To Cure A Cold

Dried up, dessicated, exhausted. Yep, I’m fighting off a cold. I hate it when my nose fills up; it’s like being blind. I rely on my sense of smell to tell me so much about the world, losing it makes everything colorless.

Here, have a bit about how Elvis is Orpheus, Dionysis, and Hercules all rolled into one. And about Boccaccio’s famous women, featuring Tamsyn the Kickass.Oh, and Mount Doom is really about to blow up. Geology is awesome.

Today the wind is up and we’re supposed to get loads of rain, always my favourite thing. This morning’s run (I want to cook the incipient cold out of me, if I can) was full of those sharp but warm rain-laden gusts that sometimes happen in autumn, dancing leaves and spattering drops as trees toss their arms in their sleep and birds float in the sky. I’ve wondered what a bird feels on days like today, what they think of wind, if sometimes they just fly because it feels good.

I am trying to get back into blogging more. Retreating like a crushed anemone is all very well, but really, I’ve got this nice shiny website and I should really pay attention to it.

Today is for writing a logician’s descent into madness and a sorceress’s going against her better judgment. Then to shift gears and get the trailer-park fae into some more trouble. If that doesn’t cure a cold I don’t know what will.

photo by: Gonzo Carles

Subconscious Gas Bubbles

So, I’m developing a girlcrush on Sarah Rees Brennan, for her Gothic Tuesdays. This week’s winner was Collie Wilkins’s Woman in White. (Project Gutenburg can hook you up too.)

LAURA: I’m going to tell Sir Percy Cruelpants that I will marry him, but I love another, so he won’t want to marry me.
MARIAN: Well, he will if he doesn’t give a crap about your feelings, though?
LAURA: Nonsense, I’m sure this will work out awesome. Sir Percy Blackheart, I love someone else and I don’t wanna marry you. Still want to marry me?
SIR PERCY RIDICULOUSLY EVIL: Still rich?
LAURA: Yes.
SIR PERCY THE PERFIDIOUS: Then yes.
LAURA: … That did not go the way it did in my head. (Sarah Rees Brennan)

The whole thing is pure gold. You should also look at her Jane Eyre one.

Also, here’s a free documentary on Haruki Murakami. I enjoy Murakami’s work–frex, I read his latest, 1Q84, in a few long gulps. (No, LONG gulps. Nearly a thousand pages, OMG.) Seriously, you don’t read Murakami for linear coherence just like you don’t watch a David Lynch film for it. They’re both harvesters of subconscious gas-bubbles. (Also, really fricking weird, and not too good with the portrayal of teenage girls, meh.)

And the Heart Attack Grill has its first moment of truth in advertising.

In other news, the first book of the new YA series is back with the editor for another revision pass. And the second Bannon & Clare book, The Red Plague Affair, is heating up inside my skull. Rest is overrated, don’t you think? Plus there’s martial arts for the kids, a four-year-old I’m watching for a few days, and a dog who thinks the Roomba is a demonspawn predator I need protecting from.

So…off I go. Be careful out there, Gothic Lady Sleuths!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

The Chili-Loving Mummy Of The Met

You guys. Let me tell you what my brain is like.

I dreamed I was an intern in a museum. In my dream it was called “the Metropolitan” but I am very sure, having visited the Met once, that it was nothing like this shambling pile of secret passages and crammed-together dusty antiques. (Well, at least, not the parts I visited.) Anyway, that wasn’t the important thing. The important thing was the chili.

You see, there was a mummy-zombie thing roaming the back halls. The top front third of his head was gone and his teeth were stumps; there was just a hole and the hindbrain left, plus the ruined caverns of his sinuses. Which probably explained why he was shambling around with his hand-things in front of him, spindly fingers waving. He could smell the chili, but he couldn’t find it.

You see, it was the interns’ (I was one of a crew of six) job to find the mummy and feed him the chili so he would stop roaming, so he would settle down and wouldn’t upset the patrons with his fleshless self. The trouble was, we were new interns, and nobody had bothered to tell us. So we had to figure it out, which we did, but somehow the security guys were new too and hadn’t gotten the memo. So we had to save the poor mummy from the rent-a-cops in order to feed him his chili so he would quiet down. The problem was, we had to catch him first.

So I woke up, with a cat snoring in my ear and a dog snoring near my feet, and I thought it was the mummy. There was this moist breathing on my ear, and all I could think was, where’s the damn chili? Followed by, dammit, I can’t make this a book, there’s not enough tension structurally to build it. Maybe a short?

So, yeah. Here. Go read Chuck Wendig on why writers are bugfuck nuts. I’ll, um, just be locked up in my house. Alone.

Looking for the chili to feed to the museum mummy.

Yeah.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

From Kickass Un-PreRequisite to Rippling Tweakage

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, who you should really be reading. Because we’re awesome.

Instead of the Snowpocalypse we feared (and that Seattle is currently suffering under the spike heel of) we’ve got rain. Lots of rain. Well, this is the Pacific Northwest, and I happen to like rain, but I wish the weather would make up its mind. Heavy wet snow yesterday, melt and easily an inch of rain today, branches down everywhere and my morning run more like a swim–oh, I know I could have used the treadmill, but Miss B was inside all day yesterday, which meant it was either get her out for a run or go to the dog park and stand in mud up to my knees. An appetizing choice, indeed.

Plus, the Little Prince became, once more, Sir Pewksalot last night. All of which is a roundabout way of saying my temper and nerves are equally frayed, and I decided on a Three Things post because if I start on a rant or two now there will be nothing but a smoking crater left where my computer used to be. (Expensive.) Not to mention with all the biting and snarling going on all over the Internet about Authors Daring To Speak, so to speak, and a rant doesn’t seem like a good idea. For lo, if I strap on my armor now and go all Don Quixote after Idiot Entitled Jerks On The Internet, I may never stop. And I’ve writing to do, so…yeah. Three things. Let’s see.

* Kickass is not a prerequisite. It’s not even a requisite. I swear to God, someday I am going to write about Milquetoast von Constipated, a potbellied, balding vampire with bowel issues who lives in Minnesota and, whenever there is an incident of violence, he *gasp* alerts the authorities! Together with his werecow buddy, Milton Morton (who is not only vegan but gets tipped every full moon), they do not fight crime willingly. Rather, they sort of bumble through and the police take care of things on their own. (As to why he has bowel issues when he’s on a liquid diet, I’ll just say, have you ever tried to live on protein shakes? HAVE YOU?)

Sounds amusing, doesn’t it? But it’s sparked by a frustration of mine: where is it written that I can’t write anything other than kickass leather-clad wiseacres? I mean, I’m very glad people connect with my kickass heroes and heroines, but that isn’t all I write, it isn’t all I am. It isn’t all the world consists of. I dislike it intensely when I write a character whose strength is internal and am immediately subjected to a “but your fans won’t recognize…” Screw that. They will recognize, and those who send me venomous screeds about how I should just stick to writing kickass chicks even though I don’t do so very well (seriously, it’s like the writers of these things all got together in a room somewhere) can just go…fly kites. Yes. fly kites.

The point of this is: If you’re used to writing one thing, and you want to write another thing, go ahead and do it. You may have to attempt a couple times before you get a salable piece, but it will teach you things about writing that staying in your comfort zone will not. I’m fairly okay at writing angst and violence, but you know what I would really love? I would love to be talented at writing comedy. Comedy is hard effing work, it doesn’t come naturally to me. (Unless it’s bleak black macabre humor. Heh.) It doesn’t stop me from wanting and trying, and from seeking other types of characters and stories to play with. What you’re good at writing and what you want to write may be two different things, but you should try them both.

* The Levenger catalog is pure crack. I mean, their 3X5 cards are incredibly useful while revising or making grocery lists, both things I do at my computer. My bag lust is inflamed every time I see their briefcases. And, oh my God, the desk sets. The desk sets. It’s nice to reward myself with some lovely tools after slogging through a zero draft. I nerd all over their paper, and one day, one day, I will have a Levenger desk. I’ll save my pennies, by God, and I will have it.

Other things I keep within easy reaching distance while I’m writing: a statue of Ganesh writing, some Climb On creme, cell phone, tarot cards (Rider-Waites, for those curious), Moleskine notebook, a couple pads of paper both legal and Levenger, scissors, pens and sharpened pencils, rubber bands, a Keep Calm and Carry On paperweight, two pink plastic flamingos, six dictionaries, two thesauri, two visual dictionaries, assorted other reference works from encyclopedias of military arms to herbals and Jack the Ripper books. Also, two copies of Jane Eyre, plus six or seven DVDs of different treatments of Jane Eyre, and a few Wuthering Heights. (Don’t ask.) Also, tissues, ibuprofen, and Carmex. Because you never can tell.

The flamingos are for practicing dialogue with. (But that’s another blog post.)

* Beware of great ideas. “A million cat clocks! That’s a GREAT idea!” Then some of them started looking a little odd because their tails weren’t moving. And I had to find more batteries. This just goes to show you, great ideas are only great until one gets to the care, feeding, and administrivia involved. (Note: I have six cat clocks, all on my living-room wall. And I want more.)

What does this have to do with writing? Simple. Beware of great ideas. Sometimes they happen halfway through a zero draft, and you either have to go back and alter what you’ve already written to account for the Great Idea, or you just go ahead and write as if the Great Idea has been there all the time, which means the first half of revising the zero draft is likely to send you to the booze cabinet sooner rather than later. Sometimes the Great Ideas happen during revision, and one should be careful because they are like pebbles thrown into a quiet pond. (BOOT TO THE HEAD!) The ripples spread throughout the entire book, which may mean you have to go back and deal with tweaking everything before and after in subtle and overt ways. Rippling tweakage is another thing that will send you to the booze cabinet during revisions. Or to banging your head against a brick wall, whichever is handier. (Also, Rippling Tweakage is my new indie band name.)

Great ideas are great, but there is no Great Idea that fixes everything without a lot of work. If the Idea is Great Enough, the work, while frustrating, is also a process of simplification. If it’s a Mediocre Idea masquerading as Great, or even just a Garden-Variety Idea Of Some Magnitude But Hardly Greatness, well, booze cabinets and brick walls, or whatever coping mechanism works for you, STAT. It doesn’t make the Rippling Tweakage any easier, but it can dull the gnawing pain between your temples somewhat.

…I just looked at that last sentence and cannot believe I typed that. Some days, I really love my job.

Over and out!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

From Faires to Witch Houses

Oh, Friday, I’m not in love. But I will consider letting you buy me dinner.

* Want to chat me up and maybe get some books signed? Come to the First Annual Author Faire at Cover to Cover Books! I’ll be there Saturday, December 10, from 11AM to 3PM, along with other great authors like Bill Cameron and Lisa Nowak. I plan on drinking tons of coffee so I’m bright-eyed and manic. Should be lots of fun.

* Today I’m over at the Orbit Books blog, talking about the Hedgewitch Experiment. Any day I can use the phrase “suppository supposition” is a good day.

* Oooh, they dug up a Pendle witch house!

* Big happy doings on the YA front. I can’t say much yet, but it involves a new series. I hate sitting on secrets like this, so rest assured, as soon as I can give more details, I will.

* A certain Squirrel Wonder scared the bejesus out of some guys in my front yard the other day. Which reminds me, I really have to tell you guys how that convalescence of Neo’s turned out. It involves me barefoot and screaming in the backyard again. It’s nice to know I’m consistent…but I’m amazed you guys aren’t bored yet.

* I am starting a project. It involves wine and livetweeting my reading of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. I did the first 25 pages the other night and had a blast. My favourite? “Hi, I’m Aaron Lightner/Rod Serling. For the next 965 pages, I’ll be showing you through Anne Rice’s id.” I kill me sometimes, I really do.

* To the skeezy guy trying to chat up the young girl with her dog near the middle-school’s soccer field this morning: my earphones weren’t playing music. I just don’t want to talk to people while I’m running. Consequently, I heard every word you said. And yes, I was looking at you. Because YOU ARE CREEPY. I’m glad the girl fled, and I took that extra lap around the track just to make sure you didn’t follow her. I’m surprised my gaze didn’t burn a hole in you. NEXT TIME IT WILL.

Yeah, Friday. It’s turning out to be a doozy. Let’s skip dinner and go straight to the drinks…

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Input and Output

It’s another edition of Random Things Lili Thinks About, For She Does Not Have An Idea Worthy Of A Long Blog Post.

* Why the hell is Glitch so addictive? You’d think a game where you squeeze chickens, nibble and pet pigs, and make gardens would be boring. Instead, I can’t stay away. It gives me a glow of accomplishment. Man, I’m boring.

* Boring isn’t so bad. I’ve had enough excitement in my life that I can stand a LOT of boring. Like, until I croak. Because boring is safe, boring is predictable, and boring does not lead to bleeding, screaming, or pain. Well, at least, not my kind of boring. I’m pretty sure there’s tortuous boredom out there that will make one scream and bleed. I am happy to avoid that.

* On the other hand, I am rarely bored. Apparently I am easily amused, and can amuse myself for long periods of time. This is not a bad thing.

* When I run, music often plays in my head. I don’t use my IPod unless I’m on the treadmill; it’s just too much of a hazard. My brain, however, apparently requires music, so it gives me a selection of hits. This morning it was Phantom of the Opera (in particular, Prima Donna and Notes; God, I love Minnie Driver even though the singing in that version is…meh, I mean, really, Gerard, did you have bad dental work? The lisp, my man, it’s gotta go) and, of all things, AC/DC’s Back in Black. (Which happens to be Graves’s theme music near the end of the Strange Angels; he starts out with Chris Isaak’s Let Me Down Easy and AC/DC’s Highway to Hell.) I’m pleased to report Andrew Lloyd Webber and AC/DC go together rather well while I’m running in the dark.

* Oh, look, a Sekrit Hideout has been discovered. The story possibilities are endless.

* I’m told (hi, TP!) I must have a very sharp sense of smell, because of how I write. I don’t think I do, but I do think I pay a great deal of attention to olfactory input. I am constantly aware of the smellscape around me. (When one has kids, it’s always best, don’t you think?) If I come down with a cold and a stuffed nose, I feel half-blind. There’s also the funny things I call “misfires” or “auras”–that’s when my brain doesn’t know quite how to handle the input it’s getting, so it gives me a smell/sound/taste/sight that cannot possibly be. Usually this shocks me into paying attention to something I wouldn’t normally have taken a second look at; it seems to mostly be a way for my subconscious to warn me of possible danger. Most of the synesthesia I suffer is of this sort. (The rest of it seems to be excess energy in my neurons just slopping around.)

* I can finally listen to music with words again. Recently, finishing three zero drafts basically at once, I had retreated into classical and ambient music. Lyrics just scraped the inside of my head raw and irritated me right between the shoulderblades. Thankfully, the sensitivity retreated as it always does. It’s funny, when I’m writing something dire I want bright pop music, when I’m writing something mannered and precise and historical I want punk or hard rock, when I’m writing romance I want angry music. It’s as if the aural stim needs to be a balance to the weight on a certain set of creative muscles.

* I might–might, mind you–be reaching the end of my reading on the Eastern Front of WWII. If this is so I’m going to have to find another historical oddity to stripmine, since my tastes in fiction have also retreated like bruised anemones . I’m beginning to be unable to read in the genre I’m writing, or at least, not comfortably. It’s hard to read for joy anymore, I’m so used to revision-reading. The nonfiction gives my brain a chance to spool down. Plus, it’s a relief to read something I won’t ever write about, almost (dare I say it) restful. Since rest is always in short supply, it’s nice to find a few moments of it here and there.

Eh. I, I, I, me, me, me. Booooor-ing. I’d write the next chapter of the Squirrel!Terror saga, but all my focus is taken up with revising. Eh.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

The Fertile Random of Revision Hell

I’m in Revision Hell at the moment, chopping up and messing with the first Bannon & Clare book to get it from zero to first draft status. So I have the map of Dickens’s London out, a sneezing cat on my shoulder, a dog flopped at my feet with several long-suffering sighs whenever I move in the slightest, and a head stuffed full of story structure, plot arc, character cross-references, and things to look for in the zero draft.

As you might suspect, this makes for some exotic thoughts when I’m not actively revising. Like the peculiar, highly-colored, anxiety-ridden dreams I’ve come to expect during revisions. They rarely involve the story; instead, they’re some version or another of the old “here I am in class, naked and missing my homework” dreams. Last night’s featured Martians.

Seriously, you don’t want to know. In any case, here’s a selection of Things I Think While Revising, different than the normal oddness inside my head only in that the anxiety makes them much more vivid than usual ho-hum “how would I do a shootout in this stairwell” thoughts.

* “I have a tumor. I’m going to die.” This morning while running I had an amazing bolt of pain lance through my head. Wednesdays are my easy days, only three miles and no double in the afternoon. So there I was, trucking along at about two miles, and I had to stop and screw my eyes shut. The dog was confused, and as soon as the bolt passed I wondered if I had a brain tumor and I was going to be felled by it in a matter of weeks. Then I realized I was being ridiculous, and started running again.

* “Pancakes and watermelon are an acceptable dinner, right?” The kids agreed enthusiastically. However, I don’t really like watermelon, so it was grapes, pita chips, and Brie for me. That was when I realized I had grabbed “light” Brie. Let me tell you, such a thing is an abomination unto the gods, and shall ever be, world without end, amen.

* “A hansom only needs one clockhorse, thanks.” Said to the nice lady checking my groceries at the supermarket. She knows me–I’ve been shopping there for a decade now–so she just said, “Another book, huh? I’m gonna give you this coupon, honey. Go home and get some rest.”

* “Armored squirrels. With red eyes. Can I fit them into this draft?” Sadly, I could not. Altered rats, sure. But not squirrels. I’m sure there were squirrels in Victorian London, but I don’t want to dig them up. Let them rest in peace, for Chrissake.

* “I can climb tha–THUD.” It’s not that I overestimate my abilities. It’s that I throw myself at the wall and see what sticks, and while I’m in revision I’m tempted to do the craziest things because they sound good at the time.

* “Oh, God, if I just had a submachine gun right now…” Pretty standard, right? But when in revision hell, the ensuing mental dwelling upon the likely consequences are Technicolor vivid. I…won’t say more.

* “Could I teach the dog to bring me a glass of wine?” I actually spent a good ten minutes contemplating this. Then I ran up against the fact that Miss B doesn’t have thumbs. And decided it was time to go to bed, for I was getting silly.

* “What if it was an alien driving that car…?” One of the things about revision is that new stories start crowding the brain, the what-if muscle working overtime, begging to be used. I have not decided if this is a method of procrastination or a natural result of the creative faculties chewing on the bone and gristle of a zero draft, looking for something a little more tender. Who knows? In any case, I lose myself in little what-ifs like this an awful lot during revision. Even more than I normally do, which is saying something.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Here, have a trailer for a movie about the invention of the vibrator. Hat tip to the Selkie for that one. See, there’s a taste of the random that happens when it’s revision time.

Speaking of which, I’ve got to go back. I’m trying to find chapter names that don’t sound like coffee brands. *headdesk*

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Hippo Birdie, Miss Crab!

Just a couple of quick things:

* “Hippo Birdie” to the lovely and talented Miss L. D., otherwise known as the Martian Mooncrab. Research assistant, author helper, amanuensis, and organizer extraordinaire, she is a shining light. *throws confetti* You go, girl!

* I am trying to get another podcast together. So far I have a couple Reader Questions and a request to do my Hans & Franz impression. The next few weeks are hair-tearing busy, between writing, proofs, and various other things. But I’m working on it, guys.

* There’s a couple updates on yesterday’s plagiarism story. I won’t say more, because otherwise my head might asplode. The awards ceremony this year is going to be a dilly.

* Creepy Whistling Dude was at it again this morning. The new twist? A wooden train whistle. Maybe he thinks he just isn’t being overtly creepy enough?

And that’s about it for a while. I’ve got to plunge back into fresh wordcount. This book wants to be born. It’s dropped down and my brain’s dilated.

…yeah, bad metaphor. Sorry about that.

Over and out!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Friday Six

I finally finished the copyedits last night. My brain is porridge, but I go straight into Book 2 of the duology I just finished edits on book 1 for. *headdesk* So it’s six random things this Friday while I recuperate. Sort of. I guess. Maybe.

* James “Whitey” Bulger’s finally been caught. (He was in Santa Monica for 14 years.) I heard about him years ago on America’s Most Wanted (I used to watch that show religiously, you just don’t know) and always wondered, off and on, if he was ever going to be caught. Kind of like Ira Einhorn. (Einhorn was gone for 17 years. Justice grinding slow but fine, anyone?)

* What was Shakespeare smoking? They want to dig him up and find out. Seriously. No, really. The words “crack pipe” are used. I AM SERIOUS.

* Oh, what happens to a state’s economy when the expected quasi-slave labor pool is driven away? Any guesses?

* For heaven’s sake, just let people get married and spend their lives together. The world is cold and cruel enough. Quit trying to make it harder.

* My new cell phone (the one I had to teach how to curse, remember?) has Google Tracks. Which means I can run with Miss B., and have my distance, speed, elevation, and quite probably what I had for breakfast, the state of the cartilage in my knees, and the number of hairs on Miss B. right front foot tracked. Already it’s been thought-provoking; I’ve found out that my pace outside is a lot quicker than I thought possible, as well as a number of other things. The future is here. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with it, but it’s mighty convenient.

* I am told that in my next podcast I have to do my Hans and Franz impersonation. So, that’s coming up in the near future. I’m also taking questions for that same podcast. Drop me a line if you have a podcast question for me!

And that’s about it for Friday six. Off I go to force my porridge-brain through another sieve. It’s about as fun as it sounds…

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Follies Animaux

Three miles on the track with Miss B. this morning. There were a couple other dogs, so of course she went mad. She wants to be friendly sooooo badly, but her manners are atrocious. We’re working on it.

Also, my darling 40-pound dog tried to kill me this morning. The track is at the local middle school, and they were testing and repairing the sprinklers for summer. When some of the sprinklers turned on near us, she headed for the safest place around–right between my feet. While I was running. I didn’t break anything, but it was damn close. I haven’t made an amazing leap like that since…well, ballet, really, or my last barfight. Of course, since the leash is wrapped around my waist, she came with me. it was an interesting fifteen seconds or so.

Also in the Cat and Dog Follies this morning: Tuxedo Kitty is in another bolt-and-bounce phase, which means Miss B. views him as a magical food-producing machine she can’t get too close to, but must watch carefully in case the jackpot occurs.The kibble isn’t even chewed when he horks it up–just moistened a bit. Miss B. thinks this is a glorious snack. Tuxedo Kitty goes right back to the bowl after every hork. It’s a Circle of Life I just don’t need to be involved in. Though I have found that catnip spray will disrupt Tuxedo Kitty from staggering back to the bowl.

You read that right. I got my cat high to stop his binge-and-purge. Hey, whatever works.

Also, I found out that Miss B. will never starve. Not as long as the squirrels keep burying peanuts in the backyard. It’s like she’s a peanut-hunting machine. The squirrels are less amused than I am.

Time to load up on choco donettes and head back into the wilds of the copyedits. Submerging in 3…2…1…

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.