Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Better than silly putty

Pulse is working beautifully again for me. I'm able to write a few lines as they occur to me while I'm doing other things. It's lovely to be so productive.

The text conversion tool does a very good job of translating my handwriting. Not perfect by any means, but pretty darn good for all that. It really seems to try hard to come up with something that is English even if it's not always right. And therein lies a source of great mirth for me. Occasionally it will come up with something that is totally inappropriate. For instance, today I uploaded half a page of stuff, ran it through the conversion program ( just takes a single click of the mouse) and dropped it into LSB. Then I stared to check it. There on a line all by itself, three tabs out from the left-hand edge, was the following.
I ovulated.
Totally NOT what I'd written. How it came up with that I have no idea. I'd written 'I hesitated.', but now I keep giggling at the sheer lunacy of the sentence in the context of the scene.

Hmmm. They do say that small things amuse small minds, don't they?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Not so fast...

I had a little glitch with the Pulse today. When I docked the pen in its USB cradle it didn't upload the words. It hung there, looking as if it was working but it wasn't. I ended up having to call their support line. I spoke with a real human being, and that's a note-worthy thing. Sue was very helpful but didn't know what was wrong. She suggested that I undock the pen wait a few moments and try it again. That worked. I had the idea that I could lose a load of work but eventually sense prevailed. Even if I couldn't upload the text I wouldn't have lost a thing. Everything is written down so at worst I'd have to type it in. It did give me a bit of a turn though.

I only wrote 265 new words today, but they came out even better than I planned last night. Ohhh, this is such fun. I can't understand why I was dragging my feet for so long. Anyway, I wrote the end of Chpter 2 and I love it. It's a cliffhanger, of course, and a really cool, one at that.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Thudump...Thudump... Thudump

The Pulse is certainly beating for me. I'm writing loads of stuff and I love it all. It's so much easier when I can just write a few sentences in between doing other things. I'm getting so much done it's incredible. The story is taking off. I wasn't too sure about writing in first person to begin with. It certainly is a challenge, but it feels right for this one. I could have written a couple of thousand words today, but I'm holding back for now. It gives me something to look forward to tomorrow. This is terrific. Definitely the best present ever.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I Have a Pulse

For those who may have thought that I had dropped off the face of the planet or had in fact expired -- good news. I'm still around. And I have a Pulse . I'm not just talking about the kind that can be felt at the throat and wrist either. I'm talking about the latest techie gadget, the one I received from my spouse as a Christmas gift. So what, you ask, am I wittering on about? I'll tell you.

The Pulse looks like a pen but it's actually a rather nifty paper-based computer from Livescribe. It writes just like a pen, but it has a very specialized digital camera at the pointy end which, if you write on the Livescribe "dot" paper, can be uploaded to your computer. It also has the really neat ability to record sounds and "attach" the recording to your notes or to a drawing. Amazing. And what's more it really works! Add on an additional software package called MyScript for LiveScribe that transforms your scribbles into text and you have a very powerful writing tool. One that can be used just about anywhere.

I often find that pounding the keyboard sort of locks my Muse up in a cage. Oh I can see what I want to write all right. It just won't flow to the fingertips. Writing longhand helps, but then I have the chore of transcribing my words into Liquid Story Binder so it takes at least twice as long to get my words into the chapter I'm working on... and my time is limited. But with the Pulse I'm able to write a scene, upload it, change the scribble to text (okay you DO have to write fairly neatly), edit the text to put right the words that come out as garbage because of the bad handwriting, and save it as a text file. Then, when I have a few spare moments I can import the file into Liquid Story Binder. Simple. Effective. And totally cool for techies like me. And I can use it on planes without having to haul out the laptop. Marvelous!

The downside is that you do have to use the special "dot" paper but if you have the right kind of color laser printer you can print your own. My package came with 5 college-ruled notebooks so it isn't a problem for me. There are ruled and plain journals available too, if that's your prefered writing medium.

So now I really don't have any excuses at all not to write, do I?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Indiahhh.. Incredible India

I'm back. I had a fabulous time too. Everyone, especially every writer, should visit India IMO. It truly is a land of contrasts. I don't have time for a proper post today, but hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to get some of my thoughts down. I have loads of photos and I'll put them up on a website soon. Oh yes, I also wrote a few words today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We are go for takeoff

After a couple of weeks of high-octane stress and nearly running this thing down to the wire, I've got the go-ahead for... wait for it... a business trip to India! To Pune (which used to be called Poona in the old days) to train some colleagues in the intricaies of a software package that they'll be using to help support my current #1 client. I leave tomorrow, and I'll be returning on November 9th. Phew!

It's a fantastic opportunity from a writer's POV too. I'm ready to soak in as much atmosphere and culture as I can, in the time when I'm not working. I'll be there during Dewali, The Festival of Lights, which is just such incredible timing. I'm going to take a million photos and hours of video and when I get back I'll put it all up on a website to share it with everyone.

That's the good news. The bad is that I don't know if I'll be able to post while I'm away. I'm hoping to, provided the hotel has good connectivity. It should... but then again I've stayed in plenty of places in the US where connectivity was a joke. and I won't be sending out queries while I'm away. There's no need to tempt fate -- I'd look a complete twit if I ended up having to explain that I couldnt actually SEND a partial or the full ms if an agent actually asked. Now isn't that the sweetest excuse ever? I will work on my query letter though. And Project Tevan.

So for the time being, keep writing and blogging and I'll catch you later!

Monday, October 20, 2008


Am I slipping back into my old ways? No. At least, I'm trying not to but something big is brewing for me work-wise and if it comes off it will be incredibly exciting. I'm longing to share it with everyone, but until I get the final go/no-go decision I want to keep it a secret. And that's why I haven't posted anything new on here for almost a week.

However, in the on-going effort to improve my writing skills I've found a great offer that you might find helpful too. ConceptDraw is offering a free download of an older, but fully functional ( anyone remember Data's classic line from one of the very early ST-TNG episodes? Well, it's not fully functional in THAT way. Honestly! You writers have minds like sewers :) ) -- to return the subject at hand -- version of MINDMAP. It normally costs around $200 so this is a steal. As you might have guessed from the name, it's software that helps you to draw mind maps. Assuming you don't already know what mind-mapping is, it's a graphical technique for generating ideas and linking those ideas together in eye-opening ways. And that's what we writers have to do for our stories to really take off.

If you'd like copy free you can download it from here for PC and Mac then get your serial # here. I've only just downloaded it, but it looks good and seems easy to use. So now you can't say I never give you anything for spending your time reading my blog!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Hmmm. All evening I've been running this crazy idea through my head. I've kind of planned a twist for Varda all along. But now I've come up with a new twisted twist. If my storytelling skills are up to it, it's going to be a really fun tale. Varda may not agree, but heck, who's writing this thing anyway? But I need to get it worked out properly before I get going down this rabbit hole, so I'm going to work on outlining and planning for the rest of the week. That's not my style, so it will be a bit of a challenge. F it works out though, the payoff will be terrific.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Few Words

Well, it wasn't as good a day as it could have been writing-wise, but I did at least get a few words written. Better a few than none at all, right? And why, you may ask, am I throwing in the towel so early? I have to 'fess up. Monday is the night that Top Gear runs on BBC America and it's quite the best thing on TV so I have a date with the TV set. That and the spouse has bought a particularly nice bottle of wine which we fully intend to demolish in the next hour or so.
Catch you later.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Moving on

I've begun work on Project Tevan again. Not much progress to report to be perfectly honest, but I wrote up two index cards --- to be more accurate I completed a couple of new storyboards entries in Liquid Story Binder, and these scenes are very promising. I'm going to work a lot harder on planning this book. ASF was a "seat of the pants" job. I loved it but I ended up rewriting the entire thing and that was hard. I'm not going to claim the words I did today. Maybe if I get a lot more done tomorrow I will. I need to get back in the saddle, my writing skills have definately suffered from lack of ecercise these last few weeks.

Okay, something strange is happening to me tonight. That's the second time I've type wiring instead of writing. Is my brain trying to tel me something... or am I just tired? Just tired is my guess. Catch you later. Zzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, October 10, 2008


And I'm as happy as Larry (Question: Why is Larry supposed to be such a jovial chap? Anyone out there know?). I'm one step closer to getting published, which is great. Now, naturally I'd have been a lot happier if I'd been asked for a partial, but to be perfectly honest I didn't expect anything else. The point is it was a nice, personalized rejection. Now I have to continue to work on the query letter and keep sending it out.



That's the sound of me jumping in with both feet. Yes, as last, I've done it. I've just sent off my very first query letter ever. Boy, it took some courage, which is pretty darned sad when you consider it. After all, what's the worst that can happen? A rejection, right? And I'm prepared for it. But it's a huge deal for me. It's another of those baby steps that will move me from just wanting to be published to actually getting there... one day. And now I can go to bed and maybe I'll actually sleep. Or not.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day

Did you have a good holiday weekend? I did. A bit shorter than I intended, as work unexpectedly stole all of Saturday but even though my own projects are behind because of it, I'm happy with the progress I've made. Not, I hasten to add, my writing projects. I've been remodeling our second bathroom. The tear out is done. All the shopping is complete. Well... I expect there'll be some things I've forgotten, but the big-ticket items are all in the garage. I'm not replacing the cabinets, they're a hideous color but in good shape so I'm painting them and all the prep work is done. If things go the way I plan (please don't laugh) I'll get them primed this week and ready for two top coats next Saturday. The spouse is going to install the new light fixtures, the bath, vanity top and faucets. We're having a plumber come in to do the pipe work for the bath though. And I'll tile the back-splash. It should look lovely when it's done.

And what has this to do with writing? Not much, I confess, except that Varda took pity on me on Saturday and started whispering in my ear, telling me all about this lovely scene. I know we're supposed to keep the "candy bar" scenes as a reward for slogging through the scenes that don't want to flow. But I decided to reward myself for the slog of writing that darned query letter for A Shadowed Flame. I love the scene. It's about a quarter done and is great fun to write. I need to get the rest of the story plotted out, but this one's a turning point.

My word count numbers have been abysmal this month. I can't count rewriting the two hundred or so words in the query letter that have been re-cast at least fifty times. Ben, wise man that he is, says it just a business letter. Hmmm. That may be so, Ben, but if it sucks no one's going to even bother to ask for a partial. And yes, I know that the likelihood of even getting that far is remote, but I have to give it my best shot. And so far I'm nowhere near the target. Onward, woman, and stop all this navel gazing. It's getting you nowhere.

Okay, I'm rambling. Enough. If you made it this far, thank you for listening.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When is free really free?

I just heard that the *free* airline tickets I received for attending a travel promo are actually going to cost me somewhere region of $450. I suppose it all depends on your definition of free, doesn't it? But we're going to use them to go to San Fran for ten days in September anyway. Home! Wonderful. I can't wait. (The more observant of you will have noticed that my birthplace wasn't anywhere close to California. But home is where the heart is.)

A quick update on Project Tevan. I am working on it. Really. It slowed to a crawl for a while back there, but the words are beginning to flow again. I love the way it's working out. I have a vague idea of where it's going, but I'm not going to push it.

And I've signed up for Holly's Think Sideways course. I hummed and ha'd about it. Thought about the time it was going to take. And decided. "To hell with it. I want to do it,so why not?"

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I think I'm going to have to finally admit that I simply can't fit all that I'd like to into the span of a single day. I keep meaning to post stuff on here, but it doesn't happen.

Project Tevan is moving along. I still haven't come up with a "real" name for it. That doesn't surprise me. It took me the better part of eighteen months to come up with A Shadowed Flame, talking of which... I STILL haven't started to query agents. I'm not sure why either. I'm procrastinating, and I'm world class at that. Time to get my rear-end in gear and commit.

The first of the new crop of fawns started to show up this week. I wasn't here to see them, of course, but the spouse called me to let me know he'd seen two. So far they haven't made their appearance on Deercam, and in fact we haven't seen any deer all day. I suspect that they don't much care for the 4th of July celebrations. No doubt they'll be back a the trough again soon. The way to a deer's heart is definitely through it's stomach!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

It's the cheese

I've just spent a nail-chewingly frustrating day fixing a problem for my client. I will admit right here and now that it was my own fault, but that doesn't make it any easier to take. Essentially I've wasted pretty much the whole of a precious Saturday.

I did manage to get out to do some grocery shopping. And wonder of wonders! Costco have started stocking my favorite cheese again. White Stilton with Apricots. You need to understand that I eat a lot of cheese. It's my very favorite thing and this particular cheese is beyond good. It's fantastic. I'll take a piece of this cheese over chocolate any day. Well, most days. If I had chocolate this evening I'd eat it for sure.

I don't know if I'll get any words written tonight. I'll try but having spent the best part of the day in my office I've hardly spoke three words to the spouse all day, so I need to spend some quality time watching the moving wallpaper this evening. I'll be able to make up for it tomorrow if I don't, but that's not the point is it? Oh well, flog me if you must.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Longhand vs Typing

I've noticed a strange phenomenon with Project Tevan. Varda, the MC, talks to me when I write longhand but stays absolutely silent when I use the laptop. What, I wonder, does that say about me and my muse? I don't mind working this way, if that's what it takes. The type-in doesn't take a whole lot of time once I have the words down (other than deciphering the scrawl), and I'm able to resist the urge to edit as I do it which is a huge bonus for me. I can see areas that need to be strengthened and where the description is lacking or where I have "talking heads" dialog but I can blow right past them. I know I'll be able to fix the problems during revision so I'm not worrying about them. Weird. Well, no matter. As long as I'm getting the story right, that's all that counts.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Time, gentlemen... PLEASE!

Okay. I cannot believe how long it's been since I posted anything here. I knew I'd been letting it slip, but then there are only 24 hours in a day which is totally inadequate as anyone can tell you. And whose idea was it to only have twelve months in a year? The absolute minimum should be thirteen, and I can make an excellent case for fourteen if asked. Time is playing some very strange tricks on me of late. It's slipping away like water through a sieve.

I've been fighting with my inner editor of weeks. I've struggled to get on track with Project Tevan even though the story is howling at me to get going. Finally I made it past the sticking point, and I'm getting in the zone. For the time being I'm not typing it, I'm scribbling in my little spiral-bound notebook, in my teeny, tiny writing in pencil. And the words are flowing like warm honey. It's really wonderful. I'm going to have to put them into Liquid Story Binder soon and I'm NOT going to edit them. That's what revision is for.

Friday, May 30, 2008

First Scene Snippet

Yesterday I hit on the first scene for Project Tevan. It's rough, but here it is. The same rules apply as always: please don't reproduce this snippet in any way. Copyright is mine sayeth the author. Remember, this is the very FIRST DRAFT. All comments are gratefully received.

"Flight Captain Varda," Wing Commander Haldur's eye's bored into me, "Do you have an explanation for why your wing was derelict in its duty?"

"No sir." I did, but not one that he would appreciate. Beside me Tevan stirred. I wanted to tell him to keep his trap shut -- or better, to cleave his tongue to the roof of his mouth. Wing Commander Haldur probably wouldn't notice the flashback from the spell. But I dared not take that chance.

Tevan piped up, "It was my fault. My seatur--"

Haldur silenced him with a look that threatened emasculation if he continued to be insubordinate. "Flight Captain," He flipped open the file that lay in front of him, "This is the second ... no, it's the third time your wing has failed since the year's turn." He looked from me to Tevan and back to me again. I caught his meaning. Since Tevan joined my wing as my pilot. Haldur arched an eyebrow at me. "Is there anything you wish to say about that?"

How was I supposed to answer? If I denied there was anything going on between Tevan and me, Haldur wouldn't believe it. "It won't happen again, sir. You have my word."

"I'll have your pips if it does. This time it'll cost you thirty days pay. Dismissed."

When the door closed behind us I rounded on Tevan. "Jaidick, Tevan! Is there any danger you might just be able to control that wretched beast then next time we fly? Or am I expecting too much?" Before he could reply I snarled at him, "Get out of my way," and stamped off.

It took five long cycles to get my Flight Captain's pips, and knowing Wing Commander Haldur, he'd make good on his threat if we failed again. Our job is to provide cover for the rest of the wing. The fact that, for reasons beyond my understanding, Tevan chooses to fly an unaltered seatur was no excuse for us failing to be in place before the attack began... again.

I was still seething when I reached The Weary Wench. The official name of the inn is The Queen's Rest, but the Flights stationed at Craigfelin renamed it long before my father served here. As I shoved open the door, the spicy aroma of liral stew engulfed me. They make the best liral stew I've ever eaten. It's even better than Ma's, and that's saying something. Garick was sure to be here if they were serving that.

I shouldered my way through the ocean of gray-blue uniformed Fight crews to the bar. A skinny lad wearing an apron big enough to wrap around him twice dived past me. I grabbed his arm. "Where's Garick?

He squirmed out of my grip. "Haven't seen him," he said as he disappeared into the kitchen.

Several members of my crew leaned against the bar. I slapped a five-talon piece down on the counter. "Drinks for the Flight, boys. Well done." To save them the embarrassment of having to thank me after what had happened earlier in the day, I added, "Seen Garick?" They know about Garick and me. Everyone within a half-day's march knows about Garick and me. Everyone except the Wing Commander, apparently.

They hadn't seen him either. I ordered a double measure of varich and tossed it down in one gulp. It brought tears to my eyes as it burned its way down. But it didn't make me feel any better.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A New Beginning

I've officially started my next project, tentative working title Tevan. I've been writing ideas and snippets on it for the past few weeks, while I finished working on ASF, but I hadn't set up a new book in Liquid Story Binder until today. I've set up my listing with 17 chapters (based on the final number of chapters in ASF), I've started creating electronic index cards using the Storyboard feature, and I've set up three dossiers for my three main characters: Varda, Tevan and Garick. I pasted all the snippets and ideas into a Note and I set up my project goals.

I'm planning to finish the entire thing by July 1, 2009 and, according to LSB, to keep on track I need to write 249 words a day. I can do that. On the plane today I made some notes on the culture of this world. Almost none of that work will make it directly into the final book of course, but I'm still counting on WCB.

This project was supposed to be my entry to Writers of the Future. Yeah, well, the story is already too big for that. But I'm going to start a short story project for that too. It can run in parallel to Tevan, then if/when I get blocked I'll have something different to work on. This should be fun.

Friday, May 23, 2008

In Praise of Charlotte, NC

Recently voted the Best Place to Live in America by (Check out the report here), Charlotte really is a nice place to live. It's not just that the weather is good. We have a mild four-season climate. It's a rare year when we see snow and even then it's usually gone fast. We get the occasional ice storm, a few nights when the temperature plummets to the teens, but that pretty rare. Spring arrives early and hangs around for a good long while. My daffodils are out before February ends and still blooming well into April. Summer is humid, admittedly, but not the strength-sapping humidity of Florida or Georgia. Fall is spectacular with the trees (and we have an incredible number of trees still) changing color.

Charlotte has a lovely city skyline. We don't suffer from rectangular, block-sided monstrosities. Each of our high-rises is an architectural delight. The people for the most part are welcoming and open. House prices didn't jump through the roof over the past few years as they did in many other part of the US, which makes it a very affordable place to buy into, and we are still seeing a steady increase in house prices. The market has slowed down somewhat, but it's still active. We have our share of crime, which city doesn't? Traffic can be awful, there's no denying that. But overall, it's hard to beat.

I'm not suggesting that it's better than where you live. It's not my favorite city. Tony Bennett had it right when he sang I Left My Heart in San Francisco. But it's where I live now, and it really is a good place.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Errr... okay. Adrienne tagged me, so I have to divulge 8 little known facts about myself. Ummm. Well... here goes

1) I hate, detest, abhor and loathe cold weather -- but I love looking at snow flakes.

2) I used to breed Old English Sheepdogs -- they're totally daft creatures but incredibly loving.

3) I don't like cooking -- but I love to bake, especially bread and pizza ... oh yes, and I like to make jam too, and marmalade and chutney.

4) I adore knitting, the more complex, the better -- but as we live in NC I have no excuse to knit anymore.

5) I joke incessantly when I watch movies -- it drives the spouse nuts but he puts up with it. Fortunately I don't actually go to movie theaters and inflict my humor on anyone else.

6) I would really, really , really like to ban all cell phones, pagers, PDAs, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry and any other kind of berry devices from being used in public -- but I keep my cell phone with me at all times... and I do mean All times.

7) I have a dreadful time pairing names with faces -- but I can remember all kinds of useless facts.

8) I can, metaphorically speaking, put both my feet in my mouth at the same time with the greatest of aplomb and not realize what I've said could be misconstrued -- but I take great delight in making puns and playing word games.

Phew! Let's see, who shall I tag now? Yep. Nancy... your it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mea culpa

Okay. Confession time. I didn't get my read-through of ASF completed last week. I only managed to get the first 100 pages done. Very bad. So I packed the manuscript back into my bag again and set out for the airport on Sunday. Made it through security with very little wait, and with 45 minutes to go before the plane was due to board, plonked myself down near the gate agent's stand, pulled out the MS and my red pen and started to read. After about 15 minutes I looked up. Hmmm. that's odd. The flight wasn't displayed over the gate any more. 'Kay. What's going on? Checked my cellphone(I don't wear a watch).

OMG!!! The flight LEFT 27 minutes ago!!

Leapt up (ms securely in hand), bolted to the desk. Yelped "Flight 2244 to Dayton?" at the agent.

Received a patronizing smile. "Didn't you hear the announcement?"

Does it look like I heard the blasted announcement? "No, no I didn't" I say, trying not to grit my teeth.

"Yes. I noticed you were engrossed in what you were doing."

Oh fine! But you didn't think to maybe come over and kick me, did you? "Yes I was reading."

Agent grins maliciously. "You should listen to the announcements, you know." Pauses for effect, then says "The flight's been delayed by 90 minutes. You're fine."

I could have kissed him, but I just smiled my thanks and sat down again. It only took another five pages to get my heartrate to return to normal.

ASF may never get published, but I know one thing: it's a page-turner.

PS I finished it last night and I've started the type-in of the changes. They'll be done by the end of the week. It should be on it's way to the beta readers on Friday.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What happened to the weekend?

Life, being what it is, has interrupted my careful planning for this weekend. Instead of doing my weekend chores on Friday and spending the whole weekend curled up with a good book -- to whit, A Shadowed Flame -- (I think it's a good book anyway), I had to work on Friday and a fair chunk of Saturday too. And on top of that an unexpected gig came up in Ohio, which means I have to fly out at lunchtime today.

Ah me. Don't misunderstand. Work is good. No. Work is great when I consider the alternative. But I have to get my read through done. So I've printed the whole thing out, all 432 Dark Courier (font size 12) double-spaced pages of it, and I'll stuff it into my carry-on which will make it almost impossible to wrestle into the overhead bin. That shouldn't be a problem, so long as they don't change the aircraft on me. Right now it's scheduled as an Embraier. The overhead bins won't take a normal carry-on so they take them on the jetway and stow them, then return them to the jetway on landing. I don't check my bag unless I'm forced to. But if I end up getting delayed or have yet another change in plans (it happens occasionally) I'll be busted.

Okay. I'll stop whinging now. I just want to let everyone know why I'm slipping behind with my revision. I will get it done this week, if I have to stay up all night every night to do it. I'm sending it out to the beta readers next weekend, and nothing short of a natural disaster of massive proportions is going to stop me.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Missd my words, darn it!

Yes, I admit it. Flog me. I didn't write anything yesterday, not on ASF, not on the new and as yet nameless project ( but ASF didn't have a title until the second revision so that's no surprise). I played with the WCB website instead. Not that you'll see anything new on the actual site. It was all done on my laptop. I made some significant progress too. But for reasons passing understanding -- passing MY understanding at least -- what works locally doesn't work up there. As I've set everything up to be the same this doesn't make sense. But then, I don't understand string theory either.

Now I have to get back to work and fit in some writing or I'll end up getting flogged again. That could become far to enjoyable!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Revising the revision.

I've been yanking words for one section and shoving them into another and I think I've now dealt with the huge indigestible glob of backstory that was choking me. In the process I've lost about 500 words, but I have added lots of new ones. Not enough to make up for all the deleted ones, but never mind. I need to print the whole thing out and sit quietly with it to read it through from start to finish now. Lord knows what I've done to my timelines with all this. If I can get that done over the weekend I'll be lucky, but it's what I'm aiming for. My beta readers are lined up and ready to start as soon as I finish messing with the ms. I better get this done before they all grow old!

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Now this is strange. During the week I put a new post on here. I swear I posted it. I even check it to see that it was okay. But it's not here now.

And that's not all. The comments I made on other peoples blogs are missing too.

Am I suggering from delusions? Did my posts get eaten by the Internet termites? Have aliens secretly abducted me and placed false memories in my swiss-cheese brain? I have no idea but those are all strong contenders for what happened.

It wouldn't be so bad if I had a copy of the post that's MIA. I'm anal about backing things up, which is why I STRONGLY enourage you to go to Mozy's website and sign up for their backup service. 2 GB for free is a bargain in anyone's book. I use the paid version because of the huge amount of stuff I keep on my laptop that I just can't be without in the event of a disk crash or other emergency. But in this case, like a complete twit, I deleted the document BEFORE the backup took place. So it's lost to the world for all time.

How sad.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Tevan's turning out to be quite a character. He isn't fully fleshed out yet, nor will he be for quite a while, but I know a bit about him now. I know the name of the narrator too. Varda. The plot is developing nicely. I have an inkling where it will end, and in between there are plenty of twists and turns. They're in for an uncomfortable ride. I'm not going to give away too much here until the story starts to take shape.

I've also been working on the revision of ASF. I'm nearly done with Chapter 17, but I still have several areas earlier on that need attention. I'm going to work on those in the next couple of days... If Varda and Tevan will leave me alone for a bit!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The muse works in mysterious ways

The spouse and I went to the garden center this afternoon, to get a few plants for the deer. I know they'll eat most of them, but for now the flower bed I've just finished planting looks really nice. That's beside the point. We were waiting at a stop light and I happened to glance to the side. In the far right-hand lane I saw part of the name on a tradesman's van.

Tevan, it said.

And before I could turn back again, this character pops up in my head and introduces himself. And then another joins him and between them they are starting to write what may turn out to be a short story for the Writers of the Future thingy... or it may turn into something longer. The second character is female and feisty as heck. I think I'm going to write this her first person POV. It'll be fun, because she doesn't really like Tevan very much. But they are a team. And he can't do without her, because she's able to redirect the flashback magic. Don't ask... I don't know what it is either. Not yet. So I have two characters, a vague idea that they use magic to defend their country ( I didn't mention that did I?) and the magic is dangerous in itself. I know a tiny bit about their culture and at the moment I have no plot. It'll be an interesting ride.

The muse surely does work in mysterious ways.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I reluctantly started blogging five months ago, on November 18th to be exact. My reason for not wanting to join the hoards of people communicating this way was simple. I make my living around computers, I write on a computer (mostly) and when I'm not doing either of those things I want to be as far away from technology as possible in this overly-wired age.

And I didn't have anything to say.

But now, not only do I blog... albeit not as frequenly as I should... but I also a run website for my fellow Word Counters. And I love it. I'm learning new skills, none of which are in the least bit useful in my day-job, and I'm getting a huge kick out of seeing other writers make progess on their works-in-progess (or process if you prefer). And it's all thanks to the wonderful world of blogging.

And I still don't have anything to say.

Friday, April 11, 2008

short and sweet-ish

Words. They're coming along slowly but they are coming. I'm nearly done revising Chapter 15, so only have two more to go. I need to get it done. Motivation isn't the problem any more, it's finding enough hours in the day to get it all done. I've pretty much had to give up checking on the rest of the Buddies blogs. Sorry about that everyone, but I'm sure you're all writing reams of good stuff both on your WIPs and blogs. Maybe next week will be less fraught. Who knows?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I'm not sure if everyone... or even anyone... is receiving my weekly email update about the Word Count Buddies website . Check your trash or junk mail folders if you aren't seeing it. If you didn't receive it drop a line to and I'll add you to the list. This is what I sent our earlier today --

I hope your all having a very productive weekend... and writing your words too :-)

I've added a couple of new things to the website. Your total-to-date counts are now displayed, and for those who haven't been adding their word counts on ( and you know who you are!!) you'll see a big fat 0 next to your name. If you post your word count for this weekend... no fudging please... and let me know what your actual running total is since you joined us I'll add that figure to the display. It updates automatically every time you add your daily count.

I have also put up a copy of the rules. My thanks to Ing for expanding on the original sketchy outline that I suggested on his blog. I've changed a couple of your words, Ing, but the vast majority of the work remains as you have it posted.

I'd like to get the Word Count Warrior of the Week done next. And if you will PLEASE send me a few words of bio info I'll put the About us page together. Theadra noticed that the link wasn't working. The reason why it doesn't is that I don't have any info to post. I don't want to post just my own as it then looks like this is my website. I prefer to think of it as a collaboration. So email me a little about yourselves and your goals I can get that working next weekend too.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I'm still here

I know it's hard to believe, but I am still here. I'm working on a client's site for the next five weeks. It does disrupt my plans when this happens so suddenly but hey -- it's work. I'm not complaining... well not much anyway. The problem with living in hotels is their upload speed leaves a lot to be desired, so making improvements to Word Count Buddies website will have to wait until the weekend. I have a couple of things that I think will be nice additions.

ASF edits are progressing slowly. I want to finish the chapter I'm working on tonight. When I work out my word count it's disheartening. I'm cutting far more than I'm adding. But the cuts are necessary and good. I don't go hunting for every phrase that I've added. If I can find them easily then I count them so although my numbers look horrible I have done more. Not a lot more, but even so.

I don't want to start on a new project until I have this one put to bed or I'll never finish it. And I'm looking forward to getting to know my new characters. The words will flow much better when I can get going on it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Update on Word Count Buddies

I thought I'd give you an update on what I've been doing with the website. I

When you log in to add your words you'll notice that you don't have to enter your name in Add Word Count form any more. I'm picking up your user name from the log in screen. And I've changed the time on the Word Count Table to show the 24-hour clock.

I've changed the View Guest book screen. It doesn't display the email address anymore.

I'm working on setting up an Issues Log. Hopefully that will be available sometime tomorrow. You'll be able to report problems there and also use it to give me your suggestions on how to make the site better. I have some ideas that I'll put up there. These include
1. Word Count Warrior of the Week. This is the person who wrote the most words the previous week. Their name will be displayed above the Word Count Table on the home page.
2. Get the Wall of Shame working. I'm going to also include a list of Weak Excuses ( free free to add to them, there'll be a form that will allow that) and if I can work it, we'll be able to chose one when our names appear on the Wall.
3. At Ing's request, put together a Word Count Buddies Storefront, with the merchandise ideas that Whiteacre, Aestril and Theadra came up with.

Now it's confession time: I haven't written my words today. My weak excuse -- the cat ate my mouse.

See ya!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Progressing slowly

145 words today and if you count up all the words I've done on this scene in the last week and a half you'll wonder why it's coming in at round 850. The words go in, the words come out, the words go in, and on and on. But today I did make some real progress. I like what I wrote and it achieves what I wanted.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

At last, something to watch on TV

This post was inspired by Theadra's missive on the final death throes of Jericho. I don't watch much TV. I'm not saying the TV isn't on in our house; it is. I just don't watch the screen much. There's nothing but a boring parade of the same old same old. So I have to ask you... are you tired of watching fifteen different versions of CSI? Bored with endless, mindless sit-coms? If you can get it, try watching BBC America on Wednesday night for a change. One of the best programs on TV is on there -- MI5. And soon, April 6th I believe, it will be joined by my favoirite, the incredible Wire in the Blood. Not for the fainthearted I'll admit, it's a chilling look at the world through the eyes of a criminal psychologist. There's usually no graphic violence... but the pictures in your mind are far more graphic than anything they need to show. Superb.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Posted my words on the Word Count Buddies Site

I'm sure that I've missed someone from the list of blogs on Word Count Buddies and I know I haven't sent everyone their username and password. That's because I don't have your email addresses. If you make an entry in the Guest Book I'll be able to pick up your email without the rest of the word seeing it.

Let me know what else you'd like to see on the site and I'll try to make it happen.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Word Count Buddies goes Live!!

Hi Everyone. The site isn't completely finished and it will take a few days to iron out the inevitable gliches, but it's about 90% there so I'll release it to you now. You need to send me an email for your username and password if I haven't already contacted you with it.

Let me know if you find things that don't work, or that look strange. I'm still getting a few things shoehorned in place so bear with me while I do that. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


This new project is starting to take off. Not that you'd believe it with a word count of only 132, but the characters are chatting to me, and stuff's happening. I haven't planned this at all, and if it make it into a book it will be a miracle. But it's fun and that's what I need right now.

Update on Website

The website is coming along nicely. I hope to password-protect updating the word count, and have a drop-down box with our names in it by tomorrow evening. The Guest Book is working, Join Us still needs some work but it will send emails. I want to have it do that automagically, right now it just opens the email acount on your PC. I haven't added the About Us page yet. And of course the biggie -- I still need to get the word counts displayed on the Home page. Hopefully I'll get it all done tomorrow. Check it out here

Saturday, March 22, 2008

109 on a new project

I decide to stop beating myself senseless and give in to a secondary character who's been nudging me for weeks. This may not turn out to be a book, but I'm going to give him a chance for a few days and see what we can come up with. He's an interesting subject. Very conflicted because of what happens to him in ASF. I'll say no more.

The website is coming along, if more slowly than I'd like. Check it out if you like at I keep making little changes as I go. I.m not sure if I'll use the Word Count Meter. I don't think it will be flexible enough. It might be okay for a few days if I can;t get what I have in mind up and running by Monday

Friday, March 21, 2008

100 miserable words

I hate them all. But they're written. I'm going to have to edit my edits. Never mind, at least I'm writing something and that's what counts.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

105 words

I should be doing better but work and researching templates is putting paid too that. But I'm really excited about the website and that's helping get the creative juices flowing. The words came easy today, and I'll probably add a few more later this evening.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


163 words, and they need editing. But as these are for a new scene I'm okay with that.

It looks like the Word Count Meter won't work with Bravehost. It needs PHP and Bravehost only provide that with the upgraded version. Not to worry. I have other tricks up my sleeve.

Word Count Buddies -- I think I've cracked it

I think I've come up with the solution to our problem of filling our blogs with tiny posts about our word counts. I'm in the process of setting up a Bravenet web site. It's free, the domain name is free (ugly, but free) and we can put a link to it on our blogs so that anyone who want to follow our progress can. I already have a word count meter that I think we can use. I need to check with the software provider first because I don't want to break any copyright or usage agreements. I need the rest of the week to set it up, but I think we can have it running by the weekend.

In the meantime you can check out my progress... or lack thereof... at Right now everything is a placeholder. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Athur C. Clarke

I've just heard that Arthur C Clarke has died. To me, he was one of the giants of Science Fiction. The first SF book I ever bought was A Fall of Moondust. The twist at the end of Childhood's End was stunning to me. I don't have the words to write a suitable obituary; it's probably not fitting for me to do so. A great man, a huge talent. He will be missed.

Today's Words

250. These are new words for a rework of a scene that was a blob of backstory. I still have to weave them into the blob and cut some of the originals but that's fine. I like what I've done today. It's going to work much better than before.

I'm looking at ways to make this easier for us. Not the writing bit, your on your own for that, but the reporting piece. Maybe linkies would work. I'll keep researching and report back when/if I find something that might fly.

Monday, March 17, 2008

One hundred words and counting

Did my words today... just, but nontheless I did them. I HATE revision.

Word Count Buddies

I'm participating in a Word Count challenge! We've agreed to write a minimum of one hundred words every day on our current WIP or future project. We're still working out the ground rules. but I've decided to start today anyway, so I've started a new category called Word Count Buddies. Hmmm. For a writer of fantasy that shows startlingly little imagination doesn't it? That aside, feel free to join in either as a participant or as a interested onlooker. This should be fun... and productive.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spring has sprung

Slightly new look for spring. I get bored easily. And distracted too. Back to the revision.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


My crit partner is a fellow writer. I value and respect her judgement, and her comments have helped me make ASF a better and stronger book.
My reader is not a writer. I value and respect his judgement, and his comments have helped me make ASF a better and stronger book.

BUT... there are some scenes where their advice is diametrically opposed. Examples:
Scene A
She says it pulled her out of the book, the action wasn't believable
He says it was and it was very exciting.

Scene B
She says I can cut a lot of the stuff because it slows the action. The level of detail is too much.
He says he could really see what was happening and loved it.

Scene C
She doesn't like one piece of description.
He says it was great.

Which just goes to show that you can't please all the people all the time.

I'm looking very carefully at these scenes. Of course it's tempting to say -- Oh, the reader loved it, it must be good. But then again, he didn't pick up on quite a few of the other things that she did. And as she didn't see the ms before I made the changes he suggested, I'll never know if she would have given the original a nod of approval (though I really doubt it; she's very good at this).

At the end of the day it is MY book. I can do what ever I want. But if I take that attitude, why did I waste these kind people's precious time asking for their input? What I want is to see ASF on the shelves of the book stores. If I'm in a quandary now about making changes, imagine how much more difficult it will be if an agent or editor asks for changes to those same scenes. But on the other hand, if I'm in the fortunate position of having an agent or editor request changes I suspect I'll be more than happy to oblige.

Why is this SO difficult????

Monday, March 10, 2008

Cool ideas

Cutting up scenes and moving them around is sooo much better when I do it on paper. I really get a better feel for where I can make changes. As a result I've come up with a total new scene for the end of Chapter 9, which will allow me to move the backstory into Chapter 10, and hopefully the whole thing will hang together better than it did before, because the timeline will be better defined. That new scene will take a small lump of exposition from where it was and expand on it so that it's no longer just exposition. Does that makes sense? Anyway, I know what I mean.

I probably won't be able to do much on it tonight but I have the changes clear in my mind and I'm jazzed about writing them. I think this will add getting on for 1000 new words which is fine. It gives me some wiggle room for a slash-and-burn campaign that has to happen.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Procrastination is dead ... Long Live Procrastination

What fun. DST has messed up the application I use to manage the servers at my most important client. Fortunately this is not vital and I can fix it during the week. That does beg the question why didn't I have the darned thing patched up already though. I guess I just missed it in the shuffle. Oh well. Never mind. But messing with it today has eaten into the time I had allocated to make the edits needed in Chapter 9. These are edits that I should have done sooner -- BEFORE my crit partner saw the glob of omniscient backstory. Prevarication, it seems, is one of my stronger points. Ouch!

Now that I've taken a hard look at what needs to be done I'm going to have to do a swift shuffle of scenes in Chapters 9 and 10 to make it work the right way. To that end I've printed out both chapters and I'm going to spend time tomorrow literally cutting paragraphs out and slotting them in where they should be. That's always supposing I can find the time to do it.

But on the upside, my reader called today. He likes the changes that I made to the last chapter, so that's good.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Where has the time gone?

Oh man! It can't be a week since I posted, it simply CAN'T! Things are totally out of control for me. At work I've been completing eight knowledge assessments. Yes. Eight. Totally nuts, but that's what I've have to do. And now that those are done I have half a week's worth of catchup to do.
On the ASF front I've been chewing my way through the revisions. By no means done with those yet, and Friday is looming large. I still have ALL my crit for my crit partner to do. I will get that done but it'll be tight this week. Maybe next week will be calmer. Do I hear hollow laughter in the background? Yes, I thought so. Never mind. I'm going to try to put some interesting things in here soon. Otherwise why would anyone want to read it? Thing is, when I'm staring at myself in the mirror, brushing my teeth, I can think of all kinds of fun stuff to say. When I actually get around to putting it "on paper" (so to speak), it's all gone. Ah me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Yes! Yes ! Yes * does a little dance* Nailed it! The revisions to Chapter 17 I mean. This has been bugging me for over a week. And now I'm done. Oh not with the whole revision thing, not yet. My crit partner keeps coming up with things for me to fix, but the whole Chapter 17 thing was killing me. How did I break out of it?

Holly Lisle's How to Beat Writers Block course!

Lemme tell you the whole story.
I treat myself to a bonus whenever any of my projects goes live successfully. Nothing huge, I just award myself $100 to spend any way I please. Anyway, my part of the project at my favorite client is winding down, sad to say. And although, strictly speaking, the project hasn't ended yet, yesterday Holly had an amazing offer on her website. All four of her Clinics, the How to Beat Writers Block Course, How to Find Your Writing Discipline, 21 ways to Write When Life Your Life has Just Exploded, and copies of the first draft and revision of Hawkspar, which is due to be released in June, for $97! I wanted the Hawkspar stuff. Oh boy! Did I want the Hawkspar stuff? I'd have gladly paid $97 just for that. (I already have the four clinics and they are excellent, by the way). So I bought the package.
Well, last night, back at the hotel I was beating my head against the wall, getting nowhere with the infamous Chapter 17, and I thought "Well. You have the Writers Block thing. Give it a whirl. It can't do any harm." Worked through the first four sections and then went to bed. This morning... BINGO!! There it was! The answers to the questions that I've been struggling with. Amazing! Incredible! Thank you Holly! You saved me!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Books and...

Check out the soon-to-be-opened bookstore Books and... at ( I ought to embed the link but time is against me) Doesn't that sound just great? I'm going to be keeping an eye on Robert's progess with his new venture. I've already promised to go to the store's opening. It a shame that Eden is about 130 miles from me, or I'd be dropping in there to browse on a regular basis. Way to go Robert! I wish you all the luck in the world with this.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Eclipse That.

Did you see it? The lunar eclipse last night. Our weather man said that there'd be rain -- wrong! It was a beautiful night. The eclipse was awsome, I love watching them. This is the fourth one I've seen I think. It just sets the creative juices flowing. I don't think I want to include it in ASF, that would need another re-write, but I'm definately going to use the observations I made last night in my next project.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A request

Please, for me, check out Ray Rhamey's Flogging the Quill post And if you agree with him, send him your email address so he can send you a copy of his book. Will it make a difference? I have no idea, but he seems to be a good person and very sincere in his views. Why am I asking you to do this? He flogged my first page a few months ago, and I was very encouraged by his comments. I'm trying to return the favor in a small way.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Limping along.

You know, it's just dawned on me that I haven't been keeping you up to date with my progress on A Shadowed Flame. And as this blog is *supposed* to be a writing journal, that's a bit remiss of me, isn't it? I'm currently doing yet another round of revision, this one driven by the comments of my critique partner -- for which I am very grateful. It's really hard to do a good critique and she's pulling out a lot of things that I knew needed work, but hoped that no one else would notice. And of course, an agent or an editor would have spotted them and I'd end up at best having to make the changes anyway. Or have my work rejected before it even had a chance to live. So I'm biting the bullet and editing. And on top of that, my reader had some interesting comments about the last chapter. He wanted the story to continue because he loves the characters which is good; but he poked holes in the first two scenes of the chapter that you could drive a bus through. Sigh. So I'm fixing that too. The query that I'm putting together is progressing at glacial speed. At this rate I'll be 90 before I'm ready to look for representation!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tour de force

I spent yesterday at my favorite client's site. They happen to be the world's largest wholesale book distributor, and strangely enough that isn't why they're my favorite … but it helps! Every time I've been on-site they've promised me a tour of the Distribution Center, and every time I've had to cry off because work has to come first. They are paying for my time after all. But yesterday I took the tour. And I was, not to put it too delicately, gob-smacked. Imaging this: a 420,000 square foot facility (and this is the SECOND largest distribution facility of the four that they have. The largest is 650,000 square feet!). At this facility they carry at any one time 7 MILLION books , representing 1.2 million titles. They receive on average 150,000 to 200,000 books PER DAY, from virtually all publishers and from their own Print-on-Demand company (and that deserves a post all of its own). They ship an average of 800,000 units per week, which represents 85,000 orders. Those orders go to most of the major book stores, to indies and to warehouse stores. Seen a new book at your local library? Oh yes, it's probably been through here, and received its mylar jacket and various stickers and barcodes before it was sent out. Ever bought a book on-line? Then it was probably shipped to you from here. If you order a book on before midday Central they will ship it that day. Incredible! The technology used to do all this is just amazing, and soooo cool. And what's more, real people are involved at every step of the way. I could go on and on but I'd probably bore you senseless. Suffice to say, I was impressed. And now I'm more determined than ever to get published.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Techie stuff -- LSB

I've been remiss. Theadra asked for more information on Liquid Story Binder ages ago and I haven't responded. Well, that's just like me, I'm afraid. But now I'll set the record straight.

What is Liquid Story Binder? It's a terrific piece of software that runs on PCs and Linux ( but not on the Mac as far as I know) that combines a word processor with a herd of other useful, dare I say essential? tools for a writer. With it you can plan, track and manage your writing projects from conception to query. And it keeps backups for you, which is huge if you're like me. If that's not enough for you, it can be installed on a USB drive, so is totally portable. Take it to work with you and use it during lunchtime, going to babysit for a friend? You can work on your project while the kidlets snooze ( always supposing their parents have a PC you can use.)

And now for a few of the features.

Like to keep detailed notes about your characters? Dossiers accomplishes that and, what's more, you can use dossiers for world-building too. Have an image of your MC in mind? Does that photo of the Scottish Highlands remind you of the setting for your story? Pop it into the dossier and it will be there ready to display whenever you open it up, along with as much or as little detail as you wish to enter. It's incredible flexible, and you can keep multiple dossiers open while you write too.

I don't like to listen to music when I write, but I know a lot of people do. LSB can manage a playlist for you so you can have music while you work effortlessly.

Timelines your thing? You can keep track of your characters and timelines with ease, and color coding them makes it simple to see who's where and when. A related but different tool is the Storyboard. You can use them like you would an index card, and you can move them around until you get the story straight. I color code them the same way as the timeline so I can tell at a glance which scene is in which character's POV.

Need to track your goals and the time you spend writing? It does that. Tell at a glance how many words you wrote in this session, how many you still have to go to meet your goal, are you ahead or behind your schedule?

These are only a few of the great features that LSB has. You will have to put in a bit of time getting up to speed with it, the learning curve is fairly steep, but it's very worthwhile, and there are tutorials on how to use the major features, plus a very active community of users who'll help you find your way around the software, and the most responsive developer of ALL time. Jesse Wall answers questions about the product and requests for enhancements like no one else! AND… you can try it free for 30 days. Download it from Black Obelisk Software

If you don't love it don't buy it, but I think you will.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ooooh, the power.

Funny thing, electricity. You don't ... ahem... I don't give it a second thought when it's there, but take it away for a while and suddenly life becomes interesting in the all the wrong ways. You already know that when I'm not on the road I work from home. It's a wonderful arrangement as far as I'm concerned. So this morning I was tapping away doing database administration-ly stuff, happy as squirrel in a nut tree, when the laptop screen goes dim and a half-second later POW! I hear an explosion ( well okay it was more like a bang) in the neighborhood. Hmmm. That's not so good. But never mind, my cable modem is protected by UPS (not the parcel service, Uninterruptable Power Supply) so I'm fine. They'll fix the problem in no time, won't they? Won't they? No. They won't. Even with everything else that was running on the UPS switched off, it ran out of juice, leaving me high and dry. Can't work, so I'll surf the inter.... wait! No cable modem so no internet. All right then. I'll continue working on the crit I'm doing, that's a really good use of my time right now. (Plus I love doing it). And all was well until the laptop battery went the way of all flesh. Argh!!! Well, okay. We'll have lunch then. Soup I think. Nope. It needs to be warmed up. As does every other darn thing in the fridge, with the exception of lettuce. I like lettuce so I'm fine but the spouse? Not so much. Ah well, everything is back now. Thank you Duke Power. I promise to appreciate what you do for us in future

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

DeerCam Debuts!

DeerCam is up and running! I should explain a bit. Basically, we live in a thousand acre wood ( shades of Winnie the Pooh and all that, but it happens to be true.) Wait! I hasten to add here that while we live in the wood, we don't own it all, we only own an acre and a half. Anyway, back to my point; a herd of white-tailed deer inhabits this area, and, as it's just within the city limits of Charlotte NC, hunting is not allowed. As a result, our deer are pretty much a protected species, and they know it. So they munch their way through whatever vegetation they choose, which accounts for why, after a couple of years, we gave up trying to grow flowers and started feeding them deer corn. It's a lot cheaper than bedding plants, I can tell you. And now we ( the spouse and I) are sharing our enjoyment of the deer with the world at large.

All the technical side of thing is his doing and it's his website. He's been experimenting with lights and cameras and I think he's got it about right now. Of course, as soon as the newest doohickey comes out he'll want to get one in case it make things better. Oh well! Pop on over to and see if the does are at the trough. The best time to catch them is dusk and dawn but they're around all day long. You'll see the bucks mostly during the night. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fuzzy bits

Talked with my reader this afternoon. He's been busy so is a little behind with the project. Not to worry, I'm a little behind with my plan too! Anyway, I knew there was something wrong with Chapter 14, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. He did. Went straight to the fuzzy bit, and gave me a superb idea on how to fix it. So that's what I'm up to right now.

I still have to get my agent query whipped into shape... or if I'm truthful, I have to start to outline the darned thing. This is the hardest thing I've ever done! I can't seem to get my head around it. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to slog away until I master it. I don't think that the publishing world is going to beat a path to my door otherwise!

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Light Fantastic

And now the end of the saga. Yesterday we went out to the other DIY superstore, the one where the associates wear orange aprons, and found a (not nearly as) nice light fixture for the kitchen. When I saw the price I swiftly revised my opinion. It's amazing how a 50% price break can do that. Sooo anyway, we bought that one and the spouse installed it and now I have light again. I'm still looking for lights for the family room but that project is low-priority for now. Oh yes, the fan over in the breakfast nook has been updated too. But not the light over the sink. But we're getting there.

And with the money we saved ( Huh? didn't we go out originally for a single fixture?) the spouse has decided that we can afford to put up DeerCam. And more of that in a later post...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

More Heat Than Light

When you flick a light switch you have an expectation that the fixture overhead will illuminate the surroundings. Last night, when I did just that in my kitchen and nothing happened, I assumed the fuse had blown. Wrong! As the spouse had been poking around in the attic in about the same place as the light he assumed he'd dislodged a wire and was confident he'd get it working in the morning. Wrong! For reasons passing understanding our light had decided to cash in its chips. No problem, it was old and we always planned to change it for something nicer anyway. And so we popped into the local DIY superstore and, wouldn't you just know it, saw the perfect thing. Excellent! In fact it was so nice I thought we should change out the lights in our family room (we have four fixtures in there, yes it's huge) and have them all match. But they didn't have any stock on hand. In fact, these were a non-stock item. In other words, they were not going to carry them any longer. But... another store ,a mere forty miles away, had four. Okay, but I wanted five. Ah! But have you seen the smaller version? When I looked at it, I thought it would do very nicely for the kitchen. So we piled back in the SUV and high-tailed it to the other store. We grabbed the boxes with the strongest assurance from the associate that no, the boxes hadn't been opened .These were all never-left-the-store brand new. Then the spouse pointed out a ceiling fan, which happened to be a very close match to the finish of the light fittings. Okay, we can take that to replace the one in the breakfast nook. And on the way to the checkout there was this pendant thingy on sale ( the last one) which would look really good over the sink, especially as the light that is currently up there has seen many better days. Snagged that, and three alabaster-type glass shades to go with it. Oh yes and the various bulbs and tubes necessary, plus a really cool remote switch for the fan. Gulped a the price when we made it to the cash register but, hey ,we're all set to have the spiffiest kitchen on the block.

So we get home and have a bite of lunch and then the fun really begins. Spouse sends me off to write a book or whatever it is that I do when I'm not hanging on his every word, and starts dismantling the overhead light. I'm happy to let him do this without my assistance. Five minutes later he's calling me to look at a problem. When he took the old fluorescent fixture down, he revealed the reason why it was slightly off-center in the room. Someone had tried to put their foot through the ceiling. Not good. There was a crack like the Grand Canyon up there. Okay, well it's better to know these things. Put it on the list of "things to do" and put the new lamp up in its place. We'll fix that later this year when we plan to take the nasty popcorn stuff off the ceiling anyway. Not so fast. The new matching, but smaller fixture won't cover the crack. Darn it. Well no big deal. We don't mind waiting to do up the family room, and there's always the one that's on display at our local store. We'll go and ask if we can buy that as they aren't carrying this line any longer. A perfect solution. So then the spouse opens one of the boxes and... the damned fixture is broken! Not just a little bit. It's smashed. And so was the next one he opened.

It takes a lot to get me riled, it really does. But when I've spent the whole day running around, wasting time and gas and getting absolutely nowhere, having my hopes raised and then dashed, I tend to get a teeny bit grouchy.

So we've taken the whole shebang back to the local store and I still don't have a light in my kitchen and I haven't done the edits that I promised myself I would and I'm spitting feathers about the lot of it!

Thanks for listening, I feel better now.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Now she tells me!

Note to self. Next time you mark passages that need attention don't forget to add a symbol or something so you can do a fast "find" for the places. Just changing the color of the font isn't a good idea!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Closing in

So. I've fixed the scene in Chapter 12, and that added around five hundred words which is great. And it's a much better scene now. I was able to add a bit of misdirection, which is always fun, and there's a joke in there for my reader. It works on two levels, but he's probably the only one who'll appreciate both. Lovely! I think I'll do this in all my work from now on. A challenge for me, and an "easter egg" for him. Said reader shall remain anonymous, and for anyone wondering no, it's not my spouse. Are you intrigued? Good!

I also did a slew of work on the grand finale. Not so many words but I've tightened it up and added a touch of backstory. Hmmm. Is the last chapter the place for backstory? As far as I'm concerned the answer is yes. My characters keep growing and changing on me all the way through. Llaswyr sprung this little tidbit on me at the last second. Gotta love him for that! He still hasn't divulged the very last piece of the last scene though. We're working on it.

There are still couple of places that need attention. (Yeah, like only a couple... oh come on!) I marked some fixes my reader suggested. I'll do them first thing tomorrow. I'm still on track, but not ready to print the ms. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get it all done.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I am getting so bad about blogging! It's not that I don't want to. I'm just getting pulled in a hundred directions right now. I have to make time for it though.

A quick update on ASF -- I've been called to task about a soft spot in Chapter 12. It's not big deal, but my reader has told me that I need to add something in one scene... and darn it he's right! Question is, how to improve it without wrecking the whole thing. So I'm thinking about that.

And then I had this cool idea about another section... and we ALL know where that leads! So I'm setting a hard goal for myself. Get the things that need to be fixed, fixed. No more additions, no more procrastination. Get it done and printed by the weekend. Spend two days reading the whole ms editing with a pen as I go. Type in the corrections next week. Send the complete ms to said reader and hope he can find the time to read it in a week. While he's doing that, start querying agents. So by Feb 1 I will have at least one query out there. And I need you to keep me honest about that!

I also promise to also keep blogging, finding time for the spouse and the cats, critiquing other people's work and generally acting like a human being. Oh yes, and I suppose I'll have to put in some hours at the day job too. Should be a piece of cake -- right?

Monday, January 14, 2008

I've put the scene to bed!

The scene is finally done! It went in a somewhat different direction than I thought, but then that's Glasyn for you. She will have her own way! And all I can say at this point is that it's a good job that the rest of the book wasn't such a struggle or I'd never finish it! Onward!

By the way, Ray Rhamey has an absolutely facinating post running at Flogging the Quill. It's on POV. Check it out at

Getting there.

I think I'm back on track now. It's been a long, hard road but with an ounce of luck I should be able to get the scene fixed up and ready to go. Too many distractions and not enough time to concentrate on what I want to do are the cause of the derailment. But then again, the day job has to come first. I hope to get a solid couple of hours writing done today. That's the goal anyway.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Time is not on my side.

This week is getting away from me and there's no denying it. I have all of 45 words of my new cool scene written, and I think they are rubbish. I'm getting distracted by stupid things. Tomorrow my nose is going to be to the grindstone regardless of the day job, that incredible time-sink called the Internet, spousal duties and the demands of various cats ( I have the honor of sharing their home; they like to remind me of that) Does anyone out there know a good way to stay motivated in the face of all of this?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Excuses, excuses...

In my line of work it's not that unusual to have to do the occasional all-nighter. For me it happens maybe every six to eight weeks. But back-to-back? Now that's definitely not what I signed up for! This weekend was a brute, and no kidding. I had about four hours sleep in forty-eight.

My muse does not like that and is punishing me. All my main characters have gone skiing (they know I HATE the cold) and left a secondary character to tug at my sleeve. Now he's demanding his place in the sun. It's not going to happen in this book, but he's getting very insistent. Maybe I better let him chunner on at me and see where this goes. I did have a plan for the next project, but who knows? This could be better. And if I give in to him maybe the rest will come back in a hurry. :-) I hope so!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

First Snippet!

Okay. Here it is. I promised snippets and I'm making good on that. This is the first scene from ASF. The usual caveats apply. Please DON'T quote or repost anywhere in any format. Got it? It's mine ... all mine I tell you!! [stops to recover breath:-)]. What do you think?
"I don't think we should be here right now," Bryn muttered.

"You could be right," Llaswyr said. He was confident that they couldn't be seen. Lying belly down in the straggly weeds, their grey uniforms would blend into the background. He pushed aside a frond of heather to get a better view of their horses being led up the road that zigzagged across the outcrop and through the gatehouse into the castle. "Whose idea was this?"

"Mine." Bryn sighed, "I'm never going to hear the end of this, am I?"

Llaswyr gave him a humorless smile. To be fair it wasn't all Bryn's fault. No one was holding a knife at his throat when he agreed to this jaunt. But the chance of seeing the castle for himself was too good to refuse. He wasn't going to let Bryn off lightly just the same. "Probably not. You know why?"

"Go on. Enlighten me."

"Because, Bryn, we left in such a hurry I didn't take the gem shipment out of my saddlebag before we set off and when he finds out, my father's going to have my balls."

"Catref's Crown!"

"Mmmm. That's about the only thing that'd save me. Want to go in there," Llaswyr nodded toward the castle, "and see if we can find it?" He accepted Bryn's obscenely jerked fist as refusal.

"Seen enough?" Bryn asked.

Llaswyr had seen more than enough. Mighty Catref it was called and now he knew why. The legends hadn't exaggerated its size or its apparent impregnability, even after five hundred years of Wildlander occupation. It was the color of the place that amazed him, though. Built of what appeared to be polished ledspar -- but that was impossible -- nevertheless, it glittered in the weak, winter sunshine with a vague purple tinge. A pair of octagonal towers guarded the gate and two-by-two protected the corners of the outer walls, while single towers split the length of the wall that he could see. The roadway's design ensured that no one could ride to the gate at speed, and any who approached would be in bow range the entire time. It was said that four men could defend that gate for a year if they didn't run out of arrows. He believed it.

They slid back down the bank of the cutting and as they scrambled across the streambed, he lost his footing. Bryn grabbed his arm. "Careful Llaswyr! I'm not going to carry you back. How long d'you think it'll take us?"

"Too blasted long." They were a half-day's ride from where the rest of his unit was camped. Sergeant Talin hadn't been happy when he'd announced that he was going to take Lieutenant Bryn on a scouting mission; he'd be less happy when they ... "Wait! You do still have the treaty don't you?" Bad enough that he'd lost the gem shipment bound for Iostyn along with two horses, failing to deliver the treaty to Lady Glasyn would really put paid to any hope he had of forgiveness. In his mind's eye, he could see his father's angry glare.

Bryn's jaw dropped, then he clenched his teeth, sucked in a breath and looked distinctly uncomfortable. And then he grinned, patted his chest and tossed a malformed salute in Llaswyr's direction. "Right here, Captain. I do follow orders sometimes y'know."

Llaswyr shook his head, rolled his eyes and said, "You're a krell, you know that?"

"And you're a sheep-poking --"

"Now! It was only the once." The long-standing joke between them. He ducked the fist that swung toward him, "Come on, 's go. You can take the rear."

"I still think we should have gone straight to Iostyn. This Rhynissa diversion is ... well it's just that, isn’t it? A diversion. Face it my friend, your time's up."

But he didn't want to face it, and if he was honest Bryn was right. He shouldn't have taken the treaty from the messenger, but Rhynissa was not that far from their track. Even now, if nothing else went wrong, they'd get to Iostyn by First Night Eve. Probably. Possibly. And he needed time to think up a reason why the gem shipment was missing. The truth wouldn't do.

Bryn's voice behind him, "I'll bet you ten dramels we'll get back before midnight."

"You think we're going to stroll?" Llaswyr squinted at the sky, "Make it sun down and you're on. That is, if you can keep up with me."

As he set off at an easy lope, he thought he heard Bryn swearing under his breath. But he might have been wrong.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Who left the door open?

Man it was cold here today! And I don't do cold! I'm a hot-house flower (lived in Arizona for a couple of years, temps above 110 F suit me just fine) and when it barely creeps above freezing, I hibernate. Not a good thing. At least it was sunny.

I'm still thinking about my new scene. Glasyn, my antagonist, hasn't liked any of the ideas I've come up with. She's showing her displeasure by refusing to talk to me. So it's back to the drawing board again. Maybe a good night's rest will help... if only I could get one:-)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008!

Happy New Year! I hope it brings everything you wish.
I took a long hard look at Chapter 16 today. I knew it had problems but I had no idea what they were until now. I have one scene that is in the wrong point of view entirely! And that's great news! Why? Because I get to spend some more time with my antagonist. When I started this story I didn't know her, and it took a long time for us to get on speaking terms. Now I love her almost... but not quite... as much as my protagonist. She's huge fun to write about. So tomorrow I'll start the rewrite and aim to have the whole chapter done by the end of the week. This is the last chapter, and I have a bit more work to do on the wrap-up scene, but in all it's pretty much there. I'm excited and sad at the same time. I have to let these people go out into the cold, hard world of publishing and find their own way. That won't be pleaseant, and the thought of querying agents is daunting, but I have to do it. From next week this blog should be more about that process and less of my struggles to get this WIP in shape. Oh to be sure there's still more polishing to do, but I'm going to start the query process regardless. Wish me luck!