Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blogging again..and gardening in upstate New York

I've been inspired to cleanup this blog and give it a bit more attention. I'm having the same kind of emotions that I get when I look at my house and think about all the work it would take to get it looking merely respectable.

Big sigh.

And then there's the blank slate that my brain becomes when I try to think of something to talk about. So. Here I am. Talking about thinking about what I ought to be doing. Hehe. It's pretty meta, but at least the ice will be broken (hopefully) and the next article will be easier.

Maybe I should talk about gardening... It's that time of year, here in upstate New York. We spent last week in lovely Williamsburg, Virginia, where it's really spring. It was kind of depressing to get home to little heaps of snow. And the lawn had frost on it this morning. But the crocuses are up and the daffodils are about ready to burst into flower; the rhubarb has shoots. Too many, actually. Should probably split it up soon.

I've been planning to make some raised beds for years, because most of our lot is actually overgrown gravel. So every time I plant something, I have to get out the pickaxe. Really. I'm not kidding. It makes it hard to get things started. Nonetheless, I've pickaxed out trenches for raspberries and grapes and a kiwi. And some blueberries. But raised beds are definitely going in this year. Maybe even this weekend. My house gets lots of sun and is substantially warmer than the surrounding area, so we're really about a zone warmer than the average. We get a few weeks extra in the fall, too.

Just got an Amazon delivery. (Darn that Prime. With no shipping charges to hold me back it's so easy to Just Click. Does Amazon actually make money, when I don't pay any shipping? Hard to believe.) I heard that Diana Wynne Jones had died. I looked her books up, and realized that I had never read the sequels to "Howl's Moving Castle", which I just loved. So now I have quite a few books queued up in the TBR pile. That's nice change, since I had run out of things to read for a while. I went through a huge reading binge and just wore out my ability to enjoy most of it, plus read pretty much everything I could find in my usual genres.

Well, on to planning the raised beds. Oh...<sheepishly>...and doing some writing, too.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms"

I really love this book. It's a wonderful, strange world, with gods and strange powers and a heroine you can wholeheartedly sympathize with. There are romantic elements for you romance readers, too. And there are two more books coming in the series. Bliss.

I'm so glad that I discovered N.K.Jemisin...


Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Cyborg Recruitment Project

A new novella is out with Loose Id, this one about a cyborg doctor and the cyborg to whom she returns "full sexual function." This one was a lot of fun to write. Thorgan, the cyborg, is an alpha male, but has his tender side--and he's just right for Jolie.

“How will I know that you’ve really fixed me?”

Jolie could feel her eyes widen even farther, and her gaze darted from side to side, but she saw only ancient cerastic benches and an outmoded entertainment console – no rescue. And that blush, the one she’d been trying to avoid through this whole interview, that blush made her face feel like it was on fire. “Uh, I think you should be able to tell in the…the usual way.”

He looked her up and down slowly. She was sure he was imagining her naked. A wicked, teasing smile spread over his craggy features, giving his face a sort of boyish charm. “My usual way is by having sex. With a woman.” He turned around and sat back down on his chair, made a steeple out of his fingers and looked at her over them. “At least that’s what I did before the Union put me out of commission six years ago. And it looks like you qualify. As a woman, I mean.”




Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Being a writer -- the Balancing Act

There are lots of hard things about being a writer. It can be damn hard to find the sweet spot, the balance. There are so many things that have to be balanced just right: left brain, right brain; editing vs creating; confidence vs insecurity.

You're really your own boss, and sometimes the boss is too easy on you, letting you waste hours surfing the net when you should be productive, and sometimes the boss is too hard, doing nothing but criticize. At times you have to totally turn off the internal editor, letting the words flow, at other times you have to be completely and totally anal, poking at every word and phrase.

Writers who are too confident may stop learning. They figure that they already know everything that they need to know. Writers who are too insecure may never finish anything, may have a hard time getting anything done over the voice inside that whispers, "you'll never write anything good, who are you to think you can compete with all those good writers?"

You have to be a good business person to manage the business of writing, yet you have to be a creative person, who lives to create story worlds. You have to be sane enough to handle life well, get things done, yet be crazy enough to think you have a chance to succeed at this.

You have to like people, be interested enough in them that creating story people is fascinating and absorbing, yet be willing to spend the majority of your day alone, putting words to paper. You have to feel things deeply enough to convey the emotions to your readers, yet be able to step back and look at it all as an observer.

You have to love to read, yet be willing to give it up for long periods of time to create things for others to read, because otherwise you'll never get anything done. You have to be motivated to sell, to write what the market demands, yet be true to yourself and write only stories that mean something to you.

When I think of everything that has to be just right, that has to be balanced between two opposing forces, I'm surprised that anybody manages to write for a living.

My congratulations to everybody out there who's done it!


Saturday, April 7, 2007

Fiction genre wars...

A subscriber to a list that I belong to recently insisted over and over that the quality of writing in romance is very low. It was infuriating because other members pointed out the large number of romances that are published, the fact that there is poor writing in other genres, etc., etc., and she just would not listen. She kept insisting that there was more bad writing in romance than in other genres.

I've certainly complained about the writing in some of the romances that I've read, but I read and enjoy a few of the authors that she was slamming, and they do NOT write poorly. Some of them aren't to my taste, but I wouldn't criticize the writing because of that. Conventions are different in different genres. The expectations of the readers are different. Writing that might be considered "good" in one genre, is considered "bad" in other genres.

My guess is that what many people have a hard time with in romance is the emphasis on the emotions of the characters. I read fairly heavily in two genres--SF and romance. And you do have to switch gears when going from one to the other.
If you aren't used to romance conventions, don't read a lot of romances, then I'm sure that the degree to which the story dwells on emotions may seem ... purple. The plots may not be appealing to you. But these are the plots and the writing that readers of romance want.

I think that it all goes back to the question of which emotions you want to experience in your reading. Romance readers read to experience the thrill of falling in love, the joy of knowing that somebody else loves you more than anybody else, the feeling that you are special and important to the person that you care about most in the world. If these are NOT emotions that you want to experience, the plots and writing that are designed to create these emotions may well feel irritating and pointless. But it doesn't mean that the writing is poor. The writing may well be perfectly designed for the book's audience. It's just that you are not a member of the intended audience.

Many times when I read mainstream fiction that other people have raved about, I find the books trivial and irritating. The deep insights into the human condition that other people enjoy, I find obvious. The plots feel manipulated to produce a particular "lesson" that is invalidated by the fact that people wouldn't really act that way. This doesn't mean that the writing is bad. It means that I am not the book's intended audience.

Almost all the books that I enjoy are forms of fantasy. To me, a lot of mainstream fiction seems designed to produce false feelings of understanding and mastery over the world. To me, they seem just as much fantasy as actual fantasies--except that they aren't honest about it. I know that other people don't feel the same way. They enjoy whatever feelings it is that those books create in them. I don't.

All fiction is designed to create emotions in the reader. Different readers want to feel different emotions. Different genres of fiction are created for different audiences.

I wish people would leave it at that, and not insist that an entire genre is badly written, just because it is not to their taste.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Just released -- The Dracans: A Matter of Choice

My latest release is out with Loose Id, "The Dracans: A Matter of Choice."

I created this world and the Dracan race when I started wondering how true pair-bonding in humans would work. A lot of paranormal romances depend on some form or another of "soulmates", "true mates", "mates" in which someone--usually the hero--has an "instinctive", irresistible, unchangeable recognition of the woman as his "mate". It's at the core of a lot of werewolf stories, shows up in many vampire stories, and is found everywhere in other paranormal subgenres. But these stories almost never deal with how this "bonding" works--I assume because it's pretty hard to come up with something believable. So by nature these types of pairbonds are almost always magical.

Being of a technical, logical bent (probably an unavoidable side effect of spending eighteen years programming) I tried to figure out how real pairbonding would work, using what we know about pairbonding in animals ... and a great deal of imagination. And it quickly became obvious to me that it wouldn't simplify relationships as much as many paranormal romances would have you believe. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more complications showed up.

Such complications provide lots of opportunities for interesting stories. The first to be published is "The Dracans: A Matter of Choice."

More stories will be forthcoming in the future, in the meantime ... Enjoy.


Saturday, February 3, 2007

Good Writer, Bad Blogger

Well, at least I HOPE that I'm a good writer. It's pretty hard to really tell. People's standards are different, people like different things. So I have to rely on my own perceptions, and we know how unreliable that is. Anyway, this wasn't what I intended to blather on about. What I wanted to complain about was this damn blog.

As newbie author these days it seems like you're required to blog. They have this checklist, (and don't EVEN think of asking me who "they" is) and you have to go down the list: website --check, blog--check, newsletter--check. What if you're rotten at blogging or just plain don't have the time? I really don't understand how some of the people that I read when I'm wasting time do it. Are they all independently wealthy? Or do they just not need to sleep? When are you supposed to get all this done? I have a home, a husband, three sons, an extremely neglected house. They all take time too.

It's really too much to expect me to both write and come up with clever, interesting blog posts that will attract people to my rather boring complaints. We need a more efficient way of paying people for blogging, so that those who are good at blogging--and may suck at actually writing fiction--can make money at that, and the rest of us can go back to doing what WE are good at.

Is that enough for now? Can I stop and go back to drinking red wine (for the resveratrol ONLY, of course) and ... what WAS I doing anyway? Surfing? Ah, hell. Looking for paying work. That was it. No wonder I didn't want to remember...

(the eternally grumpy)