Tuesday, April 27

Simple pleasures

So, as you can see from my word count bar, I've been progressing pretty well on my next book and averaging about 2k words/day. Er, besides from yesterday that is. I've had some kind of cold/flu/sickness for over a week. I'd begun feeling better a few days ago, but yesterday just took the wind out of my sails, and I felt yucky really again. So only 199 words were added on the book. I've been waiting to work on this novel in particular for a few years now. It began in a previous incarnation, but the pieces just weren't fitting together properly. I ended up re-envisioning it, and now it's flowing pretty well so far. Some of what I'd thought before is staying, but other things are being put in the missing pieces that make more sense.

But one of the things I love about the book is the setting.  It takes place in a faraway country called Finland, which I absolutely love. Yesterday while I wasn't feeling well, I looked over a photo website http://taivasalla.net/english by Niklas Sjöblom. It definitely counted as novel research. *grins*

The picture above is one of my many favorites from the picture website of Helsinki's South Harbor. And then there's the webcam from http://ek.fi/kamera/palace30.jpg, which is also of the South Harbor. 

Sunday, April 25

Valuable Lesson Learned...

Don't forget to hit SAVE every once in a while!

That charming little autorecovery save feature in Microsoft Word is really nice, and it's saved my butt a couple of times when I've had my computer crash unexpectedly. I'm quite fond of it. But today after working hard on completing a tricky chapter and beginning the next one in a neat fashion, I walked away from my computer to talk to my husband. When I strolled back, I notice that my computer has in fact rebooted itself because of the ridiculous feature on Windows 7 that causes a computer to restart if 15 minutes have passed without the user to hit a Postpone button.

When Microsoft Word popped back up, my entire day of writing was gone. Auto save had apparently taken a hike while I'd been working today (which I know isn't technically true since the feature itself is enabled, it just didn't save anything. Techie hubby tried to figure it out to no avail). I ended up having to rewrite the scene to make sure I didn't completely forget what I wrote, but the damage has been done since I think what I rewrote is lackluster in comparison to what I initially had.

So don't let this happen to you... SAVE your work throughout the writing session.

Friday, April 23

The Friday 56

The Fifth Sentence
"I pushed as hard as I could, not caring at the moment if the movement tore my neck, just wanting him off. My hands were at an awkward angle on his shoulders and my strength was no match for his, but something about the action seemed to get through. He stopped." - Embrace the Night by Karen Chance

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
* Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Saturday, April 17

The Reading Blitz Continues...

And surprisingly, I've already finished reading my "reading quota" of the month so far with it being just over the middle of the month. Wow! I'm a little surprised. Those two books being Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews and Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur. Both were great. I actually finished Full Moon Rising last night during the wee hours of the night. This year I've been trying to read more, and I made an insane goal at the beginning of the year to read at least 24 books this year, making it two books a month. Though I really have a stack of 30 sitting in the TBR pile. I've actually read 8 books so far (7 spec fiction and 1 historical category romance). I'm amazed by that number, especially considering it's only April. My husband reads very fast, so I get frustrated by my lack of being able to speed through pages since I have a ton of books. And there are always new ones coming out. It makes me very pleasantly surprised that it's one more goal that I've been keeping with this year.

Friday, April 16

Please welcome... author Morgan Wyatt!

The Writing Virus

If you are reading this then you’ve probably been infected with the writing virus. Instead of carving your name into your desk or signaling your BFF across the room in elementary school, you may have written her a note or even a story that featured her as a lead character. Some of you may have started your story weaving even before you could write. Sure, parents tend to consider stories as lies as opposed to seeing it as a sign of a creative mind. Perhaps you were attempting enliven their mundane lives by populating it with a cookie-eating alien who just happened to throw a few cookies your way.

Maybe writing was your outlet when things didn’t go exactly as you planned. The super hot soccer captain did not ask you to the prom. In turn, you created a story that has a main character, who bears some resemblance to yourself, exacting revenge a’ la Carrie style. What girl hasn’t had a diary? The boys tend to like to call their small diary-like books journals because it sounds less girl-like. All the same, you were writing down your thoughts for yourself and perhaps others. In my younger years, I was convinced I would be famous and thought I needed to track every thought and word. People might want to know later what I was thinking on December 3, 1973. This was probably not the best plan since my sister tended to read my diary and wreck vengeance when she was portrayed in an unfavorable light, which was 95% of the time. Inadvertently, I learned my first lesson about creating characters—disguise them. My second lesson was not to let anyone in the family read your work because they might find themselves.

Maybe you enjoyed English in school, does that mean you have the writing virus? Not necessarily, a true writer (and you do not have to be published to be one) must write. Do the days your schedule is overloaded with work and family activities that allow you no time to scribble even a sentence leave you feeling vaguely unsettled? On the less chaotic days, when you can sit and tap out at least the rough draft of an article or story leave you feeling more content, even settled? If so, then you have the writing virus, which can be a bit of a benign parasite. The need to write is in you motivating you to write, but when you don’t something is missing it as if bits of you are being devoured.

The easiest cure for this illness is to write. Although I have found contact with other writers, writing workshops and reading well written books is also helpful. It seems simple enough to cure this illness, but we don’t. Instead, we make excuses why we can’t write. Work, prior commitments, family, the dog, etc. the list is endless. There are humorous anecdotes that other writers tell each other about getting ready to write including re-arranging the room to wearing their lucky shirt. While they spend 60 minutes getting ready to write, a family emergency happens which can consists of the dog throwing up on the carpet, a forgotten science project that is due tomorrow, or the smoke alarm going off. It is usually a combination of the three.

The end result is you didn’t write a thing and you feel vaguely guilty and unsatisfied. I should know. I needed a room to write in, an office, far away from the family. In this glorious sanctuary, I could burst out of my chrysalis and become a New York Times bestselling author. The spare bedroom, where all the bursting forth was supposed to happen, became the place all the clothes baskets resided with unfolded clothes. Items that were all their way to Goodwill hid out there too. The children decided they could clean their rooms by putting unwanted items in the spare room. It became an ordeal to hack my way through the debris to just get to the computer. Sigh, not only did I have a full blown case of the writer virus, but mother guilt too. Did I even deserve a room just for writing? On top of that, I was fast developing a case of lack of writing guilt. This involves mentally whipping myself with a wet noodle because I was not writing.

Perhaps a few of you have bemoaned your inability to write properly due to time and space. I remember attending a conference where the speaker commented that she started writing at 4am in the morning every day before her eight children woke up. Eight children, my one whiny teenager and demanding dog could not compete. You have to find time. I pick morning because I am pretty useless after work. Good only for television watching, eating and devouring novels. Find your time. Hank Phillipi Ryan spoke at a recent Indiana RWA meeting about giving up things to write. There really are so many hours in the day. Decide which ones to claim as your own. A word of advice when it comes to families, they don’t understand that you have a virus and must write, so try to find time that doesn’t interfere with them too much.

As for space, give it up, unless you live in some palatial estate. My space is wherever my laptop is. I’ve written in bed, on the couch, in the hair salon, the doctor’s waiting room, even in the car, but I wasn’t driving. Don’t waste dead time. You might not always be able to take your laptop everywhere, despite what the commercials show, but you can take your brain. I highly suggest you take your brain. The conversation you heard between the cashiers at Target has the making of a bit of dialogue. Maybe you spotted a fellow in Wal-mart who would be the perfect sidekick to your villain. Every moment you are gathering material. Other people just exist, you are gathering material to create new people and new worlds, a regular Dr. Frankenstein without all the gross assembling of inanimate body parts.

By this time, you may have a handle on your writing virus, you have scratched out some time. If you have created space wherever you are at or cleaned out that back bedroom. I am busy reclaiming mine, again. This is all good. The one thing you have to make certain to do is spend time with other writers. I should include an aside here and say: you don’t have to like all writers. Hey, they’re people. Some you click with, some you don’t. Some have helpful ideas others have just begun their writer’s journey. The wonderful thing about being in the company of writers besides finding out about agents, contests and publishers, you have a chance to feel normal. No need to explain your virus to disbelievers. It is good to be understood for a change. Other writers can even make you laugh at outrageous tales how their families and friends reacted to their virus. On second thought, maybe it isn’t a disorder, but more like reaching a heightened stage of human development like growing a third eye. Something to consider, but more importantly, something to write about, find your time and space and write.

Morgan Wyatt

Check out my latest story, To Catch a Chef @: http://www.xoxopublishing.com

Check out my website @http://morganwyatt.webs.com/

Monday, April 12

Rising up from the depths...

So things have been pretty interesting around my household recently, and my sleep schedule has been all over the map. I've barely been able to get near my computer to put in updates and other things here. It's crazy. On a happy note, I'm going to be going to Disney World on Thursday! Woohoo! I'm excited about that. It'll be hubby's first time going to the Magic Kingdom. Random... yes. lol

I also finished reading Ilona Andrews's Magic Strikes about a week ago. It was REALLY awesome. I honestly can't wait to read the next one that comes out in a couple months. Now I'm reading Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur. It's going to be the 8th book I've read so far this year, and the 7th speculative fiction book. I'm surprised that I've been able to keep up with my goal of reading as well as I have been. So far, I'm liking it.

My guest blogger last week didn't end up sending in her blog, but this week, I have with Morgan Wyatt on Friday. So make sure to come back on that date and check her out.

Saturday, April 3

Just finished reading...

A Hunger Like Fire by Greg Stolze.

This is a World of Darkness, Vampire: The Requiem (RPG) novel that I bought a couple years ago and started last year. I put it down since it wasn't keeping my attention, but I decided to pick it back up this year to give it another shot. It's based on the pen and paper games, and this one is about a vampire who is changed and doesn't know who his maker is as well as a female vampire who is changed by the Prince of the Damned who is the ruler of the vampires in Chicago where the novel is set. It was an interesting read and a nice trip through nostalgia lane since I used to play a former incarnation of Vampire: The Requiem called Vampire: The Masquerade. I played the computer games as well, which was lots of fun.

I would give it a 3.5 stars, since 3 is a little too low and 4 is too high. It had a great atmosphere and the descriptions and detail were really cool. Some of the characters were pretty good at times, but I think that the writer seemed to fall back on using stereotypes when it comes to his female characters. There was quite a bit of politicking with the characters as well instead of having a pretty good flow of action at times. And the ending didn't do much for me either. Of course I can't say what happens, or I'd give it away, but the way the characters react to something the female vampire does is too over the top since she had a reason to get back at the character. Didn't care much for it.

Anyways, if you're interested in the atmosphere and a feel for the World of Darkness, it's a really good book. I'm glad that I picked it back up.

Friday, April 2

The Friday 56

The Fifth Sentence
"I opened my eyes and I had become the only offspring of Chicago's Prince of the Damned." - A Hunger Like Fire by Greg Stolze (A World of Darkness, Vampire: The Requim novel)

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
* Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Please welcome... author Linda Andrews!

Ghosts. Phanthoms. Spookables. Most people would confess to experiencing something beyond their explanation. Case in point, my sister. She gave up her career in engineering to sell real estate and in doing so has had a few encounters. This is her latest:

Okay- I just had a spooky incident while showing houses to Adams County Housing Authority this afternoon. We were in our last house for the day. The two Adams County women were down the hall in one of the bedrooms, talking about repairs that would be needed to the house. I was about midway down the hall heading toward them, when I heard a really loud creaking noise- like a door opening. The sound was behind me on the other side of the house from where the two women were.

After the creaking noise, I heard several footsteps. I distinctly heard voices of people talking- one was saying "Someone is here. Someone is in our house". I thought that someone had come in while I was showing the house to my clients. I wondered how they got in, when I had the keys that were in the lockbox in my coat pocket, and I normally lock the doors while my clients and I are inside of vacant houses. I went back to the area were the noise and voices were coming from. I thought I would find maybe another group of buyers coming to see the house. And I wanted to make sure they had a realtor with them, and that they were not just some people trespassing.

Also- although I heard the door "creak open", I did not hear it creak shut- so I half expected to see it standing open. When I got to that area of the house (only about 10 feet from where I was when I heard the ruckus, I looked at both the front and back door- they were both shut and locked. No one was outside near the house- front or back. I even went down to the dark basement (no electricity on in this foreclosure property) before my clients, to make sure that no one was hiding down there). No sign of anyone. Totally creepy. Neither of the two women heard anything (they were only about 15 feet from me, and the creaking noise was very loud- I can't imagine them not hearing it. If Adams County does buy the place- I will not be holding any open houses there! (Did I mention one of the city's oldest cemeteries is behind the house across the street from them. A fact I did not know until we left the house and were driving back to the County building....

I can hardly blame her for not wanting to go back alone. And yet ghost hunters deliberately seek out such encounters. Why would anyone do so?

In my short story, A Promise to Keep, the professor is a learned man, a scientist who is a slave to probability not possibilities, but his own impending death and the recent loss of his wife have propelled him into the hunt. Here's an excerpt, of course, in it the professor is the ghost not the hunter:

My quiet slip into death differed greatly from my bloody, squalling entrance into life. Not that I remembered much of either journey, just my arrival at the destination. I glanced at my hand, as substantial as it had been a while ago, yet here I stood by my abandoned body slumped over the desk.

Thunder crashed. The fluorescent bulb in the Tiffany lamp by my body's elbow flickered, then the room plunged into darkness. Lightning flashed with a strobe-like effect over the cancer-whittled husk I gladly left behind. The slim voice recorder slipped from its hand and skimmed across the polished walnut desktop until it bumped to a stop against the apple-green laptop. Still recording, the readout on the front LCD flashed the time.

A meaningless scale when eternity stretched before me.

Perhaps I should leave some message for my adopted son David, urging him not to give up our quest to find definitive proof of ghosts. Of course, an electronic voice recording of me should do the trick.

The words of encouragement remained elusive. I smiled for the first time since my wife died. Dead a mere twenty-three seconds, and I already had the answer to something that had bothered me since I began my mission seventeen months ago. The dead rarely spoke because there was nothing to say.

And yet there was so much to tell.

In both my sister's experience and A Promise to Keep I explore the mystery of haunted places, but I firmly believe that possessions and even people can be a ghost magnet. How about you?

Thursday, April 1

Just Finished Reading...

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews.

funny pictures of cats with captionsThis is the second book in the Kate Daniels series with Magic Bites being the first. They should be read in order since the books wouldn't make as much sense if you didn't.

Wow! That is the word that comes to mind when I think of this book. The other night, hubby and I were facing some yucky insomnia and kept tossing and turning, so we decided to read for a little bit to help get to sleep. I was about half-way through the book at that point. Needless to say, I finished it that night after a few hours. So if you're looking for a book to read to help you sleep, this isn't the one you should reach for! The worldbuilding and characters are amazing. I had to keep turning the page to see what would happen next. It made me laugh, cry, smile, surprised, and feel warm and cozy. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

Magic Strikes, the third book in the series, has now jumped to the top of my TBR pile. Oh yeah! =)
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