Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Things are pretty busy right now. I'm juggling crits for friends and crit partners, pokes at opening pages for contests, honing the Effective Viewpoint Workshop for Forward Motion in February (aack, just a few days till I have to have these ready!)...and wishing I had time to actually WRITE the seventh task for Quest to be Queen. Maybe next week. This one is zinging on by.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Book Tour--Auralia's Colors--Day 3

I'm always a little astonished by the Christian Science Fiction Fantasy book tours. I mean that in a good way! Folks really get into discussing whichever book is up and opinions are freely given. It shouldn't shock me anymore that not everyone agrees with me, but of course it still does.

So not everyone loved Auralia's Colors. If you click through the participant list from my Monday post, you'll see that just about everyone has an opinion or two. A few folks appear to be on vacation, but they're few and far between. So many readers had unique and interesting comments that I can't even begin to mention them all. John posted a great interview though.

One of the major things I find amusing is all the discussion about themes. It's like a treasure hunt. Folks are finding the most interesting themes under nearly every rock. And they're good themes, and when I read that the theme is about government interfering with people's lives, or about art being undervalued in society or (fill in the blank), I think, yes, that strand is definitely present in this book. I found a theme of selfishness versus freely giving, myself, in the juxtaposition of the absent queen who hoarded colors versus Auralia, who finds colors, creates beauty of them, and gives them away. And I'm curious what Jeffrey Overstreet thinks the main theme of his novel is. I don't think I've seen it said anywhere, and now I wish I had another chance to ask him the question!

Does it matter if everyone saw a different theme? Not necessarily. Because we all bring our own lives into play when we read. Our own experiences *color* how we interact with words on the page. And I really see that clearly in hopping from blog to blog, that this story meant different things to different folk.

But I do think theme is important. Very much so. As a writer, I do extensive pre-planning of my own novels. The characters and a couple of scenes rotate around in my head but until I figure out what the story is *about*, it doesn't really grow into something solid. For me, what the story is *about* usually translates into theme.

Overstreet said this in the interview I posted Tuesday:
I knew the core of the story from the beginning. The core was the question that Anne asked: "Why is it that people tend to reach an age where they fold up their imaginations and put them in a closet?" I was inspired by the fairy-tale imagery that sprang into my head. The story began to circle that question.

To me, this process, this core, sounds to me like the theme, at least by definition. His purpose was to explore imagination, to try to see the world (nature) through the eyes of someone who delighted in it.

Some folks were put off by the distance from the characters, and that's definitely a downside of omniscient point-of-view. For me, the beauty of the prose made up for that. I don't say that lightly, because I am a huge stickler for pov stuff and wouldn't have thought it possible for me to succumb to the rhythm of the language to such a degree. I see nothing in Overstreet's writing to emulate, however. That style isn't mine, but I can still appreciate the beauty in it.

The usual discussion of what makes Christian fiction Christian fiction came up again. I've been guilty of it before, but it seems to have been talked to death. Some folks (not many, but some) want each novel to have a message. A pointy message, not just an undercurrent of a theme that may not be seen by everyone. Again, I'll quote Overstreet (because he is quoting Scripture here, and it's very applicable):
I take the Psalms very literally now -- the heavens do "declare the glory of God," and the days do "pour forth speech."

Does creation step onto a soap box and preach the Four Spiritual Laws? Not so much. But it is there, enticing us, luring us into thinking about the One who created it. Nature--beauty--art--words--colors--all these things are created by God. If we are looking for God, we will find him in all those things, and those things are signposts, that if we continue to think and follow, they will lead us to the Truth. Yes, with a capital T. I'm not talking that Nature equals God. I'm saying all creation points to God.

And if someone doesn't want to see that beauty at all, doesn't want to allow beauty to turn their heart towards God, then a soapbox isn't going to help. It'll hinder, turn them away. Let us first be attracted to the beauty and allow it to lead us closer to the Light.

Wow. Okay. So that was my soapbox. And now I'm off to polish up The Girl Who Cried Squid, which really isn't a story like Overstreet's at all. But it points to the same God, for those who might be searching from a different angle.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Book Tour--Auralia's Colors--Day 2

I've appreciated debut author Jeffrey Overstreet's openness to doing interviews. He blogs at Auralia's Journal, just providing information on where on the web you catch a glimpse of Auralia, and he welcomed the chance to answer a few questions from me this past week.

Here's my new favorite quote:
Outlines are helpful,
but I am quick to remind them that they can't boss me around.
Jeffrey Overstreet

VRC: Are you any relation to country singer/ songwriter Paul Overstreet? (That question is from my husband!)

JO: No relation to Paul Overstreet... at least, not to my knowledge.

But hey, thanks for giving me an opportunity to give a shout-out to a family member! My younger brother Jason is a singer in a popular gospel group called Rescue. He's also their director, composer, and arranger. You can hear their stuff here. The guy's a superstar.

VRC: I've been listening to Jeffrey's brother's site for half an hour now and I'm loving the music. Unabashedly Christian music, and oh-so-tight. The music is arranged so that the voices are the premier instruments. Very cool! And they're looking for a high tenor vocalist/ lead singer so if you (or someone you know) fits their profile, that'd be a neat opportunity. They're based out of Gresham, Oregon.

This next question and answer are *borrowed* from this interview with Fantasy Debut blog (I didn't see the point of asking a question that I'd already seen the answer to several times, but you may not be as familiar with it so I post it here!):

FD: Please tell us about your inspiration for Auralia's Colors.

JO: Beauty can be dangerous. I was on a hike at Flathead Lake in Montana, exploring that glorious scenery with a woman named Anne. We were talking about fairy tales and imagination, and she said, "Isn't it strange how most people reach a certain age where they fold up their imaginations and put them in a closet?"

That question landed like a fish hook in my head. A story took hold and started reeling me in. I began to imagine a society in which people were burying all of their creative expression, all of the mysteries that inspired them to imagine, all of the colorful parts of their experience. Naturally, they became a culture starved for beauty. And while I imagined this, walking through that beautiful Montana landscape, I realized that I was looking over the shoulder of a character who was an artist. This character's heart was broken because of what she saw happening in that society (which is called House Abascar). So she gathered up all of the colors in the world, and even more than that, and carried them into that society to remind the people of all they were losing.

That was the beginning of ten years of work. I blame Anne, who I eventually married. I blame Montana. And I blame God, who created both Anne and Montana.

VRC: I'm in south-eastern BC not far from the Flathead. We've camped several times in the BC Flathead region and so I can almost visualize your discovery of Auralia there. Do you find that you get a lot of inspiration from nature for your writing in general? I see you've mentioned on several interviews that you feel closest to God when you're immersed in nature. This is something I strongly identify with.

JO: Growing up in Northeast Portland, where the landscape is bland, bland, bland, I was inspired by reading about nature. Many of my favorite childhood memories come from occasional family vacations to the Oregon coast. Those trips felt like emerging from a cardboard box to spend a few moments at the Grand Canyon, and then go back into the box. But on any evening, I could open J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and step into a wonderland of forests and mountains and rivers. And Richard Adams' Watership Down made me dream of a life in the country.

When I moved to Seattle, I started embracing all kinds of outdoor activity. I took an English literature course taught by Dr. Luke Reinsma at Seattle Pacific. We would get up at 4:30 a.m., drive to the mountains, start hiking before sunrise, stand on the mountaintop by 10 a.m., and study the classics there. I spent the most life-changing summer working as a housecleaner at a camp on the wooded coast of Whidbey Island. When I married Anne in '96, I started spending a lot of time in her natural habitat -- the deserts between Roswell and Santa Fe, New Mexico. I take the Psalms very literally now -- the heavens do "declare the glory of God," and the days do "pour forth speech." Sometimes I feel like I'm taking dictation from creation.

I supposed that is why Annie Dillard is one of my favorite writers now. Her sharp-eyed apprehension of nature is always inspiring.

VRC: Why is Auralia's Colors called The Red Strand--and why is the cover blue? And what makes Cyndere's Midnight The Blue Strand?

JO: The series is called The Auralia Thread for obvious reasons -- Auralia is a weaver of extraordinary colors. But the story of her artistic work in the complex and troubled world of the Expanse brings together many different characters and cultures. So it made sense to call the series "The Auralia Thread" instead of "The Auralia Chronicles" or "The Auralia Saga."

My editor at WaterBrook Press, Shannon Hill, suggested calling each book a "Strand," and I loved that idea. Auralia's Colors is the "Red Strand" for various reasons. I suppose the most obvious is that there is one particular strand of red thread that becomes important in the story. I believe that the secret to beauty in art is particularity, and Auralia's work is extraordinary in part because of her attention to subtleties and specific "ingredients."

The upcoming sequel, Cyndere's Midnight is the "Blue Strand" for several reasons as well. One would be that there is a particular hue of blue that enchants a beastly character, awakening something within him that changes a lot of lives.

VRC: Do you write from an outline? Was the process with Auralia's Colors significantly different than Cyndere's Midnight? How did you manage to spend ten years on one book? (I guess I get bored more easily than you do!) Did you have plans for the other three books from the beginning of your journey with Auralia?

JO: Outlines are helpful, but I am quick to remind them that they can't boss me around. I have a very basic idea of how a story will end, which characters are involved, and what two or three major scenes may involve. But when I start writing, I often discover new ideas that often send the story in an entirely different direction. Nevertheless, I usually end up at the place I mean to go... by some meandering route. The fun of writing, for me, is in discovering unexpected events, characters, and mysteries along the way.

It's true that I wrote my first draft of Auralia's Colors in 1996, and I've been revising it ever since. If I recall correctly, I had the whole series sketched out by 2000. I wrote 150-300-page versions of each book, and then I started rewriting them in more detailed, improved versions. Each new draft of Auralia's Colors was much different from the one before. And I've worked on many other stories as well during that time.

But yes, I spent much, much more time revising Auralia's Colors. I needed to make sure it was a firm enough foundation that it would support subsequent stories.

VRC: I too find that no matter how well I feel I know my story ahead of time (I've written seven novels so far), and how detailed my outline is, the story strays. I've sometimes said that the outline is useful to me chiefly in knowing one way I won't write the novel. Are you willing to share a summary of how the first version of Auralia's Colors was written? How did you choose which direction to take it from there with subsequent revisions? When did you find the core to the story and know you were on the right path?

JO: I knew the core of the story from the beginning. The core was the question that Anne asked: "Why is it that people tend to reach an age where they fold up their imaginations and put them in a closet?" I was inspired by the fairy-tale imagery that sprang into my head. The story began to circle that question.

It was a fairy tale at first, just a short story about a compassionate artist who carried colors into a city that did not allow them. But I became more and more curious about why a society might outlaw color. And I started investigating minor characters.

Readers kept asking good questions, so the story kept growing. They'd ask, "Why is it that way, and who made it so?" And I'd say, "I have no idea. It just is." And then I'd have to write some more, to figure out why things were that way. Wouldn't you know it, eventually Auralia herself started asking the same question to characters around her: "Why is it that way, and who made it so?"

Eventually, a 90-page novella became a 400-page monster with three sequels. Eventually I had to silence my curiosity, and make sure that I gave each of my existing characters the attention they deserved.

In the final drafts, there were some significant discoveries. I began to realize that I had been rather judgmental toward a certain character. I had taken a little too much pleasure in seeing her stumble into harsh consequences. I rewrote those passages. While the events did not change, the perspective through which we see those events changed. I want to write in such a way that we can find notes of grace in even the most horrible calamities. Because that is what I believe -- that grace is whispering in the dark, with a still small voice. If I write about darkness without acknowledging the possibility of grace, I'm being dishonest.

When I was finished, I was satisfied, because the characters seemed real to me at last. They were all broken, all capable of making mistakes, and all of them redeemable in some way. I came to care about all of them. I hope readers do too. I think I'll become a better person if I learn to love even the worst of my characters. I think if I love all of them, then readers just might love them too. And that might actually help make the world a better place, don't you think?

VRC: Loving my antagonists will make the world a better place? I'll have to think about that! (Though I see what you mean...I think...) Thanks much for your time, Jeffrey! I'm looking forward to Cyndere's Midnight coming out later this year.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Book Tour--Auralia's Colors

It's possible that I may be on record--somewhere--as saying that I don't like omniscient point-of-view. It has been suggested to me that I probably wouldn't even notice omniscient if it were well done; that it is omniscient's evil cousin, head-hopping, that I actively dislike. It's also possible that I argued the point.

It's possible that I have to eat crow.

Auralia's Colors is apparently written in a point-of-view that drifts the line between third person and omniscient and I admit I didn't give the style a lot of thought while I was reading it the first time.

Here are the first couple paragraphs:
Auralia lay as still as death, like a discarded doll, in a burgundy tangle of rushes and spineweed on the bank of a vend in the River Throanscall, when she was discovered by an old man who did not know her name.

She bore no scars, no broken bones, just the stain of inkblack soil. Contentedly, she cooed, whispered, and babbled, learning the river's language, and focused her gaze on the stormy dance of evening sky--roiling purple clouds edged with blood red. The old man surmised she was waiting and listening for whoever, or whatever, had forsaken her there.

Those fevered moments of his discovery burnt into the old man's memory. In the years that followed, he would hold and turn them in his mind the way an explorer ponders relics he has found in the midst of ruin. But the mystery remained stubbornly opaque. No matter how often he exaggerated the story to impress his fireside listeners--"I dove into that ragin' river and caught her by the toe!" "I fought off that hungry river wyrm with my picker-staff just in time!"--he found no clue to her origins, no answers to questions of why or how.

The Gatherers, House Abascar, the Expanse--the whole world might have been different had he left her there with riverwater running from her hair. "The River Girl"--that was what the Gatherers came to call her until she grew old enough to set them straight. Without the River Girl, the four houses of the Expanse might have perished in their troubles. But then again, some say that without the River Girl those troubles might never have come at all.

This is how the spark was struck.

...and the story takes off from there with Krawg's point of view, the old man who discovered her, who has a very distinctive voice as you can see from the above snippet. You can learn more about the book here or read the entire first chapter here as a .pdf file.

I'd especially like you to notice Jeffrey Overstreet's evocative use of color words. These are important because color has been banned by the queen. Even though the queen disappeared a number of years ago, the king refuses to go back on her decree out of (misplaced?) loyalty to her.

How do you ban color? Color is going to exist in nature no matter what. You can't eliminate it there. But the folk who belong to House Abascar aren't allowed to own any personal color. Instead, anything with color is confiscated by the royal house and kept in the vaults against the day when House Abascar is revered enough to release its color back to the people.

But the River Girl doesn't play by the rules. She seems able to create color out of non-color. Vivid hues that evoke the wonder of color in those that see her work. How long before Auralia's Colors are noticed by the Royal House?

Jeffrey Overstreet was kind enough to answer a smattering of random questions for me. If you're curious what we might have talked about, pop back Tuesday!

Meanwhile, other folks are also talking about Auralia's Colors this week. Check out: Brandon Barr, Jim Black, Justin Boyer, Grace Bridges, Jackie Castle, Carol Bruce Collett , CSFF Blog Tour, D. G. D. Davidson, Chris Deanne, Jeff Draper , April Erwin, Marcus Goodyear, Andrea Graham, Jill Hart, Katie Hart, Timothy Hicks , Heather R. Hunt, Becca Johnson, Jason Joyner, Kait, Karen, Carol Keen, Mike Lynch, Margaret, Rachel Marks, Shannon McNear, Melissa Meeks, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Mirtika or Mir's Here, Pamela Morrisson, Eve Nielsen, John W. Otte, John Ottinger , Deena Peterson, Rachelle, Steve Rice, Cheryl Russel, Ashley Rutherford, Hanna Sandvig, Chawna Schroeder, James Somers, Rachelle Sperling, Donna Swanson, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Jason Waguespac, Laura Williams, Timothy Wise

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Spacesuits and Sixguns Magazine

My friend Erin Hartshorn is the featured author in the current issue of Spacesuits and Sixguns Magazine. The e-mag's cover art was inspired by her short story Rise of Kencha.

Click on over. Pour yourself a coffee first--it'll take a few minutes to read as it's just over 5K. Well worth your time. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Book Tour--Christian Writers' Market Guide 2008

I'm happy to have a copy of Christian Writers' Market Guide 2008. Last year when I got the previous one I was just starting to get my toes wet in the whole agent pond and so I didn't actually use the book to full advantage (though I sure thought I would in January, BEFORE I started the revision that took most of the year!)

Now, however, I'm actively making lists. More than one kind. Not only are there publisher lists for nonfic, novels, shorts, etc--the bulk of the book, obviously--but a good bit in the resources section. A bunch of pages with agent info, more with contests, conferences, writers' clubs and workshops. Pretty much anything you might want to know. Except I thought I saw in the introduction or somewhere that they had a list of industry blogs in there somewhere and now I can't find it. Anyone tell me the page? Or is my wishful thinking too grand?! I do see that the book's author (compiler?) Sally Stuart has started a blog that I'll have to add to my sidebar. She's been doing this market guide thing for more than twenty years so she must have a clue or two what she's doing!

She calls it The Essential Reference Tool for the Christian Writer and that looks valid. It even has a cd included. I only wish the book was printed in a larger font as I find it a bit difficult to read. Course it's pretty fat so bigger print would make it unwieldy. And not everybody has my cranky eyeballs!

At any rate, if you're looking at the CBA markets, this book will give you a good idea of the playing field.

Appreciate A Dragon Day

No guff.

Google it!

Rebecca Miller talked about how author Donita Paul created Appreciate A Dragon Day to promote literacy. And she wouldn't mind if folks got more literate reading her books, of course. Here are many ways you can support Appreciate A Dragon Day using crafts or photography or baking a dragon cake. Hunt for missing dragon eggs, perhaps?

Furries Online has some good ideas of how to celebrate as well. You can download a sketch for a child to color in. And it also contains a list of famous dragons from film and literature.

I loved Puff the Magic Dragon so much I had a cat called Puff the Magic Kitty. Who didn't love the old Walt Disney Movie Pete's Dragon and the affable Elliot who gave the boy so much confidence?

Anne McCaffrey wrote the Pern books, which were my first foray into speculative fiction. Telepathic dragons bioengineered to save the planet with their life-bonded human companions. What could be better?

Dragons have been portrayed by various authors as good or evil. Others, like Wayne Batson in his The Door Within trilogy portray the dragons as amoral transportation that can be used by either side. The creator of Appreciate A Dragon Day, Donita K Paul, has a series of books called the DragonKeeper series for young adults. I've read the first two (book five is due out shortly and I believe will be featured on this blog later this spring). It's been a couple of years since I read the first two, but I remember enjoying them. Search my blog for her name, it'll come up!

So far I've only got one dragon in any of the novels I've written. His name is George (no relation to my cat!) and he is vegetarian. Needless to say, he resides in my fantasy spoof Quest to be Queen. You can't have a fantasy--at least not a spoof--without at least one dragon!

Come on, chip in! You know you love dragons. (Don't you?) Tell us about one of your favorite dragons!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Point of View Issues

I've begun prepping a workshop for Forward Motion about the issues writers face with viewpoint characters: how to pick them and how to choose the point of view style that best suits the story. In February we'll be exploring possibilities with a variety of hands-on exercises.

Meanwhile, I've been reading on the topic to prime the pump. Two renowned how-to books are Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card and Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress. I've also found a few articles on the internet. One of these is Time and First Person by Holly Lisle.

I read Holly's article for the first time last week and found it mildly interesting. She speaks in it of some of the issues she faced writing Talyn in first person. She talks about making a choice as to when in the future Talyn is telling her story from. When I first read this contemplation, I admit I didn't *get it*. I decided that Holly was over-thinking the problem but that obviously she'd done a fine job with her choices, because I loved the novel and the way she told it (alternative first person from Talyn and third person from Gair).

Today I edited the first scene of my 2006 nano novel, The Girl Who Cried Squid, which is the only novel I've written in first person. And today I *got* Holly's article.

Krin is telling her story in past tense, telling us what she did and thought and said on the day the story started. And all of a sudden--a couple of pages in--I noticed that she describes her village in present tense. I frowned. Point of view slippage? I'm usually pretty tight. I thought about it for a few minutes and decided that in the *when* Krin was telling the story from, the village was just the same as it had been the night her adventures began. It hadn't changed significantly. So it's accurate for her to tell us where Bevedar IS, for example, not where it WAS.

Suddenly Holly's article made a great deal more sense! I hadn't made a conscious decision to blend tenses. In the heat of nano Day One I just wrote the thing how it came out. But now I see that Krin isn't telling us this story from a rocking chair in her old age. She's telling it to us from a point not far in the future from the end of the novel.

Once I had contemplated the description of her village, I decided to leave it in present tense and moved on to another paragraph. Lo and behold. That description was not an isolated issue! I went back to the very first paragraph which in unedited first draft read like this:
Mama and Papa were of two minds about the dance, which is why I went. Besides, everyone who mattered would be there and even though I can't dance worth a seashell, I couldn't very well skip it, could I?

Notice that everything is in past tense except I can't dance. Why? When she tells this story later on, she still can't. It's important to the story, and it doesn't change.

There were several other instances in the opening scene of about 1700 words where I *slipped* tense. I changed a couple of them, reworded some sentences so they blended better, and left a few standing. It's possible I may have to defend my choice to critters down the line--perhaps even to an agent or editor. But thanks to Holly's article and the fact that I'm writing up this workshop and thus analyzing pov issues, I understand now what my subconscious was doing in November 2006.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Teagren is Walking in a Winter Wonderland

So I was up waaaay too late last night waiting for hubby to get home from work up at the mines. The weather has been...wintry...and the visibility was lousy and he didn't get home till pushing midnight. So we talk for a bit and I head up for bed (while he unwinds with a cup of tea) and *sproing* I'm wide awake.

Teagren is tapping me on the shoulder to tell me what's wrong with her story. Not precisely what one wants to hear when at 62K of an estimated 80K revision. At 1:00 a.m no less. Quest to be Queen is set up with seven tasks that complete the quest (you can read the blurb under Projects at my website.) Teagren mentioned to me that the seventh task didn't really match the setup the reader--and heroine, apparently--had come to expect over the course of the previous six tasks.

And she's right.

The final task takes place in a part of Dhaneira called the Chilplains. Remember this is a spoof, so we HAD to have the island, the jungle, the desert, the woodlands, the plains, the mountains, and now the icy wastes. It was expected of me, and I do hate to disappoint. And while I did some really cool (haha, get that?) worldbuilding for the Chilplains that I might get to use again somewhere else should I ever set a story on a icy fantasy world--I'd have to write THAT in the summer time, I can assure you--it doesn't have the flow of familiarity that the rest of the novel has.

So, dear reader.

What are some myths, fairy tales, kids' songs, comics, cartoons, pop culture type references that include winter? I'm not looking for Santa/ Christmas stuff. I already have some abominable snowmen (yeti) that are staying, and Frosty the Snowman may show up. Or we could build a snowman in a meadow and pretend that he is Parson Brown... Jack Frost will pay a visit.

But I'm looking to you--begging you!--to help me with some brainstorming. Any random G-rated winter stuff that would be familiar to a lot of readers. Any legends about the Northern Lights that come to mind?

Teagren thanks you for your consideration.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Methods of Revision

My friend Margaret is running an intensive workshop at Forward Motion this month about the use of an outline for revising a novel (or short story).

I decided to begin work on my 2006 Nano, The Girl Who Cried Squid to take advantage of the workshop, so I've been spending time beginning the analysis of the novel's structure and how the subplots tie into the main plot. This kind of thinking hurts my head. I'm not sure why. I don't know if the whole story comes into my mind with such a whoosh (don't I wish!) that it doesn't seem to have parts, or if I'm just darn good at weaving in the subplots so well that the main plot can't stand up without them. Either way, it's hard to separate out the parts and look at them objectively.

After the revision of Marks took me the majority of last year, it occurs to me that there might be an easier way to do things. Or at least a way that keeps better track of where I've been and where I'm going. So this time around I'm trying Mar's way. I suppose it would be an improvement if I got most of the headaches out of the way at the beginning!

That's not to say I'm ignoring Quest to be Queen. That edit remains my top current priority, and I've processed nearly 7K so far this week.

I'm curious. How do you revise things? How much do you analyze and plan? Or do you just jump in and hope for the best? And how does that relate to how you wrote the story in the first place?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Goals for 2008

I went hunting my blog for my 2007 writing goals so that I could have a good laugh. It worked! The complete list is here.

To sum up, I thought I would :

1. Finish this revision pass on Quest to be Queen.
2. Complete one (or, if needed, two) passes on Marks of Repentance and GET THE THING KICKED OUT THE DOOR!
3. Write something. Maybe two somethings.
4. Revise something else if time permits. Squid?
5. Work on the recipe book project.

What of that did I actually accomplish?

1. I set aside the revision pass of Quest to be Queen and started back at it in November of '07. It isn't quite done.
2. The only thing on the list I actually completed! Marks of Repentance did, in fact, get revised. It took nine months, but I did complete a pass! It finaled in a contest and is currently out at another one, so I guess you could say I *kicked it out the door*.
3. Write something? Not so much.
4. Revise something else? Not so much.
5. Recipe book project? Decided it wasn't my passion and shelved it.


In the spirit of providing amusement to us all again in twelve months, what are my plans for 2008?

1. Keep sending out Marks of Repentance. After awhile, analyze whether the novel and/or the query package need another revision.
2. Complete revision of Quest to be Queen, get it out to critters and hopefully into submission in 2008.
3. Revise the opening chapters to Chloe's story (romance) and The Girl Who Cried Squid and submit both to the Genesis contest in April.
4. Revise both novels, send to critters.
5. Write something. Maybe two somethings.
6. Keep critting
7. Keep up with moderator duties at Forward Motion


Or perhaps more like hiss, spit, and snarl.

George is our almost-thirteen-year-old cat. He's a very pampered kitty who loves to play, though he may be maturing at last. I mean, this is the first Christmas he did NOT remove and ornaments from the tree to play soccer with in the dead of night. (We always tie our tree to a hook in the ceiling since he brought the whole thing down on his head during his second Christmas season!)

He loves our open stairs, loves to play tag. He nearly always swats without claws, unless he has been provoked over and over and really is annoyed. Here he is playing with my son:

But last week his little world got a fly in its ointment. We are fostering our son's cat for the next few months while he and his wife are in South America. King George the First is Not Impressed.

The little lady, Princess Lelu, is unsure what to make of George. George is ignoring her for hours on end and then going after her with much snarling and hissing. She's spending a lot of time on the stairs because it is The High Ground from where she can see everything. (For now, we're keeping the bedroom doors closed upstairs, so there's really no place to go up above.) So he'll rush up the stairs past her, and she'll come down. But he gets bored up there pretty quick, and as soon as he comes down for another nap (or snoop!) she runs back up the stairs and sits where she can see everything. At the moment, she seems able to sit there for quite a few hours at a time.

Today is the first time they've been left home alone for more than an hour or two. I wonder how much fur will be on the floor when I get home?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Adventures in Snowshoeing Dec 30

You've seen photos of this railway trestle bridge before. It is one of our favorite places to hike and snowshoe. We also like taking the raft or canoe along the river channel in the summer.

Hubby worked hard to get this shot the way he liked it. Yay for a good macro!

This is also his shot on his new camera, a Nikon D40x.

This one I took on my three year old Fuji E500. It eats batteries and the flash is iffy, but I still like the quality of the shots I can get with it.

There he is setting up cat-tail shots.

The cat-tails were mighty cool.

And yes, we WERE snowshoeing!

Winter Fun on Boxing Day

One of the fun things this Christmas was getting snowshoes for Hanna and Craig. Once we'd found one more pair to borrow, we had enough gear for everyone to enjoy a few hours outdoors together!

Jim enjoyed trying out his new camera. He's on cross-country skis.

Here's the photo he was setting up!

I'm on skis, too. I prefer snowshoeing but no one else fits my boot size! It was a lot of fun anyway.