Thursday, September 27, 2007


Who knew that I work best without distraction? It's been quiet in the shop today, and my chat buddies have mostly been off-line or busy themselves.

I processed 10K on the revision.


Honestly, it was 10K that didn't need a lot of work, but now I'm right up there where the big changes are staring me in the face. It's all good.

It's also time to take stock of where I've been and where I'm going. I've been doing this project for so long--most of the year--that some of the plan seems murky. Mebbe it's a good thing I've got a weekend coming up to get my thoughts organized for the final swing. I mean, there's probably about 10K still to go, and much of it will be new, so it won't get all done in one day. But it's a lot closer than it was.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I have to hurry up and work on Marks of Repentance before I catch hubby's cold. I already have the raspy throat. Sheesh. Sometimes I wish he'd share a little less.

I'm finally able to think around the foggy head and the current draft is at 78K. I was a bit curious what the word count is like compared to the previous version, but it requires a bit of math because of the way I'm doing the revision. Anyway, math completed...and so far I've added about 3K to the novel. Which is good. I'm aiming for close to 100K for the final, and the previous draft was about 94. I know a bit more will get added in as I get to the closing chapters.

The parts I worked on today start off the grand slide to the end, where the remaining chaos becomes inevitable. So it's all fun again. I think. I just have to keep with it. And remember the additional mess I need to make for the characters there at the end.

Look! If you shade your eyes and look off into the distance, you can just about make out *the end* from here.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Contest results

For those of you who might be wondering about the results of the contest I finaled in last spring, I just found out I'm not the winner. Or the followup! Congrats to:

First Place – Sally Apokedak
Second Place – Chris Mikesell
Third Place – Rebecca Grabill

Feeling better

Not only finding uprightness less of a strain, I've also managed to complete a YA crit that I've been working on for a couple weeks.

Now to consider where I was before that steamroller flattened me. Oh yeah. Revising. Sigh.

Friday, September 21, 2007


You know, we all have a lot to be thankful for, each and every day. No matter our circumstances--there is ALWAYS something to give thanks for.

I've had a rough couple of weeks. I've spent a lot of time with fog-inducing headaches. I've gotten very little done on anything writing related--THINKING related, really. The fog has lifted, at least a bit, and that is one thing I'm thankful for today. But I had a lot to be thankful for a few days ago, too.

Thankful for a husband who loves me and cares about my aches and pains and does what he can to make it easier. Thankful for a home, a shelter, that adjusts to the temperature I need (yay, it's cooling off these days--I even turned on the heat!). Thankful for a kitty's whiskers to brush my face while I lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling (which could use a paint job, I've noticed.) Thankful for friends and family who check in to see how I'm doing, especially when hubby's working out of town.

Thankful...for the enforced quiet time. I'm queen of multi-tasking, but there is a limit to how many things you can do while lying on your back on the floor. Can't hold a book straight up to read for long. Can't watch tv without cricking the neck. Time to just be quiet and think is rarely taken, at least by me.

Be still and know that I am God comes from the Bible. (Psalm 46:10) I don't much like being still. I avoid it. But it has benefits within us, and I'm hoping to learn them.

What are YOU thankful for?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Return by Austin Boyd -- Day 3

So yesterday I hinted at prizes from the author of this week's featured novel, The Return. Boyd has offered a copy of the novel to each participating blog, and so far I have only one comment showing interest in this prize: Melissa in Oregon. If you'd like to give Melissa some competition, throw your name in the hat! (Karenee also commented, but I'm 99% sure she already has the novel--if I'm wrong, Karen, say so!)

I'm proof positive that you don't have to have read the first two books to enjoy the third one. That's not saying I'm not looking forward to getting the rest of the story read, as there are certainly elements that are missing. Just in those cases, I think Boyd did a fine job of summarizing. Or I can think, "Okay, this or that must have happened before..." and I can be content with that level of knowledge for now.

What else really interests me is what different authors do to promote their novels. I think it's become fairly obvious that we aspiring writers need to come to the table with some of our own ideas and enthusiasm. There is only so much that a publishing house can do. And I'm guessing there is a lot that they are willing to partner with authors for, if the author shows some initiative. (I'm thinking here of the Fantasy Fiction Tour that we talked up in July)

So, besides the one free copy of The Return that Boyd has offered a reader here, he's also supplying me (and other participating bloggers) with CD/ DVD sets. Here's what Boyd says about each set:
There’s a CD for each novel (1st three chapters of each) and a fourth bonus CD with my interviews and TV shows from 2006. The CDs are read by NY Times bestselling-narrator Paul Michael and are very professionally done. These come in a 4-disk amaray case with a movie-poster graphic front and back. I will also send 10 DVDs, which include a CNN-style interview telling about me, about my writing and speaking. It’s a great way to learn more about the life story behind the books.

I figure on sending a DVD out with each set of 4 CDs. If you'd like a copy, leave a note in comments. I'll give up to 8 of them away to readers of this blog if there's that much call.

I think this is a great opportunity to learn more about NASA and Austin Boyd and one way to promote a novel. Because I think we're just beginning to hear from this man. If you've read Deena's interview, you'll know that he is currently writing with Oliver has another series he is working with. Stay tuned, cause you can go a long way with this guy. To Mars and beyond!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Return by Austin Boyd -- Day Two

So you know. You've got a book, sitting there. It wants to be read. You've been holding out for books one and two in the series, but the just sits there. Smiling. Whispering.

Read me...

On the other hand (there's always another hand, unless you're a fan of the old movie Fiddler on the Roof, but I digress...) hubby's gone off to work for a few days, my back is sore so there's a limit to the *useful* things to do. An entire evening lies ahead.

Read me...

Some of the other bloggers have mentioned jumping in with book three, The Return, and finding it fairly easy to understand. The other two are on the way; I can fill in the blanks soon enough.

Read me...

Fine, then. I know when I'm beat.

So every once in awhile I post up a novel's opening paragraphs, and I'm going to do that again here. Keeping in mind this is not the beginning of the series, though.

Friday, February 21, 2020: Mars

The small point of light moved toward them, an unhurried but relentless advance across a lifeless red plain. Not an out-of-the-ordinary sight on Earth, perhaps--a slow vehicle crossing the high desert. But this was Mars. And until moments ago, eight Martian astronauts, along with all of mankind, had thought those explorers were the sole living beings on this forsaken, desiccated planet.

"The glint's still headed straight for us." Rear Admiral John Wells, known to his crew as "Hawk," pointed at the computer display, consternation knitting his brow. "At the current speed of advance, it'll be here in three days. Tops."

John heard the quickened breathing of the seven other astronauts gathered around him in the quiet of the Martian morning. Hemmed inside their tight cylindrical home, the crew formed a tense circle in the mission operations center of their laboratory module.

"You've only seen those reflections at sunrise, right?" Martin Oswald, their lanky flight engineer, better known as "Oz," winced as he plucked hair from the side of his head. The guy's nerves had gotten so bad the bald spot was hard to miss now.

Colonel Melanie Knox nodded and looked up from a data terminal, her small frame bristling with energy. "Satellite surveillance picks up a glint as it crosses the horizon every morning. But only at low sun angles. There's no mistake--something's out there. I woke you because I wanted you all to see for yourselves." She studied her wide-eyed crew-mates and waved a hand across the screen. "Whatever it is, guys, it's closing in on us."

So there you have it. Does this give a sense of setting, a sense of character? Can you see the genre?

If you would like to WIN a copy of The Return by Austin Boyd, take the discussion into comments. There might even be a solace prize of one or two or ten.

Heh. The library just called. Book two--The Proof--is in for me to pick up. Whatever happened to The Evidence? Do I have to read the entire trilogy BACKWARDS? Why didn't I just go buy them in the first place?

Read me...

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Return by Austin Boyd

Now I'm a gal who likes to read my series in order, so knowing that book three of the Mars Hill Trilogy was coming up for a blog tour, I asked my library if they could bring in the first two for me to read ahead of time. Honestly, I asked about five weeks ago. On Wednesday they located them somewhere in Saskatchewan and they have not yet arrived. Meanwhile, on Thursday, my copy of The Return arrived. And now it is The Tour. Dilemmas.

Today I'd like to distract you by talking about the author's website. Honestly, it's enough to make me want to write science fiction. One glance at Austin Boyd's site and you know what he writes, what his focus is.

Now I've dabbled in writing a little science fiction myself, and I have to tell you that a lack of a scientific background holds me back! Austin Boyd does not have this problem. He has his masters in spacecraft systems engineering and was a Navy pilot for over thirty years. Eight times he applied for the astronaut training, coming close to being selected several times. He definitely has the background to write near future humans-going-to-Mars type fiction.

I've read Red Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson and several other books and series about humans settling Mars. Having briefly peeked into The Return makes me anxious to read this series too. From the first couple of pages I can see that Austin Boyd knows his way around solid prose so I'm expecting to thoroughly enjoy this series. Probably should just have bought the first two already. (Grumble Mumble).

In case you want to hear from someone who has actually read The Return already, check out some of these bloggers: Trish Anderson, Brandon Barr, Jim Black, Justin Boyer, Grace Bridges, Amy Browning, Jackie Castle, Karri Compton, Lisa Cromwell, CSFF Blog Tour, Gene Curtis, D. G. D. Davidson, Janey DeMeo. Merrie Destefano , Alien Dream, Jeff Draper, April Erwin, Linda Gilmore, Beth Goddard, Marcus Goodyear, Jill Hart, Katie Hart, Sherrie Hibbs, Christopher Hopper, Becca Johnson, Jason Joyner, Kait, Karen, Dawn King, Tina Kulesa, Rachel Marks, Karen McSpadden, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Eve Nielsen, John W. Otte, Lyn Perry, Deena Peterson, Rachelle, Cheryl Russel, Chawna Schroeder, Mirtika Schultz, James Somers, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Laura Williams, Timothy Wise

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Life, Libby, and the Pursuit of Happiness by Hope Lyda

I read Life, Libby, and the Pursuit of Happiness right on the heels of One Little Secret which I reviewed a couple weeks back. They both have a hot young rock star as the main male character but that is where the similarities end. Still, that was enough to make me think about why I enjoyed one so much more than the other. Maybe because chick-lit (such as Libby) is meant to be fluffy with a kernel or two in there somewhere to sink your teeth into, while I never got the feeling that One Little Secret was supposed to be anything other than serious. The cover certainly spells out what one should expect from this novel.

Libby is the story of a young woman approaching 30 in pursuit of figuring out who she really is, whether defined by her career (which takes a serious nose-dive early in the novel), her romantic situation (ditto), or her place in her nuclear family (can I ditto again?). Libby gets into a crazy predicament with an off-the-wall supervisor in the name of saving her job when so many co-workers receive their pink slip. She meets the man of her dreams, harbors a fugitive, and learns to avoid the paparazzi. Not necessarily in that order! I found the story laugh-out-loud funny in places and, in general, a light, humorous read.

From the back cover:
How do you know if your life is falling apart...or finally coming together?

Libby Hawthorne lives with good intentions. She believes that everything important--love and faith and life--will come together as soon as she receives the promotion she was promised years ago at a Seattle public relations firm. However, a corporate merger changes everything, and when the big prize of advancement turns into a demotion to administrative assistant, Libby realizes it's time to trade good intentions for intentional living.

But just as she reaches for authenticity, Libby is offered a chance to redeem her career if only she will keep an enormous secret. At the same time, her friends and family start acting strange, and her crazy boss goes missing in action. In the aftermath of these colliding events, Libby must make her biggest decision yet--will she climb up the corporate ladder or take the leap of faith that will finally lead her to purpose and happiness?

Life, Libby, and the Pursuit of Happiness is the third novel by author Hope Lyda.

Hope has always wanted to write. Ever since she was a young tyke with a spiral notebook in hand, she had the urge to fill it. Sadly, Peggy Meets the Midgets did not cause Hope to be deemed a child prodigy, so she continued her path of education. She was grade-obsessed but also truly enjoyed sharing laughs with her circle of creative friends.

Hope attended the University of Oregon and graduated with a double major in Journalism: Advertising and Telecommunications and Film. With aspirations to write screenplays or teleplays, she of course ended up doing public relations for non-profits until she entered the publishing field in which she has worked for 10 years.

Her passions are quiet ones—she loves a good read, an afternoon of free thinking time, writing, journaling, road trips, travel, and pondering life from her back yard pergola. She loiters in bookstores frequently, though has never been arrested for such. Her big hope is to encourage others to embrace their dreams and understand their faith journeys through the practice of journaling and the art of creative living. She hopes to also inspire such things through the themes in her fiction including Hip to Be Square and Altar Call. (There are also visions of a nice Casita with a hammock in Mexico—but one thing at a time.)

When not living in her head, she resides with her husband, Marc, in the Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Degenerative Disc Disease

So. What part of DEGENERATIVE Disc Disease did I not understand with my diagnosis two years ago? I live my life like an ostrich with head stuck in sand--what I don't know can't hurt me.


Okay, so that didn't work. I spent about ten weeks in the fall of '05 in fairly severe neck pain and constant headache. I clung to the fact that my doctor called it a flare-up. I figured that what flares up must flare down. You know, like gravity. And in fact, the pain did die down to a dull roar. There have been plenty of days in the last 18 months that I didn't really think about it. Or if I did, it was to remember to be thankful that it wasn't active.

Not so over the past few months. It snuck up on me, though. A bit of pain down my right arm for starters. Couldn't remember what I'd done to bother it, but it didn't go away. Funny thing was, it resembled the pain I'd had a couple years ago in my LEFT arm. But today I discovered that the left arm pain comes from discs 3 & 4 in one's neck. The right arm pain is lower (discs 5 & 6, I think he said).

So, yes. Things are *degenerating*. Yay. I've had more active pain in the last few weeks. Sitting has become increasingly difficult. I've experimented with raising my keyboard to a standing height. I've eased off my work-out routines but trying to keep walking. I've had a professional massage and have two more booked. And finally saw my doctor. Yeah, I know. Some would say that should have come earlier in my saga.

So now I know that I'm doing the right drugs, but should do them more and not wait til it hurts THAT much. I've been reminded that I need to concentrate every day on posture, building up my core strength, teaching my back muscles to do a better job of supporting my back because the discs themselves don't want to do their part.

I love living in a small town. Yesterday I borrowed a Exercise Ball Chair from the medical supplies shop around the corner. To try it out. Talked to my doctor about it this morning and went back and bought it at noon today. I am to use it five minutes morning and afternoon this week, and build up in ten percent increments. Yeah, that means five and a half minutes next week. I'm happy to not use it all the time as there is severe burn after five minutes right now. The idea is that it pretty much forces you to have good posture. You use your core to balance all the time; you're not just dead weight like on a chair but actively engaged in balance. So hopefully it will help. At fifty bucks it is an inexpensive chair and is recommended for everybody (comes in four sizes), regardless of whether you now have back pain or not.

Heh. My doctor asked if I'm having trouble concentrating. Sigh. Ya think?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sushi for One? by Camy Tang

Okay, now that things are sort of under control on the Forward Motion stuff (the site has been successfully moved but you may not be able to access it for a day or two--I know I can't yet), I can focus on other things that need doing this week.


How did it get to be Thursday?

So I'm about half done reading Sushi for One? in the bits of spare time I've had this week. Camy Tang takes the reader on a wild romp with an Asian American heroine with a meddlesome grandmother. Extremely meddlesome! With Lex Sakai's cousin's wedding on the horizon, Lex becomes the oldest unmarried grandchild--and on her grandmother's radar.

Lex is a sports crazy (volleyball, specifically) engineer who, in this segment, has just gotten what may be her dream job. Here she is meeting the guys (page 137):
They entered a large area crammed with cubicles. Lots of male voices. It reminded her of those movies about Wall Street traders, except apparently not all of them were on the phone.

"Lex, this is Dan and Jordan." A Caucasian and an African American man cut off their conversation when they saw her. Speculative gazes pinned her to the floor.

An iron rod slammed down Lex's spine. She returned a gimlet stare.

"Welcome to the team." Dan's voice had a menacing thread.

"Lots of work." Jordan's hard eyes flickered over her masculine work suit. A thin hand scratched the scruff on his narrow chin.

Lex crossed her arms. "I'm used to hard work." Watch out, bucko, I'll arm-wrestle you under the table, too.

He flexed a scrawny bicep.

She cracked her knuckles.

Grey interrupted the testosterone-estrogen duel. "This way's your office."

I get an office? Luckily, Lex's teeth still ground together from her circling with Jordan, so she didn't blurt it out and advertise her ignorance. These boys reminded her of her male cousins. She had rolled with enough punches and knew how to hit their soft spots.

This segment is representative of Tang's writing style. If you liked it, check out her novel! Want more info on the author? Novel Journey has a two part interview up.

Forward Motion and Jatol

Our new host tried three times yesterday to pull our forum files from Jatol over, and finally the third time worked. We run old forum software and there were some bugs. A bunch of us have spent the morning debugging the test files and now *whoever* it is has pulled the plug on the Jatol site. We have everything we need, it's just a matter of time until Mar plugs the fixes that she made into the new setup. Once it is up and running, I'll post here again, but still remember that it may take a few days for your server to redirect to the new address.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


I've gotten about another 2K done on Marks of Repentance today, around customers and watching the soap opera unfold over a major server, Jatol, apparently sinking without a trace. Okay, there have been a few bubbles from under the sea. Forward Motion Writers Community has been hosted by Jatol for several years, but don't bother clicking the link for a day or two because the site won't come up. Thankfully for us at FM, Jatol had several servers and we were NOT on the first to go. Those first guys had no warning. Just all of a sudden their sites no longer existed. Holly Lisle got her site moved off of Jatol ASAP yesterday, while she still had access to her control panel. FM is a little slower to move, being as it is huge, but it is currently in the process of relocating. And Mar has the entire site backed up on her kids' computer at home, just in case, and is helping guide the move to a new host. Sounds like she's quite fond of her new control panel already!

If anyone actually NEEDS information about Jatol and what is going on, there's a most fascinating thread here which is currently on its 16th page, so be warned.

Either way, FM will be up and running again within a day or two at most, though it may take a little while for your ISP to find the new location. Think of it as your snail mail still going to your old address after you've moved; it takes a bit of time for everyone to know your new address right off the top.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


So I'm pretty good at procrastinating, altogether. I'm still playing with my shoot-from-the-hip novel, Connect the Dot, on the Palm most mornings at work. Poor girl. She's in over her head. And I've made progress on Marks also.

But in the spirit of many hands making light work, I've been working hard with Maripat in fine-tuning her synopsis and query letter for a novel I critted for her last year. I know she'll do the same for fact, I'm counting on it. Those things are just plain hard work. After all, if you could tell the story in 3-5 pages, what are the other 450-500 pages for? You see? It makes sense.

And I see this week I'm supposed to post about Sushi for One? by Camy Tang. My copy hasn't come yet but I've found one to read. Just got it tonight and haven't started yet. Sounds good, though. Who wouldn't like *romance with a kick of wasabi*?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

One Little Secret--Redux

I've been thinking more about Allison Bottke's novel, One Little Secret. Niki was unhappy that I gave the book a negative review. Her take is that, having accepted a free novel (thereby agreeing to promote it on my blog), I owe the author a positive review. I disagree with that. In fact, some books that have had multitudes of extremely negative reviews have gone on to become very well known, sometimes BECAUSE of the negativity surrounding it. So I don't think that one little blog in the middle of nowhere is going to derail whatever momentum Allison has found with her novel.

Having said that, I re-read my entry and discover that, in truth, I said nothing positive about the book at all. Was it really because I hated every sentence? No. The plot is quite tight, and Allison did a fine job on pacing and story-telling. If you enjoy novels about glamorous SoCal lifestyles and famous (well-dressed!) people, novels about women who rocket to musical fame from housewife to a well-heeled lawyer, then you may enjoy this novel. I've read drivel, and this is NOT it.

It just isn't my cup of tea. Well, no, I don't drink tea. Give me a mocha any time. But I digress.

Fiorinda, who also commented on that post, and I discussed via chat what it is that makes us like the novels we do. Some women love romance novels; some rarely--if ever--read one. Many women love rags-to-riches stories (or riches-to-greater-riches stories like One Little Secret). Many read chick lit. Some prefer historicals. Most seem to love contemporary. Some like suspense. And some of us love fantasy.

Why? Why are we wired this way? Do we choose our reading path, or does it choose us? If you know the answer to that, please let me know.

I've tried to do a bit of analyzing, which is never my strong point, in an effort to find out why I had such a strong reaction to Allison's novel.

Fiorinda mentioned that, to her, One Little Secretdid not sound like a fairy tale. It seemed more like The American Dream.

So, speaking of dreams, if you could have anything you wanted here in this finite life, what would it be? I'm sure many folk could identify with the main character of OLS in a desire for fame and wealth. When I picture the *perfect life* for me, I see a cabin in the woods beside a little lake or maybe a creek. It's not super tiny, but it's a long way from huge. The deer, elk and moose come to drink at my little beach (see the canoe there, ready for a paddle under the full moon?) We have a little garden and orchard that the deer and coons magically leave alone. We get out to town maybe a couple times a month, going for groceries, a great meal out, and any needed supplies. Our kids and grandkids live nearby, walking softly on the land.

Am I back in the 1800s? Not hardly. See the solar panels on the roof? Hear the generator powered from the little water wheel back on the creek? Look closer. See me sitting on the verandah of the cabin, mug of mocha in hand? I'm surfing the internet on my laptop while the morning sun warms the air and releases the scent of the roses.

What will I do today? Well, after writing the next chapter of the novel my publishers--and readers--eagerly await, I'll work with my daughter to get a gourmet meal together for the tourists who've come to our sanctuary--who've come to watch our birds, to paddle our lake and rivers, to watch our moose.

Is there more to my dream? Oh, yes, I could go on and on. But the point is, do you see how far my dream is from the glitz-and-glam of SoCal kind of dream? It's not that I don't have dreams worth pursuing. They're just different from many folks'.

So why do I read fantasy novels? Why do I prefer them over most contemporary fare? I guess for starters, they're more likely to take place in a locale closer to my personal dream--as would historicals, I suppose.

In a fantasy novel, the women have a purpose other than keeping fashion designers in business. They are real, down to earth. They have meaningful jobs to do, important roles to play in their little worlds. They may be skilled enough to pick up a sword and run the bad guy through. Or maybe not so skilled, but a cast iron frying pan in the hand of a determined woman can do wonders. There is always an element that magnifies or changes something from our world, something not necessarily magical, but fantastical. Something that stretches and morphs our imaginations, throws light on an issue so that when the reader is back in her OWN little world, the gleam is still there. A little takeaway prize like the trinket at the bottom of a CrackerJack box. The CrackerJacks--story--were delightful in their own right, but the prize, although small, is something that lasts a little longer, something to take out, turn over, and play with. Something to consider.

Why do you like to read what you do? I'd love to know.