Thursday, January 29, 2009

Science-fiction books, magazines, film, TV, ga...Image via Wikipedia


I've got my preliminary schedule for Boskone 46, February 13-15 in Boston. I'll post it next week, but the convention organizers suggested we add links at our sites. So here it is:

Boskone 46

If you've never been to a regional SF convention, this is an excellent entry level event. Enough people and programs to keep it interesting and involving, not so large that you get lost in the crowd. There will be panels, programs, parties, an art show and sales, booksellers, autograph sessions, special events and more.

I hope I'll see some of you there!
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Libraries almost invariably contain long aisle...Image via WikipediaIs it just me?

I picked up a novel with an attractive cover and an intriguing premise. I started reading it last night, but after about 20 pages I put it on the shelf to return to the library. There was so much "head hopping" I lost interest in the heroine and her problems.

I try hard when I'm writing not to switch point of view in a scene unless I believe it's absolutely necessary, and even then I try to mark it in some way to show a scene shift. Lately though I've been dismayed at the number of novels I'm reading where an author jumps back and forth in the same scene, disrupting the flow of the narrative. And let's face it, most of the authors doing this are not Nora Roberts. It takes a lot of skill to be able to do this seamlessly.

I believe novice writers would do well to read Dame Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles. Heck, any intelligent reader would benefit from reading the Lymond Chronicles, but the reason a writer should read it is for craft. In six extensive, complex novels you are never in the protagonist's POV except for one sentence.

Think about that: Thousands and thousands of pages, and you only truly get to know what's going on in the hero's head in one sentence. Yet any fan of the books can tell you that Lymond is one of the most well-written characters in modern fiction. All done without head-hopping.

It's a good writing goal to work towards, newbies, and I promise I'll try to do better also.
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Saw another German review today. Google Translator still has a ways to go before it's completely accurate, but at least I can figure out whether the reader liked it or not.

Oh, and the review today said she liked it. Even the possum scenes.[g]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Daddy O.  020/365Image by //amy// via FlickrOnce again, our country has experienced a change of administrations with a smooth transfer of power and responsibilities. We don't think about that much, but it's a historic part of what makes this country so great.

I'm proud to be an American.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Today was a good writing day for Castaway Dreams. I thought I'd be writing the shipwreck scene, but I'm not quite there yet. Here's a snippet of today's effort:

“There. Your task until suppertime, Miss Farnham, is to go through your wardrobe and find those garments that are most practical. Look for items that can be fastened with a minimum of effort on both our parts!”
“Oh dear. I imagine this means I will not be dressing for supper.”
“If it involves me, no, you will not. Stay in your clothes, Miss Farnham until I return to undress you.”
His words hung in the air between them, and Alexander felt heat rise up his neck.
“Certainly, Doctor Murray,” Miss Farnham said, her face as bland as blanc-mange.

Friday, January 16, 2009

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 27:  Gotham Tribute Honore...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeI've always been an "easy crier", someone who tears up over minor things. I'm so bad I get choked up over Hallmark card ads and dogfood commercials. Today I read an interesting column by film critic Roger Ebert about "elevation", studies of how our vagus nerve comes into play in emotional moments and why certain things trigger this response.

It was especially timely, because I experienced this elevation response yesterday while watching the news coverage of the US Airways plane in the Hudson. Captain Sullenberger demonstrated the qualities that define true heroism--competence, coolheadedness, putting others before self (he walked the plane twice before being the last person to leave). In addition, the ferry boat crew members demonstrated their own coolness and competence, putting into action the training they'd received for just such an emergency.

Someone asked me once if I cry over my own scenes.

"Definitely. If I can't get an emotional response from myself, then I'm doing something wrong."
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's always something...

The dog's annoyed with me. I noticed the sunlight coming in through my office window was hitting directly on the rug, so I pulled the blinds. Yofi got up from her bed, sat on the rug and stared at me accusingly. There was no longer sunlight on her bed. So because I always do what my dog tells me to do, I got up, adjusted the blinds, and put the sunlight back.

Diva dachshund or oriental rug? Dachshund wins. This round.

Oh, and she's doing much better. Yofi's walking more easily. Today we went around the block and she only stumbled once.

A little fading on the rug's a small price to pay for a happy puppy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

== Summary == via WikipediaI'm looking at the rain falling (cold front coming through) and thinking I'll make lamb and barley stew for supper.

I'm also looking at the work I did yesterday on Castaway Dreams and thinking, "Hey! That's not half bad!"

I need moments like that. Too often I'm typing away at the keyboard and thinking, "Crap. crap. crap. crap...." but then I'll write a phrase or come up with a description for the hero's eyes and think, "Hey! That's not half bad!"

And that's what keeps me going. That, and lamb stew on a cold and bleak day.
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Friday, January 09, 2009

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

First things first--thank you to all of you who asked about Yofi. She is doing better, though some days are easier than others. At least she's walking again, and that's a huge relief.

Second, I've just booked my flight for Boskone 46. As usual, I'm flying into NYC to visit with my son and then taking the Acela up to Boston. I've become quite fond of train travel since I started making this trip some three years back. I hope I'll see some of you there, and as always, I hope I don't get snowed in. The best part about traveling to Boston/NYC in February is having a return ticket that says "Florida".

In the meantime, work continues on Castaway Dreams. Here's the last paragraph I typed this morning, a conversation between the H&H. He was a secondary character in my as yet unpublished Sea Change, and I wanted to give him his own opportunity to shine:

“I have not had many dealings with young ladies, Miss Farnham. I can tell you that all the women I do know have been, in one fashion or another, useful.” He thought back to a certain young woman who had run off with an American pirate and added, “Some are extremely useful, and competent in a crisis, and yes, that is how I judge people.”
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Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year!

It's been a hectic couple of weeks, which is why I haven't posted more. Both my sons were home for the first time in over a year, so I was off my usual writing schedule--but for a good reason. It was great having the entire family together again.

The other reason I've been busy has been less fun, but the prognosis is encouraging. Our 11 year old dachshund, Yofi, had an episode involving compression of the disks in her neck, which left her unable to walk without falling down. After some intensive treatment with steroids at the vet hospital we resumed acupuncture treatments for her. She's doing substantially better now, but I can still see signs of deterioration. However, veterinary acupuncture has helped in the past, so we're optimistic.

Whew! In the meantime, I'm still researching my next book, working title Castaway Dreams, and writing notes on the novel. The characters are beginning to take shape in my mind and I typed the magic words "Chapter 1...Finding creative ways to kill people who annoyed him wasn’t something Alexander Murray considered with any regularity, but it was an amusing way to pass the time. "

More on this as it develops.