Thursday, April 29, 2010

But which hour?

I forgot about my decision, a week or two ago, to write one hour a day except on Tuesdays. Today I remembered and realized I'd pretty much been keeping to that schedule anyway. Until today. Today is Thursday. I'm off work and have no get-up-and-go. I don't even want to be sitting up. I just want to loll around on the bed and stare at the TV, even though nothing's on that's worth watching.

So I need to whip up my enthusiasm and write. I'm still working steadily on Adventures in Zoology, and Terry has just discovered that someone she thought was on her side may be a traitor! End Act I, cue Act II, which will contain lots of swordfights and derring-do. If I can stop yawning and get some words down on paper. Or screen, whatever.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Character Blogging

The Intern posted today about stuff authors do to promote books that they haven't sold yet, like book trailers and so forth. She also mentioned blogs written from the POV of main characters.

As it happens, I've also recently heard mentions from other writers about character blogs. I thought about it today and tried to imagine how to handle one. Yes, no problem about writing blog posts from a character's POV, but what about content? Blogs give glimpses into the poster's life, so it would be great for worldbuilding, but what about story? If you try and keep the blog to events happening during the book, you risk spoilers (not to mention that you'd run out of blog fodder pretty quick).

A character blog might be a good thing for a writer to keep in between books, to sort of keep readers apprised of what the character's doing. But I can see problems with that too. Your book has to be set in a world that has blogs or you risk treating the character like an actor (which might be interesting, actually) reporting on his/her life in between gigs. And if your next book takes, say, a year to come out after the previous one and the main character's blogged all through that year, but your next book only takes place a few months (or weeks, or days) after the events in the previous book, that's not going to work very well. And how do you keep the interest factor high in the blog in between books? Basically you have to give the interstitial blog a story arc of its own that will resolve (or mostly resolve) just before the new book comes out, and you can't include anything that would mess up your book plots, and any pending story arcs from the previous book (like a romance or a mystery) have to hang fire for an unreasonably long time without being blogged about when that's precisely the kind of thing people blog about.

So anyway, it would be a lot of work. It might be rewarding, but it might not be. Your content would have to be stellar to keep reader interest--basically, you'd have to be writing another book in between books. You'd have to plan it carefully ahead of time or it just wouldn't work.

What do you think? Ever been tempted?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Other People's Swashbuckling Books

I just ordered Pierre Pevel's The Cardinal's Blades from Powell's Books. I've been wanting that book since I started seeing reviews of it late last year, but it's not been released in the U.S. I dug around and couldn't find any kind of release date, so I thought hell with it and went ahead and ordered the UK edition. It's breathtakingly expensive what with overseas shipping and all that, but I don't care. I want to read swashbuckling books right now. I did manage to restrain myself when it came to Triumff by Dan Abnett, at least, but only because it's being released in the U.S. next month.

Does anyone have any suggestions for swashbuckling books, fantasy or otherwise? I love Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda and pretty much anything Robert Louis Stevenson ever wrote, that sort of thing. I also ordered The Mall of Cthulhu by Seamus Cooper today (because it amused me, not because it's necessarily swashbuckling, although it may be), and next time I hit the actual physical bookstore I plan to pick up The Buccaneer's Apprentice by V. Briceland. What else should I look for?

(I just noticed that Powell's thinks my name is Rain Daisy Farm. At the top of the page it says, "Hello, Rain." That would be a lot stranger if my Paypal account wasn't listed under Rain Daisy Farm.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Can I get a CENSUS?

I live in one of the few cities in the United States (and possibly the world) that doesn't have home mail delivery. Everyone in town has to have a mailbox in the post office downtown, and every day everyone in town visits the post office to get their mail. It's strangely old-fashioned, and it means that the downtown area (which=post office, filling station with those old tickety-tickety-sounding manual pumps, and tiny grocery store) is actually a pretty busy place. There's a bulletin board that people actually check, and when something important happens, like someone dies, it usually gets posted on the post office door.

Unfortunately, the Census Bureau can never figure out that they have to include the P.O. Box numbers on addresses or no one gets their census forms. In 2000, they sent a pile of census forms labeled only with street addresses; they had ten years to correct their records, but dammit if they didn't do the exact same thing again this time. So we didn't get any censuses and the government is going to have to send someone around to knock on every door in town and take the census the old-fashioned way. I guess that's appropriate with the town.

This didn't have anything to do with writing, but I just wanted to vent a little. I like filling out the census form and now I have to wait another decade to fill one in.

Also, I'm grouchy because I finished the wonderful book I was reading but I can't tell anyone about it yet because it's not officially released until next week. Maybe I'll just reread it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Woot! We got Sin!

Natalie L. Sin has agreed to do reviews for Skunk Cat Book Reviews! That'll wake everyone up who drops by the site to read my reviews of YA horse stories. :)

I'd yammer on about writing and stuff (I actually got a decent amount written today), but I'm reading a book I really really love and I have to finish it now. Review on Tuesday when it's officially released (yeah, I snagged a copy early muahahaha).

Monday, April 19, 2010


My fantasy novel Weaver's Shroud came out last week from Double Dragon Press. It's an ebook, so if you have one of those new-fangled iPads or nooks or Kindles, you can download my book and read it! On your ereader! Tres moderne. Also, it's on sale because it's a new release. Tres cheape.

The agent rejections for Bell-Men are trickling in verrry slowly. Out of 20 queries sent three weeks ago, I've heard back from seven agents, all of them form rejections. I've got a bad feeling about this. Even The Taste of Magic, which no one likes, got three partial requests. I'm not sure if it's my query, my writing, my plot, or just the state of things. From what I keep hearing, agents are absolutely overwhelmed with queries lately. So far it seems obvious that I don't have what it takes to stand out from the hundreds of queries that arrive every day.

And I hesitate to ask, but would anyone be interested in joining the Skunk Cat Book Reviews team as a fourth reviewer? I don't particularly care what you like to read or how often you would review, but you'd need to be able to explain in your review why you liked or didn't like a particular book (and we only review books), and I'd like reviews that haven't appeared anywhere else. Since adding you as a reviewer would mean giving you admin privileges, I'd rather deal with someone who I already know online. If you're interested, drop me an email at kateshaw123 [at] gmail dotcom. The reason we need another person is because I like having at least one new review up every week, and all three of us are busy lately and I hate to nag the others about adding new reviews. Having a fourth reviewer might help. :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Slow no matter what

Writing is a slow process, beginning to end. It's been several days since I blogged about needing to know about reptile diseases for the story I'm working on, and while I've finally decided to change the disease to an injury (it makes better sense with the plot), I'm only just now actually writing about it. It's amazing that a book that will take me months and months to write will only take a few hours to read when it's completed.

Of course, I didn't write at all today. Instead, I repotted a billion pepper seedlings and planted a few of the biggest plants outside. I also accidentally bought eight tomato plants and planted them. I didn't intend to grow any tomatoes this year, but the nursery that I stopped by today in hopes of finding tabasco pepper plants didn't have them but did have some really cool heirloom tomato varieties. I got 'black prince' tomatoes that are purply-black when they're ripe and the Cherokee purple variety that turns sort of a purply-magenta color. I also bought some black pansies, because I didn't even know pansies came in black!

I'm considering setting an hour aside every evening to use solely for writing. I'm not sure if it would work on Tuesdays when I don't get home from work until nearly 8:30 pm, but every other day I should be able to manage an hour. Hmm. Maybe I should hold myself to a schedule of "write one hour every day" without designating a particular hour. If I write over my lunch break, I can have the evening free; if not, I have to write an hour in the evening. And I get Tuesdays off. That should speed the writing up.

Monday, April 12, 2010

My brain has failed me

I'm going to have to do some research for Adventures in Zoology. I guess when you make your main character a wilderness survival expert with a Ph.D. in zoology (particularly dragons), eventually you're going to have to show her using some of her skills. I need to know what she could use as a cooking pot over an open fire if she does not actually have a cooking pot, tin can, canteen, or any other receptacle, nor are there leaves large enough to do the leaf bowl trick I learned about by reading My Side of the Mountain ten million times when I was a kid. I also need to research diseases of reptiles so when she's called upon to cure an infectious disease among the local dragons, she doesn't just stand there and scratch her butt.

I don't actually do a lot of research for my writing--and I'm not proud of that, but I write fantasy so I can usually just draw on my store of knowledge to come up with something I can modify to fit a magical world. Unfortunately, except for My Side of the Mountain, I haven't read much on wilderness survival (or if I have, not much of it stuck in my head) and I have no knowledge at all of reptile diseases to draw on. I guess it's time to hit the books--or Wikipedia, at least.

Meanwhile, spring is continuing apace. I have radishes up in the garden and I've transplanted some of the biggest pepper plants outside (against my better judgment, actually; it's warm now, but we could still get a late freeze). All the trees are outrageously green, flowers are blooming everywhere, my black car looks yellow-green with pollen, and I seem to have picked up my first bout of poison ivy of the year. Maybe I should take my laptop outside on Thursday, so I can research in the sunshine.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

No love for the vampires

Would editors please stop hating on the vampires? There's plenty of life (so to speak) in a good vampire story. If people didn't want to read about vampires, there wouldn't be 10 million UF/paranormal romance books out there with sexy emo vampires in them. So why do I keep seeing the equivalent of "no vampires allowed" in magazine guidelines lately?

Obviously, it's hard to write a good vampire story, but then it's hard to write a good anything story. I don't see editors tagging their guidelines with "No aliens!" or "No precocious children!" It's just the vampires that get the special treatment. No wonder they're so emo.

Why yes, I do have a vampire story I can't place. Why do you ask?

(Note: I used the word 'vampire' nine times in this post. Ten if you count the title.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Plot bunnies! They're everywhere!

Oh, bother, it's Friday and I haven't blogged since Wednesday. I was going to try to get into the swing of things again, but obviously that's not happening the way I wanted. Partly that's due to my weird work schedule, which of late has gotten even weirder.

Anyway, so, um, okay. Here I am! I got some writing done today. I need to type up what I wrote longhand, but I suspect I cleared a thousand words. I've turned the corner on Adventures in Zoology and it's taking on a depth that I really didn't expect. I had a sort-of plot worked out, but I decided last week that I needed to just let it go where it wanted--it's a swashbuckling adventure, after all--and sure enough, as soon as I decided that, Our Heroine Terry Green had to disguise herself as a rival bandit to get away from the main bandits safely, and she learned a lot about the local elf culture and her friend Cledesculen at the same time. Lots of plot bunnies are hopping about, to the point that I can barely write fast enough at times.

I still haven't heard back from any agents. They can't all have gone to the no-response-means-no policy, can they? I got a rejection on a short story today, though, and I'm not sure where to send it next. Duotrope to the rescue, I guess.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Waiting Game

It's been ten days since I sent off a whole bunch of Bell-Men queries to agents. In all, I had 20 queries out at once. I received four form rejects in the first three days, and then...nothing. Even allowing for the Easter weekend, that's just weird. I figured responses would be trickling in steadily for several weeks, not a whole week of nothing.

At least the four rejections were for queries that did not have sample pages as part of the query package. I can handle my query being weak, as long as my actual sample pages start generating some interest.

*Hits Refresh Inbox 10,000 times*

Monday, April 5, 2010


I got radishes planted yesterday, which you wouldn't think would be so darn hard. My hands are one big blister! Okay, two big blisters, one per hand. Well, okay, three blisters and they're small, but, you know. Blisters! Ouch!

I actually got a little bit of writing done over the long weekend. I brought my laptop to work today so I could actually type over lunch instead of write longhand; typing is faster, and I've settled on a project. It's Adventures in Zoology, not much to my surprise. It's a romp, perfect for spring. I hope I'll be able to finish it by May or mid-June or thereabouts. It would be nice to finish something earlier than fall this year.

Oh, and the pepper project continues apace. I've scaled back on my enthusiasm just a bit, mostly because I need the booklet done and in hand (via Lulu) by the beginning of May. I'm almost done with it. The title is 25 Chile Peppers You Should Read About in This Book Before You Die. Catchy, huh?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How does my garden grow, part 1

I thought it would be fun to post pictures of my pepper garden on the first of every month this spring and summer. One of the things I did today was buy some pepper sets. They're very small still, too small to go outside even if it was time (I'm not putting the peppers in the garden until May 1 at the very earliest), but I did transplant them into bigger peat pots. Then I used the starter pots they were in for some more pepper seeds. Since it was warmer outside than in today, I brought my other pepper seedlings out for the afternoon. Here are pictures of them.

<--Pepper seedlings on the back porch. I know, the picture is crooked. Sorry, just tilt your head.

I also did some work in the garden and mowed the back yard today. Now I'm showered and in my nightgown for the evening (yes, it's only 5pm, but I'm TIRED), and the laundry room and kitchen is full of pepper plants.