Wednesday, June 9, 2010

On Queries

Sunday, as I gritted my teeth and relaunched my cleaned up blog (did you notice all my flowers and my new sappy bio/description? heehee), I first sat down and rummaged around other blogs, notably those on the left sidebar, for inspiration.

Blogging is TOTALLY different from writing a novel and it is more than just a 'online journal'. This because you have to write tidy, short, and interesting blog posts and resist the urge to type in something that is way so personal or sensitive that your ten-year-old-self would kill your brother if he stole said-journal and read it aloud to everyone (in my case, I had four siblings who did stuff like that).

That is why I like to sit down and read other blogs to get an idea of what other people are saying. Learning experience, etc...

Other blogs I read for other reasons - such as gathering ideas of what is going on in the industry, plus I'm always learning how to write and do other things - like querying. That is why I suggest EVERYONE read Query Shark. You simply must.

But I digress.

On Sunday, I came across one entry on Query Shark that had me nodding in relief. Go ahead and click the link and read.

Apparently, QS read a query for a mg novel about a babysitter who is playing sleuth on her charge's parents, as she discovered they are in trouble. QS loved it. Some of her readers didn't. They wanted more plot and they were confused about the details in the query.

QS set them straight and I felt that the "don't be tempted to tell the entire story in the query" gist was important enough to snag and bookmark here. Other places where I've helped out with queries or just been an invisible reader, I've seen some 'helpful' comments suggesting that the author bulk up a short query and turn it into a small synopsis. As always, this is bad advice, and the link above is proof. :)
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

If I may be bold...

Or in other words... does anyone else have problems about letting a novel develop the way it wants, even if it takes some surprising turns that may make your friends uncomfortable?

Keep in mind that in real life I tend to be fairly... conservative. I'm not militant about a lot of my religious and moral beliefs, but they are there nevertheless. My backbone.

That doesn't translate or show up in what I write. *laughs nervously*

Wip#1 - Protagonist has an abstinence ring that pretty much messed up her life. I'm fairly sure that she is going to get together with the guy character. This could change as I write the novel, but yeah... currently, it is still there.

Wip#2 - Protagonist seems to be confused about her sexual identity. I've been noticing this a LOT as I'm writing the novel... especially as she is more attentive and concerned about her friend who is very out of the closet. I'm pretty sure the protagonist is straight, but um... all the same, I'm raising my eyebrows and wondering about her. She might be bi. :O

Neither of these wips are going to be too graphic with any content, because I want them to still fit in with the upper teen audience. But it may definitely introduce concepts that will not be very popular with some people out there.

The impulse is to start all over again and make the 'implied' as oblique as possible so I don't have to put embarrassing warnings up for critters. But then that would change the flavor of the books. It would be like this lemon chicken dinner I made the other day - what would happen if I removed the lemons from the meal.

I guess I'll start scripting those warnings now. :(

Science will apparently Win

I debated about posting this bit as it edges too close to sensitive 'do not tread' turf (religion). I decided to go on ahead, because it does touch on what I DWELL on as somebody who writes about aliens and far away universes.

In an interview read here, Stephen Hawking expressed the following:


"What could define God [is thinking of God] as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God," Hawking told Sawyer. "They made a human-like being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible."

When Sawyer asked if there was a way to reconcile religion and science, Hawking said, "There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works."


The first bit - I actually do agree with in part. I think that people try to humanize God too much, and they have through the back centuries. Take the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians - and others. They believed in gods, but imagined them in human form and exhibiting themselves in quite a human way. I feel we know God as he has deliberately made himself known to us... but it would be impossible to understand him and the rest of the story completely until we meet him face to face. Which, I hope we all do.

As to the second, I would say Hawking isn't completely correct though he is in the right neighborhood. Our ability to observe and reason is limited to what we can study via our five senses. Just because we can't see something, smell it, touch it... study it... that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Human beings instinctively feel that there must be something greater beyond us - and we have always been that way. Some peoples (native Americans) created gods from outer space - something, I'm sure Stephen Hawking would be interested in. Other peoples created a complex afterlife with various gods who all had nothing better to do than judge and control human beings on our planet. Other people saw their ancestors attain new abilities upon reaching the afterlife, turning around and becoming gods who could aid or injure humans on earth. Others believed in one God.

One thing they all have in common is they felt that there was a lot more out there that could not be viewed or reached, but they knew it was there.

So yes...

Religion is based on a natural instinct or calling, as well as culture and authority. Science is based on observation and reason.

They don't completely overlap and are frequently at odds... but that doesn't mean you have to adhere to either or instead of both. It is possible to be a scientist who also believes in a Greater Power beyond. And there is no shame in acknowledging limits to our human abilities. Stephen Hawking more than anyone else ought to realize that. :)

What does this have to do with writing?

Not much, except it reminded me anew the complication in being a Christian and writing proper science fiction or fantasy novels. It's miserably hard - and not just because readers immediately feel uncomfortable and criticize you for creating alien characters who worship a "Christian God". It's just that suddenly you start wondering if it is entirely proper creating a godlike race (and I have plenty of those) and placing them in a world where there is also an all powerful God. It's possible, but I guess I have it ingrained in my head that no being stands on equal footing with God. So I would be consciously trying to keep my characters from being too powerful... or acting too godly. Which would ruin my plots.

Random Question for the Day

If we are a post racial society, why does the census bureau still need to know what color your skin is?

:)
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Monday, June 7, 2010

CLASSIC POST

You can see the link to Editorial Anonymous on the left side somewhere, and odds are you already have the blog on your reading list, but!

I read the latest post with a huge grin on my face and immediately made plans to follow this guy's blog.

The gist would be the following -

I have to say the impetus for this book actually came when I misread a banner ad. I was in the middle of my morning web-crawl when I saw an ad for some manga or webcomic or something called My Dork Embrace. And I thought, That's great. I bet it's a story about the kind of awkward guy who's never supposed to become a vampire. And a minute later my brain wouldn't let go of it because the art and tenor of the ad didn't really jive with the assumption I'd made, so I scrolled back to have another look at it. And I discovered it's really just My Dark Embrace. I'd misread it. But then I got excited because that meant I could write My Dork Embrace myself, and it would be a good framework to work out some thoughts I'd been having about high school.


The author had the opinion that the THRILL about vampires was an obsession at creating a character who is permanently stuck at the peak of life. So he wanted to write a vampire novel with a vamp character who was not the epitome of good looks, attractiveness, and strength.

Why didn't I think of writing that book first? !

ABOUT BLOGGING IN GENERAL

I gave this a thought since I started up on facebook and have gotten nervous about who I friend on there under my 'writing name' for fear of them coming back to my writing or dog training blogs and seeing something I don't want them to see.

For example, on my dog training blog, I may have complained about *coughs* wasting my money on a training session. I, um, have love/hate relationships with dog training instructors.

It hit me today that this is something I need to work towards, especially since I want to be a FAMOUS WRITER (really I do) sometime in the future. I need to post carefully, and not write anything I don't want coworkers or instructors to see.

Doesn't mean I won't be honest, but I have to be tactful and careful.

Tactless Confession -

This is probably just me, but I really hate it when people refer to their characters as the hero, heroine, and antagonist. It just makes me assume that they haven't fleshed the characters out and made them complex enough.

Oddly, I don't have the same reaction when I see people refer to their characters as Protagonist, Love Interest, and Baddie.

Maybe I'm just judging people based on what I do and don't do...
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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hates Posting "I'm still alive" entries, but...

Yes, I'm still alive and as you can see - ready for summer flowers, warm breezes, and lots and lots of sunlight. I need to get back into blogging and sorting out a schedule and topic schpeels.

May was an interesting month.

I did not do much writing, thanks to a busy schedule of doing other mysterious things which escape the memory at the moment. Ditto reading.

I did start writing a new WIP based on a conversation I was having with one of my sisters. This had to do with my impatience and bemusement about how people behave online (and I'm including myself in this group) as opposed to how they behave in person. It really is very easy to be dishonest and exagerative without even intending to be. Simply because you want to seem more interesting and exciting that that DULL person who had a 7-5 job in an office and spends most of the time shuffling papers and operating office machinery. :)

I did create a sorta-real facebook page. It's under my 'fake name' and I'm trying very hard to keep my real life seperate and the tone neutral on fb. I guess more than Twitter where it is very easy to get lost in the shuffle, you feel that much more vulnerable and nervous about coworkers and bosses checking up on what you're saying. Or maybe it's just all of the warnings I've heard on the news concerning that reality. One thing I do like about Facebook as opposed to Twitter = I can post random comments galore and I don't get porn-spammed to death. Yay.

That said, I will still use my Twitter page, at least in checking up what's going on in the industry and following friends. :)

I will have to post pictures of my garden - only I'm waiting for a drier/dryer (read, less mosquito ridden) day to go out back into the garden. My rose garden looks simply heavenly. They are all blooming, including one bush that had gone to root and switched from a hybrid to a more old fashioned wild rose. Only downside would be my irises which objected to being dug up and replanted - though I thought I was doing them a favor in rebuilding their turf so they weren't sitting directly in what was essentially a clay pot. <- I have to build up all my gardens so they have better drainage. The dirt is a very thick and sticky clay. It is good for the septic field beneath, but horrible for gardening on.

Plans for the month of June (late, but what the hey):

Read 5 books, including:

Spirit Bound (Richelle Mead)
The Reckoning (Kelley Armstrong)
Little Vampire Women (I don't remember the author's name)
Insatiable (Meg Cabot)
Reread of all my Diana Wynne Jones Books*
Random other 2 books I eyeballed gluttonously at Target <- I don't remember the titles atm.
Shiver (Maggie Stiefvater)... maybe.
Twilight New Moon.

Yes, more than five but I'm just dwelling on a disappointing visit to Target where I begged a surprised passing shopper to help drag me out of the book aisle emptyhanded. Miserable tight budget... :[

*Per something I read on fb, a letter posted by Maggie Stiefvater, Diana Wynne Jones stopped treatment for her lung cancer. Even though I felt the quality of the last two or three books was not the same quality as her earlier books... um, this will be an obvious loss to the Children/YA book world. I find it very hard to imagine a JK Rowling coming of age without somebody like DWJ paving the way for female fantasy writers. DWJ, more than anyone else, showed how it is possible to take a traditional fantasy plot and give it a twist beyond our world.

Speaking for myself here, I never would have cared very much about scifi concepts if I hadn't read Archer's Goon, Homeword Bounders, Dogsbody, and Hexwood. And even her Crestomanci books helped bridge the gap between fantasy and scifi for readers who might have otherwise been stiffish at the concept of wizards from far away worlds in other dimensions.

God bless her for everything she's done for fantasy writers and readers, and I hope she does not suffer but goes peacefully from this place to the next one.
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Monday, May 3, 2010

Life Transfer

Just thought I'd share something funny that happened over here...

I got a call from my adorable mom who was in a state of hushed panic. At our old house there is a cabinet in our living room with three or four urns with ashes from past dogs. She went over to tap the light on in the cabinet (it's one of those you tap it in the right spot to get the interior display light to go on or off).

So the light went on and displayed some weedy things apparently growing out of the one urn containing the ashes from Danny (the dog we lost two years ago).

Mom freaked out, because she was convinced that Danny's bone bits were sprouting weedy flowers. She didn't want to go near the cabinet and see exactly WHAT was growing out of the bones, and begged one of us to go in there and check it out.

As it turns out, my niece placed the weeds in there for Danny because she had been thinking about him after her parents tortured her by letting her watch Hachiko (sp?).

FWIW - that movie is evil. I can't even READ about it without crying all over myself.



The above is my old Danny. Had we not lost him two years ago to cancer, he would have turned fifteen last month. I seriously doubt that he would come back as weedy flowers. He was sugar and spice and everything nice. :)

Random Hurrah - Thank God for "System Restore". I believe my computer had a virus of some kind earlier today. I immediately shut the computer down, started in safe mode, and did a system restore. So far so good.
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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Don't do that to Fido, Etc...

Dear Horror/Thriller Movie Makers and Horror/Thriller Book Writers,

*flicks TV off, after accidentally watching a young dog yelping as he is swallowed by a slithery thing that came out of the ground*

There are spots around the country where dogs and cats are eaten alive by wild animals. Fact of life. It isn't entertaining.

Showing something like that for the shock value just makes people hate your movie.

That is all.

ON THAT SAME DOWN NOTE:

I just lost one of my birds.... :[

I hate when this happens, because it isn't worth spending the $$$$ to have an autopsy done on a $10 critter, but you always wonder if the bird died of something else besides old age. I always wonder if there is something I'm not doing right, or if I should switch to a different kind of birdseed.

And I'm not sure how old he was. He was at least 2 when I bought him 5 (?) years ago. At the time, I bought him to keep a rescued parakeet company. That rescued parakeet died last year, so I replaced HIM with a young guy. So I had the two boys singing at each other all the time and it was adorable.

Except now I only have one and he's going nuts singing and calling at the love birds in the next cage. And I feel sorry for him.

So, I will be picking up a new friend for him today.

The only birds I refuse to replace would be my finches. Only because the bunch I have right now are all pretty old. Between 6 and 9 years old, I'd estimate. I like finches, but I'd like to get down to only two (budgies and lovvies) flight cages at some point.

It's so weird how fast the years go by. And I don't feel any older though things age and die around me. Now I know what vampires feel like. :[
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Saturday, May 1, 2010

How I Spent My May Day

Just sharing....

Me. I'm not drunk. This picture happened when I woke up this morning and someone snuck up and took a picture of me and the dog because they thought it was HILARIOUS. Ahem. As you can tell, when I crash late on a Friday night, I skip makeup and earrings removal, the hair is knotted in a very unflattering ponytail, and it is way too early in the morning for me and I didn't have my coffee yet.

Sticky Weeds - which apparently can be steeped in hot water as a tea, particularly if you are having certain infection or fever problems. Who would want to though? They stick to everything. Like Velcro

Weeds trying to take over the lawn...

Mound of weeds after a hard morning's work...

Trilium!

The holly bush in full bloom - and it's rattling up against that bedroom window, but I don't have the heart to chop it back until all the flowers are gone.

APPLE BLOSSOMS!!! Yellow Delicious if you want to be specific. Planted those two years ago and they are finally taking off.

The lilacs started to bloom. This is an off year though (must chop bushes back)...

Some random tulips having their last hurrah before they fall apart... and give way to summer.

Technically, this falls under the weed category, but I don't have heart to pull these up. Wild Violets.

Part of the rose garden, where I have a narrow path that should actually have two sideways trellises to keep roses contained when they start filling out when warmer weather comes around (we've had frost/freezing every night for past 2-3 weeks, so they are a bit stunted and behind right now). Must build trellises... Oh! And straight ahead you can see the Irises are starting to come out of the ground.

Some lilies here, and some other things. I don't know just yet whether they are flowers or weeds. Keeps staring at them.

If you look past statue at all of those vine weeds hanging down, that's what I have to clear out next (le sigh). I have to go rock climbing to get at them though.

I'm not sure if the color shows up well here (doubt it) but these are pretty blue flowers that I remember buying and planting last year. Only I don't remember what they are. *must invest in popsicle stick labeling method re/this summer's planting. Oh, there are weeds mixed in, but their time is limited.

More lilacs on the right, but white/yellowish flowers on left are on the buckeye tree I planted a couple years ago. This is the first year it's flowered. I didn't even KNOW they have sweet smelling flowers that look vaguely like lilacs. Huh.

Jacks posing for camera...

More posing from the boy...

Such a poser! *hugs him*

Dog and Cat (Lu-Lu)checking out a bee. Must rescue them...

The Lu, pretending to be wild.

That is all. :)
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