Saturday, April 28, 2007

Astrology Bloggin'

I'm staying up way past my bedtime tonight working on putting the finishing touches to Drop-Dead Gorgeous (Garnet Lacey, Book Three) which is due on my editor's desk in three days, and I had to do a quick bit of research on the internet about the astrological interpretations of new plantoid Eris (nee Xena). Anyway, by accident, I came across this gem: Astrology Blog. If you're so inclined, check it out.

Friday, April 27, 2007

MAJOR Magic, Sir!

Okay, so Mason has had some astounding luck when it comes to license plates. We've still never spotted West Virginia, and so yesterday he asked me to look up license plates from around the world. He especially wanted to see a Russian plate. I thought, "ha, ha, good luck with that, kid," but you know, it's a harmless pastime. Except....

Today we saw a foreign plate. I think it was probably British (given that there was also one of those GB stickers on the car), but the point is, Mason pulled in a plate from ANOTHER FRICKIN' COUNTRY.

We also checked out all the Canadian provences yesterday, and *in our neighborhood* was parked a Quebec plate. Keep in mind that I live in Saint Paul, that's Minnesota, people. Most of these plates have been spotted in the ten minute drive from our house to the Minnesota Historical Society.

As I told Shawn, now we just have to have him start wishing to find piles of money.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Blah, Blah, Bloggin'

First, I came across this site which has a fairly comprehensive list of SF/F authors that blog.

Second, next Monday (April 30), I will be answering five questions about myself an my newest release Dead Sexy (Book 2 of the Garnet Lacey series) on DCL.

And lastly, just a reminder, I'll be guest blogging at Riding With The Top Down on Wednesday, May 9.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Victory!

Wiccans allowed to display the pentacle on military graves! Check out this New York Times article.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Mason and I were driving down Summit Avenue to our usual coffee shop, Cafe Amore, and I was turning on to Milton when I spotted a rainbow on a license plate in front of me. "No way!" I shouted, "Mason, I think I just saw Hawaii!" Mason, who was, as usual strapped into his booster seat, became frantic. "I can't see it, ima! I can't see it!" Traffic was piling up behind me and I had to make my turn. I noticed the Hawaii car was turning in the other direction on the same street. "We'll chase him!" I told Mason. Of course, we were completely stymied by traffic. The parking lot I turned into is one way, and a very busy day care is right in the middle of it. A gigantic Honda SUV blocked us for several minutes. Mason burst into tears. I kept trying to tell him that we'd see the license plate again, after all, a Hawaii plate was in Minnesota (St. Paul, no less!) Even if we couldn't catch it today, we'd see it again soon.
We drove down Milton for several blocks, but we missed it. Mason cried and cried. We decided to go get our usual coffee and then resume "the hunt." Everyone at Amore sympathized with our dilemma, but most of them remarked, "Wow, Hawaii? Here?" When we got our drink and got buckled back in, I had an idea. No one turns on Milton, I said, except if they're going to William Mitchell College of Law. I decided we should check and see if there was a parking lot we missed. We drove into a very narrow parking lot at the back of the main building... and there it was. I stopped our car, got Mason out of his seat, and we walked right up to the license plate and TOUCHED IT.
Now Mason just needs to conjure West Virginia.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Techno-Peasant Offerings

I'm taking a break from my sin posts to point any readers trolling for "free" fiction to a short story of Other Me's that is a vampire story. If you're interested, check out Irish Blood, which appears here it its entirity.

Have a happy Pixel-Stained Techno-Peasant's Day.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Seven Deadly Sins and Writing: PRIDE

Writers, like Milton's Satan, thrive on an excess of confidence… of pride. I don’t think you can survive the revision/rejection process without it.

When I finish a piece of writing I look at it and think, “Genius! My God Am I Brilliant!” (yes, all capital -- ask my partner if these aren’t the exact words I utter.) Then, while the feeling is still all shiny and new, I send my brilliance out into the world – to critique group, market, or my editor – and then when the verdict comes back, I say, with the exact same conviction, “Jesus, I suck. Arrgh, I’m an idiot!” I might even sink into a blue funk for a minute or two, then, I revise and the next thing you know I’m a genius again.

Am I bi-polar? Maybe, but I also believe that this strange emotional flip/flop is part of what has kept me in the game for as long as I have been.

Successful writers are wired wrong, like inventors (or was it geniuses?) Anyway, I read somewhere that the difference between an inventor like Thomas Edison and your Crazy Uncle Floyd (you know the one who tried to build a flying bus) is that Edison failed more often and more constantly. Edison just never gave up. Not even after his head bled from banging it against the wall so many times. Not even after normal people would have quit.

People like to talk a lot about how writers need to have a thick skin. I believe that part of gaining that tough hide has to do with self-confidence. I spoke at the Wis-RWA Chippewa Falls chapter meeting on Saturday, and one of the members there asked me how I dealt with people who told me I couldn’t write. My response was immediate: “I didn’t listen to them.” I told her she shouldn’t either. Listening to anyone who tells you that you can’t do something is hazardous to your mental health. Just say, “no.”

I think it’s silly how much time some people invest in discouraging others. Despite what I said about winning in my earlier “deadly sins” post, I do actually believe that there’s room in our field for everyone. Yeah, sure, there are only so many slots for books being published each year, but if trends continue the number of those slots will only continue to grow. Publishers are publishing more books now than ever before.

Yet many writers are, more than any other profession I know of, actively discouraged from pursuing their craft by others in their field. I’ve heard hundreds of horror stories about the (typically) college composition or English professor that denigrated a student for writing something that contained a fantastical or science fictional element in it. I’ve also heard plenty of SF workshop veterans tell about scathing critiques that caused them to seriously consider abandoning writing all together.

That would be a crime.

The problem here, of course, is that the answer can’t be: just don’t listen to anyone but your own inner Muse. Why? Because that *would* be the writerly version of the sin of pride. You have to be willing to listen to critiques of your work, because there are things that readers see that the author simply can’t. A willingness to learn from one’s mistakes is, in my opinion, paramount to developing the craft of writing.

Someone else at the RWA meeting asked me how I dealt with that aspect of critique, and I said that I long ago divorced myself from my words. I’m married to my idea (or characters, theme, whichever, or all), not the text on the page. If a fellow writer can give me insight into how better to express my idea, I embrace it. I write to be understood. Honest critique helps me make my point better.

There are times, of course, when critique is motivated by other things, and is less than honest, so you still need to develop an ear for “what is rot, and what is not.” You need to have enough pride to believe in your vision, listen and learn, but never listen to idiots.

Seven Deadly Sins and Writing: Envy

Cross-posted from Wyrdsmiths.

There was a period when I couldn’t read science fiction novels.

I’d finished my second novel (actually, what became my first in print, Archangel Protocol) and it was being shopped around by my agent. I was still actively writing – I’d started a third novel and was trying to perfect the art of short story writing. I was in four writers’ critique groups, attending SF conventions, a member of the National Writers’ Union, and generally doing a whole lot of science fiction and writing-related work.

My partner is an avid reader, so we’d often end up at bookstores, and I found I was actually kind of mildly irritated just walking past the aisles labeled science fiction/fantasy. After the fourth or fifth time it happened, I started to examine my reaction.

I realized I was jealous.

Because of the way most bookstores shelves their novels, the publisher’s logos were prominently displayed in row after row after row that I passed. Just seeing those familiar icons made me inwardly seethe; I wanted one of those next to my name, damn it.

Beyond that initial gut reaction, I also had trouble reading science fiction because my life had become consumed by critiquing it. If I actually got through the green haze of my jealousy and picked up one of those books on the shelf, I couldn’t read it without starting the critiquing process.

And believe you me, no one – not even the genre masters/mistresses – passed my muster in those days. Everyone sucked. I was always at LEAST a good a writer as Ms.-Tor-Published-Her-And-Not-Me.

I couldn’t enjoy reading science fiction.

I can’t not read (just as I can’t not write), so I turned to other genres. I read a lot of romances and mysteries. I also discovered that SF short fiction bothered me less than long form (probably because though I was writing short stories and sending them out to market, I knew I wasn’t very good at the shorter forms.) Although I still had plenty of times when I threw Asimov’s across the room and shouted, “WTF? How did that crap get published when I didn’t?” When my first book published, I relaxed. I could read SF/F again, and I did, copiously. But jealousy and envy continue to haunt me. There are some writers in my field that I’ve refused to read out of spite because in my mind, “they’re famous enough.” (Keep in mind that I’m generally deranged this way. If a movie becomes really popular, I won’t go see it….just because. I’m probably the only person on the planet who hasn’t seen Titanic.)

I don’t think that writers can successfully avoid being jealous and envious of one another. It’s a competitive business, after all, and most of us entered it to win.

Jealousy can be a motivating force, if you let it. I find it fuels my ambition, for instance, and I try to embrace that side of it when I can. I determinedly rose from the ashes of my career partly out of spite and a keen desire not to let the bastards get me down.

I don’t always deal with it very well, though, hence my years of avoiding my own, beloved genre. What about you? Who/what are you jealous of? Have you found good ways of dealing with it?