I love the library. I've not made much use of it in my life, however, because I'm a notorious late-book-returner. I mean, it's bad. But I'm battling my problem in order to decrease my dependency on bookstores. Buying all the books I want to read does get expensive. Not to mention that sometimes it's hard to find stuff at bookstores.
So I went to the library today. The last time I was there, I had asked them to order a Robin McKinley book I hadn't read -- BLACK BEAUTY. Beautifully illustrated, nicely told, although very constrained. Not her usual style at all. I'd done my research, though, and that wasn't all I wanted.
My library actually had a copy of Vol 1 of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN (hereinafter referred to as LoEG because it takes too long to write out the whole thing.). I also requested that they order William Gibson's THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE. I haven't read Gibson before, but it was highly recommended by both SFF reading colleagues and in the archives of the Steampunk Forum at Brass Goggles.
I also checked out the LoEG film and Vol 3 of The Wild Wild West old TV series. I'm trying to get the atmosphere in my head so I can write it without working so hard to see it. I'd really like to see the movie again -- yes, I know how bad it is -- because it's a visual hook for me. Plus, the guy with spider legs thing? That was funny.
After that, I descended into true geekdom. A comic book shop. Those of you who love comic books, I love ya, but it's an odd little niche. The guy who was working today had a lot of Steampunk knowledge and we had a really good conversation about various graphic novels. He also likes reading Westerns and we bemoaned the death of the genre. It's tough to get good Westerns these days. Anyway, I left there with a copy of BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT. Batman vs Jack the Ripper.
Now, I happen to own the first two volumes of STEAMPUNK: MANIMATRON but they're really more like cyber-punk with coal power. Too tech-based for what I need.
So now I have all this great research. When am I going to find time to work with it?!?
Every time I do this, I learn new things about my process, which, btw, is still utter crap.
But I have discovered that even though I pants, I still need to have some research done. Something to fall back on while I lean into the wind.
It's usually costumes or setting. In this one, it's both. I spent all day yesterday looking at Victorian clothing, getting a feel for it. Since I'm not writing "real" history, I can play around and mix up the styles a bit. Take a bustle skirt here and a hobble skirt there. As long as I'm within a decade or so, I figure I'm good.
Corsets took up a fair bit of my time, too. I'd love to own a good corset, but the good ones are wicked expensive!
Blouses, shoes, jackets. Gloves, handbags and hats.
Now that I've finally got my heroine kitted out, I need to turn to my hero. Despite it being a Western, it's not a cowboy story. More in mining territory, so it's a different feel.
Then there's the fictional town of Rock Creek, Nevada. Mountains? High desert? Is Rock Creek a real river or a dry creek bed? Is it big enough for a train station or just a stop on the stage coach run?
So I'm writing very slowly while I try to work out some of these things. Because once they're set in my head, the whole picture becomes more clear. I can write about the story and the setting will appear more naturally.
What do you need to know before you start a new story?
I've officially begun a new story. I wrote an opening scene a little over a year ago, then didn't know what to do with it. Since then, I've discovered a niche genre of writing, art and technology called Steampunk. Historical science fiction, usually set in the Victorian/Edwardian era.
You're probably familiar with it, though you may not know it by that name. Anyone remember the old TV show Wild Wild West with Robert Conrad?
The earliest pioneers of Steampunk were just writing science fiction. Jules Verne, H.G. Wells. Essentially, Steampunk is where science fiction meets steam-powered technology.
Because it's so frickin' weird, however, I didn't really know what to do with all this stuff floating around. So I designed a new blog. Over at Ning. It links to a lot of research, information and ideas about Steampunk. And I'll probably do most of my story-related chattering over there. This blog will still remain active for regular yakking about writing and life in general.
I did this one before, but I took it down because it sounded uptight and weird and not really me. Must have been in a bad mood that day. But now Babe has tagged me, so I'll see if I can come up with something better.
1. Taken together, I'm half Native American. Even if some of it is Central American. My dad's mother was Choctaw -- raised on a reservation in Oklahoma. Her name was Ona. My mom's father was Mayan, from Honduras. Extremely well-educated and very successful. Tough old man, too. Wish I'd been able to meet them, but Ona died before I was born and I was just an infant when mi abuelo died.
2. I look a lot like Ona. But pale. And with shorter arms.
3. I just cut my hair last week. It's been past my shoulders for years -- since my daughter was born, really -- and I just got sick of it. I like it. It curls now.
4. I took a semester of Russian in college and did miserably at it. I think I'll stick with Romance languages from here on out.
5. Two of my German teachers came to the US as refugees from Germany after WW2. One had been drafted into the German Army when he was 14, was captured almost immediately and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp in Marseilles. The other was actually Czech, and she walked with her mother and sister across Czechoslovakia, across Germany, to get to an American camp, so they could come here.
6. #5 wasn't really about me. Too bad. So for #6, you learn that I don't follow rules well. I almost always get away with it, too. ;)
7. My kids. My adorable Monkey Children. They're growing up. And they like each other. I find this fascinating, especially since I'm an only child. I have other friends with boy/girl children, about the same ages, and the kids hate each other. Mine squabble, of course, but overall they love to be together. I feel very fortunate.
8. Sela is pronouced See-la. Not sell-a. Try yelling sell-a at me at conference and it's not that I'm ignoring you, it's just that it's not my name. See-la.
And I don't tag people! If you see this meme, haven't done it already, and would like to -- Go For It!
Just got back from my RWA Chapter meeting. Today's guest was agent Jessica Faust from the BookEnds Literary Agency. She's the primary contributor to the BookEnds blog, which is a totally worthwhile read.
I'm so glad I got to go and listen. She's probably still listening to pitches as I write this, but I didn't have anything ready, so I didn't want to waste her time. I got to casually chat with her and ask her a couple of questions about the direction the paranormal market is headed. I think what I write -- funny paranormals -- are on the downswing. There's always room for a really well-written book, naturally, but they'll be a harder sell to publishers.
And you know what? I need to put on my big girl panties and write a novel.
I know. Kicking and screaming all the way. But the thing is, the idea I have that'll best translate into a novel is so outrageous and out there, it's bound to catch someone's attention. And that's what this is about. I can write a good story, it's just that it has to catch the right person's attention at the right time.
I'm guessing that if I write full speed ahead (think turtle with a roman candle up his butt) it'll still take me at least seven to nine months to finish the story. That's an awful long time for me to concentrate on any one project.
But I can't think like that if I want to succeed.
So. Now what do I do? Do I even bother finishing Big Bad Wolf? It's a novella. I like it. I can probably sell it once it's done. I'd really like to write Richard St Ivraie's story -- another novella -- because I just should. He deserves it. And I can probably sell that, too.
But how do I prioritize? Novel? Novellas? Writing those novellas would pretty much fill up the rest of 2007. And I don't think I want to wait that long to start the novel.
Yeesh. Any ideas? Any helpful hints? I'll take 'em.
Pastor Nathan awaits his version of Gideon’s fleece before asking his childhood love, Petra, to marry him. But a self-righteous businessman, savior of their village, asks her first! It’ll take an ugly town fountain, homicidal high heels and an irate Irishman to prove God really does work in mysterious ways.
Paperback book $11.74 Download $4.69
And to celebrate Babe is running a contest! Go see her blog to find out what a bilby is! ~Babe writing as Lyndell King (with halo almost attached!)~
Kristen brought this link, What the World Eats, to my attention over at Romance Divas. So you need to go look at it first so what follows here makes sense.
Good. You’re back. Let’s dish.
One of my first impressions were that Westerners tend to make some wicked unhealthy food choices, particularly Americans and people from Northern Europe. All those snack foods. All that soda. Frozen corn dogs and pizza. Ugh. I feel bad – not just guilty, but physically ill – if I eat pizza twice a month, much less twice a week.
Mexico made some fairly awful food choices, as well, but then they had a large array of fresh fruits and vegetables, too.
The foods displayed in developing nations was typically heavy on rice, grains, and root vegetables. I felt great pity for the family in Chad, who had so little of anything. Was that bottle of water supposed to last a whole week? For six of them? I can hardly bear to think of it.
I’d eat with the family in Cairo in a heartbeat. Did you see all those lovely little white eggplants?
However, as I examine my own family’s eating habits, I wonder what would go on that table. And what better choices I could make. I tell myself we eat well – healthy foods, fresh fruit and veg – yet I know we could do better for ourselves.
The breakfast cereal that we go through in a week would feed that family in Chad for months. Unfortunately, they’d get barely any more nutritional value from it than what they currently display in front of them. It’s a weakness of mine. I hate making breakfast, but what we substitute is void of everything but chemicals. Added vitamins and minerals. Yeah right. I haven’t read the side of a cereal box in years. I wonder now if that’s just so I can pretend I don’t know any better.
And that’s just breakfast. Lunch is usually a sandwich of some kind. PB&J. Or PB&Banana. Or just jam. Yeah. I don’t really do lunch, either.
We do dinner pretty well around here. I’m roasting two small chickens tonight with cumin, garlic, potatoes, onions and carrots. There’s leftover pasta with tomato, basil and sausage for a side dish, and I need to hit the produce section for something else to go with it.
Later this week, we’ll have risotto with hoppin’ john. Yep. Black eyed peas. Not just for New Years anymore. *gg* Probably sauté some spinach to go with it. I like kale, but it’s more of a winter green.
So dinner is taken care of. But there’s so much room for improvement. I wonder what we’ll have for lunch today.
This is more than a pet peeve. Actually, it's a major annoyance. We're writers, right? Words are our tools. Our stock in trade. So if we're using the wrong words, then, really, what's the point?
Pique. Not peek, not peak, but PIQUE.
The heroine piqued his interest.
She did not peek his interest, which implies that she looked in on his interest through a basement window.
She did not peak his interest, which implies that she brought his interest to its highest point ever. She warranted a second glance. Maybe a third. But he didn't go all Nancy Drew on her. "OMG! She is the most fascinating object I have ever encountered and I only just laid eyes on her halfway across a smoky bar. I'll never be so interested in anything ever again. Everything in my life is now secondary to this moment. Even having sex with her will never reach the complete fulfillment of how she has peaked my interest." Actually, if your hero does think this, you may want to reconsider your definition of heroic to include idiotic.
They might do other things that reach a peak, but, really, this ain't* it.
She piqued his interest. According to Dictionary.com: To excite (interest, curiosity, etc.) or To arouse an emotion or provoke to action.
See? That's what she did. She excited some emotion in him. Her appearance snagged his consciousness so that his curiosity focused on her. Seeing her in that smoky bar provoked him enough to stand up and walk over to her. That's it.
She piqued his interest.
The thing is, it's not like these words are even easy to confuse, except for the pronunciation. They're all completely different words.
Please, I beg of you. Know your words. Use them wisely. Be a wordsmith. It matters.
* For those of you who have been beaten too roughly with the literal stick, yes, I meant to say "ain't."
First, there's my regular bi-weekly post at Beyond the Veil. Today, I'm finishing up my section on Egyptian mythology with a study of Death in Egypt. Sounds like the title of an Agatha Christie novel.
Second, Mandy Roth interviewed me as part of her Marketing with Mandy blog. She's got interviews from lots of Samhain folk up this week, so read the whole thing to find the scoop on your favorite authors, as well as my editor, Angie James.
Today, dd is going to get a hair cut. Not just a trim, mind you, but a hair cut. She's going to donate at least 10 inches of her beautiful blonde hair to Locks of Love, a charity that provides hair-pieces to children who have lost their hair due to a variety of medical reasons.
I'm very proud of her. She got the idea from watching a kid's news program quite a while ago and brought it up again recently. I finally remembered to do some research on it and made the hair appointment yesterday.
It'll be quite a change. She hasn't had short hair since she was 4, and that through her own wiles. She gathered up her hair into a ponytail, whacked it off with scissors, then presented it to me on a lacy doily. I cried. She had beautiful Shirley Temple curls and they never grew back. But now her hair is long and lovely and she's ready to give it away.
Squiggles are creative, witty and impulsive. Squiggles are quite eccentric, do not thrive on routine and are very quickly bored. You are spontaneous and fun, always looking to the future.
Squiggles are extremely extrovert and love new people and new experiences. You are intuitive and popular in social situations and can normally be relied upon to bring a party to life. Your extreme right-brained approach means you always need new challenges which can be both exciting and exhausting for those around you. This also means you are not always very predictable or dependable.
In work, squiggles thrive on change and new situations. However, you have been known to drive colleagues crazy – you are easily distracted and need to learn to focus on tasks and see them through to their conclusion. On the other hand, your inquisitive nature and propensity to ask “Why?” can generate new and exciting big ideas and stimulate debate.
Don’t give up on the big ideas and the dreams, but don’t be surprised if those around you simply can’t keep up with you.
Your colour is deep blue. This is the colour that denotes great strength of character and perhaps makes you rather more practical than most squiggles. Deep blue suggests integrity and maturity, but it is also a colour that may conceal hidden depths, in keeping with your curiosity and love of change. You are charming, but fiendishly enigmatic. Your high energy levels suggest that you will take great pride in keeping yourself active, fit and well.
Celebrity squiggles include Jonathan and Jane Ross, Russell Brand, Chris Moyles, Ozzy Osbourne and Elton John.
You can take the test at Bupaworld. It's UK based, so the bits at the end are different. I picked London.
My publisher, Samhain, has just inked a deal with Kensington to create a new joint venture -- a Samhain imprint under the Kensington umbrella! This is fantastic news, especially regarding distribution. One or two titles a month to begin with and we'll see how it goes from there.
For more details, see Dear Author and read the comments. My editor answers a few questions there.
And speaking of answering questions, Angie will be at Romance Divas June 11-13 for a Q&A, so register if you haven't already and come ask your burning questions!
I thought I broke my little toe yesterday. The dog (54 lb now) and I took a corner at the same time. I said Bad Words. There were tears. Then I put a bag of frozen baby lima beans on it and about twenty minutes later, I was hobbling around. Not broken. Just bruised.
Frozen baby lima beans rule.
Saturday was good. I think I mentioned in the previous post that I had a big time gap in my story that I need to fix. Couldn't think of anything, so I did what I always do. I took a long shower. It worked like a charm! Came up with two definite scenes and a possible third. I'm looking at adding what might amount to another chapter here. Yay!
I'm re-reading some books I finally unpacked. Yesterday I started SHADOW GAME by Christine Feehan. The good thing about re-reading is that since I already know the story, I can take a step back and not get emotionally involved. I can read on a critical level. And I think it's safe to say that if I tried half the stuff she gets away with, I'd still be unpublished.
Oy. Vey. The headhopping.
When I'm *in* the story, it doesn't bother me at all. It works just fine. But taking that step back is grounds for a stylistic headache.
So where's the line? How does an editor decide that the story is so compelling that "The Rules" don't matter?