as I go so I don't miss any plot points the author may have snuck in there between the first inkling of a boner and the afterglow. 

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not a prude.  I'm just over it.  I've read all the erotic writing I wanted when I was younger and now I'm done.  Let's get past the boot-knocking and back to the plot already.  And I know I'm going to take flack for this, but most of the sex scenes I flip so casually past?  The book stands up just fine without them. 

I'm in no way, shape or form suggesting that authors need to cut those parts out, mind you.  If they did, they'd lose a bunch of sales, and then they wouldn't be able to publish the other parts of those books that I inhale as often as I do.  I'm in the minority.  For me, flipping past the sex is just one of those things I have to do to get to the good parts.  (And for others, flipping past the suspense to get to the sex is getting to the good part.  To each their own.)

Sometimes I feel bad about the flipping.  I mean, each paragraph an author writes takes HOURS of slaving away - writing, re-writing, editing, angsting.  My need to flip past those paragraphs feels like I'm discounting all the work they did.  Unfortunately, my only other option is to not buy the book and shy away from romance all together. 

Nah.  I think I'll just keep flipping and hope my dollars help smooth away the hurt from discovering not every paragraphs they wrote was read.

Everybody's got their own flip-buttons.  For instance, I bought an SF recently.  In it there were some scenes where the MC gets tortured.  I read them and they didn't really bother me.  Daughter read them and they grossed her out.  Of course, it didn't stop her from asking me to buy the next book in the series, which I did.  If there's gross-out stuff in this one, she'll just flip past it.

What about you?  Are there any types of scenes you're likely to flip past - sex, gore, torture, description? 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Celebrate your freedoms today - no matter where you are.

Me?  I'm going to celebrate my freedom of speech by working on my writing.  Thank all that's good that I live in a country where I can write what I want and not have to worry about some goon pointing a gun at me for writing it.

What are your plans for today?  A little fun with friends?  Chilling out in your AC and watching TV?  Eating until you explode?  (I might do a little of those last two, too.)  The good ol' US of A.  What a country.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review: Fairy Bad Day

I picked this up on a whim the other day at B&N - Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby.

From Amazon:  While most students at Burtonwood Academy get to kill demons and goblins, fifteen-year-old Emma gets to rid the world of little annoying fairies with glittery wings and a hipster fashion sense. She was destined to be a dragon slayer, but cute and charming Curtis stole her spot. Then she sees a giant killer fairy - and it's invisible to everyone but her! If Emma has any chance of stopping this evil fairy, she's going to need help. Unfortunately, the only person who can help is Curtis. And now, not only has he stolen her dragon-slayer spot, but maybe her heart as well! Why does she think it's going to be a fairy bad day? 

I wasn't expecting too much, but the cover copy sounded interesting and I was exercising some intensive retail therapy.  I mean, any other day, I probably would've passed on it, but I was in a mood and I needed something happy.  (And the Jason Mraz CD I bought so didn't cut it.  Other than I'm Yours, it was pretty disappointing, but that's a story for another day.)  This promised to be cute and fun - exactly what I needed.

And boy did it deliver.  I especially loved the little... ahem, sorry they don't like to be called that... the normal sized fairies.  Serious attitude in a less-than-big package.  I also loved the way Ms. Ashby wove in some quirky friends and quirkier classmates.  And Emma?  She has issues, but she deals without coming off as whiny, pouty or... okay, she's occasionally bitchy, but that's expected when your dream job is given to your arch-enemy who happens not only to be the hottest guy at school, but your partner in this mess.  I'd be bitchy here and there, too, if I were her.

Anyway, if you're in the mood for a fun read with a light, sweet romance and some serious butt-kicking, pick up a copy.  It's YA, but hey, I'm semi-old and I liked it.  So sue me.  =op

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Benefits of Non-Writing Beta Readers

Yesterday, Lydia Kang asked the question: "Have you had your work read by non-writing members of your target audience?"

I do.  I try to get a few writers to read and also a couple non-writers to read for me.  But I never thought about the whys of it until I answered Lydia's question in the comments. 

I mean, sure, you should have writers read for you.  They're in the trenches and if you're lucky, they know what works for the publishing world, so they can help you polish your work to get it into that world.

But I don't think you should rely solely on the opinions of writers.  We're all so deeply entrenched in the trenches, I think sometimes we're looking at manuscripts differently than you average non-writing reader.

I don't know about you, but when I read a book without purposely critiquing it*, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the writerly aspects of it.  I want to be entertained.  I want to be so lost in the story I don't notice typos, adverbs, devil words - like 'it' and 'that', or passive voice. 

I think having a beta who isn't concerned with the mechanics of a story can provide you with a pure reader experience.  After all, most of the readers in the world aren't writers**.  They're just average joes trying to escape the real world a little in some nice fiction. 

Now, I'm not discounting the importance of all those things I don't pay attention to as a reader.  I think if you write the best book you can write, those things stop jumping out at even the most non-writerly reader.  And that's where the importance comes in.  Writers are automatically tuned to see those errors.  Readers aren't.  So when they stop seeing them and just enjoy the story, you've done your job. 

At least, that's what I hope is happening when a non-writer tells me how much they enjoyed my manuscript.  And if nothing else, it just feels good to hear someone outside the community say they loved what I wrote.  (Especially since I can't seem to get anyone inside the inner circle to give me the time of day.)

I know it was kind of a rambling post, but what do you think?  Do you have non-writers beta read for you?  What do you think the benefits are?  And if you don't have non-writing readers, why not?

*Okay, so I can't read any book without critting it a little.  The better the book, though, the less I find myself critiquing because I get lost in the story.   I want that for my readers.

** Yeah, I can't prove that most readers aren't writers.  For all I know, the majority of readers these days are writing something somewhere - even if it hasn't been published yet.  I mean, look at me.  For that matter, look at you.