Archive for 2008

Remains of the Year

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Somehow it got to be the very last day of 2008. And here I am, still ticking. A good thing, indeed. And all you get in this post is the remains of my thoughts.

Writing in 2008

All the hard writing work of 2007-2008 will be showing up in 2009. I’ll have 3 books out. Three!

February: Scandal
June: My Forbidden Desire
October: Indiscreet

That’s going to cost me a fortune in promotion and RITA entry fees. Yeah, I often wonder if I can afford to write novels. Apparently I am a writing fool since I will, whatever happens, keep writing.

Technology in 2008

Twitter-like birdTwitter gets my vote for the application that actually added value to my life. More than mySpace, more than Facebook, probably even more than email. I’ll have a separate post on my website about twitter in the new year.

iPhoneThe iPhone gets my vote for the gadget that blew me away. I heart my iPhone. It’s worth every dang penny it costs. I can check and reply to my email! I can twitter! I don’t need an eBook reader or an iPod (or mp3 player). A free book I downloaded (about how to read tea leaves) sparked a major plot thread in my October historical Indiscreet

I made the move from PC to Mac when I got an iMac. Technically that happened in late 2007, but the primary usage has been in 2008. I am now saving to replace my PC laptop which is old and getting clunky. I’ll get a Mac laptop.

Thoughts about 2009

  • I will be writing proposals. ::shudder::
  • I hope to write my Dark Elf book which is the book proposal my agent loved (before she was my agent)
  • February will see the release of Scandal which is the historical proposal that my agent (before she was my agent) said would have been an automatic rejection for her. This is the same book she read (after she was my agent and I rewrote it) and called a tour de force. Seriously.
  • A year of uncertainty and hope. That’s my take on 2009.

Have a safe and happy New Year everyone!

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I want to win!

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

I want to win this mug. Cool mug with pic of twitter followers on it

You could win, too, only if you enter (which is easy) then my chances of winning are lessened. I just know my tea will taste so much better in this mug than some other mug.

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Book Review: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

I’m finally off deadline enough that I can make some progress on my To Be Read pile. Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle was a book I was anxious to read. Cover of Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle Now, I admit while I’ve been busy writing, there’s a truckload of stuff I haven’t been paying much attention to. I knew these things about The Gargoyle; People were talking about it — it had push from the publisher; It had an awesome cover and a great title. If I’d known more about the story line I might have waited to buy it. I’m glad I didn’t, though I could have, since it’s been sitting in my TBR since I bought it, like every other book I’ve bought. Oh, right, I also knew it was a debut novel that got a HUGE advance. And, though I cringe to admit it, I had this vague idea there was an actual gargoyle in the book. I was too busy to pay enough attention, all right?

So, finally, I turn in my last contracted book and I can start reading stuff that somebody else wrote. The Gargoyle was my first choice.

Pretty much from page one, this book was difficult to read. The words were gorgeous. Wonderful, evocative. There’s no question Andrew Davidson can write. Fortunately, I have an MA in English and I understand about Books That Are Difficult To Read, having been forced to read a lot of them and even actually ending up being glad. To be clear: I am not glad that I had to read Thomas Hardy’s Jude The Obscure but the last line of James Joyce’s The Dubliners is so heartbreakingly poetic that reading everything that came before that line was worth all the hard work of getting there.

So, I’m reading and wondering to myself whether I am having a Jude The Obscure sort of experience or a The Dubliners experience and in either case whether I can stomach continuing. I put down Chuck Palahniunk when I got to the part about the guy who got his intestines sucked out through his ass, so let that be a guide to my tolerance level. But really, the decision to keep going was not Does Carolyn want to get through at least one Palahniuk novel just because but whether I was reading something that would be worth the pain by the end. Because that experience is transcendent and Davidson writes well enough to make you think he might.

The ONLY reason I kept reading despite the ugliness of what happening on the pages was the beauty of the writing. I kept thinking there had to be a payoff for this kind of horrifying description. I did keep reading.

I have begun to suspect that Literary Fiction is so afraid of being gasp! commercial, that it runs as fast as it can (in the other direction) at the first sign of a plot. What a bunch of rank cowards, the lot of those literary writers. Let me point out to you folks that Toni Morrison’s Beloved has a plot, so it’s not like it can’t be done. The Gargoyle has a plot, too, which was a major relief.

Eventually, The Gargoyle moved out of the relentlessly horrifying and I stopped thinking that I totally supported the protagonist’s plans for suicide.

The gargoyle, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, is more metaphorical than literal. The plot of the book is actually kind of shopworn. Beauty and the Beast is an obvious trope crossed with lovers reincarnated through time until they get it right. To be honest, the latter sort of story has never made much sense to me. If the love is so Great, why are they doomed to repeat it like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day?

A great writer always rises above the shopworn, which is why those popular frameworks will never die. Someone is always good enough to show us how it’s done. Is The Gargoyle that book? Almost.

Damn. Just almost. Before I continue, let me say that there is a difference between pointing out the flaws of a book that basically sucks (Jude the Obscure) and pointing out the flaws in a book written by someone with an amazing talent who one expects to read more of.

The ending of The Gargoyle was touching, but there were missteps along the way that undermined the moment. The conception of the novel was, in my opinion, flawed, and not even the lovely prose could save the story from moments of bathos instead of pathos. When a story begins at such a horrifying low, then the ending had better take you to a terrifying high, and that means the author needs to understand the underpinnings, if you will, of both the lows and the high.

The book is supposed to be a love story. But it’s lopsided. There is ample reason to understand why the protagonist, from his original incarnation to the last, loves the heroine. There is less to none for understanding why the heroine, in any of her incarnations, loves the hero. She is, at heart, the typical Doormat with a Too Stupid To Live moment — a circumstance saved only by the fact that she does not, in fact, live.

There is a long and fairly painful history of Canonical Works written by men who do not understand what it means to be a woman at any time of history. The woman sacrifices …. um…. because? And this book’s flaws are directly related to that inability to really see what it means to be a woman. Steinbeck nailed the Depression for men. He totally screwed up with Rosasharn. He got a Nobel anyway. Yes, he deserved it, but I’m right about Rosasharn. Steinbeck wrote her for a man.

At this point, I’d like to point out again that The Gargoyle does not suck.

But the not so subtle subtext of the iterations of the story told is that women sacrifice themselves and their lives (in every sense) for the man they love. Because God forbid she actually gets to be happy. The men go on doing their brave man thing and mostly live on afterward. And it really bugs me. It does.

Still, I recommend this book if you’re not squeamish. The first third to half was really hard to stomach. Writers who keep on writing only get better, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Davidson does next.

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A lovely day

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Happy Holidays to everyone who celebrates one this time of year.

My family celebrates Christmas, so we did the Christmas thing today. I got up at 5:43 a.m. because I was in charge of bringing cinnamon rolls to breakfast at my brother’s. It takes about 4 hours start to finish and we were supposed to be there at 10:00. Sigh. A bit later, presents were opened and enjoyed while the dough was slowly rising.

It’s very cold here, so alas, the dough really did rise verrryy slowly to the point where being done by 10:00 am was not going to happen. My son was having far too much fun with his marshmallow blaster. Far too much. At ten my brother called and was informed that we’d be there more like 11:00 or so. Which was right. The 2nd and 3rd rising were also slow.

But we made it over there with piping hot cinnamon rolls about 20 minutes before two of my brother’s kids joined us after morning with their mother. My brother from Santa Barbara was there with his wife, so we had Gramma, Grandpa, five children, four grandchildren and two daughters-in-law there. More presents. Then the white elephant gift exchange which was really really fun. Lots of stealing.

Then home to finish cooking dinner with slightly fewer people. More marshmallow shooter mayhem. I cut up green beans and peeled potatoes. That was my contribution to the cooking effort.

I did get some writing done. Every now and then I managed to sneak off and do some tweaking of stuff in need of tweaking.

Plus, I made my brother do my RAM replacement for my iMac since I was upgrading from 2GB to 4GB. Parallels is much much happier with 1 GB assigned to it. Ah, yes.

Now I’m exhausted and fighting to keep my eyes open.

Tomorrow I will blog about some books I’ve been reading.

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Review for Scandal

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

From Romantic Times

Jewel plays readers’ emotions like a virtuoso, ensuring they will eagerly follow her characters into dramatic, intensely passionate and gripping love stories that will steal your heart and make you beg for more. She grabs you at the first word and never lets go.

Summary: The Earl of Banallt takes pride in his status as a rake, but even a rogue can fall in love, and he does — with his friend’s wife, Sophie Evans.

Unconventional, smart, witty and yet filled with quiet reserve, Sophie takes his breath away. But she won’t fall into his arms even after her husband’s death. Banallt is determined to prove to Sophie he’s a changed man. He no longer thrives on debauchery, but he has no idea of the secrets Sophie hides nor the deep passion he awakens in her and the longing she denies. If she surrenders, Sophie fears she’ll lose her independence and her very soul.

– Kathe Robin

So really, come on. Can you resist? Places to pre-order

Still not sure? Read Chapter 1.

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Indiscreet! Scandal! My Forbidden Desire!

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

I’ve updated my website with fresh content including the first two chapters of Indiscreet which are, at this point, still subject to revision.

The first chapter is very short so I decided, after some thought, to also include chapter 2 since Chapter 2 depends on Chapter 1 for a great deal of its impact. There is a major reveal in Chapter 2, but not one that directly impacts Foye and Sabine’s story.

Let me know what you think.

There’s also some fresh and new (both and separately!) content for Scandal and My Forbidden Desire. Less for Indiscreet since the cover copy isn’t even final yet and it’s not even available for pre-order yet.

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Well, how did you do?

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Both lists are pretty silly. But whatever.

75 books every man should read
26
For the love of God, don’t click the slideshow. There’s the same BORING STUPID and idot ad every 10th slide.

75 books every woman should read
31

How about just 75 books everyone should read because they’re actually fun to read? Plus, too many books missing from both lists.

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Carolyn Blogs About Reading and Some Other Stuff

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Title Title, Who’s Gotta Title?

First off, The Next Historical (or the book briefly known as Sinful) is now officially entitled Indiscreet. My editor emailed yesterday and said it turns out Berkley has a July 2009 release titled Sinful, and sales didn’t like the second choice title which was A Reputation for Sin, so did we (my agent and I) have any other ideas? My agent, I do believe came up with Indiscreet. So there it is. It has the Sales seal of approval.

Reading Controversy!!

Apparently, Suzanne Brockmann has a prologue posted for her next Troubleshooters book, Dark of Night. The heroine is Sophia and as any fan of Brockmann knows, Sophia is in love with Decker. Well, readers are all atwitter (in the traditional sense) with the possibility that Sophia’s hero will be Dave, not Decker. Some appear to be enraged. One woman opined that there should never be ambiguity about the hero, to which I must say au contraire!!

Personally, I think whoever the hero turns out to be, Brockmann will pull it off. We’ll all be thinking we want to marry Dave or Decker or whoever it is and be glad that Sophia gets her hero.

I also think that the last Troubleshooter book laid some excellent groundwork for Dave or Decker. I think it could go either way, and I don’t care which way (ok, I have a slight preference for Decker, who wouldn’t?) but I know I’ll be entertained and enthralled the entire time either way.

As to the no ambiguity about the hero? By the end of a Romance, there should indeed be no ambiguity over who the hero is. But in the beginning, I disagree with that statement wholeheartedly. In fact, I think a big part of the trouble with a lot of Romances is the very lack of ambiguity.

The only Rule for Romance is the HEA. (Just like the only Rule For Msytery is that there’s a mystery to be solved) That’s it. All the other stuff that gets you there can be anything at all. Anything. And that can mean a hero who isn’t the best candidate for the job at the start.

Off to make sure I’ve pre-ordered my copy…

Carolyn’s Reading List – Partial and in no particular order

  • The Outlander by Gil Adams
  • The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox by Barry Hughart
  • Brain Rules by John Medina
  • Clowngirl by Monica Drake
  • The Crown Road by Ian Banks
  • The Black Arts – a concise history of witchcraft, demonology, astrology, alchemy and other mystical practices throughout the ages by Richard Cavendish
  • The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewksi
  • Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  • In Cod We Trust, Living the Norwegian Dream by Eric Dregni
  • The truckload of books I brought back from RWA
  • miscellanous other books lurking in the TBR

How about you? Leave a comment so I’m not so lonely here!

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I’m relaxing as hard as I can!

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

So, yeah, Sinful is done and all turned in. I should be relaxing. Only it’s only a few days until Christmas and on account of the Dec-15 deadline, I’d done 0 shopping. And my mother’s birthday is Dec-15. Sigh.

But then I had to pull together stuff for a mini-book trailer for Scandal and send out the few ARCs that I got. I have one left besides the now ratty copy I read to make sure there weren’t any major goof ups. My agent told a story about a client who looked at her ARC (or maybe it was her author’s copies) and discovered it was the unedited, unproofed version. omg. Scandal seems to have come out very well. So, that’s good.

Anyway,on Monday before I went to get my facial and massage (Oh, 2.5 hours of bliss!) I went shopping to for my Mom, my best friend in Denver and this guy whose name I drew in ZeFrank’s Duckie gift thing. If you aren’t familiar with ZeFrank, get over to his site and get familiar. Watch episodes of The Show and you will be in love, too. Promise.

The Marshmallow Shooter Decision

Anyway, I also chatted with another store owner about his lack of Marshmallow Shooters. He didn’t order them this year. But he did recommend that the pump action model is the one to get. I thought Amazon would be the less expensive place to get them, but it wasn’t, not by a long shot. I ended up back at Hammacher-Schlemmer where the pump action model was $20+ cheaper. I got two, because what fun is one marshmallow shooter? My son’s other gifts color-coded, tagged and ranked out of the H-S catalog: spring loaded shoes, lighter than air slippers (or something), the above mentioned shooters and a blanket warmer thing he’s not getting because … read on:

He has requested a snuggli from my sister ($19.95 two for one plus a free booklite!! Order now, Operators standing by!!!) If you watch TV, you’ve seen the ad, I’m sure. Hilarious hints have been dropped. Apparently, the Snuggli has now replaced his request for a giant cheese wheel.

The Tao of The Gift Exchange

My next dilemma is a new family tradition which, I admit I started 2 years ago because it’s fun. I’m sure it’s familiar to you: Everyone buys a gift the price of which is not to exceed some very modest amount. Then we all get together, pile up the gifts and take turns picking. Each gift can be stolen a max of 2 times after that, the person who has it gets to keep it. If the gift you elected to open is stolen, you can steal another gift or open a new one. Etc. For us, participants range in age from 6 to 81. The kids have proven themselves ruthless and eclectic about what they steal.

The trick with this is that you have to buy a gift people will want to steal. Too silly, and no one wants it. That’s no fun. Too specific, and only a few people will want it. Because of our age range, alcohol and racy things are out.

It’s a responsibility I take very seriously. I bought some pirate playing cards that come with a free! pirate doubloon, but I’m thinking that may not be quite right. I think I’m going to head for the bookstore and look for something there. Just in case. My local independent has a lot of gadget type stuff.

Then there’s other stuff

Plus, I have proposals outstanding. I was supposed to send off some brief paranormal proposals to my agent, but frankly, it’s too hard to write brief, and I just didn’t have the time while I was working on Sinful. So now I’m working on that while helping my son study for his French exam. Soccer, and dinner and also my son has mostly grown out of his pants. Rats! Also, I just remembered I told my folks I’d shop for their gift exchange things for them. Good thing I remembered!

The Future?

Depends on the proposals I have to finish. Fortunately, no chapters at this point. I imagine I’ll have to pull together a new historical proposal, too. I have only the very vaguest ideas right now. But I hope to write The Dark Elf Project next. Starting in January. Which may or may not be an issue, depending on if anyone ever wants to publish me again.

Off to relax. Right after I fold the laundry.

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Read this. Golly.

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Richard Curtis article on publishing

Wow.

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