Monday, August 29, 2011


Confirmation of my agent meeting at the Conference today.

Got a new rejection, too.  Oh goody.  I did, after all, quite literally ask for it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Like *This*

Search string leading here:  "The Ax and the Vase" ...

Nice to see that.  Maybe one of my queries is finally going to get a response.  Even if that has to be a neg, I still hope to hear something.  No new rejections so far today, though.

Other Side

Irene is gone.  It was a golden, dazzling, gorgeous day.  I got out into it with friends, and we found that a lot of places we wanted to go had no power - but we enjoyed it, and each other's company, and I thought little about querying or things to do around the house.

Came home, ordered from the neighborhood Italian/pizza place (cannoli = mmm), finally fixed one of the dresses in my Sewing Project Pile, and plan to wear it tomorrow.  And now for SG:1.  A nice Sunday.

Last night I did lose power just before sundown, at 7:30; sat and read Carmilla with a flashlight, and went to sleep on the couch, because:  cooler downstairs.  At around 2:00 a.m., the couple of lights I had not remembered to turn off came on, as did the AC.  I got up, turned them off, went upstairs, and slept the rest of the night in nice, clean sheets.

Siddy's main fear response was limited to a little lip-smacking (the mildest expression of upset she has, and a good cue for me to love up on her a little) and the occasional glossy-eyeballed-gazing pointed *presence*.  I think she was glad I didn't abandon her for a change.

I've drained the emergency tub water, the house is clean, and the weekend is almost over.  Aw, boo.

But, hey, I have a fab little dress for tomorrow, and that will be pleasant to take for an end-of-seasonal spin.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Winds Up ...

... but still okay so far.  SERIOUS gusting out there, now to 70 MPH.

Sustained winds are high, though rain is not very heavy.  And - wouldn't you know - some nit just drove by.  I haven't seen traffic all day (apart from emergency vehicles), so someone driving around now, with the storm getting severe, is just bloody crazy.

My brother is the one who said he was hearing about tornadoes, but I haven't actually caught that reporting myself yet - so maybe the spinoffs aren't in this neck of the woods.

Not hearing a lot yet about flooding, though now I hear some areas may see eight inches.  I think in my area, we've had two or three inches so far.  At least two fatalities from falling trees - a child, in an apartment, and a man in his car.

This is me, not getting in my car.  And glad the only tree anywhere that close to the house is very stout, and very healthy.

Stats FYI

I'm actually bothering with a look at the weather, and winds right now are sustained at about 40 MPH, with the strongest measured gust so far in the region being 75 MPH.  I think more nearby the gusts aren't getting past about 60 MPH, so while it isn't a day to get out in, I would not guess that we're in for big hurricane effects today.  The concern, though, is tornadic spinoffs.

Never did care for remakes and spinoffs.

Times like this, I do miss having Mr. X around.  But at least I've got some companionship, and occupation, making sure Siddy La is okay.

Thus Far

Irene has been doing her work all day, and though I know I am only on the edge, we are willing to be impressed.  We are fortunate - and need her rain.  We are respectful of this wind, but know this is only the lucky fringe, the easy place.

Electricity has bipped-off several times.  But it has come back.

Me, I am just cleaning the house.  But fine.

Friday, August 26, 2011


This week's special has been the beginning of the short spate of pre-Hays Code flicks I found on Netflix a week or so ago.  Tonight:  "The Torch Singer", a shocker in which Claudette Colbert starts off at a free clinic and gets scandalous from there ...

I knew I shouldn't have started the DVD this late.  This one actually has some entertainment promise.  Ahhh, but I need (and want so badly!) to go to bed.

Sad, how going to bed requires so much work before the relaxing part.  *Sigh*


There's a conversation going on right now at Historical Fiction Online, about how we organize research.  Most writers have some form of "process" - the way we manage information and work it into creativity, the way we take inspiration and apply learning to it, and turn the two into writing.  My own MO is not one I suspect many authors, editors, or agents would use, much less endorse, but it works with the way my mind works, and so if I break others' rules I am unconcerned, based on results.

When I began writing, I set up a one-page timeline of major events I wanted to cover.  Very early on, I realized that what I wanted to cover was much more than my initial idea for a novel; and so the timeline became a single-shot view of Clovis' lifetime.  Born here, battled here, ascended ... first son ... marriage ... conversion ... some larger events in his world, but not specific to himself.  It is as high-level a look at the story as is possible.  From there, I began to formulate what I needed to reasearch, and I made a quick study of how to follow tangents within research, to build my world (primary sources on Clovis - particularly for a non-French- and non-Latin-speaker - are not exactly exhaustively thick on the ground; so research by context was necessarily called for), and what tangents not to follow.  I learned how to gauge, very quickly, when to stop following the often interesting threads tangents had to offer.  I learned, too, how to heft something once I had chosen to use it - and, sometimes, how to discard it after all.

For me, writing and research are much less segregated a pair of activities than, as far as I can tell, most other authors (especially in histfic) feel is acceptable.  The writers I hear talk about it all speak of "when to quit researching and start writing" ... but, for me, to withhold the act of writing just isn't an option.  And so, I am writing as I am researching.

Typically blasphemous of me, but I still stand by my finished work.

From the high-altitude view of the timeline, I begin to organize the information by where it fits into the story.  For those things specific to Clovis, it was easy enough to spot what positions certain anecdotes and events should occupy.  In some cases, I had to make a choice, out of theoretical discussions of his life, between one timeline and another.  For instance, much tradition points to Clovis' conversion and baptism being concurrent events, the latter being an observation of the former, and a commemoration of the victory on the field which yielded the conversion in the first place.  There are other possibilities, however; that baptism was viewed, then, in a different way than conversion - and that certain prominent figures actually put it off significantly ... figures on whom Clovis conscientiously may have modeled his own life.  There is also the dynamic of its being a consecration - and a king is concsecreted, already, when he takes his throne.  Finally, there is the fact that Clovis, by necessity of the charisma of his power and of his *lineage* claimed divine descent.

The contradiction between Clovis' expectation of his vital heritage - and his faith in a G-d not content with polytheism outside a certain trinity - presents both an irresistible dramatic opportunity for an author and  a persuasive (to me - and I'm the writer, which puts me in the driver's seat) case for delayed baptism.  The thematic idea, brought to us perhaps courtesy of Gregory of Tours, perhaps out of the reality of Clovis' progress in life, that he modeled himself after Constantine allowed me to use that modeling in a literate way to make certain points.

It would have been impossible for me to write The Ax and the Vase without some delay in the baptism, after conversion.  At root, essentially, I didn't buy the legend - I didn't accept that these two events occurred together.  And so, I placed the baptism well beyond the conversion - and used it to create a scene in which this man, this indomitable power in a crown, actually makes the choice to renounce the tenet of his divine descent ... and accepts that of divine right.

More than a moment's scene, this action is one which informs much of the ensuing history of Europe.  First, Clovis lends his considerable power to an alliance with the Catholic Church - then not the leading light in Christianity, nor in Gaul.  Finally, he accepts a role, as monarch, which in its essence sets that church in an unmached role of supremacy in the world.  This is a tension which played itself out from Becket and beyond, through Henry VIII and the Reformation.  This is a dynamic royals managed in capitulation, or cooperation, or confrontation, for a thousand years after Clovis' death.

This was a scene I needed to see in Ax.  It was one of the choices research gave me.


The other choices I had to make, using my research, was where to use such information as had little to do with particular actions by or times in Clovis' life.  I was building a basilica, I studied bricks and ancient church decoration and design.  Clovis needed a beautiful sword; I studied pattern welding.  There was a particular breed of horse popular in northern Europe, a unique animal - and Clovis' army was the first generation of cavalry in a Frankish tradition of infantry warfare.  Clovis' first prince by Clotilde dies ... and I knew the types of grave goods used for royal children.  I knew the relics found in his father's tomb.  I knew the symbolism attached to certain artifacts of burial - for adults; for children.

Some of the study placed itself almost as easily as actions and events; there seemed to be a place for much of it.  I also learned what to set myself to study; introducing a queen into a world, and a story, previously focused only on men, I put time not only into studying the textiles of women's graves - but also to working on the history of costume itself; did lace exist in fourth and fifth century Gaul?  (Answer:  of course not; though fiber-tied textiles have existed for thousands of years, it was not in place in this *time* and place.)  Embroidery.  Material.  Wine.  Crockery.  Jewelry - and its figural design and symbolism.  Carved gems.  Cloisonne'.  The articles of hygeine - sandalwood and ivory; combs and hairdressing; leg wear and dyeing techniques.

The archaeology of graves fascinated me significantly; and it offered the wealth it has a tendency to provide - yet, archaeology being what it is, how much of its knowledge reflected LIFE, as much as death?  Choices had to be made even in what indicated what - about death, or daily existence.  Delineations began to create themselves, even if only in my unprofessional mind.  I know I talked with the archaeologist nearest and dearest to me - yet I don't know that I ever asked for actual advice.  I'm arrogant that way.  But - again - stand by the product.

All the while - a scene here, a piece of dialogue there.  I wrote the blue away - taking the fact of that rare breed of horses, and providing Clovis with a timely, peculiar gift from an ally.  I turned plugs black as I went along, and even worked on flow and knitting them overall.  The tentpoles I put up didn't stand stark and alone; I clothed them with the canvas as I went along.

Utterly unacceptable.

Impossible for me to avoid.

Nothing I would, nor even could, ever apologize for.  Over time, I made this method of work serve me so very well that now I cannot conceive any other way.

Some of my research will stand, too, as tentpoles for the second novel, the work in progress *now*.  I coded, in my texts, as I went along.  Yellow highligher was Clovis'.  Pink for the other work.  Some passages I plugged into Clovis - and also bookmarked in the nascent document set aside for II.  Even some of the pre-edited text first worked for Ax was set down as reminders and context for II.  The two works are different.  But the work on each one went on at the same time.

I work in a way not allowed by any professional expectation in publishing.  Per usual, I refuse to repent this rebelliousness.  Because, for me, it yields such excellent storytelling.

Because I was aborbed in the method of creating my story concurrent to its telling, the research process remained, for me, fresh and engaging.  And because the writing took place in such proximity to the study I had put in to manage its raw materials, that too, for me, remained compelling as I went along.


If you are a writer - read, first of all.  Not "for" any reason - only for yourself.  Read second to educate yourself - on the process of writing, sure; and on the process of publishing, whether traditional or otherwise.  Read finally for your readers - and find those you trust, let them read you too.

And through it ALL - write.  All the time, through everything.  Segregate it from research, if that is the way for YOU.  But never actually stop it.  Never let it go.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


A banana of the perfect ripeness, a wonderful, gritty pear, a Virginia peach, a fistful of black, tart grapes.  Dessert at my house was good tonight.

The problem with fruit salad, for me, is that in order to make it, you have to make quite a BIT of it - it's not really realistic to chop up one quarter of a fruit at a time and end up with one reasonable sized serving.  Oh, but la.

Sometimes, you just have to have fruit salad.  So dinner must be minimal.  And, oh - dessert was maximal.

It's at times like these - with so many such wonderful fruits in the house - I miss X the most.  Heh.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to You, Chet

Aftermathematics ...


I do think we have had several tremors since - but nothing approaching the scale of the main event. Mostly, just the same sorts of wobbles our building is prone to on its own resonating steam (have I told you about that? It vibrates so much some days I - no lie - get dizzy watching my monitor bob up and down. The low-key-ness of the effect can be vertiginous. So a LOT of us thought at first that was what we were experiencing, but it was SO strong - and just kept on GOING - to the point we stopped being angry at the architect and Facilities Management, and sobered up to what was happening pretty quick.

Apparently, the new guy, Doe, had said at lunch he'd never experienced an earthquake. Less than 20 minutes before one HAPPENED.

I'ma be nice to that guy Doe, I tellya.

Now, home again, I haven't found any damages yet, just a lot of stuff slightly shifted around. I'm kind of amazed none of the several glass things I bought over the weekend didn't fall from their high perches, but apparently they had good purchase and held their own. One is amusingly close to the edge of the mantel, though - I might photograph that because for some reason it cracks me up (that it didn't crack - down!). Kind of laughed when I put some groceries away and had trouble closing the cabinet door because "objects apparently shifted during the flight" or something.

Sid wanted nothing but to go outside and get the HELL away from me. So she is out hollering at neighbor dogs going by, and soaking up some reassuring golden sunshine. Aww.

Pass-saic (yeah, running low on 'em now)

Further adventures in email (yes, I know these are repetitive - I *said* this would be an unedited mosaic!):


3.7 miles underground was the last I heard.

I really have never felt anything like that. It's not that we've never had them, but as I said earlier I think - around here, "earthquake" means one boom. A sustained and serious shake like this was unbelievable - a terribly surreal experience, in the way you at first refuse to process it, and then angrily your brain wants to refute it. Then of course you sort of realize ... POWER. Which is enough to give anyone heartburn.

I was out over lunch, less than an hour (less than half an hour) before it hit, and the day was hot, golden, dry - beautiful. As it still is, of course - but so peaceful.

Really bizarre


The massive emotional impact of the quake:


I was scared myself, I've never felt a quake like that before, and there's something to be said for the sensibility we have as humans regarding the solidity of the ground beneath our feet. At this point, I have a sustained headache of a unique variety - not of a type I haven't had before, but of a type I don't get regularly, and the distraction is palling mightily.

It's a really stupid observation (and no longer a joke, saying this for the sixtieth time this afternoon), but I am shaken, and really want to go home. I want to see what is broken and take care of the Sidster and shuck these clothes, frankly, which really smell like nerve-sweat to me. I want to walk with her, and feel that ground beneath our feet. Oh that poor old thing. I feel so bad for her.


From an early email today to X ...


The quake was a 5.8 magnitude, and centered RIGHT HERE. Z felt it in Brooklyn, and apparently it was felt in NC as well. I had things falling, and it was definitely scary. Sustained. Not typical for an eastern seaboard quake. We've had no evac and no damage to the building, but I suspect I will have one disgruntled pup on my hands in a few hours when I go home. I called mom and her response was that she's NEVER here for the really scary stuff (she missed Isabel several years ago, and a tornado once too). I mean, naturally that'd be the response - that "are you okay?" thing is strictly for amateurs, right?


Further Assurances

Some thoughts from a post I placed at Historical Fiction Online ...


The epicenter was only several miles from me, and we really shook, but the general area appears to be fine. We didn't even evacuate at work (formally, anyway - tons of folks toddled off with their laptops, though; any excuse!), BUT the tremor did last unusually long for central VA. We've had quakes here before, but they tend to consist of one single BOOM moment, which you can actually miss even if it's big. This was a sustained, clearly wavy, shake, and things did fall, but the essential upshot appears to be more broken pottery and jangled nerves than anything else.

Though it was a pretty good magnitude for this area at 5.8, the origin was also 3.7 miles beneath the surface, so the effect was very queer, and not sharp as it were.

I came home to a Siddy-pup VERY offended that yet again I had left her ALONE to suffer death, and a whole lot of "shifted during the flight" sorts of stuff in my cupboards etc. - but, remarkably, nothing I have found yet appears to have been damaged, nor anything fallen. Which, considering how much time and money I spent in antique stores wandering home with new pieces of beautiful glass just this past weekend (of COURSE), is pretty amazing!

It was in fact scarier after it passed and realization set in than during -when it was almost comical in some ways. Afterward, hearing one of my coworkers calling his scared-sounding kids, and being so smart, and so reassuring, and so generous with them and calm, was really affecting. They sounded stark terrified, and he was just wonderful for them.

I am okay and my dog is milkin' it. And I am encouraging her to. Good old girl.


I'll post some fragments from the day, which seems appropriate given its events.

I am fine, and Siddy-La is okay, if rather resentful at my consistently leaving her alone to manage natural disasters without any help.  The house endured more shifting-contents-in-flight than actual damage, and work was wobbly, but we just got back to it and kept doing things.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Oh, And

I do know I shifted from italics for book titles, to quotation marks.  While I do prefer italicization, it requires a vanishingly small amount more effort, and after the workday I had today, even vanishing effort can be a bit much to self-demand.  My apologies to any dilettantes offended by my inability to fully organize standards of usage on even my own blog.


Bookish Enough

Reading as much as I have, since starting with JRW and the first, misty chapters of Ax, about and by writers and about writing and reading, I have felt for a long time that I am not bookish enough.  I'm a good writer, but I don't seem to have a singlemindedness about either my authorship nor the artifacts-of-life (I also considered some clever use of "artifactual" here) as they pertain to books and quantity of reading.  It's not like I'm wielding a measuring stick here, but it does feel sometimes as if "everyone else does more" ... reads more, owns more books - somehow is "more" entitled to being a writer, by dint of being a reader, than I am.  My boss made a Stendahl reference not long ago, and I was afraid to admit:  I'm not what you'd call well-versed there.  Neither in French lit, nor even in a lot of classics, whatever the nationality.  I tend to be a VERY eclectic reader.  There is a heavy biblical underpinning, of course - I can still get lost in there very easily - and I have read a respectable segment of standard-issue schoolin' lit and also some off-the-path Victoriana and other eras, though I am likely too weak in 20th century standards, and those I have gone at I have refused to remember like a good student.

It all goes back to my contrarianism.  But it also goes to the fact that I simply disbelieve in prescriptivism.  Least of all, for READING - an act which, for me, whorish as it may sound to so many, is not for me a participation in The Arts, but the engagement in entertainment.  Agents who make lists of books one "must" have read - or who name authors one "must" know (and the one who named "Slaugherhouse Five" as perhaps the best book in all history) - to me miss the point of reading, which is ENJOYMENT.  Storytelling is an art, to be sure - but by my lights, it is first and foremost *entertainment*.  This doesn't negate its deeper potential - nor even thematics, spiritual uplift, all the fancy Things and Stuff - but it is, for me, the guiding force.  I am simultaneously intimidated by and disgusted by those who would dismiss another reader for following an insufficient path of literature.  Of all insane arrogance - only stuff popular enough to have become "classic" - or culturally "relevant" enough (to a limited population of the world) to be widely disseminated - is worthy of consideration ...

... and - by far worse - should be made compulsory??

Not even if it did make me bookish enough would I follow that particular tenet.  The path is not primrose-colored enough to stain my tootsies on.


But this post was not intended to be about contrarianism and prescriptivism in personal reading catalogues.  It was actually meant to start on a musing about my home.

Thinking about this defensiveness - that I'm not "enough" of a reader; that I don't have all the right cred, to be a real writer - I was sitting in my living room this weekend, and realizing how truly surrounded I am with books.

Walking into my home, nobody would be struck by the predominance of a traditional "library" atmosphere.  Yet everywhere around me, such a variety of books, all ove the place.  By the front door, on the small table, are some in-progress reads - a Mary Stewart (The Crystal Cave), and a Penman on tap - the bibles, and a Tanakh.  At the other end of the couch, stacked on the small red slate table - the anthologies I picked up at the antique store this weekend, the books I bought at Orca, the first edition of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" my mom gave me for my birthday (*love!*), The Chronicles of the Tombs (which I cannot recommend highly enough for historians, Victorian curiosity lovers, or people who just dig inscriptions and epitaphs), and several gifts from my brother and family.

In the office, the bookshelves my father built for his and mom's Dream Home twenty-seven years ago are lined two-deep, stacked on top with an antique six-volume history of Virginia, and all my reasearch for Ax lies in there, some of it sidewise on top of lit mags, yearbooks, and at least two dissertations (not mine).  The Will and Ariel Durant volumes are on the small record rack he built.  All my college milk-crates (dressed up, now, with a runner from grandma's house) house ancient journals I really need to burn, and the Texas Instruments calculator (Still in box) dad left behind - and on top of those is another set of miscellany, including books from my childhood, some more gifts from my brother and family, and at least two more yard sale finds.

Still farther across the living room, the complete Agatha Christie (same yard sale, if I remember) and "50 Great Ghost Stories" - still with the bookmark I used in it growing up.  Top that off with a NFS copy of "The Messiah" and "Under the Banner of Heaven" and the votive holders have a nice pile to sit on.

And then there is the bookshelf.  The one I built WITH my dad.  The one where I learned how to use the router.  The one with the "show" books - ones I grew up with - coffee table ones (I haven't even mentioned my actually-on-the-coffee-table coffee table books) - museum souvenir books, college texts including the one my dad gave me when he was a test reader for it "Physics for People Who Think They Don't Like Physics", Tao of Pooh and Piglet too, my Adamses, and a Tutankhamon I remember from grandma's as a child ...  Photo books, art books, design books, even a Vogue drawing volume - and all the religion and philosophy I saved from college days ...  The ancient, delicate, tiny "Sonnets From the Portugese" ... the Cicero text dad read before he died ... and every photo album I have compiled in my life ...

If these aren't enough for anyone's measure of a reader - or of a writer - I don't need to work with them, and will be content with their rejections.  For me, though, they are beautiful.  Pieces of my life.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What's This Horse Doing Under Me?

Ohhhhh - wait.  I must've gotten back up on it.

Now, quite seriously, if only the RESPONSES would please come.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Rs Have It

Maybe it's the process of contemporary querying, but these numbers seem to me more comically low than intimidatingly *high*.  I've queried more agents, both in in-person meetings and in correspondence, than most of these apparent over-a-lifetime sbumissions add up to.  And I am good - with a great story - no question.  I am acquainted with plenty of authors, too - and, these days, as far as I can tell, querying 100 or 200 agents is in no way overdoing it.  The guy who only managed 160 in his lifetime, and is considered the most-rejected author by this list, must have measured the term "rejection" by a different standard than I understand.  Were these rejections from agents, or the post-agenting-process rejections by PUBLISHING houses?

That simply has to be it.  Because the rejections from agents list, as far as I can tell, should never - ever - stop at TWENTY.  Holy smokes, if I'd been agented twenty queries in ... ?  I'd consider myself a veritable wirting goddess of some sort.


Also ... not for nothing, but who actually has the luxury to gnash their teeth like this at every rejection?  No, I mean seriously.  Nobody loves it - but is it actually the case that there are people with time for histrionics such as those described here?

I don't know, maybe I am simply not human enough, that I don't consider my work to be inviolable by other people's opinions.  It's bewilderng to consider a mindset that affords rejection such a high allowance for reaction.  Sure - there are those who would think my attitude that every R is "one step closer to success" to be insufferably Pollyanna, or unrealistic, or maybe requiring too much sanguinity - but anyone who knows me is aware I am hardly a cockeyed, grinning fool when it comes to my writing (or anything else).  I refuse to let the bastards get me DOWN.  But that doesn't make me a delusional, unable to see the real lack of value in my talents.  I just can't understand expending much energy on non-starters.  There are so many options available to me (*and* to agents) I don't think I can approach this Highlander-style, and decide "there can be only one" ... and cry and wail, when that "one" doesn't like me back ...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Okay, Holy Cr*p

There is a FOOTBALL game on tonight?

It's August.  Right?

*To the DVD shelf, Batman!*

(To watch my new copy of "In a Lonely Place" ... mmm!)

And editing to note:  Apparently, there are TWO football games on tonight.  And I do not have cable.  Yeesh.


Okay, so Michelle Bachmann's handlers are physically abusing FOX NEWS reporters??

Did she not get the memo, that Fox is the fawning Bestest Friend of her party ... ?

Three Free

The West Memphis Three are OUT of jail, today.  God bless them all.

I won't bother with a link.  Anyone left who doesn't know what I am talking about will have no problem finding out, I suspect.  I do recommend "Paradise Lost", the first of the documentaries about the story.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Had Forgotten (or just never realized)

... how prone Captain Picard was to SERIOUSLY boneheaded decisions.  I think we think of TOS as being sort of macho and naive, and Shatner was a bit of a cartoon - so we forgive the clumsier plotlines born of his randy or easily offended nature.  But an English accent and excellent posture render Picard's image a lot more commanding, in terms of respect.

Yet here is a guy so easily swayed in one ep he *despises* children, and in the next he's all "oh, an alien said Wes is special, so I'm suddenly going to become his strict but proud mentor."  Then he's dematerializing himself, then he's sending a CHILD DOWN TO THE SURFACE OF AN UN-EVALUATED PLANET ... so as to EVALUATE it ... and, of course, my personal favorite (from very much later on - in "Nemesis") ordering Troi to get over being sexually violated, because he's got a ship to run.

TNG overall has aged really well for me; it's a reminder, after spending more time with DS9 in recent years, of what Roddenberry's first visions and values were for his creation.  But Picard isn't the freshest character to revisit in depth.

(Yeah, I know - crucify me now, this is blasphemy - what can I say, I'm a nerd, but I'm also a contrarian.  If Jean Luc acts a fool, I can't kowtow to canon hagiography.)

Monday, August 15, 2011


The last partial request has been out for four months, and having followed up once at three, I don't see pestering the agent again.  Still, one does get to wishing all the querying came to something.

I didn't win the pitch contest, results out today, but requests would have been made two weeks ago.  So ten queries active.

Time to get some more pitches lobbed.  So to speak.  Blah.

Ah, the Easy Joy of the Canine Set ...

... upon encountering a freshly-mown lawn:  the impulse to joy is so profound and so concrete.  What is the blessing of this state of events?

Poop, of course.  Happy, happy poop.

*Puppy squee*

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Far Point Far Away

Netflix has finally come up with Star Trek:  The Next Generation on instant view, and heaven help me, seriously.  Today I watched Encounter at Far Point for the first time in probably at least fifteen years, if not all of the 24 years it's been since TNG made its debut.  I know it can't have been that long; but I do know it's been thirteen years or so since I had cable, and perhaps even longer than that since I had access to weekend afternoon Trek marathons.  So.

I'm pleased at how very well the show seems to age.  For its debut, "cinematically", the soundtrack is quite annoyingly obtrusive - but I can't think of a lot to say in complaint on a production level.  Probably the worst moment of that was a Disney motif for Wesley's entry onto the bridge (... seriously, guys ... ?) - but I found its cheesier looks to be much more a probably-very-canny-choice in homage to the original.  Ahh, the obvious soundstages and orange flat skies.  There are a lot of production design choices we recognized very clearly, even then, as nods to TOS (for the innocent:  the original series = TOS).  The elaborate 'do on Troi, the short skirts they abandoned almost instantaneously (did we have an outcry in the 80s? ah, how I would miss that, if it were so; these days, there seems a positive vogue for objectifying women on TV ... sad to think of the 80s as a golden age of LESS gender discrimination), the explicitly Statement plots.

In that way, not only has the show aged well, it's about enough to show up current television.  But that is probably best left to another rant (particularly the bit about sexism).  The effects really aren't bad.  Yeah, the jellyfish looked a bit stiff.  But we thought so at the time, I recall it very clearly.  And having one "mate" glow pinkish and the other a bit bluish is an amusing sort of "here is the boy and here is the girl" kind of artifact.  But then, TNG had a great love of magenta.  Let it be possible for ANYTHING to glow pink, and it would.  No different, I suppose, than the current sci-fi vogue for LED white, or blue, or the green of ten years ago - or even the ubiquitous purple-saturated gelling one sees tackying up the "fairy tale" worlds of dating game reality teevee.  We have a passion for fashion in lighting.  So it goes.  At least the orange gave us a grin about the sixties.

I'd forgotten Jean Luc's loathing of children, and suddenly remember what a big part of the character that was.  I wonder whether I will come to feel, watching the first season or so, that making JLP a much warmer character over time was a bad idea.  Heh.

Not that I dislike Wheaton.  Given the man he's become, it'd be impossible to do that, though I hardly remember him as the major enhancement of the series in its day.  No, the irritating character honor goes, as it always has, and as freshly and vividly as ever, to Gates McFadden's Dr. Crusher.  Prickly and unappealing from the word go, I could not stand her even into her vanishingly thin presence in the films - and her opening scenes are no reassurance that "she couldn't have been that bad."  She was.  A nice looking lady, and I can't blame the actress - but, ugh, what an irritant, that character.

Love Q, though.  Even in this, his somewhat unformed debut, John DeLancie is as DeLancie-licious as he can be, and G-d love THAT character and his actor all together now.  You can savor him, even this early on, even if only for knowing what fun Q ended up being.

I tend to forget Yar's existence at all, but she was a nice, strong presence.  For some reason, I remembered Denise Crosby's acting as being rather wooden, but years seem to have given perspective, and she just seems assimilated now, into that certain school of Trek acting which is a little bith toothy, but not actually bad.  Again, maybe further episodes will remind me why she seemed embarrassing at the time, but Far Point makes a nice point of her authority without getting *too* overwrought (this soon) about her strength.  And, again, its very possible that the contemporary atmosphere, in which women have become objects and shrews all over again for a new millennium makes this now-vintage take on a female character exciting again.

Inevitably, the central effect of watching these again is going to be an invigoration of my need to own the series.  And here I am only up to season 4 of DS9!  Thank goodness the car has been paid off.  I can see spending far too much money on reruns in my future.

(She says ... even as she plans a comparison-shopping jaunt by Amazon and eBay to see what prices look like on season 4 of Big Bang Theory ...)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"You Should Write" ...

Every writer hears it, and I suspect every writer with a blog probably writes about it - yet it makes it no less frustrating, that the situation is a bit of a cliche'.

I've certainly had the conversation more than once - but it was the iteration a week or two ago which seems to be sticking with me and prompting me to write.

"You should write something lighthearted."

The purveyor of this particular advice is someone who's known me long - but understands me little; and who, frankly, doesn't try to.  It is what it is - and it isn't the point of this post.  Not entirely.

"You should write something lighthearted."

What this means, coming from this source, is, "You don't really know what you're doing; please allow me to 'help' you by pointing you in the direction of something that might actually sell.  Also something I would prefer to read, and to tell people about, as I know the author."

I did give the explanation that, having completed one novel, and having been selling it for a year and a half now, it really isn't a "just like that" proposition - to go shifting gears and genres, and (ya know) to WRITE AN ENTIRE NEW NOVEL to suit her advice.  I did not explain about the seven years I have been educating myself about the industry, about the fact that it *takes* this long to shill a book ... about the minor little detail, that an author must write out of inspiration, not out of (wrongheaded) ideas of the market.


I'm close enough with this advisor that there persists a sense of duty, on her part, that there will come a time it will be an inevitability she'll "have to" read my book.  This cannot be an appealing prospect.  This is exactly why I have spent all the time since I started the writing telling friends, family, coworkers, even casual acquaintances who are so generous as to ask about the progress:  there is no obligation to read my book.  I wouldn't make my family read it; in most likelihood, I wouldn't *let* my nieces read it (before a certain level of manturity - and interest - anyway); I wish my friends didn't all say "Oh, I can't wait to read it" when I know it may not be to their real taste.

I know my audience(s).  The market for The Ax and the Vase is not a parallel match for the population of my everyday life.  Even some of those people who have been most encouraging - and, unbeknownst to them, helpful to my work - aren't folks I would think would care for the subject.  "George Clooney" - an executive at the last mainstream financial firm I worked for (who, amusingly, called *me* "Angelina Jolie"; and who asked me every single time I saw him "how that novel is going") gave immeasurable practical support; and I would be amazed, just these few years later, if he even remembered that I exist on this planet.

All this is to say ... that I have less concern to fight the extraneous "you should write" dynamic, than to alleviate the sense of obligation those who know me develop, regarding the novel - which leads them to wish they could be obligated to something more palatable than my brand of historical fiction.  Publishers don't froth over an author's intimate fanbase.  They want general readership.  And Ax can provide that.  I just happen to be one of those weirdos who do not, apparently, hang out exclusively with my audience.

My plans on that have more to do with a marketing circuit.  Cultivating all my University connections, to come talk at various schools and read and/or sign, when the time comes.  Hitting up my business owner friends, offering nights with the author.  Massaging corporate communications types up and down my resume', and bookstore upon bookstore upon every bookstore that will have me.  Friendly enough.

But not to the point ... of giving me "you should write" advice ...


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"There's Lots of Darks Out Tonight"

I could NOT be angrier with Blogger right now.  I opened this window to create the post, and minutes later the site went offline.  When I hit the "tough luck" screen, there was a link to the Status page - which gave me the day-old news that the site would be going down at 5:00 PST today (because, after all, who the heck uses the INTERNET at 8:00 EST? or, for that matter, at the end of the workday in Cali ... ?).  NO NOTICE ON MY DASHBOARD.  NO NOTICE ON THE COMPOSITION PAGE.  Which, you know, was WORKING when I opened it.

I guess we are supposed to be constantly checking the obscure little posts on Blogger's Status page.  Gah.

So anyway.  This is an incredibly crappy, unsatisfying reconstruction of what was a pithy and lovely post about two hours ago.  *Seethe*

My older niece said this when she was two or so, in the car at night, after a long flight, on the way to grandma and granddaddy's house.  It's a way of looking at the night any writer could envy; seeing the dark, and being able to describe it.  Instead of the perfectly serviceable "it's dark" - she instead saw forms, she saw the multiplicity of night, she saw depths and expressed them (without the easy expedient of, for instance, "depths").  Her observation underscores the power of seeing things - *SEEING* them - without rules, but with the simplicity of clarity and honesty.  There is no arguing:  she was right.

Her approach to words was learning, then - but learning, as we know, has always been play.  ...  Or play is learning.

I use language with an enormous sense of play.  It is one of my favorite things, to get people to laugh.  Not class-clown laugh - but surprise laugh.  I use words with the same unexpected play as my niece (still does, over a decade later), and delight when they delight someone else as much as they do me.

I am fortunate, in having friends who are willing to indulge in delight - and in words.

In writing Clovis, I refused ploy in favor of play.  Histfic of my period tend for some reason to be little associated with wit - though Victorian, or Elizabethan, or other periods may indulge.  Yet humor is human; there's no authenticity in writing funless Forsooth-ery - nor in planting Weighty Declamation throughout your dialogue.  It's not fair to preclude cleverness, least of all for someone who must have been intelligent.

Blah.  I am so mad at Blogger.  I've completely lost the very good original ending of this post.  I will have to come back and edit this if it is to be saved.  But I am mad enough I insist on being stupid enough to post this shameful, crappy post.  Just to spite BLOGGER.  Which has cruelly betrayed my niece's brilliance.

*Insert outrageous swearing here*

Monday, August 8, 2011

Restlessness Is Good

When I get into the "change" mode - needing to do small things with my bangs, shoving around the furniture for two days on end, finally actually writing about *writing* on my authorial blog - it tends to be a good thing.  When I was younger, it often was a fugue state, a non-coping mechanism, a frustration, a power struggle with myself.  As I have gotten older, I've come to be able to recognize the energy as it crests, to know when it is coming, and to think ahead of ways to use it.

Alongside poking around in these obvious, small ways, I have been able to knit some thoughts together.  (I do not, after all, kill them *all* ...)  This in fact keeps me from the necessary public face of this blog, neatening it up from all the randomness and off-topic-ery of August so far.  But it is overall better.  I will tend to this page, though.  I will minister to it, knowing I still have something like a dozen active queries out and one never knows when one is being read (and when I am being Googled, or my links clicked).  But it is good to minister, too, to rather more substantial writing.

Holy Cats

And ... yeah.  I feel both gleeful and kinda spiritually guilty about that headline there.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Item #1

Okay, the bedroom has been picked up, the beds changed (mine and Siddy's), and the laundry is ready to start.  Next up:  start it.  And wash some dishes.


I have been offline in terms of the blog and the book since the connectivity issues began, yet the connectivity itself appears to have returned pretty reliably for at least three days.  The only new query I've researched (twice) remains in my Drafts folder, having been started almost a week ago.  I've been unmotivated and headachey, but today I want to get back into some activity.

I'd like most to rearrange the living room, and possibly take a poke at the bedroom too - but that's just one piece of the creativity I'm interested in.  There are some sewing projects I could (should!) get into, but more than anything else ... I need to work on my book.  The one completed:  I need to query.  The one in progress:  I need to write.

Today should be a busy one.  I'll be interested to see what I get up to.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Seek, and Ye Shall Find ...

... well, not *precisely* me ...

Apparently, by coming up with this search string, though - you could end up here.  Twice in a row.

cartoon long hair brunette
The link actually makes it all the more depressing-slash-hilarious - because the search result makes it clear that I am NO Betty Boop.  Aw.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Fundamental Interconnectedness of All Things

I've been having serious problems with my phone lines lately (and of course Verizon says, no, your lines are FINE ... and the nearest service call I could even hope for is a full *week* out), so haven't been on here.  Also no querying for some days.

So, if the agents who have my stuff out right now, could please fall in love with it toot-sweet and come slobbering for more - that'd be really great.