Thursday, November 27, 2008

Good news and bad news

There's good news and there's bad news. The bad news is that I've been pretty much stalled on Tempest for the better part of two months. The good news is that I discovered that my story had problems before I'd written 100K. I was only half way there.

I've spent the past couple of weeks going through many of the lessons in the How to Think Sideways course from Lesson 7 through 16. This time I've actually done the assignments instead of just reading them :P I also have open (and am working back and forth between) Create a Character Clinic and Create a Plot Clinic, also both by Holly Lisle.

I wish I didn't have to report that I've removed every scene from Aben's viewpoint in the draft thus far. (I moved them to an out-take file, so don't panic. They're not deleted! But I doubt there will be much in them I can re-use.) You'll notice Tempest's status bar on the right went from 47571 to 33618.

I've deleted all Aben's plot cards, completed and *future*. I found out that I'd written a character whose one redeeming feature is that he's a hard worker. He's also full of himself, afraid of heights, and a whiner. How did I not notice this months ago? I have no answer for that. I'm trying to hang onto the fact that I AM seeing it now, before I've finished the novel, before my crit partners look at him and go *huh*?

It's a bit humbling to find myself a third finished a first draft I thought I was half done. It's a bit humbling to find myself making such a simple but complex error when this is my eighth novel. But I'm trying to look on the bright side. Reading through the entire draft this week, Tempest herself is fairly strong. She has a strong voice and she certainly has conflict in every scene and she has a lot at stake in this novel. Sure there will be stuff to revise--it's not perfect--but I'm not throwing out anything but Aben's scenes at this time. I can work with Tempest as a character.

But my job for the next few days is to recreate Aben into a worthy love interest. Sure he needs a flaw or two, but he needs more positives than a good work ethic. Honestly. Where's the romance in that? :P

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More on petroglyphs/ pictographs

Technically the correct term is pictograph for rock paintings. Petroglyph seems to mean rock carvings, though around here and around the web I hear/ see petroglyph for both most of the time. In googling the words pictograph and Kootenay I did find additional information, including this site, which shows this sketch (click on it to see the whole thing):

With a shock of recognition I realized it was the pictographs we found on Sunday, though we couldn't find a *guide* to tell us what the letters on the sketch represent. But apparently just fifty feet south is another (smaller) set, so apparently we have to go back and find them. The other pictographs mentioned on the above linked page (site 76) are the ones we found last month. I've gone back and added a *pictograph* label to keep these types of posts linked. (Wonder what book I'm writing or could write might have these in it?)

We've suddenly become much more interested in the history of our area. Go figure.

Monday, November 24, 2008


A month or so ago we found petroglyphs on a geocaching trip. After that we heard a rumor about another set of them in our valley, so we went hunting them this weekend.

On Saturday we walked along the road where we could see the hillside and plot out possible locations in the right area. There were two sets of bluffs that *might* hold these ancient rock paintings. On Sunday afternoon we headed north on the railway tracks until we came to a cairn. Then we angled down.

We found ourselves on the wrong side of a swamp, but we could just make out the red splotches on the rocks opposite us. See right in the center of the photo? (If you click on the photo, you'll get the big version!) But we couldn't get to them without getting a soaking, and in late November (even a sunny day!) I wasn't keen on that.

So we retraced our steps, found a place we could climb back up to the tracks--STEEP!!!--and followed them through the rock cut and found another trail (fairly easy one) down again on the other side. The ground was a little squoodgy here too, but not under water. We made our way back along the bottom of the cliff, then Jim climbed up to take a few shots. Though I could see the splotches from down below, I couldn't make out the shapes. Jim was calling out, oh, bugs!

Look, there's a dog or a wolf or something!

And a sun...

So of course I had to climb up and have a look for myself! It was a much easier climb than the ones from last month. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to fall and die this time, anyway. (Yeah I'm chicken and afraid of heights. So be it.)

Then it was a long walk back to the truck, and we got home just at dark. But what a cool day!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Have you ever wondered what FlyLady is all about?

Friday, November 21, 2008


If you've been hanging around for long you may have noticed that my main wip, Tempest, has been stalled for awhile. I've been wrestling with how to fix the problems I see and move forward. And in between I've been writing on Dottie and wandering Facebook and Twitter and forums and ignoring the whole mess. And I'd like to write professionally? Um. Not a good habit I've slid into.

So ignoring it doesn't work, and poking it with a stick doesn't work. What does? I've been taking Holly Lisle's 'How to Think Sideways' course for several months now. She's been covering these mired-in-the-middle novels for the last few weeks. I read the lesson and think, interesting what works for her. That would never work for me.

What DOES work for me?

Exactly. I don't know.

So why am I paying her for her experience and advice and then dismissing it? That makes a lot of sense. I haven't got anything to lose by following her plan--and everything to gain. So this week I've bought new printer ink, printed out the lessons I hadn't yet, and began studying the ones I'd only glossed over. I think the reason I wasn't paying close attention was that it looked like a lot of work. Still does. But at least now I'm applying them and working my way through her steps, starting with printing out the 143 pages of manuscript already written (about 48K). Meanwhile I'm reading through the sample novels she's included in the course, ones she turfed and started over on, trying to figure out where she went wrong, where she went right, trying to apply the insights to Tempest.

If all else fails, take a pro's advice. Working on it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Shade by John Olson Day 3

Aha! I found it!!! Here's the book trailer for Shade by John Olson.

Let me know if you read it!

Shade by John Olson Day 2

Yesterday I promised to tell you why I didn't order up Shade by John Olson when I had the opportunity to get a free preview copy. Well, first off you know I'm not really into scary. It's hard to know how scary something is going to be, though, unless you hear a personalized testimonial. (Even then you may not be sure, but it helps!)

Randy Ingermanson has co-authored a couple of books with John Olson and they are, apparently, quite good friends. And in April I attended a workshop taught by Randy. In it, he told us how excited he was for his buddy, and then told us the following story about Shade (which Randy has posted on his blog here and which I am shamelessly stealing):

In any event, as John’s writing buddy, I read SHADE at a physics conference in 1999. I finished it about 1 AM and went to bed. But I couldn’t sleep, so I turned on the light and checked in the bathtub for vampires. (They hide there sometimes.) I checked under the sink. I checked in the medicine cabinet. (You probably know about mirrors.) Then I went back to bed.

But I still couldn’t sleep, so I turned on the light and checked the room thoroughly again. Then I went back to bed.

But I STILL couldn’t sleep, so I made one last check. Those vampires can be sneaky little devils. After an extremely careful check, I went back to bed.

BUT I STILL COULDN’T SLEEP. So I turned on the light. And left it on all night. I can’t sleep with the light on, so I was a wreck the next day. But the point is that I survived the night.

All that was ten years ago. I’m now halfway through SHADE and you know what? It’s scarier this time. It’s better written. (I’ll take credit for that. John learned everything he knows from me. Ya heard it here first.)

Bottom line: SHADE is probably the spookiest book you’ll read all year. DO NOT read this book if you can’t take spooky. It also takes a bit of brain-power to “get it.” DO NOT read this book if you are a shallow reader who won’t “get it.”

Here is your chance to prove you are a deeper reader than me. Someone who "gets it"--whatever "it" is.

Have you read Shade? If not, does Randy's recommendation make you want to read it? Or, like me...chicken out?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shade by John Olson

So this month the Christian Science Fiction Fantasy Blog Tour is reviewing Shade.

I was looking for the direct link to the trailer, so you'd understand why I didn't order this book for review, but the direct link seems to be broken. You can go here and scroll down to view it.

The author, John Olson has several other books available, some co-authored with Randy Ingermanson. Tomorrow I'll tell you the REAL reason I didn't order this book! Meanwhile, have a look at what the other tour members are saying:
Brandon Barr, Jennifer Bogart , Justin Boyer, Keanan Brand, Kathy Brasby, CSFF Blog Tour, Stacey Dale, Janey DeMeo, Jeff Draper, April Erwin, Karina Fabian, Todd Michael Greene, Katie Hart, Joleen Howell, Jason Isbell, Jason Joyner, Kait, Magma, Margaret, Rachel Marks, Melissa Meeks, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Eve Nielsen, Nissa, John W. Otte, Steve Rice, Mirtika or Mir's Here, Chawna Schroeder, James Somers, Robert Treskillard, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Jason Waguespac, Laura Williams, Timothy Wise

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reading Meme

Is November National Meme month? No? You'd think! Rebecca Miller tagged me on this one: Seven random book related facts. Okeydokey, I can do that!

1. My sister taught me to read from Dick and Jane. I remember us lying on our tummies on the bed in the attic bedroom. Thankfully other books had more interesting plot lines.

2. We lived in a remote rural area and got our library books by mail from the University of Manitoba.

3. The first year I attended a school with a library in it was seventh grade. Before that, books were just in a cupboard at the back of the classroom. (No wonder I learned to reread...)

4. Books were a common gift for birthdays and Christmas. Heidi, The Five Little Peppers, The Borrowers.

5. It's my husband's fault I *really* got into SFF, though. He started me on Anne McCaffery and I've never looked back!

6. Our kids learned to read *defensively*. That was what Mommy and Daddy were doing, so it must be fun!

7. I think it is the coolest thing these days to go into bookstores and realize I actually KNOW some of the authors on the shelf. They're people I've exchanged emails with or met through book tours or forums, a few even in person.

Seven folks whose responses to this meme I would like to see are:
1. Hanna
2. Karen
3. Bonne
4. Fiorinda
5. Mirtika
6. EJ
7. Maripat

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Hero, Second Class by Mitchell Bonds

On October first, Marcher Lord Press released its premier offerings: three speculative novels from a Christian worldview. I ordered two, and just finished reading Hero, Second Class by Mitchell Bonds.

Hero, Second Class is the story of apprentice hero, Cyrus Solburg, encompassing his years of training with Sir Reginald Ogleby, also known as The Crimson Slash, and his first solo quest as a Hero, Second Class. Reg has a habit of narrating his own battles (and asking Cyrus to record them, please) because, he says: (p 56)"You think I'd trust some half-wit bard who's never held a sword to accurately describe epic combat? You might as well ask a blind poet!" It's Reg's job to teach Cyrus everything he needs to know to become a hero in his own right, even if the First Thing about being a hero changes every time Reg thinks of something new.

Here's a sample (p 76-77):
"Who just counterspelled me?" he (the villain mage) demanded.

Cyrus smiled. "Over here, Shorty. You want to use magic? Try me."

The mage smiled back, though in a decidedly more evil fashion. "Insolent whelp! I'll show you a thing or Five."

As he pronounced the last word, he flung his hands out, twisting his arms as he did so. His thin wisp of beard blew forward in the backwash as five fragments of flaming frost flashed through the air.

Cyrus had time to either scream or drop to the ground before the ice reached him. He opted for the latter, flinging himself into the snowbank. The inexplicably incandescent icicles passed overhead, smashing harmlessly against a large rock.

A slash of flame rent the newly chilled air and carbonized the mage's hiding-tree. Keeth (dragon) waded out of the drift, shivering massively. "I d-don't l-l-like c-c-cold!"

The Crimson Slash drew himself up to his full Heroic six foot four inches, not counting the boots, and pointed his sword at the now-exposed mage. "Frostbite! I challenge you to a Hero's Combat! Stand your ground!"

Cyrus clapped a hand to his head. Not again, he thought.

The Villain turned slightly aside. "You do? I didn't expect that. Very well. I must use the most powerful spell I have left."

The Crimson Slash shifted his shield to Spell Blocking Position Delta.

"Teleport!" the mage yelled.

"No!" shouted the Crimson Slash, lunging forward.

"Bok in a bucket," Cyrus muttered.

The mage vanished in a shimmer of powdery snow.

"By the Seven Furies..." sputtered Reginald.

Methinks that gives you a bit of a taste of Bonds' voice in this rollicking fantasy spoof. This is a land where Capital Letter and Assymetrical Numbers add strength to magical spells, where Villains band together under an Arch Villain to take over the world, and where Cyrus, with his unusual abilities, is forced to make an impossible choice of who he will save in the final battle.

But is it the final battle? Of course not. Hero, Second Class is Book 1 of The Hero Complex. I, for one, will be around for Book 2.

Reminiscent of Patricia Wrede's The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, this novel can be enjoyed by folks of any age, but is complex and witty enough to be appreciated by adults. I enjoyed a novel that allowed me to read a few chapters at a time, but that I always wanted to come back to.

If you enjoy spoofs, puns and tongue-in-cheek humor, pick up Hero, Second Class. I'm pretty sure you'll be glad you did!

One Word Meme

I snatched this off my daughter's site and because I'm in the mood to procrastinate today, thought I'd play along!

Where is your mobile phone? purse
Where is your significant other? recliner
Your hair colour? brown
Your mother? aged
Your father? gone
Your favourite thing? writing
Your dream last night? nonexistant
Your dream goal? published
The room you're in? cozy
Your hobby? walking
Your fear? obscurity
Where do you want to be in 6 years? here
Where were you last night? home
What you're not? patient
One of your wish-list items? travel
Where you grew up? Manitoba
The last thing you did? shower
What are you wearing? clothes
Your TV? off
Your pets? snoozing
Your computer? MacBook :)
Your mood? procrastinating
Missing someone? kids
Your car? broken
Something you're not wearing? shoes
Favourite shop? bookstore
Your summer? gardening
Love someone? YES!
Your favorite colour? sage
When is the last time you laughed? today
When is the last time you cried? dunno

If you want to play along, post a note in comments! It only takes a couple of minutes.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Learning to stop when stuck

You'd think a stuck person would automatically stop. It pretty much works on vehicles, doesn't it? I guess not entirely--one can spin tires and slide sideways and make a small amount of forward motion for the price of a lot of fuel.

Same can be with writing. I've been more-or-less stuck on Tempest for the past couple of weeks. I can see the rough shape of what needs doing to it to un-stick it, but the sheer amount of work has had me stalled. It's not work itself I'm afraid of. More the fact that while I'm shuffling things, I could lose parts and have a hard time putting the parts back into some kind of a whole. Pathetically, that means I seem to prefer a flawed whole over a shredded-but-possibly-closer whole. (Whole not meaning whole as in an entire novel. More like meaning the whole of what I've written so far.)

Today's lesson from the How to Think Sideways workshop by Holly Lisle is about middles that go awry and some tips on how to deal with them. How to recognize the issues and find solutions.

I'm almost glad I've stalled out and been taking the easy way of working on another project, just ignoring Tempest for the time being. You see, I want to FIX Tempest. Holly's advice (which I've seen in her other workshops) tends more to analyzing the problem, figuring out what you should have done, making notes on it, and then CARRYING ON as though you've already fixed it.


Keep going all the way to the end, then use your notes as the beginning of your revision guide.

But I want to fix it now. Well, in theory. Really I want to already have fixed it. But I haven't.

Meanwhile I've been having a great time with Dottie, writing from one to two thousand words a day. I need to get back to Tempest, though. It's like she's standing on the side, watching, waiting. Ready to take the baton from Dottie and carry the next lap herself.

Maybe next week.