Sunday, December 31, 2006

Kim Harrison's "For a Few Demons More"

I got an unexpected present yesterday when a package that had been sent to me as an RWA Chapter President showed up -- an ARC of Kim Harrison's "For a Few Demons More". Of course I started to read it immediately, and didn't stop until 2 am. Not good for my writing schedule today, but otherwise great fun.

I'm quite a fan of the Hollows series, and this one didn't disappoint at all. She effortlessly held my attention with non-stop action and relationship developments. Trent's character took another twist. Rachel and Ivy tested more boundaries. And, true to the title, there were definitely a "few demons more". We saw Al, Newt, and a new demon, Midias, complicating Rachel's life to the max. There was some loss in the final chapters of the book, but it was handled well. After all, if everything's completely safe, you would lose that edge, wouldn't you?

So I give this book a strong recommendation.

I'm also a fan of the fantasies of Dawn Cook, and quite enjoyed "The Decoy Princess" and "Princess at Sea", also recommended--though they are NOT urban/dark/whatever fantasy.

It's New Year's eve. Time to get my writing pages in so I can relax and enjoy the end of 2006, a momentous year for me. It's so much easier to fasten on the negative, and I always feel like I should have done more, better. But this has been a good year in many ways. I finished my first work of fiction, contracted it, saw it published, and got my first royalty check. Not bad for one year (I keep telling myself :-) )


Thursday, December 7, 2006

The Cat had a stroke...

Our cat has a name--Misty--but somehow we always end up calling her "The Cat". Last week one night she squawked and fell over. After that she could hardly walk. She'd take a few steps and tip over, sometimes sideways, sometimes backward.

We took her to the Veterinary Hospital (we're lucky enough to have a world-famous veterinary school in our small city) and they told us that she definitely had something wrong with her brain, but they couldn't be sure without further testing. I'm afraid that I drew the line at paying for an MRI. If she did indeed have a stroke, knowing that for sure would make no difference to treatment. So we took her home with steroids and antibiotics, not at all sure whether she would live.

About twenty-four hours after the stroke I became concerned because she hadn't had anything to eat, and wouldn't eat from a spoon. But after leaving a plate of chopped up pork roast near her, she did eat. Now, almost a week later, she's walking around and is clearly going to make it. She's slow and awkward, and doesn't have total control over her body, but she's getting to the litter box and the food bowl, and has even gone back to her insanely picky eating style, sticking up her nose at various food offerings for inscrutable and random reasons.

The vet told us that if she didn't get better, call them to discuss "quality of life issues". A curious sort of euphemism for euthanasia... But it does make you think about what it is that makes life worth living. Even though she's no longer in danger of dying, she basically moves from one soft, warm spot to another, with the occasional trip to eat or eliminate. Is this enough "quality of life"? Would it be different if she were human?

What will life be like for me, when I get toward the end?


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Writing and the Internet

The internet is having a strange effect on the writing life. My first novel was just e-published and instead of frantically finishing the next one, I find myself frantically trying to get a website up. People who buy lots of e-published novels just assume that authors have a website. I know that if I'm thinking of buying a story, I'll often go and google the author, and surf on over to her website to see what kind of things she writes. It's a way of figuring out if this particular story is a good purchase for me.

So instead of writing, writers are out there promoting and networking and blogging and building websites. Very strange. I've even heard that agents and editors will check out an authors website.

So now writers have even more roles to fill...

Well, I've put in my time on my website today. Sigh. Time to go do some paying work.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Nancy Kress: "Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint"

This is a good, solid book on writing. I have a pile of them in my room. Some of them I almost never pick up, some of them I come back to again and again. I haven't read every word in this one, but so far my favorite parts are brief sections in the beginning in the end. The section "Writing and the Multiple Personality" talks about how a writer has to be three people at once: the character, a writer, and a reader. This idea really hit a chord with me. It matches well with my experience of writing, and isn't something that I've seen discussed a lot.

I also really enjoyed the last chapter, in which she adds the idea of a fourth role: editor. And addresses how to actually like the writing process. She mentions warmup activities, regular writing, finding the right time, and then adds: "The most important thing, however, is your attitude toward your characters. Writing is far more likely to be enjoyable if you are so interested in them that they take on lives of their own. Entering fully into their stories, rather than staying preoccupied with yourself ("How am I doing? Is this any good? Where can I market it?") makes the entire writing process feel lighter, more interesting, and more rewarding."

I loved that. Create character that you are interested in and like, and then writing is like spending time with friends...


Monday, November 27, 2006

Is This MY book?

My first e-published novel--The Sirens: Found--went on sale at on November 21, 2006. I'm very excited in some ways--but strangely disconnected from the whole process in other ways. I have no idea if anybody is buying my book, if anybody likes it. For all I know it's a total failure. Even when I get my first royalty statement I won't know how I did compared to other authors. I wish there was some kind of secret counter that the authors could go peek at. Kind of like the way other author friends compulsively check the Amazon ranking number....

I can see that there are definitely valuable character traits to have, if you want to be a successful writer. One of them is certainly being able to motivate yourself with long-range results. This is not the profession for someone who needs instant gratification.

This is my first blog post, so it's a practice post. <- That means be kind! ;-)