Archive for 2007

Happy 2008!

Monday, December 31st, 2007

For a lot of you, it’s already 2008. Not yet here, but I’ll be in bed before the year ends. Now that I’ve gotten the rant out of the way, I can reflect a bit. First off, I expected to be watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer with my son, but his cousin ended up inviting him over, so I’m all alone tonight. With no further ado, here’s my imitation of Samuel Pepys.

2007

Considering there was a period when I thought my writing career might be over, 2007 was good for me, writing-wise. Of course, in late 2006 I signed with my agent, Kristin Nelson, and boy. I’m in the right place. In 2007, she sold two more books for me one of which was Scandal. For anyone who thinks once you’re published all your worries are over, let the history of this book put that myth in a well-deserved coffin. Nail it shut, people.

I sent Kristin 4 proposals, one of which, yes, was Scandal, then called The Rake, and before that called The Heir. She loved one of the 4, really liked My Wicked Enemy (which she quickly sold in at auction in a two-book deal) didn’t know what to make of Shift (Me neither, but it will be cool when I turn my attention to it.) As for Scandal? That proposal almost sunk me with her. She told me if that’s all she’d seen, she’d have rejected me out of hand. Ouch. And, she also told me, Just start over. So, okay. I did, and when she blogged about editors looking for historicals, I sent her the revised stuff and she sold it, too. A book that went through two really wretched drafts and one misbegotten rewrite hash of the first chapters. My rewrite went back to what I loved about Sophie and Banallt. The final result this time was, I really do think, pretty spectacular. And let me tell you, around November or so, I thought I’d never finish on deadline. Impossible. I turned it in early. Go figure.

So, as far as I’m concerned, writing-wise, the sale and completion of Scandal ranks as one of my biggest accomplishments of 2007.

Another, naturally, is finishing My Wicked Enemy and then revising the hell out of it in something short of three weeks to turn it into something totally neat.

Starting Xia’s story is another.

Finishing my MA is English. That was huge. Yay!!

Have a wonderful 2008 everyone. Now, back to Xia, I haven’t hit my minimum yet.

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Rant Alert! (Carolyn Finds a Practical Use for Grad School)

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Save yourself while you can.

Oops. Too late.

I got off from work early and decided to finish reading my Fall 2007 Author’s Guild Bulletin in which volume is contained a lengthy essay entitled Goodbye To All That 1 penned by Steve Wasserman, former editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review. The essay was originally published in the Columbia Journalism Review September/October 2007. You can read the essay here.

Here’s my entire thesis:

It’s not all or none, people!

Here’s a sub-plot (that’s writer’s humor for This is totally off the cuff, otherwise it’s not a rant.)

Maybe there’s another reason no one reads the book review section…

I’m going to riff of Valleywag and give the 100 word version of Mr. Wasserman’s essay2:

Nobody reads important books anymore, we’re all going to hell in a hand-basket and it’s all the fault of those low-culture morons plus popular fiction. The only way to save democracy is to revive the Book Review section (but for dog’s sake, don’t do it any differently.) Keep it exactly the same so we’ll all still find it mostly irrelevant.

Pretty much, that’s what he’s saying. Maybe I inserted a bit of Carolyn RhetoricTM in there. Can you find it? Because that’s an advanced technique and I only know about it because I had to take Rhetorical Theory in grad school. If you try that at home, just be careful, okay?

Right. So, western culture can only be saved by reviewing IMPORTANT books in newspaper Book Review sections. That’s IMPORTANT in big red letters because he doesn’t mean anything else. Marxism Alert! He means ONLY stuff the cultural elite find important. Substitute "Rich White Men" for cultural elite to round out the typical Marxist view. He doesn’t get off the hook for mentioning a Spanish nun. And now let’s go to my favorite bit because it’s soooo Post-Modern and Post-Modern, folks, is grad-school-ese for ist-isms3: sexist, elitist and freaking annoying.

I often tried to imagine what I might do if I had been, say, the literary editor of The Times of London in 1900 when a then obscure Viennese doctor named Sigmund Freud published his first book, The Interpretation of Dreams4 Suppose I’d had on my desk only two books — Freud’s and, say, the next surefire best-selling novel by Mrs. Humphrey Ward, the Danielle Steele of her day.

I’m sure you can guess where he was going with this. Because we all know that if only we eliminated the Mrs. Wards of the world from the literary landscape, we would all leap to read whoever is the equivalent of Freud today. (I have no idea who that is because I’m pretty sure all the theorists I read in Grad school were dead. Except Kristeva, she made my head hurt, so it’s probably her. I think she’s still alive.) Because no one would ever in all the world read both Freud and Ward. I mean, what kind of freak would do that?

Ohmygod. Wait! I have. I’ve read Freud. And years ago I did read some Ward. Because I was one of the massive readers he talks about. 20 books at a crack from the library when I was a kid. And now, I still read a couple books a week. Unless I’m on deadline and working at the collapse of civilization. bwahahaha!

And since when has Nora Roberts or J.R.Ward ever been reviewed in any Book Review section of the sort Wasserman eulogizes? I think the answer’s never. There’s a really fine rhetorical device. Set up a hypothetical dilemma that didn’t happen in 1900 and hasn’t ever happened today, either. And now, we can all conclude that Mrs. Ward (J.R, are you listening??) is single-handedly responsible for the decline of Western Civilization.

And that’s my point. It’s not Freud vs. Mrs. Ward. (But, if it came to a throw down between the two, Freud would die because Mrs. Ward would shoot him dead before he had a chance to explain the significance of her weapon. Either that or Vishous5 would perform a laying on of hands and zzzttt goodbye Sigmund.)

I think more people probably know who Sigmund Freud is than can identify Mrs. Humphrey Ward. And it’s not because of The London Times Book Review. Sorry.

Intellectual importance isn’t determined in The Los Angeles Times Book Review (especially not now, I guess!) mean little snicker (ohh, prosody!) It’s determined in Universities by professors and students who rigorously study difficult issues and who figure out stuff like the parts of Freud that are complete and utter crap. (There’s no penis envy, trust me. Admiration and maybe longing, sure, if I’m in the mood) and which parts have something useful to add. Like possibly dream interpretation. What Mr. Wasserman is actually suggesting is an intellectual trickle down theory. Please, editor, let me inform the Proletariat!

Wasserman: You there! Put down that Ward!
Reader: Hey! I didn’t get to read what happens to Phury!
Wasserman Here. Take this edition of The Lais of Marie de France.
Reader: But I already read that.

See, the thing is the really massive readers do both.

Is there some reason you can’t have a short review of J.R. Ward’s latest and a longer review of Ransom Seaborn? That’s my question. I don’t doubt for a minute that Ransome Seaborn deserves a long, intelligent and thought provoking analysis. Ward maybe not so much. But not none, either. And if they’re both there in the same section… But that way lies heresy.

. . . . .
1. Yeah, I get that the title comes from Robert Grave’s WWI novel Goodbye To All That. Isn’t that ironic? I mean that someone like moi would get the reference?

2. Don’t count. I’m sure it’s not 100 words.

3. I just now coined that word, so don’t say you did. It was me.

4. Just to repeat viz Freud: Professor Kunat, you were right and I was wrong. I was honor bound to take that dratted Introductory Lectures and go confess that yes, Freud was brilliant. Rats.

5. Hey, Mr. Wasserman, there’s a cultural reference for you. Get it?

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More stuff and stuff

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Unfortunately, the blog title is only funny to about one person in the world besides me. Whatever. I got writing done today. Up to Chapter 5 in Xia. Interesting things going on. At the moment, I’m very happy with my progress.

Last night I finished the 2nd MaryJanice Davidson mermaid book. Swimming Without a Net. It was cute.

Tired. Off to bed.

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Saturday Afternoon Post

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

I’ve been working all day, but in spurts. This precise moment is a non-spurt. Last night I watched several episodes of Buffy with my son instead of writing, so I have to make up the difference today. I’m halfway there.

In other news, it’s been raining, or at least constantly drizzling. A couple of counties north had snow. But it’s not that cold here, much to the darling child’s dismay. The big fuzzy cat is asleep on my lap, which is nice.

Regarding my switcheroo to the Mac, I’m pleased to report further good progress. The keyboard that comes with the iMac is a thing of beauty. It’s awesomely gorgeous. But if you type for several hours at a stretch, which as you may well imagine most writers do, it’s a torture device. Ergonomic this keyboard is not. And, some of the keystroke combos for WordPerfect don’t work on the iMac keyboard: Alt-F3 for example. So I pulled out my extra Ergo keyboard — I’m pretty hard on keyboards and one time I spilled something on my keyboard and kablooie I was left high and dry until I could get another one. Ever since I’ve kept an extra keyboard around. So anyhoo, I plugged the Ergo keyboard into the iMac keyboard and voila. The Ergo keyboard works in Parallels exactly as you’d expect. I can reveal codes and everything. And, even though the iMac doesn’t quite recognize the keyboard, in fact, it works just fine on the iMac even though the box said it was Windows only. I am back to being a pretty fast typist and my hands don’t hurt.

Note to Patti: Thumbs up for Word Perfect in Parallels. I’m happy.

In reading news, I read a Romantic Suspense by a major author and was pretty disappointed. By the end, I couldn’t remember if I actually finished it and I didn’t even care. The heroine was supposed to be computer genius, but the author conflated programming ability with technical support skills and business sense, too. Not to mention, it was blatantly clear she didn’t bother to run the geekish pages past an actual geek. It was pretty sad.

Sigh. Back to work. Mommy wants to buy a MacBook Pro. Or whatever Apple announces on January 14.

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Carolyn Wrote

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

My sister took my son to the movies and then out for burger tonight. I got to stay home and write. Over 1800 words. Chapter two had some interesting revelations for me, just as did chapter 1. I find that with a full time job and family etc, that I just don’t often do much more than 1000 words a day. So that may not seem like so much, except at that rate, in 90 days I’ll have 90,000 words. Have to, actually.

Then I ran into some trouble with zipping files. I forgot how much the file zipper program that comes with XP sucks. Awful! I’m not going to deal with WinZip again, though I like it a lot so I ended up downloading 7-zip which is a nice, free little program. Then I re-discovered the fact that the Mac OS assumes a file drag is a file MOVE, where as Windows does a Copy. Oops. So I had to mess around with getting my zip archives (one for the thumb drive, containing only the chapters and a few supporting documents) and a daily zip of everything — I just add the stuff that’s new, and save it with the date name. That way I have a daily archive of my work. And, as happened recently with Scandal, I did have to troll through my archives looking for a certain file in a known state. So, now I have two daily archives and one to transfer to the laptop. Whew! Plus I found a version of 7-zip that works on the Mac, so I think I’m good there.

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Mostly Back to Work

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Yeah, gotta go back to work tomorrow. Sigh.

Worked on Xia tonight. I have an interesting chapter 1 in which I learned a lot about my heroine. For example her name is Alexandrine, and she ran away from home shortly after her brother disappeared. She lived on the streets for a while. Who knew? I didn’t. Not until I started writing. This sort of thing is why plotter strategies would never work for me. I could plot until I’m blue in the face, but it wouldn’t work. Not until I started writing, and that would be completely different anyway.

Off to bed.

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Another Eve For Me

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

I hope everyone who celebrated Christmas had a wonderful holiday full of good times, good friends and good food. Same for everyone else, too, for that matter. My day was really lovely, all three of the above were experienced.

I just now had the most interesting thought about Xia’s story. Up to now, my heroine has been the adopted sister of Harsh, a character in My Wicked Enemy (Formerly Magellan’s Witch). But, I just now thought, what if she’s not? Interesting thought.

Tomorrow I start hard core on Xia’s story. I have to write really fast. Sigh. Which makes this the Eve of Lottsa Writing for the next 4 months.

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Evening Thoughts

Monday, December 24th, 2007

The presents are wrapped. So, my evening is free.

This morning I notebooked Xia and went off on this tangent and after 40 minutes of that, I thought, yeah, this is great for some other book. And then I had this flash of insight, or maybe just relief because the warm down period was starting, at any rate, I worked out the backstory for my heroine. Sigh of Relief.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Website, Buffy and Word Perfect

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Trying to get through the holidays here at Jewel HQ. It’s not always easy. Sigh.

The good news is that I’ve started implementing my redesigned website. I have the bulk of the new pages up, but not all of them, and I’ve not tested much. The blog will be dead last. But I got a lot more done today than I thought I would.

You-all may know that I don’t watch TV. Therefore, I don’t care much about the hardware. But I have my complete set of Buffy The Vampire Slayer DVD’s which, for various reasons having to do with the Wii, the Tivo, the DVD and a viper’s nest of color-coded cables I am unable to match color for color, I’ve had to watch on the iMac. Wow. The iMac display is just effin awesome. Tonight I re-watched the 1st two episodes with my son. We made popcorn, turned the lights off in my room and lay back on my bed to watch. It was fun. I think it’s great, too, for him to see a woman kicking some vampire ass and making friends with nice people. I’m looking forward to seeing the entire series.

Lastly, I think I’m going to be OK with Word Perfect in Parallels. I figured out my keyboarding issues and I believe all will be well. I had one issue with my new ftp client for the mac, and the first set of files I uploaded went up with the wrong permissions. My webserver is on a linux machine so I had to manually change permissions. The hosting software didn’t seem to allow batch changes, and I have no idea what my ssh shell login and pw is anymore so I had to do it one at a time. Pain! Besides, I know about 5 ‘nix commands and it’s scary when you have to Google first, though I’ve done it in the past. So it’s just as well. Then I found the place in the ftp client that sets the default permissions and since I know what those should be I had no further trouble. Oh, that was too long. Sorry. Today was a geeky day.

No more shopping for me. I was weak today and spent non-xmas-wad funds on presents. It was fun regardless. Tomorrow, wrapping! Ilooove wrapping presents.

I’ll be starting in full blast on Xia on 12/26.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve everyone!

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Sliding Back to Work

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

This morning at the gym I notebooked Xia’s story. I have some ideas. And need to get cracking, too.

I’m still not sure about this Mac thing. NeoOffice, which I was thinking showed some promise isn’t going to work. Today, I used it to read and comment in a very large document for a writing buddy. Things were going pretty well until I hit save and discovered that saving takes you back to the top of your document. Argh!!! If you’re on page one, who cares? But if you’re on page 243 and suddenly you’re back on page one? Can you say completely stupid? Not to mention there were enormous latency issues. Toward the end I had to wait several seconds for the typing to show up on the screen. I bet I’m not the only writer who saves compulsively. To get booted back to page one after every save? No. I would have switched to WP, but Word Perfect can’t read the neoOffice files and I didn’t want to redo what I’d done already. I haven’t used WP for anything big yet, but I’m bothered by the appearance of it. It’s critical that I be able to type quickly and I have this awful suspicion that certain keystrokes are not available. Tomorrow I’ll find out for sure.

I don’t want to return the mac. I really, really don’t, but I may have to.

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