“‘Breach hull, all will die’…even had an underline.”

...or not...

Silly Fanart of Ixidor and Mishra. Characters © Wizards of the Coast. Silly Art by me. Only here because I wanted some art up.

(Above quote from Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.)

So,Law of Nines was…disappointing. It was a great start, very smooth, kept my attention…until Bethany dies. And I continued wading through thinnly-veiled social critism and parallels to current events for another hundred pages before I decided to return it to the library.I guess one doesn’t notice the themes so much in the high fantasy novels. My next book on the list: Hounded by Kevin Hearne. But first, work!

Today on MPBN radio, there was a great interview onMaine Calling featuring Maine Women Write. (Their Facebook page may be found here.) Very informative, especially for the caller inquiring on the best way to publish his mother’s manuscripts. He had inquired about self-publishing, and one of the ladies (I believe it was the softer-spoken one) explained that the plus side of self-publishing is one has 100% of the control. This can also be a downside: you also have 100% of the responsibility for marketing it. This stuck with me as I’m going through the 2012 Writer’s Market. I’m updating our list to include publishers as well as agents, and making notes to what everyone wants for submissions (Query only; query and manuscript; cover letter and manuscript; query, bio, and  first born son; et cetera).

On Sautrday, we’ll be working on “packets” to send to the agents first. The blanket project will get its own Google account so to keep everything separate from any other solo projects we’re doing, and working on the co-author agreement.  In the interim between now and then, I’ll be researching if it is best to copyright the work. Saturday is Zero Time, and we don’t know where we will be. Most likely in The Studio, since that’s the only place where we have an internet-and-word-processor-capable computer. (We could take Methuselah the Powerbook 1400cs and the PSP, but they don’t connect very well. In fact, I don’t even know if there’s from the same planet. But I digress. We could also work at the library, too, until they kick us out for random spurts of “Hey–who turned out the lights?”.)

Tonight, however, I owe Jenny a birthday dinner. Maybe we’ll do work as well–second book planning, most likely. And if we go to our usual place, I can look forward to a fabulous house cab and amazing customer service. Seriously, the last time we went there, it was pretty much for coffee and dessert, and they knew exactly what we needed — full table, near an outlet. But I digress.




Welcome to Green Sky Country!

Green Sky Trilogy

Green Sky Trilogy by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

I’ve been guilty of being full of opinions when it comes to literature. If I don’t like a book, I’ll tell you, but I’ll also tell you why. I find that more times than not no one really wants to hear the “why”, especially if it contradicts what one believes.

For instance, it is no secret that I dislike the Twilight series, by Stephanie Meyers. Most women in my family love it. Other than the fact the grammar and language used was sub-par to Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIHM, a book I had read in second grade, (I wanted to name our dog Nicodemus–that was quickly shot down by my mother, whom named the poor puppy “Sniffer”. Little good that did–a few months later, my parents got a divorce and my father gave Nicodemus/Sniffer away. But I digress) I found it rather convoluted. If I wanted to read about a girl wanting to get into the pants of a vampire, I’d read Anita Blake–wait a minute…fridge logic striking me again….

But my ranting about how I am so not understanding women is not the topic of this blog. Rather, I’d like to bring the reader’s attention above at the photo.

It seems as though in the past thirty or so years, what is considered “young adult” or “teen” literature has gotten less literary. Take the Green Sky Trilogy (Below the Root, And All Between, and Until The Celebration) by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Not only are they well written and articulate, they also manage to tell an amazing tale with a moral without being preachy. For example:

“There were times, during the early days of his novitiate, when it seemed to Raamo that the life of a novice was very like that of a Kindar child during his years at the Garden. Many of these novice classes where quite similar to those taught at the Garden, at least in method and approach. As a Garden child learned the Forest Chant, by imitation and repetition, Raamo and Genaa learned how to conduct an endless number of ceremonies and celebrations — how to administer to the ailing, how to take part in a Vine procession, and how to conduct a public celebration of Peace or Joy.” –excerpt from Below the Root

This was a series intended for grade school children, around 10 or 12 years old. They are intelligent and thought-provoking, with characters one cares about throughout the story. There’s conflict involved between Kindar and Erdling and Kindar, and all the protagonists work together to solve the trials thrown in their way. And, good merciful Primus on Gallifrey, the use of the English language is lyrical and beautiful.

Maybe it’s the fact that I find the first-person novels I’ve read, especially in the paranormal romance/urban fantasy, a bit pretentious. That and I’ve read Anita Blake novels. And yes, I do tend to have an issue with plots that seem to have been swiped from the back of a lorry, intentional or not.

Which reminds me: tomorrow night, pick up Battle Royal on Blu-ray. As for you, dear reader, hunt down the Green Sky Trilogy.

“More Broken Bones, Fewer Broken Hearts”

“So Paraphraseth Kevin Hearne, Author of the Iron Druid Chronicles.”

The Couple Who Slays Together Stays Together

Asbeel & Reese © A.K. Cyrway & J. De Salme.

As Jenny and I research marketing analyses of urban fantasy, we’re finding it hard to really pinpoint how to do this proper-like. One of the suggestions from our friend Don was to check out other urban fantasy novels on the best seller lists, which we did. Where, yes, it seems that the majority of the authors in the genre tend to be women, these are also in the “romance” category.

Which…complicates things.

The manuscript is not romance. It’s action adventure urban fantasy which happens to be written by two women, one of them (myself) whom was, at age thirteen, given a belt-full of tools and told “go break down the Stickshift Beetle” because she had stayed up half the night drinking coffee and playing Mortal Kombat on Sega Genesis (blood code activated), and had too much energy to stay in the house. The last time I wore a dress was my wedding, and only because my husband did this little “may I please see you in a dress, just once?” bit. (I was going to do a tux originally.) I might have worn a skirt to my grandfather’s funeral–I don’t remember that much, I was distracted by my three-week-old clone niece crowd-surfing the relatives, and my sister looking up occasionally, asking, “Is that a cousin? Okay, she’s good.” (That and my grandmother mortifying my mother by telling my friend Dave “Now that I’m free, I’ll need your number.,” but I digress.)

Back to the manuscript. Or rather, the gender genre gap. Granted, there are some really great female authors in the genre. (And then there are the disappointments in which, yes, really great writing, but then fridge logic strikes and one realises, “Good Primus on Gallifrey, she ripped off Sailor Moon!” or, my most recent, “BATTLE ROYAL!!! PRIMUSDAMMIT TO SKARO SHE RIPPED OFF BATTLE ROYAL!!!” [Da Boss witnessed that one.])

Right now I’m reading The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind. And before that, A Kiss Before The Apocalypse by Thomas E. Sniegoski. Before that, Coming of the Terraphiles by Michael Moorcock, but that’s my guilty pleasure. (I read pulp sci-fi. I love pulp sci-fi. I’m reluctant to see John Carter because I have fond, dated memories of my childhood reading A Princess of Mars. I have a hard time with movie adaptions anyway. Except for A Clockwork Orange. But that’s probably because I love Malcolm McDowell. And if I start singing “Singing in the Rain”, be forewarned: I just did something really, really evil. Usually in a literary sense. Like kill off a supporting character, torture a lead character, or blatantly trying to make it through one of the Twilight movies. I made it through the  scene where Bella arrives at the Cullens, by imagining Alex and his droogs bursting in and starting the ultraviolence — real horrorshow. By the baseball scene, I was missing half-a-bottle of Crown Royal and I think Clark Nova from Naked Lunch walked across the diamond a la Bigfoot footage. Again, digression.)

I think the last series I read where the author, female, had really captivated me was The Living Ship Trilogy by Robin Hobbs. High fantasy, yes, but it felt as though she had done her research on sailing and sea battles during the 15th and 16th centuries Europe. Yes, there was romance, but it was all second to the primary plot of an heir trying to find a place in the world, with the love of sailing and a taste of battle.

I think the closest I’ve found to my own writing taste is Karen Traviss’s City of Pearl. At least judging by the MINERVA library system, she’s better known Stateside for her Halo and Star Wars novels. Here’s a lady after my own heart: her books are militant in nature, with a root in scientific realism for science-fiction, and quite a bit of human behaviour woven it, be it love, revenge, or justice. Although I haven’t read her franchise-based works (I pretty much stick with Han Shot Period, and I don’t have an XBox to play Halo), I devoured City of Pearl in no time flat. But she’s not urban fantasy.

Well, back to the research board.

This Space Intentionally Left Blank.

I love the library. I really love the library. Especially our library here in Waterville. It’s convenient, with access to any other Maine library for interlibrary loans, and the employees are great during closing when we run through the darkened stacks and call out in a twisted game of Marco Polo: “Hey–who turned out the lights?”

If you get the reference, you’re awesome.

We don’t always do that. Only on the fourth Thursday of the month, after writer’s group.

Speaking of which, our next meeting, tomorrow night (which will be Thursday), will be featuring a discussion on outlines. Are outlines useful? How does one approach them? Sometimes it’s an itemised list, or how about something closer to a scene synopsis? It should be a fun brainstorm.

And perhaps, we’ll find out why the library is so silent after we leave….

And now, for something completely different…


"A Banana At Heart"

I love it when things are caught up. Projects for the Maine Open Juried Art Show is now out of the way (The picture at the left was my entry last year, which placed 1st in Pastels division. Surprised the heck outta me, lemme tell ya.), and the only thing left is the opening on the 20th, then take down on the 21st of April; I have a Waterville Area Art Society board meeting in less than an hour; I’ll be polishing up the synopsis and query letter one last time following, before reviewing the list of possible agents and publishers to see which ten we’ll submit first; maybe even start outlining the second book whilst I’m at it.

Remember how in the last post I had mentioned my inability to listen to Terry Goodkind on audiobook? I brought this up to Jenny, the co-author of Sin’s Tethers, and she brought up a point: I’m a speed reader. I probably wouldn’t have noticed the repetition had I been reading the novel myself. So, with that consideration and on a quasi-suggestion from an old friend, Don A. Martinez, whom had read our synopsis and query letter (one of the few literary friends whom hadn’t read the manuscript), I picked up on of Goodkind’s other books, The Law of Nine, from the library, and will be reading that this weekend.

On the lighter side, I finished the first book in the Remy Chandler series, A Kiss Before The Apocalypse, by (I had to look up the spelling of his last name) Thomas E. Sniegoski. Quick read, not too heavy on the details, dubbed a “noir fantasy” (I would also add “cozy” to the description) on the cover. Good, snappy dialogue, and, the best part: in the saturated world of immortal romance schtick, we meet the main character, an angel living as a human, and his wife, who is in a nursing home. Yes, we have handsome, thirty-something-looking angel in human form (my only gripe: classical, Biblical angels, which sadly made the story predictable) sitting at the bedside of his eighty-something wife, whom is dying of old age, and, without giving away Remy’s driving force to what he does in the climax, is very well-played. Excellent, quick, light read. Got two more on order from Ellen at Children’s Book Cellar, and the fourth is sitting on my shelf–Jenny found that at the Mr. Paperback liquidation sale. I’d read them over again if I had an hour to kill.

Next time I post, it will be about actual the submission process; this Thursday at the Waterville Public Library, we’ll be discussing outlines.

Audible Adjectives, or, why Big Finish Productions may have been too awesome as to spoil my audio book expectancy.

The Eighth Doctor

Yes. The Eighth Doctor. Image © BBC/Fox. Used without permission.

I’m taking a little break from the synopsis. And by “little break,” I mean, “just long enough for me to work on a blog and change over the laundry, then back to the grind.”

Lately I’ve been listening to audio dramas. I drove to Manchester two weeks ago to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and clone niece, all while I was following The Doctor and Charley on their first collection of escapades. It was then that I discovered that Paul McGann is actually a decent actor, with a great accent (similar to David Tennant, my second-favourite Doctor of all time thus far). So, TV movie by Fox aside, I’m now hunting down the second collection. In the interim, I picked up another audio drama, this one, another Doctor Who called “Hive of Horror” (this one with my favourite Doctor of all time, no exceptions, Tom Baker), a much shorter adventure but still very good.

Hey, I’m liking this audio thing. I can listen to a story and do stuff, like draw, or bake, or knit, or write or other forms of working.  So I pick up an audiobook: Terry Goodkind’s The Omen Machine, simply because it was science-fiction/fantasy, an audiobook, and an author that I like. And the Waterville Public Library had a slim picking without hitting the interlibrary loan, but that’s my own fault for not wishing to wait.

I think I might have listened to the whole first disc. I’m not entirely certain. All I know is that the TARDIS on my favourite mug is sort of halfway faded on both sides and my tea’s gotten a little bitter. I don’t even remember what flavour this is–oh, Tazo’s “Awake.” Black tea, then. I don’t even remember prepping it, but I digress.

The Omen Machine is probably a decent read. It sounds very lyrical and enthralling in theory. But I have seriously have no freakin’ clue what in the name of Combat Hero Optimus Prime Battling Apocalypse on Gallifrey just happened after the two main characters talk to the boy. There was a blind woman — and she most definitely was blind, because it was mentioned many times in the span of three minutes. And someone hesitated for just a moment…but isn’t that…redundant? And then there was a half hour of discussing the castle.  I think. I changed over the laundry at that point: I went into the cellar, put the jeans from the washer to the dryer, then shirts to the washer, then went back upstairs and…the gentleman was still talking about the castle.

Granted, this is a book I really want to read. Physically read. But to listen…it seems very long-winded.

There’s a point to this, I promise.

Tonight’s thought experiment: where’s the line between writing a story in which sounds great, both in one’s head and in one’s ear, and writing sensory porn? (I use “porn” in a sensual desire, not sexual. Kind of like Christian bodice rippers. I’m still trying to contemplate that concept. Nope, not working. Yep, that digression bit again.) Certainly, describing an old woman with “silvery hair braided down her back” is a great visual, and even “her hair, spun silver plaited elegantly, brushed the floor as she sat in lotus position” is flowery and pretty, but reminding us her hair is silver, long and braided ever two minutes–not just one descriptive word, like “her hair caught the light of the sun”, or “she shook her head, her braid accidentally smacking a customer across the face”, but “her long, silver braid…”. Again, it’s a reading versus listening opinion.

And with that, the dryer just buzzed.