Friday, December 31, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!

I know, super original title there. But I do mean it. Happy New Year everyone! I'll try and put a real post tomorrow. My big plan for New Year's Day is to write all day long! You know, I've always been told that whatever you do on New Year's Day, you'll do the whole year long, so I can't think of anything better to do than write! Besides, I've got to get the lead out of these battling WIPs and get someone finished so I can start editing them!

What about you all? Anyone have any amazing plans for New Year's Day?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Silliness...

Enjoyed a great Christmas holiday with the fam. Yup, all of them. And of course, some silliness ensued... Silliness like my cousin remarking that my hair smelled good... which immediately degraded into creepy innuendoes...

















And then the hair smelling became an open question about what the good smelling hair might look like straight...

This was the end result, though the curl is already creeping back in...


















And then there were the coaunts and councle as we've dubbed them, with the wee one in the middle...


And finally, Christmas wouldn't be complete without a little elf named Walelu...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas All!!!

If Snowpocalypse arrives this weekend, I'll undoubtedly be posting with all that free time I have. You know, between sledding behind the horse, and digging my mom, Snowbear, out of the drifts where she'll likely be happily trying to make a new house. But in case I don't manage to get online this weekend:


MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!! And HAPPY NONDENOMINATIONAL HOLIDAYS to anyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas as Christmas, but as some other variation of family awesomeness!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Social Fail... Horse With Two Names... And Lunar Madness...

I went shopping last weekend... I hate large crowds... I don't do retail... I can't stand the commercialization of any otherwise special holiday... but I got my shopping done (nothing big, just little somethings for close family, useful things) and I didn't smear any sorry excuses for humanity. Actually, I can't say that I even saw any sorry excuses for humanity. Although there were hoards of folks out shopping, every single person I was near acted like a reasonable, kind human being. I'll take that as an early Christmas present. Gotta say that I still hate the crowds though. I think that if I didn't work outside the home (ahem, as in I was able to write full time) I would actually enjoy going out and people watching. But since I monger all my free time, I loathe having to share it with the public. Social fail. Of course, Sirens and the like don't fall into this category...

And speaking of Sirens, I've been doing a lot of looking at myself and my writing recently. I guest hosted on Christi Corbett's blog last week about keeping your writing dream alive and what the query process has been like for me thus far, and then I got a couple of rejections in a row. Normally those roll right off, but I was hoping to at least get a request for the ms, even if that ended in a rejection. Getting flat form rejections based on a query only, or query and the first five pages somehow feels like taking a few steps backwards. I even caught myself singing 'All I want for Christmas is an agent to rep me...' more than once. Meanwhile, I was putting up hay in preparation for some winter weather. This is something I do every winter. The same way. Every time. It goes like this: Drive into the field. Line up truck to back into the paddock (the paddock is too small to drive in forward and turn around) Get out, open paddock gate. Chase three horses and a donkey out of the way. Back into paddock. Open hay get. Back up farther. Unload hay. Drive off. Got it? Easy, right? Except that EVERY SINGLE TIME Horse With Two Names leads everybody into the paddock and into my way and I have to chase them away. EVERY TIME. You might remember Horse With Two Names. I wrote a short story about her that was published locally which you can read here. So anyway, this year, Horse With Two Names got a blanket. She's never had a blanket before. She's always wanted one. So finally I gave her one. Now she can still be a wild little horse, but a warm wild little horse. I put the blanket on her. She pranced around, so very proud and pleased. Then she led everyone into the paddock, right into the way of my pickup truck. So I shooed them all out. Horse With Two Names tore a$$ out of the paddock in her oh-so-lovely-new-blankie and around the front of the pick-up where she crashed and burned like a miniature recreation of United Flight 232. Sierra, who was right behind her, landed on top of her, and Dixie plowed into him. J.D. the donkey avoided involvement. Everyone was fine. But Horse With Two Names managed to scrape and scratch and dirty up that blankie she'd been so excited to get. Which got me to thinking. I don't want to crash my agent (when I get one) the way Horse With Two Names thrashed her new blanket. Sometimes we want something so bad that when we finally get it, we do something stupid or thoughtless and immediately damage whatever we were so happy to finally get. So, now that I've got another query out... I'm going to practice meditation and being calm, maintaining focus on the craft. Otherwise, I might get an offer to rep, only to have nothing but blanket burn to show for it...

And while I'm on the subject of crazy madness, did anyone else stay up and watch the eclipse? (No, not the Twilight Eclipse, the REAL one) I set my alarm and got up. It was hazy but I saw most of it. Nice, since the next one like it won't happen until like 2095...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm Guest Hosting!!!

Okay, today is the day of my guest post over at Christi's place! *squees with excitement over the idea of meeting new people and having a good time* If you get a chance today, swing by, check out my post, give me a shout out. I guarantee that you'll leave feeling good and ready to write!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Guest Hosting!

Okay, I'll keep this short and simple and I'm going to post again tomorrow... just to annoy you :) but I wanted to let everyone know that I'm going to be guest hosting over at Christi Corbett's blog tomorrow! The main theme of her blog is never giving up on your dreams. It's a great place to meet new people and exchange ideas and information. I encourage you to check her out, not just for my post either, and leave a comment! My rambling post will be up some time in the morning (not sure exactly when as we're on different coasts) and I'll be stopping in to answer any questions (cause I know SO much about everything ;) throughout the day.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Yeah... What Was I Going to Say?

Hmmm, I seem to be writing a blog post... which is going to encompass about a bazillion subjects... and I'm so scattered at the moment that I can't even get them into something that resembles order... but here goes...

It's so cold here that you can't blow your nose outside because the tissue will frees to it. Seriously. And I love winter but this isn't fun.

I'm feeling out of sorts because I can't settle on one WIP to focus on. I'm like a deranged hen. Normally I have eggs stashed all over, but I only go to sitting on one nest. Not so this time, I'm bouncing back and forth and it's hard on the hind-parts. I think this unsettled jag is being exacerbated by a query slump. Not that I've gotten oodles of rejections (just a few) but that I don't have many queries out. I hope to rectify this, but with the holidays, I expect that even rejections will be slow, which is understandable.

Speaking of chickens, my Demon Chicken Franklin is looking, well, sort of old. I mean, Frankie IS old. But that doesn't mean I like to think about him being old. *sigh* The frigid temps aren't helping. I've added extra heating lamps, and the old boy seems comfortable. His age is just showing more. I love my Demon Chickens.

Christmas shopping has been the biggest nightmare that never was. Meaning that I'm still trying to get it done. Thankfully, most of the people I'm so concerned with getting presents for, don't care if I give them anything at all :)

I want to enter some contests, just to be doing something 'else' besides obsessing over my novels and querying agents. Trouble is, I'm having trouble finding any contests. And before you suggest it, I know that Writer Market has a great listing... I've put it on my Christmas list... since I don't have the $$ to go buy for myself... Any suggestions?

And finally, I'll post again (in a much more articulated manner) about this tomorrow, but I wanted to give everyone a heads-up now, that I'm going to be guest hosting over at Christi Corbett's blog on Weds and I want to invite everyone to head over an check it out! Christi is a great lady who runs an awesome blog. I'm uber thrilled and excited to guest host! More on that tomorrow... if I can still find the computer...

Now I'm off for some coffee, and to work on Redchief... I mean Anima Rising... or was it Thornbriar? Crap... at least the ideas are coming... can't complain about that...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lost in Faerie... I'll Get Back To You...

Okay, I'm not really lost... not really... But I'm EVER SO SLOWLY working my way through a much cherished ARC of Faerie Winter by Janni Lee Simner and freaking ferrets riding calliopes I'm in love with it. Utterly. Irrevocably. *sighs and resists the urge to pick up aforementioned awesomeness*

I've also been totally lost in my own dystopian world, working on a companion novel to Evernow. I am so into this can of worms that there's no getting me out without a fish hook... This kind of writing is like a drug for me, which is a little disturbing, but since it costs me nothing, and might pay my bills one day I guess it's a good kind of disturbing. Whatever, I'll got with it :)

Oh, and while I'm on the subject does anyone who might read this have an opinion/experience with querying a companion book? I mean, this is a just companion book, and unless something changes, it'll be able to stand alone. It takes place many years after Evernow, and thusly references to the Endings and the time before them are much more vague. Is it okay to query this book (tentatively titled Anima Rising, AR for short, you may now begin with the pirate jokes :) assuming that I don't have an agent by the time it's ready to query? Should I just reorganize my brain to see the two books as having no actual 'order' between them, and just see them as two books taking place in the same world? Or should I still view Evernow as the 'anchor' book to the set? There's probably a third book floating in my head, another companion/stand alone. Any impute will be appreciated.

In other news, Christmas is in full swing in our neck of the woods, so we've been doing stuff like getting a Christmas tree, and decorating and helping my grandmother (code name Gang) put up her tree. Dinner is calling... but here are a couple of pictures of Gang's tree...

It's nine feet tall and absolutely inundated with ornaments, many of which are older than me. The glass beads and tinsel are also ancient by decorations standards.

This is an ornament that Gang made back in 1972 in a craft class she was taking. Yes, only in my family can you have May West rendered as a claymation mermaid... It's been a cherished game, though, for all of us kids to rush to the tree every year on Christmas and be the first to find her...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Help Debut Author Talli Roland!

I signed up to help Talli 'take on Amazon' with the release of her debut novel The Hating Game, by trying to get as many people as possible to buy it. The book is available electronically right now. The links are below. Talli is updating the book's climb on her Facebook and Twitter accounts. We're also having a friendly little competition with her UK friends between American Kindle and Kindle UK. How awesome would it be if we could get Talli to the TOP of Amazon's list? Please, feel free to pass the information along in your own blog posts or Facebook pages. It's a great book. Let's make this a great debut release!

Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers. Here are the links for both UK and America:

Amazon.co.uk:
Amazon.com;

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.
Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at www.talliroland.com.
About THE HATING GAME:
When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving!

I'm going to try and get a better post than this up, but all bets are off as to whether or not I'll manage it. In case I don't get back, here's a hastily constructed list of what I'm thankful for:

Family... even when they do things like leave silly putty-encrusted pajamas in your fridge... *kudos to the lovely lady who actually had to deal with that ;)*

Identical twin sisters... even if they don't get you all the time... because even when they don't get you, they've still got you... you get me? :)

Friends... the ones that give you surprise parties... even when they've been so busy with their own lives that they had to throw things together at the last minute...

Cats that keep my lap warm... even if it means that they're also sitting on my ms... or hitting random keys on the computer, erasing vital information...

Ponies that don't buck me off... even though they do insist on acting like a ta tas...

A steady job... even though it feels like it takes time away from my writing and makes me older...

A steady job... because it keeps me physically fit and young... and gives me inspiration for the writing I'm convinced it inhibits most of the time...

Rejections... even when they piss me off... and use the word 'but'... and temporarily crush me...

BLANK PAPER... because it gives me something to do with all of that *stuff* I get from those rejections... and it gives me a place to go, whenever I need to leave... a future to look forward to when the present is questionable... and a past to look back on once I've left where I am...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Still Kicking...

So this will be a totally random, possibly maniacal post as I'm still drinking coffee (which has yet to enter my bloodstream) but I just wanted to get something down so I got a post up before the turn of the next century. Starting off...

OMG The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney!!! Squeeee on so many levels you'd need an elevator to get to them all. But seriously, without spoilers, this is a book about friends, justice, right, wrong, being strong (sorry about the rhyme... lack of coffee) changing what you want changed in the world, paying life forward, loving yourself even with your mistakes. I could just drone on but I don't want to turn you off, I want to to run out and get The Mockingbirds. I want you to read it, give it to all the teenage girls you know, all the women you know, EVERYONE you know. I really can't say enough good things about the book. It's a great story, written in a great voice, with about a bazillion good messages within it.

Onward now, to queries... I sent one out... just one, but to an agent I really think a lot of... I wanted to keep it as low stress as possible, so I went with just one for the time being. I'm working on a few others but I'm going to play it by ear, since life beyond writing has been a roller coaster recently.

WIPs! I signed up for NaNo... and although I am so far behind that it's ridiculous, I loved the experience. It's been nice just to have an ongoing record of my progress. My record hasn't been spot-on because I write longhand and I have to guesstimate word count, but I'm not doing it to compete, so it's fine.

Aaaand right in the middle of NaNo, I was completely blindsided by a companion novel to Evernow. Yeah, that's right, a girl showed up. Names were thrown. Threats were made. A story is now in progress. *sigh* And yet, I love this. Every. Single. Moment. Of. It. I love the occasionally dominatrix relationship of having stories show up and Lady Heather my butt into a new project. Call me weird, but I'm happy :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Upswing...

I found this comic on a blog. I'm not sure where. I'm probably breaking a law somewhere. But the comic has its creator's info on the bottom and I credit her for its creation. This comic makes me smile Every. Single. Time. I. Read. It. It is now the backsplash on my computer, and it will stay there until I get an agent... I swear*















*Vow is null and void if securing an agent takes longer than a decade... :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Which there is Currently a Mugshot of Me in a Conspicuous Book of Invaluable Knowledge...

All that title is just to say that at the moment I'm the dictionary's poster child for procrastination. Seriously. I don't even LIKE computers. Really. But there are a few things that I compose directly on the computer (which leads to farting around instead of working) rather than scripting them longhand like I do my WIPs. One of these this is query letters.

In specific, I'm reworking a query for my dystopian YA EVERNOW. This is a ms that has gotten numerous bites, an ms that could be 'the one'. Thing is, how do you keep tweaking a letter (beyond detailing it to the specific agent you're sending it to) and yet say the same thing you've been saying? My Evernow query has gotten attention for the book, I don't want to go all awol and contrive some nutty letter, but I feel that I can't send the same one without ever reevaluating it. I mean, I've been querying Evernow for a year now. Part of the problem might be that I was raised in the south (well, we say south, but deep southerners would argue) so I know how to just slather the verbal buttercream on. But I'm more of a "Shit, I spilled the damn beans." kinda girl than a "Gosh darn it! The beans slurped!" kinda girl. And my query letter needs to be somewhere in-between. *sigh* Hence my dithering on the computer.... procrastinating... awfully... while occasionally glancing over at the query... which astonishingly enough, hasn't changed in the slightest since the last time I looked at it...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Night Wind

I was poking around on the computer and stumbled across this short story that I originally wrote for a contest, although I ended up submitting a totally different one. I thought I'd put this one up (I highly doubt it'll ever see publication elsewhere) and then later this week I'll put up the one I actually submitted. This one is a bit longer than the one that got used, as I forsook this one after writing it and never went back to crop word count. Anyway, without further ado, I give you THE NIGHT WIND:



I came awake quickly, with a start, the way new mothers often do. It was the sort of jerk where part of you knows good and well that something is going on before the rest of you is really awake. The room was pitch dark but one side of the window shade was crooked, allowing a silver shard of moonlight to streak inside and bounce all over the place garishly.
Heaving a sigh I wallowed in the blankets, looking inward, trying to figure if a dream had stirred me, or something real. My head was empty of any imagery or sensation, but I couldn’t settle again. The air was frigid, I always kept the heat on the lowest setting. Normally, I enjoyed nestling in the warmth of the bed and then popping out into the cold room in the morning. It was bothersome though, during midnight bathroom runs. Or times like now, when I was faced with the annoying feeling that something wasn’t right and I had to abandon my warm blankets to find out what.
Daring partial exposure, I stretched out one arm and fetched the glass from the nightstand. Wrong glass. I gagged on warm, watered-down scotch, and then spilled the last of it in the bed with me. Cursing, I gave up that glass to the folds of the bedcovers and retrieved the water that I’d been after from the start. It was crisp and did much to make up for the spilled mess. More awake, I peered around the room through the tangle of moonlight and shadow, still at odds.
A draftsmen's table stood against the wall across from the foot of the bed, piled high with paper and cans of brushes and bottles of rubber cement. There was a smaller table to one side of it, even more laden with all manner of art supplies. On the other side was a bookcase, beside that, layers and layers of paintings canvases, boards and prints were propped against the wall. It was the same under the window. The area opposite the window was a closet which currently vomited clothing and shoes into the floor before it. All the other walls had bookcases, all of them stuffed with books, with more books piled on top of them. That was why I always had ground floor apartments. I’d fall through the ceiling otherwise.
I looked back to the closet. It was large, yawning black even in the dark of the room, and its constant spew of clothing seemed to reach farther than usual. The longer I looked, the less like a closet and clothing it seemed, until the realization settled cold in my stomach that something was there. Not in the closet, but in front of it. Something big. Huge. Two spots glittered amber-gold and then blinked.
I had blindly assumed that they were buttons on something, reflecting moonlight from the window. I was wrong. The eyes blinked again and I began to discern a shape behind them. It seemed too large to be there, and yet it was. Wide set eyes, long face, immense mass. The eyes were predatory but the body was familiar in shape, sleek, but huge. Suddenly, the golden eyes shifted, turning, and a lance of black shadow as long as I was tall appeared in profile, jutting away from the long horse-like head.
“Well?” The voice rippled through me, made my skin draw tight under its deep melody.
I lay where I was in the bed, holding my breath and staring. There was a sheath knife under my pillow, another one right by my left hand. I always had a knife close by. But I didn’t need a knife, and I wasn’t keeping still because I was afraid of being attacked. I was keeping still because I was afraid that if I moved, he would melt away and disappear, afraid that I’d wake up and he wouldn’t be real. Across from me, the creature turned back, his horn again blending into a dark point on his forehead.
“Say something.” He sounded like stones shifting in deep water. It made my insides vibrate. He also sounded impatient, anxious.
“I’m, I can’t,” I managed to strangle out after another moment.
“Stop fighting the obvious and the shock will fade more quickly.” He advised drily. “I am standing here.”
“I know you are.” I retorted weakly, but my eyes kept trying to turn him into clothing or shadows, despite how the rest of me sensed his presence.
“Believing is seeing, so they say.” He said. “So you already know that I’m real.”
“I know.” I repeated, still weak. I slowly, creakily, sat up, still wrapped in blankets. “I can’t breath.”
“I’m sorry.” He stepped forward, lowering his great head in an apologetic expression. “There isn’t an easy way for us to meet someone.” He came to the side of the bed, which hardly reached above his knees.
His massive neck stretched over me, ropes of silky hair tickling my face and whispering across the blankets. His legs were as thick as my waist where they joined his body. His chest was as broad as the doorway. He lowered his long head even further, one huge golden eye gazing at me from beneath a tangle of forelock. The heavy bone of his forehead, gnarled at the base of his horn, shone in the shreds of moonlight. The horn itself was twisted and looked alive, like a tree branch of some sort, smooth and worn on the raised parts of the twist, black while at the same time transparent, like darkened glass.
“You’ve always known we existed.” He accused, not unkindly. “You’ve always waited to see us.”
“Yes,” the word came out in a low uneven murmur, difficult and forced after a lifetime of silence. “Why now?” That was a scratchy little whisper too. I meant my age. A thirty-two year old woman was hardly what people pictured when they thought of innocent maidens.
“The world is so full of humans, and their emotions and ambitions. Their ways, their selfish single-mindedness is suffocating. It is difficult to find purity anymore. Innocence is such a fine and fey scent to track and the stench of the overwhelming majority is wont to obliterate the evidence of you as if to spite the fact that they have not yet overtaken you.” He let out a gusty sigh that washed warm breath over me, banishing the chill of the room and intoxicating me with its sweet odor.
“But I’ve found you now.” He added pointedly, rumbled possessively deep in his great chest. The sound was akin to a growl.
“Do you have a name?” My hands itched to reach out and touch him, explore the contours of his face, the details of which were still hidden from my human eyes by the darkness.
He laughed at that and the sound was like music of a natural birth, like seed pods rustling in a breeze and the chattering of song birds, mellowed by the gurgling of water over moss covered stones.
“I am the shadow under fallen logs, the glimmer on a ravens wing, the cry of a dying rabbit. I am why the willows weep, and where the water goes when the creeks run dry in high summer. I am the creature that swallows the moon when She flees the sky each month, the place from which the hunting folk make berth. I am the Night Wind, the deepest shade and the darkest dream. Do I frighten you?” He turned his great head to directly face me, close, his harvest moon eyes predatory, his horn of darkened glass almost brushing my hair as it passed above my head. There was a malevolence in the velvet of his coat, hidden in the torrents of his breath.
“No.” This close I could see the sheen of his eyes, an almost metallic glimmer within the orbs. “I’m not afraid of you.”
“I knew you would not be.” He was satisfied, smug even.
“What do you want with me?” I stared into his eyes, trying to learn more about him just by staring, trying to see his intent.
“To protect you.” The Night Wind answered softly, but there was a sort of posturing undertone, that possessive note again. “To guard you always.” He gave another growling purr.
“Oh,” I couldn’t think of an intelligent way to respond to this announcement. Visions of his immense form trailing behind me at the grocery flashed through my mind.
“If I offered to take you away with me, would you go?” He asked, his voice still beautiful, but suddenly somehow unmoved, and impartial, unimpassioned, distant.
I hesitated to answer, but it was a lie, that little pause, a dark, weak little lie. I would leave with the Night Wind and not glance back, not once. There would be nothing behind me anyway, a life half attempted. Unfinished paintings and unattended affairs, half a bottle of scotch and strangers that I’d known all my life. It was true that I had some good friends and adored my nieces and nephews. But close as they were to me, they were miles away. It was like loving daydreams, on a plane of existence that I could never quite adopt as my own. I’d stood on this cusp all my years, sat in this doorway and had never known how to pass through it.
“Yes,” I said, but the Night Wind had known from the instant I paused that I would go with him.
His visage softened with delight and he quivered all over as if in excitement, his tail lashing against my closet doors. When I gave him a spoken answer, he tossed his magnificent head and made a sound somewhere between a stallion’s bugle and a wolf’s howl, ghostly and haunting and full of triumph.
“Come then.” He stepped back from the bed. “Will you come now?”
Wordlessly I climbed out of the bed. I stumbled from the trailing blankets and into the curve of his massive neck, enveloped by thousands of strands of silken black mane, supported by the stoney breadth of his massive chest. My arms would hardly have reached around his neck and I simply pressed myself tight to him. The long muscles of his neck curved around my left side, the beard of his chin brushing my right leg where he curled around me. His hide was slick and soft, but as impermeable as plate armor I knew, despite its warmth under my fingers.
I stayed there against him until my heart had stopped pounding and I could breath normally again, and then I reluctantly stood back. I couldn’t bear to completely let go of him, however, and kept one hand tangled in the ropes of his ebony mane. The Night Wind remained docile beside me, as tender as new growth and as dangerous as black ice.
We went outside, both of us fitting through doorways and halls that were logically too narrow to permit our passage. Outside it was cold, frost shimmering on the ill-kept grass in the silver of the moon. The chill couldn’t touch me now though, not while I was with the Night Wind. The breeze picked up, stirring the trees, tossing the clouds across the sky. But it did not touch me. It turned all around the place where I stood, rustling the bushes. But it could not touch me.
“Will you still come with me?” The Night Wind sucked the color from the very air. Even the blackest, deepest shadows seemed grey next to him, and yet there was a glimmer within him where the moonlight shone through.
“Of course.” I snorted, almost indignant. I dipped my toes into the pool of black feathering that fell from near his foreleg, spreading over the ground like left-behind spider silk.
“Hold out your hand.” He instructed and when I did so, he lowered his great head. Slowly, an onyx tear welled in the corner of his golden eye, sliding from it to drop into my hand. Rather than splashing, it solidified into a sphere of smokey glass, not unlike his horn.
I muttered breathlessly, holding it up between two fingers. “Hold it tightly while we travel, and when I tell you to, take it into your mouth and bite it.” The Night Wind said. “No wait!” He growled when I moved as if to do it right then. “Until you bite it, you may change your mind and remain here.”
“I’ll wait.” I relented. “But I want to go with you.”
“Then up onto my back with you.” He curled his great head around, lowering it so that his beard whispered against the brittle stalks of grass. There was a note of amusement in his tone. “Step upon my horn and I shall boost you.”
It didn’t occur to me to argue. I couldn’t gain his back without help and the spiral of his horn was thicker than my arm. It might look like a twist of dark spun glass, but it would never shatter. Hiking the tail of my gown up I raised my left foot and carefully placed it as instructed, curling my toes around the gnarled, twisting beam. The dark pearl of his tear I clutched in one hand carefully. The Night Wind lifted his head and I slid up his side, swinging my right leg forward so that as my hips cleared his back, I landed atop him, my right leg dropping down along his neck and shoulder on the proper side.
“I should not be surprised that in all the worlds you are but one.” The Night Wind murmured beneath me, his voice of shifting river stones reverberating up through me.
He stood there a moment, his head craned round as it was, predatory golden eye taking me in, his beard fluttering over the top of my near foot.
“An eternity consolidated into on breath. That is how you make me feel.” He informed me.
“My whole life has been a string of moments stretched into eternities waiting for this one instant.” I retorted with a grin, his tear held firm against my chest. “I’m still waiting for you to fade away and leave me here to wake up in the yard tomorrow morning alone.”
He laughed. The noise bellowed through the cold air, booming like a thunderclap against the stillness. The Night Wind reared, striking at the stars and his ebony strands of mane whipped wildly, sliding over me in fey caresses while his tail cut the night air and cracked like breaking ice. He sat low on his great haunches, settling against the earth, cloven hooves furrowing into the ground and then leapt forward into a gallop.
I was but a child on his back and yet my legs found the curve of his girth without effort. My thighs fit the slope of his withers perfectly. Our surroundings became trivial, then inconsequential. His hooves fractured the pavement with each footfall, but the pavement became dark earth, dried and wretched and weak to the presence that trod upon it. Onward we went, outstripping even the moonlight’s reach as we traveled through the darkness.
The Night Wind’s immense mass stretched and lengthened, his strides encompassing meadows and entire forests. When we came to a vast mountain range gauging the horizon with its jagged peaks, he sprang from cliff to ledge to summit as easily as a cat might jump to a windowsill. From the mountains breathtaking crown the Night Wind leapt skyward, plowing through cloud banks and splashing across sodden thunderheads.
At first, I clung with my free hand to the ropes of mane that flowed all around me, anchoring myself against the great curving muscle of his arched neck. I was afraid that I would fall and be left behind. Eventually though, I was overtaken by the sheer ecstasy of the ride. Leaning forward along his neck, I gazed down and gasped to find only stars beneath us, swirling amidst the tireless black pillars of the Night Wind’s feathered legs.
And then the air around us grew brittle and the winds against my exposed skin calloused. The Night Wind plummeted from our glittering pathway to land in the drab greens and crumbling browns of an ancient wood. Wheeling on his powerful hindquarters he turned to face the way we had come. Piercingly brilliant flashes of white hot light bloomed in the shadows, shifting and tearing through the soft darkness to form shapes that were not entirely unlike the Night Wind.
Shocked and horrified, I regained my fistfuls of mane, my skin prickling beneath the silver, brazen gazes of the creatures before us. Under me, the Night Wind swung his haunches, breaking my line of sight with the back if his head, his twisting spire reaching towards the sky like a menacing lance.
“What do they want?” I whispered, feeling exposed and scrutinized. Dropping my right hand, which held his tear, I put it behind my back.
“You.” He turned his head around to fix me with a golden eye. “You didn’t think it would be as easy as all that, did you?”
“I don’t understand.” The pit in my stomach became a hollow, yawning hole. “What do they want with me?”
“To protect you, in their own way.” He answered. “To keep you as you were, sheltered and, in their eyes, safe.”
“But,” I considered this, although my first reaction was aversion to the garish entities. I rolled the tear against my fingers. “I want to go on with you.”
“They cannot stop you if that is what you truly desire.” The Night Wind said, his river stone voice gentle and serious. “But if you waver, they will tear you from me and I will not be able to stop them.”
“What are they?” I loosened my hips, settling myself lower on him, turning my knees outward, bare toes pointed to the ground so that I could hook my heels beneath the curves of his immense sides.
“They are absolute light. Utter good. The best intentions. They seek the safety of all, through gentle guidance.” He said. His dangerous golden eyes shimmered, his lips peeling up to reveal long curved canine teeth and a grim, strange smile. “And I? I am everything else.”
We stood in silence for some time, in a limbo of sorts. The creatures who threatened my newfound happiness were beautiful in a cold, blank way. They were tall and muscular with flowing platinum manes and narrow whipping tails. Their delicate legs and finely shaped heads were lighter of bone than the Night Wind’s, elegant and perfectly balanced, but their pale eyes contained none of his intensity, their visages held none of his feral beauty. And their bodies refracted light with a harsh-edged brilliance, like cut crystal, clear and cruelly empty. In contrast the sensuous velvet lines of the Night Wind’s midnight form were derived of blown glass, filled with endless nuances of shadow.
I could find no sympathy for these strange beings. I could see nothing appealing in them and I felt no connection to them. I could not, would not, suffer myself to bend to the wills of these strange, crystal creatures who stared at me as if I were something to be taken away, not because they cared where I went, but because I was something the Night Wind had.
I was not prepared for the glittering lance that pierced my left breast, nor the one that followed it, stabbing into the right side of my chest. The force of them nearly threw me from the Night Wind’s back, but my left hand was still twined in his long mane, and that anchor held me firm. Grasping at his neck with both hands, I barely resisted the sudden drag of the barbs lodged in my chest. The crystalline shards burned inside me, drawing my strength.
Before I could find the breath to cry out, the Night Wind reared up, dancing forward on his hind legs. He plowed into our adversaries without hesitation, dark cloven hooves flashing, and I could do nothing but hang on, determined not to be taken. The crystal creatures shrieked their anger in high wailing howls, dodging and leaping. They lunged at me with their clear sparkling horns, as if to spear me again.
It was a violent fight, and though I remained astride the Night Wind, the shards in my chest pulled and wrenched me from side to side. I was going to loose my grip, despite that I was determined not to. A clump of the Night Wind’s silken mane tore loose in my right hand. The hair scattered from my fingers, but I hadn’t lost the black pearl of his tear. He had said that he would tell me when to bite it. But until I bit it, I could be kept here.
Before anything else could happen, I shoved the tear-pearl into my mouth. It rolled over my tongue and I caught it between my teeth, biting immediately. The tear shattered into a thousand pieces, releasing sweet cool liquid that drained down my throat. My vision blurred, darkened. Abruptly, a memory from childhood floated into my mind, where I stood in one of the back rooms of my grandfather’s stained glass factory.
A slab of dark glass leaned against one wall, glass so dark that scarcely any light could filter through it. My grandfather had ordered it for a customer, but it had turned out wrong and was going to be thrown away. I had crawled into the gap between it and the wall and stared for hours up into the mirky nether of the too-dark glass, lost in its unnoticed beauty. Now, I was swept into that glass, carried into it on the back of the Night Wind, whose tear sloshed inside me, washing away the hindrance of the daylight worlds with their harsh crystal guardians.
When I opened my eyes, I was still with the Night Wind, and we were standing amidst swirling shadows and slivers of midnight. The empty, crystal creatures stood across from us. They seemed familiar now, their expressions almost human, picking at my brain and begging to be recognized as friends or family or someone who should have been important but wasn’t. They stood, surrounded by shapes of white, hard edged tables and cold metals frames. Between them on a metallic slab lay something that was lately a woman, pale skinned and lifeless.
What a sad creature she seemed, so alone and empty. I ought to know her, I realized, but my head was filled only with the Night Wind. A shadow of film hung between us and that strange and twisted scene, but I twined my fingers into the Night Wind’s mane anyway, just in case the horrible crystal things tried to take me again. I shouldn’t have worried. They stared directly at us, but they saw nothing within the darkness that surrounded us, nothing beyond their own perceptions of what was real.
“Come then, I will show you all of my worlds.” The Night Wind said quietly, his voice of river stones rippling through my spine. “We will travel the shadow ways, we two. We will walk where others fear to tread, in the darkness where the day cannot go.” He shook himself all over, threatening to shiver me right off his back, and then rumbled with laughter. “Do you regret your choice to come with me after the melee it took to free you from them and their clinging?”
“Regret?” I scowled down at his lovely golden eye, one hand drifting to touch the places where the lances had pierced me. There were no marks on my skin now. “I wasn’t happy there, and they had no right to try and keep me there just to make themselves happy.”
He leapt away then, without warning, into the eddies of midnight, dusk and early dawn, leaving behind the garish figures behind us. If I had turned, I would have seen how the people shivered against the sudden chill, how their hair stirred in the sudden wind. I would have seen how they shuddered from the touch of the Night Wind, and how they turned from the darkness and into the light of day, heads bowed with what they could only perceive as loss. But I didn’t turn, I left what little I’d known behind, and embraced what I’d never yet experienced.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

First Cup...

As I sit here typing this, I'm drinking my first cup of coffee in roughly four days. No, I didn't feel a sudden need to cleanse myself of the glorious sludge known as caffeine... I got sick and couldn't drink coffee. I couldn't drink anything but water, actually. Eating didn't go any better. But here I am, just the same, no discernible weight loss, on the mend and suffering only a mild withdrawal from the pain meds they had me on for the sore throat. That's right, I managed to find a virus who's only primary symptom was a sore throat so extreme that standard treatment involved Codeine and Codeine cough syrup taken in combination. Yeah, I might as well have been stuffed into a titanium canister and blasted into space for the last four days. I can't even say that I got any inspiration from whacky dream-type delusions because if any of them were cool... I don't remember. In fact, I'm still setting things down to my left like, I don't know, my left hand, and losing them for half an hour while I look to the right for where they got to. Yes, I don't do pain meds very often...


But there's an upside to all of the drugged-out sickness. It's like hitting 'reset' on the giant computer of life. All the files are a little hinky at first, but they're all there. You just just have to let them reorganize. Meanwhile, you get this chance to decide if you want them to be in the same order or if you want new files to take the lead. In my case, I came home from Sirens (check them out and sign up to go next year, I want to see you there) and the week after in Colorado and I was so deranged with excitement and the drive to 'get things done' in the writing sector of life, I was so spastic with the need to somehow get away from my current life and try to fast forward to the life I hope to get with my writing, that I got not much done anywhere at all. Well, I got several outlines done for what I hope will be an urban fantasy trilogy, and I did finish the rewrites of Evernow. But really, I did quite a bit of irrelevant, frivolous dithering. Then I got sick. And the world sort of stopped. It was nice, even nicer because it was out of my control, and I had no choice in the matter. Sometimes the powers that be see that you need your reset button whacked, whether or not YOU realize it.

While I was sick I did manage to:

Reread most of The Bones of Faerie. Love. Love. LOVE. This book. And now that I've met Janni, (she's like the coolest thing since sliced bread, no joke and SO MUCH FUN to be around... so is her husband, Larry) I love the book even more. If you haven't read BoF, and you have any love for dystopian, or Faerie, READ IT! Then head over to Janni's LJ page and tell her which minor character of BoF you'd like to know see more of, for a chance to win an ARC of FAERIE WINTER. I'm so stoked.

Write... sort of... Mostly, I made myself scratch something down on my current leading WIP, RED CHIEF, because I signed up for NaNoWriMo right before I got sick, and I refused to fold that quickly. I haven't read what I wrote yet *shudders at the thought* but at least pen hit paper a few times... if I remember correctly... oh dear...

Laid around with my cats. If you have a cat, you'll already know that all of my activities while ill - including trips to the bathroom - were chaperoned by the reigning authorities... my cats. I mean, seriously, they've put a lot of time into getting me properly trained, right? So they have to protect their investment by making sure that I can't actually fit down the bathtub drain...


Most importantly though, while I was sick, I let things go. I found a place where I can escape from panic over the idea that I might 'never make it' and will be 'trapped' where I am in life forever, a place where I can be at peace with the fact that I currently have no queries out, and be happy knowing that I'm 'going' to have them out, once I've gotten them as spit-polished as possible. I found a starting point again. A 'first cup' in my writing life. So when I finish my first cup of coffee and hit 'publish post' on this happy little blathering tangent, I'm going to go start writing on Red Chief... WITHOUT the intent of finishing it so I can start querying. I'm going to write it because I want to, because writing it makes me happy. Because that's what makes life worthwhile. Writing for the sake of writing. The rest will come in due time. Or it won't. I'll still be writing either way. And loving every minute of it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I've Been Bad...

Okay, not that bad. But I did promise that I would get some more posts up about Sirens and my Colorado adventures... and, well, I've been revising instead...

I've finally 'finished' the revisions on Evernow. I've successfully (I think) added in another character, Lena, and although she doesn't show up until much later in the book, I think events are more believable with her as their vector. I also had some angst about Evernow herself coming across as too Mary Sue, even though I've never had a prospective agent, or beta reader make a peep about Mary Sueness... With the arrival of Lena, some of the pressure to save the day is off of Evernow, and yet Ever is able to maintain the stubborn indomitableness that is so much a part of her character.

Now I'm reading through everything yet one more time, trying to prepare to send off queries to a few select agents. For the first time, I'm having some Sicilian hair-rending attacks over the idea of these queries. It's hard to articulate why, since I've got an entire bowl full of rejections, but I think it's a combination of things. The fact is, I LOVE these agents and their presence in the literary world... rejections from them will be scarring. Not so much because I'll have failed to secure an agent, but because I'll have 'lost' the chance to show them I'm worth their time and effort. Another factor is that after a year of querying Evernow, I'm feeling as though perhaps I've been clinging to a star I 'thought' was going to fall... meanwhile other stories, or stars, were passing me by because of the time I spent on Evernow. I won't give up on Evernow, but I feel as though I may be facing a time when I'll be forced to set it aside. Then there's the fact that I feel like I'm not getting any younger. Rome wasn't built in a day, I'm aware, and I'm hardly old. But considering that it could be years from the time an agent offers to rep me, to the day I get an ARC of my book, I'm feeling the pressure to get an agent already...

And on that note... I'll stop procrastinating... and get back to my read through... and The Great Pumpkin...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Adventures, Revisions and Yawn....

The week since I got back from Colorado has been.... uh, hectic might be the gentlest way of putting it. And I'm not even counting the loss of my ancient dog, code name NeedleNose, into the equation. Apart from departing dogs, we've had: sick babies, sick baby-daddies, sick horses, stallions no longer able to 'do the deed', check cards that have been 'blocked due to questionable activity' (never mind that I've been home for a WEEK, in my home state, AND the card was flagged for travel, meaning that they blocked me from stealing money from... myself) and one rejection, which wasn't unexpected, but still stung. Yes, nothing like being sling-shot from the bliss of primitive camping into the maniacal madness of daily routine...

Sirens was AWESOME. Seriously people, start saving your pennies now because next years theme is Monsters! I'm going and I expect to see at least a few of you there as well. It's not just for women! We need all the attendees we can get to make sure that this conference is successful and keeps going. I admit that I haven't been to any conference besides Sirens, but trust me, it is amazing. I mean, where else can you go and chat it up with an author like Marie Brennan on the shuttle for an hour before realizing who you're chatting with? (face/palm on my recognition skills)

Me, lurking behind my Queen Marie of the Onyx Court... (photo credit to the lovely Caila)

I was in the Denver airport for like fifteen minutes before the air filled with shouts of greeting and meeting as returning attendees and newcomers began meeting up in the Boulder Beer and Tap House. There were so many lovely people there! *sighs happily* I intend to devote and entire post to Sirens when I've been able to better consolidate my thoughts on it, but needless to day I had an absolute blast and we NEED conferences like this! So please, check Sirens out and think about signing up to attend next year. You too guys! We only had three men, of which I only saw two, and while they were both wonderful and engaging and fun... they were also both married to lovely, talented, ass-kickingly awesome women (Marie Brennan and Janni Lee Simner)

Two of the Origami creatures brought to life by Janni's husband Larry.

Instead of riding back to the airport with the other attendees from Sirens, I was picked up by two longtime friends, Hilary, my first boss (at the farm where I still work) and her daughter Caitlin. I hadn't seen either of them for almost four years and it was GOOD to get back together. They whisked me away for a week of nonstop adventure that included camping, hiking and swigging a few beers by the fires in some amazingly beautiful places. I'll devote an entire posts to all of that as well, but here a couple of pictures.

Cait and I doing the Colorado squint and smile.




If you look at the upper right corner of the picture, you can just make out a pale blue dot on the rocks... that would be Caitlin's jacket. I'm sitting in a chair with my back to the camera. Hilary took the picture from about half a mile further down the canyon looking back.


Besides all the 'regular' stuff going on, I've had a new girl appear in the middle of my revisions on Evernow. Yes, there's a new girl in the story, despite that it's been 'finished' for over a year, and sent to numerous agents. I didn't ask for her to show up, she just did. And she's as outspoken and opinionated as Evernow herself... so I'm obliged to work her into the manuscript. She's a great asset, this Lena. Already she's made herself a pivotal, if secondary character, and so many things in the latter part of the book simply work better with her as their catalyst. Oh the joys of revision.... the ravens of revision as I've come to call them. But in this case, the ravens are guiding me to a stronger product and I can't wait to get finished and see how it all looks.

Now I'm off to burrow back down into the aforementioned revisions... *yawns sleepily even though she won't be in bed for hours yet*

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dragging...

So I probably won't get a decent post up until this weekend. I'm buried in revisions and my ancient dog died yesterday. She'd been waning, and her death wasn't unexpected. She simply went to sleep in the sunshine (beautiful fall day here in VA) and didn't wake up. Anyone who's had animals knows that this is as good as it can get when you lose them. Still, it's the first time in seventeen years that she's not puttering around the living room while I write. And her sister-pup is having an understandably rough time adjusting, so there's that to manage. Anyway, I promise I'll get around to posting a few pictures from both Sirens and my Colorado adventures that took place the week following some time soon.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's Alive!!! Mooohoohaahaa!.... Hmm, I might have used that title before...

So I'm still alive... but I've been roving all over Colorado having the TIME OF MY LIFE with good friends, second family really, and seeing things I've never seen before, doing things I've never done before. I'll try to start getting some posts and pics up about Sirens and my Colorado adventures later this week. At the moment I'm trying to get back into this annoying reality...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sirens...

Random blather post to say that I made it to Sirens alive and well. I intended to write a little post in the airport after I arrived but darned if I didn't immediately run into some terribly awesome ladies who attended Sirens with me last year! We sort of just ate and laughed and caught up with each other instead of writing anything like a blog post. Oh well, I said that my posts would be spotty... :) Any who, now I'm off to maybe write a little and munch at the sign-in for the official opening of Sirens....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blog Awards!

Thank you Melissa for giving me the Cherry on Top Award!

I'm touched!

Now that I've thanked Melissa (you should really check her blog out and meet both her and her lovely friend Milo) I get to answer this question: If I had the chance to go back and change one thing in my life what would it be.

It's a difficult question. I normally say that I don't have regrets because I try to think about big decisions in terms of 'is this something I'll regret?' and thusly if it is, I don't do it. Not that I never make mistakes, I make those all the time. But having a funeral director for a dad might have warped me, and often times I think 'If I die tomorrow will I be happy with today?' So, anyway, one golden redo in life...

I'll go with the most recent thing that's bothering me: I would NOT send out a query to an agent that I DID send out a query to. I'd change this because I was in a 'bad place' emotionally and mentally, which was linked to the stagnant state of my hunt for an agent, and I had a history with THIS agent, having queried him last year, at which point he passed but told me specifically to keep him in mind if I had other projects. So I did, of course, and the moment I had something different and strong (yes it had been edited several times over) I queried the agent. And predictable, he responded and asked to see the full... and I've heard nothing for the past month... So it's not that I regret querying him so much as I regret WHEN I queried him, ie in a moment of frustrated hope rather than in time period of laid back 'comfortable'. Sending it later might not have given me a different result, but I wouldn't be second guessing myself now.



I'm passing this along to several other bloggers that I have gotten to know and enjoy:

Saloma
Laura
Christi
Hanna


I also received the One Lovely Blog Award from Carolyn.

Thanks Carolyn! :D

Rules:

Acknowledge the blogger who gave it to you
Pass it on to 10 bloggers you have recently met.

Rebekah
Hanna
Bree
Jennifer
Deni
Talli
Melissa
Malinda
Heather
Martina and Marissa

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sirens, SceneCycle, and Superrandomness...

This post... and likely any others I write in the next few days will probably be scattered and rambling... but wait, my posts are usually scattered and rambling...

In three days I will be leaving for Sirens!!! *panics because she isn't packed, hates flying, and she's just not ready to leave* Around the panicking, I'm so excited it's ridiculous. There are going to be several awesome Guests of Honor, and several other absurdly cool authors (ahem, Sherwood Smith, and Tamora Pierce) are going to be on hand to participate in panels and other presentations. So fracking (new fav word, even though I'm not knowledgeable about Battlestar Galactica) awesome! I'm going to Colorado a day early to partake in the Sirens Supper along with anyone else who happens to get to Vail before the official start of the conference. So if any of you happen to be going to Sirens, keep an eye out for me in the Denver airport. I'll be the one with the braids. No, not that cute girl with the matching luggage.... the one in the Sirens t-shirt with the Swiss Army back pack and the Harley jacket... and the zombie rag doll.... pretty sure I'll be the only girl with one of those...

On to SceneCycle! A friend and former teacher of mine has been telling me about SceneCycle for some time now, but I only just experienced it first hand today and I'm astonished. SceneCycle is a card-based game wherein players take turns constructing a story together from introduction of the main character to the final resolution. My friend helped with tweaking the games final format and she's already getting it involved with local school systems. The game teaches kids (and adults) to utilize their own imaginations and construct stories instead of simply reading them. The creator is a writer who wanted to become a better writer. Just in the short introduction I had today, I was impressed and excited about the idea. Right now the game comes in three themes, with the terminology and characters detailed to each one: Sword and Shield, Steampunk, and Dystopian. I've sticky-fingered a deck for Sword and Shield and Steampunk to bring with me to Sirens. I implore you to check SceneCycle out! The website is a little primitive, but they're still just getting off the ground, so please don't hold that against them.

Aaaand tomorrow my family is going to congregate in a batshit banana free for all known as the annual family picnic. These events are usually defined by things like: my cousin (6'7) flipping out of the hammock, impromptu soccer games involving my aunt (played on an all-woman team for years... where they were known to break each others' shins in practice) and eating... anything not nailed down. Yes, my family does two things well without even trying. These things are talking and eating. No, usually not at once. Although since there is an abnormal amount of Italians in our ranks, the occasional chicken leg to your neighbor's temple has been known to happen. If you're Italian, you'll understand how talking can lead to whacking your neighbor with a chicken leg. For those of you who aren't Italian, us Italians talk with our hands. Really excitedly sometimes. Okay, all the time. The point is, we're fun to watch and great to talk to... as long as you're at a safe distance.

Since I'm still trying to get organized enough to avoid airport security filing for overtime, and tomorrow is likely to be taken up with family antics, and magic (did I mention I know a magician? Zephyr. Seriously. Amazing) I might not get to post again until I'm in CO. I'll probably get something up while I'm in the airport waiting for the Sirens shuttle, but no promises. Anyway, I'm off on an adventure... we'll see if it turns out like Indiana Jones... or National Lampoons...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Dog Who Cried Break-In...

As promised, this post is the tale, not of a boy who cried wolf, but of a dog who cried break-in. I was at the farm the other day, minding my own business, dragging ill-sorted ponies through several inches of mud (YAY it finally rained!!!) when my cell phone rang. Considering I was in an area known as a vortex of inter-dimensional airways, and there was half a hurricane hovering overhead, it was a miracle that my phone even bothered to accept the call. Seeing that it was an unknown number, I was momentarily inebriated with the thought that this might be 'The Call'... you know 'That Call'... the one we all wait for and then usually go mute for the duration of? Yeah, no. Instead, someone identified themselves as an ADT service person calling to notify me that the alarm at my house was going off.

I asked him to repeat himself. He did. I ran into a wall, face-planted into a muddy horse butt, and stepped in... stuff that wasn't mud... The gentleman restated the reason for his call one more time. I immediately suggested that it was my ma, Snowbear, coming in from school, because I knew for a fact that she had gotten off early. Tote bag, groceries, you know, sometimes you hit the wrong buttons on the alarm pad. The gentleman informed me that the alarm was registering in the living room, specifically from broken glass. My first thought was the window, obviously. But my next thought was 'I've climbed in that window before, and your a$$ hangs out for everyone on the road to see'. The only other window has an air conditioner shoved into it. The ADT folks hadn't been able to reach my dad. I asked the gentleman on the phone - while scraping 'stuff' off of my boots - if he thought that I should leave work and go to the house to meet the authorities. He said it wasn't his place to offer suggestions. Men. Either they want to be in charge of everything or nothing. He asked how long it would take me to get home so he could inform the authorities. I looked out the front of the barn and saw grey sky... looked out the back and found solid white sheets of rain. I told him I didn't know, I was in monsoon season and said that I was going to try and get in touch with my dad.

I reached him, discovered that he had gotten the message from ADT and was heading home. He promised to call me as soon as he knew anything. So I went back to work, actually got a few things done, and waited. And tried to call my ma, who's notorious for never turning on her cell phone. After cursing about yet another unanswered call, my sister Fenris helpfully admitted that she was worried because what if ma had interrupted a burglar? Seriously? Thank you dear sister.

Well, anyway, it turns out that my ancient dog had knocked over a kitchen chair in her Alzheimer-like trundling, thusly setting off the 'breaking glass' alarm. And even if she'd been able to push another chair over and climb up to reach the alarm pad, since she doesn't have opposable thumbs hitting the code might have been difficult. On top of that, in her old age, she doesn't enunciate like she used to, so talking to the ADT rep who undoubtedly called 'Hello?' through the automatic connection would have been almost impossible. So the end result was that my MIA mother, Snowbear, got to chew the fat with our local sheriff and the rest of us got to suck on oxygen tanks because for a few insane minutes, we feared that someone wanted to steal our 'stuff', in the immortal words of George Carlin...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bla bla bla bla and OMG so Fracking Adorable...

I should probably have some sort of organized post (okay, stop snorting, I AM organized, on occasion... sometimes...) but I don't. I've got a manuscript flapping in the wind with an agent that I would just chew my arm off to land. It's been what seems like a lifetime since I sent the ms out (have you ever noticed how time slows down after you hit the send button?) and I'm wearing a rut in the carpet that could swallow an elephant. I know that the agent is an 'editorial' agent... so I'm hoping, and praying, and lighting little paper lanterns that he's making busy little notes and I'll eventually get an email with positive things in it. But statistically, I'm thinking things are going to end with a few wild moments of Sicilian hair rending and a few thousand calories worth of chocolate.

And since sending the ms out, I've gotten feedback from a beta reader that was, well, not awesome. I mean, she said it could be a good story BUT... and there was rather a laundry list of things she suggested that I change or research more. Things I didn't entirely understand her problems with, things that I'd thought weren't an issue at all, things that took me at the blindside. It made me question myself more deeply than I ever have. After a rough few days, I ventured to ask my bro-in-law, one of my other beta readers what he thought of the book. He didn't agree with the first beta reader at all. He 'got' all the things she didn't. He didn't have issue with a lot of the things she did (she's an anthropology major and this is the book about Ansel the albino Athabaskan) and he loved the characters that she felt were never really developed. Knowing his opinion, even if I haven't read his full critique, helped a lot. Sort of.

How do you know how seriously to take your beta reader's opinions? I mean, if someone tells me that the pacing drags logistically, I can fix that. If they tell me that it drags because there's too much mooning between two characters who are falling in love and have never been in love before, and the other betas don't think there's too much mooning, how do I take that? Respectfully I could have done with about a tenth of the mooning in the Twilight saga... but obviously I'd be outside the other 95% of the population... including agents and editors. So what defines the line between 'something doesn't work because you've mucked it up logistically' and 'something doesn't work because I don't like it'?

Whew... sorry about that blather but it's been a burr under my saddle. I'm not someone who dithers and question themselves. I can take rejection and critiquing, but this has been hard because I've found myself convincing myself that I've screwed up my chance with a great agent by blundering all of these things I thought I'd gotten right. And even having one beta (my bro-in-law is a great reader despite our connection. He has no trouble with detachedly telling me something stinks and why.) tell me my story is not trash, doesn't eradicate the fact that another beta didn't like the story at all. Even knowing that the book isn't her 'her cup of tea' from the get-go doesn't mean that there isn't some truth to her opinion of the book. I don't know. *obsessively starts dithering again*

And now for the OMG so Fracking Adorable part...

I recently (don't ask the exact date, I'm waaay to scattered to figure that out) found Rebekah Joy Plett. Can I just say that I LOVE going over to her blog? Not only do her posts make me smile, but all of her art? SERIOUSLY? SO FRACKING ADORABLE! I want to get half of them as tattoos so I can wake up and see them first thing every morning. Don't wince, I do love tattoos, but I'm not going to disappear under ink any time soon. Not that there's anything wrong with people covered in the stuff :) Anyway, you should absolutely scoot on over and check out Rebekah's blog. And if you do, give her a big high five because she just signed on with the super cool zombielicious Bree Ogden of Martin Literary Management. I admit that I stole the term 'frack' from one of her congratulatory commenters... what can I say? It's an awesome word... And I like me some learning of new awesome words... :)

Next post? A breakdown of the 'ancient dog home alone affect on breaking glass alarm systems' equation...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Here Comes The Great Blogging Experiment!

So I signed up to be a part of 'The Great Blogging Experiment' in which everyone who signed up writes a post about a topic chosen by the events brilliant masterminds: Elana Johnson, Jennifer Daiker and Alex Cavanaugh. The idea is that we all write posts on the same subject to see how differently we each are in our approach. Pretty cool huh? I can't wait to read everyone else's post... which is going to take all weekend by the look of the list of participating bloggers (!!! Go Elana, Jen and Alex!!!)

I'm no expert on anything... well, maybe besides the arts of cat herding, frog wrangling, and poking large herbivores in the gluteus maximus with big needles... But I digress. Expert or not I'm going to take a stab (totally intentional needle joke) at postulating on how I write compelling characters and what I find compelling about characters.

Our topic: Writing Compelling Characters.

Here's the definition of 'compelling': 1. Tending to compel; overpowering. 2. Having a powerful and irresistible effect; requiring acute admiration, attention or respect.

After looking up the definition, I had a slight panic attack, wondering if my characters were compelling. They certainly drive me, and compel me to document their stories. But do others find them compelling? I think this is something all of us writers struggle with. Looking back at my two strongest manuscripts I believe that I've created compelling characters... in very different ways.

Evernow, the mc of my Dystopian YA is like a pit bull on steroids (in a good way, I like pit bulls). She does what she does for her own reasons and in her own ways. If she loves you she'll die for you and if she has unsettled business with you not even death is going to stop her from finding you and finishing that business. Evernow is her own brand of compelling. Her 'ask no questions, take no prisoners' attitude drags you along for the ride. You may or may not like her, but you'll be compelled (I hope) to read on and see what she does or says next. It's Evernow's self-confidence and fearlessness that draws you through the story. Even when she mucks things up, she determines to fix them at any cost. She might stumble through life, but she'll get through on her own two feet. She's a character of raw emotion and frank honesty, and even though her blunt, sometimes caustic responses and actions might startle you, they make her who she is.

In sharp contrast to Evernow, Ansel, the mc of my Contemporary YA, is compelling because of his gentle devotion to another character in the book. Although he has his own fears, Ansel chooses to put Catskin (the girl he soon falls in love with) over himself, willingly taking on the responsibilities of aiding a stranger. Having spent most of his life living quietly with his close-knit family, Ansel - an albino Athabaskan Indian - has little experience with either girls or trauma victims. When he realizes that he can help Catskin though, he doesn't hesitate to invest himself in doing so, for no other reason than he believes that it's the right thing to do. You're drawn to Ansel (I hope) because of his quiet resolve and unflinching determination to try and right the wrongs that have been committed against the girl he loves.





The point of that rambling blather was to try and show that there are infinite ways to make your characters compelling. To me, there's only one thing that must be present no matter what sort of person your character is: Personality. They don't have to be deep, or brave, or geeky, or smart-a$$ed. But they DO have to be themselves. They have to be what no other character anywhere CAN be. I've loved dull characters... because they were dull in their own charming way. I've loved egotistical morons... because, well, it was fun to read about them getting into trouble with their egos. You can love a character you hate, and be compelled to read on about them by that very hatred. If the character has no individual personality though, they mean nothing to you. So for me, 'compelling' comes down to what it is that makes the character tick. If they're believable, they're compelling. It's when they're contrived or 'forced' that I find them un-compelling. No, I'm not sure that un-compelling is a word, now that you mention it. But it gets the job done :)

So now I'm off to read other bloggers' takes on the matter of writing compelling characters. Squee squee I'm SO excited to be a part of this experiment. Thanks to everyone in advance for stopping by! Hopefully my post was at least entertaining... I only had to stop four times while I was writing this in order to: Unstick an ancient dog from behind the armchair. Feed a very ornery Donkuitote. Put my remaining Demon Chickens to bed. And crawl my way to the coffee pot for some liquid back-up...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Great Blogging Experiment!

Tomorrow is The Great Blogging Experiment! I'm working on my own post as we speak... The topic is Writing Compelling Characters. I'm so stoked about reading everyone else's posts... *anxiously flips screens to her own... finds ten things she doesn't like*... and I hope all of you are too. There's still time to sign up! Hurry on over to Elana's blog!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Demon Chicken Passes...

It happened. I didn't expect it. I wasn't prepared. I'm the daughter of a funeral director. Death is like my creepy sidekick. We're comfortable together. I understand Death... but sometimes I wish he could warn me just a little before he drops in.

I went out to feed the infamous Demon Chickens (if you've been around, you'll have read about my Demon Chickens before) and found Jemima dead, apparently the victim of a fox who was smart enough to wait out of sight until she stuck her head through the chain link in search of wayward bugs. It was quick, I'm sure, and because I'm not easily upset by gore, the body wasn't awful. Losing Jemima was the awful part. Watching Towanda sit beside the body was awful. Seeing Franklin try and protect the body was awful.

I know they're 'just chickens' but I love them. And they care about each other. Maybe on a chicken farm, the chickens don't have any attachment to each other. But my Demon Chickens do. I left poor Franklin counting hens and coming up short this morning. How do you explain Death to a rooster? Towanda has taken up a guard position where Jemima's body was lying against the fence. I know this is nature. Chickens are food. I just tricked myself into thinking I had fooled nature into passing us by. *sigh* At least I can be assured that Jemima didn't suffer, and that she had a better life than most chickens. Tonight (I had to work this weekend) I'll bury her under the white oak I grew from an acorn and next year I'll be able to look at it and think that some of the leaves are Jemima's.

Eight Questions...

So, yeah...I’ve been tagged in a game that goes like this, I answer a series of questions with entertaining comments. Then I tag others who do the same on their blogs. Warning: these answers will probably tell you more than you wanted to know about me. Or everything you did in which case I can't be held personally responsible for. You've been warned.

Still reading? Okay then. Enjoy. :)

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?

My super power would be to see myself through other people's eyes. Because it never fails to astonish me how people perceive me sometimes... I've terrified people by joking, and at other times they managed to miss the fact that I was about to dismember someone... it's just amazing what you feel and what others see... besides all that... it might give me an inside track on how to lure agents...

2. Who is your style icon?

WHO? I can only have one??? Ummm, how about David Bowie and the Marlboro Man had a daughter together who then married Adam Lambert but had a passing affair with Katherine Hepburn, the resulting child of which was raised by all three of them... that's me. And if it doesn't make sense... my style is just as random... clothing-wise anyhow...

3. What is your favorite quote?

Changes daily... but right now, I'm going with: (Between two speakers) 'She's a little strange.' 'Oh, she's alright. Just tighten her helmet and send her on her way.'

4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

"I was terrified to talk to you, but I'm so glad I did! Now I'm braver and I met someone totally awesome!"

5. What playlist/cd is in your CD player/iPod right now?

Um... I've been addicted to Pandora recently. Mostly 80's dance remixes. But for CDs I'm currently hooked on 'The Rain Within' by Andy Deane (woot on the solo debut Andy!)

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

Well.... both. I'll stay up all night and I LOVE sitting watching the sun come up while I drink coffee. Plus I work on a horse farm so up early is the daily routine. I prefer sleeping like 11 am until 6 pm... but that's in a perfect world...

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

Neither... I'm a cat/dog/chicken/horse/any other animal I come across kind of girl :)

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name

Well, when I was painting more and writing less, I signed everything Artemis Grey. It's like my drag queen alternate persona I can conquer the world side. And now it's what I write under, well, A. Grey. So for my blog I went with Grey Places because it's my place :)

Now, I'm going to tag... Matthew Melissa and Jess Can't wait to see the answers!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Life is Like Herding Cats...

Have you ever tried to herd cats? Have you ever stood back and watched someone ELSE try to herd cats? (If you're smart, this is the way to go, less sweat, no fur on your clothes and the only lasting side effect is aching sides the next day from your hysterical laughter) I have had the incomparable experience of trying to herd cats. It involved diabolical plans of entrapment (none of which even came close to working) extensive maneuvering (forget the 'four legs versus two thing' I couldn't outrun a cat if I had eight legs) and enough moments of physical insanity to net me the million dollars on America's Funniest Home Videos. No, the cat's never went where they were supposed to. They're cats. And cats don't go where they're supposed to. If they did, they'd be dogs.

Anyway, the point of all that was to say that life is a lot like herding cats. You can plan. You can plot. You can run around waving your arms over your head squalling like a bimbo. But life is going to ignore you and do what it pleases. That's just the way it goes. Recently, my life has been completely ignoring me. It's just been doing its own thing, dragging me along like a sock on a string. Like a cat, it apparently only claims me when there's food involved.

I've at least been writing, between obsessively checking my email and mud wresting with my logline and pitch, which are entered in the contest that's been going on over at Adventures in Children's Publishing. And of course, I've been running mad at the farm. It's show season. And now the owner (who's in her late eighties) has decided to breed a mare... never mind that the stallion is thirty (the equivalent to a ninety year old man) and it's so late in the year that the mare isn't cycling like she ought to be. It makes for one long, never-ending adventure to be sure. And I've had no control over it. But sometimes not having control over things is good. Sometimes, you need to be a little out of control. Out of control puts you out of the box, because you're no longer bound by 'normal' circumstances.

It's a little tiring though... I'm looking forward to Sirens, which is coming up in October. I'll be staying with friends for the week following the conference. They live in Montrose and will drive up to fetch me from Vail and haul me off into the unknown for Jeeping, camping, rock climbing and bananas only know what else. I can't wait. I told them, 'As soon as that car door shuts, my tuchus belongs to you. Do with me what you will'. They're plotting even as we speak. That's what friends do. They kidnap each other from reality, when reality needs to take a hike, and they don't return you until you're ready to deal with that pesky thing called 'life' again.

Just remember, if you ever decide to attempt herding cats: 100% cotton clothes, less fur will stick to them. Rubber soled shoes, they'll give you more grip for all of those cutting horse moves you'll be doing. And catnip. Sometimes cats - and life - respond better to bribes than outright chasing...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

You Misunderstand... I Live HERE... I Only Occasionally Visit This 'Reality' You Keep Talking About....

I've recovered from my 'vacation'... mostly anyway. I'm back to work... which seems more like work than ever... and I'm trying not to turn green at the knowledge that my BFF Pippi was down at Nags Head playing in Earl's wind (not that hurricanes are fun... but parts of them sorta are, if no one gets hurt) while I was slogging through ninety-odd degree heat with aching joints (thank you cold front) and fighting with horses that aren't getting nearly enough done with them. Imagine a team of football players stuck in the locker room for a week or two, not allowed to get out on the field and utilize their energy. Yep. That's about what a horse who's not in training but is getting fed an inordinate amount of food and being stall kept is like...

But onto more exciting and less-likely-to-splatter you subjects...

I've got 'stuff' going on with AGMG. I refuse to really talk about it because I'm afraid *pauses to breath as she's momentarily struck with emotional paroxysms* that nothing but sorrowful drama and hair-rending loss the likes of which America hasn't seen since J.R. was shot, will be the only outcome of this 'stuff'. At the same time, of course, I'm fighting the redonkulous urges to try and look into the future. You know, the future where I'm deciding what to wear to a book signing and how I want to word the 'special thanks' to my brother Chucky Duck for not letting me throw my computer into a wall all those times I was so tempted to... Anyone who ever tells you that waiting isn't hard has never cared about the outcome at the end of that waiting. Seriously. I'm all for a stake to the heart, silver bullet, whatever, but make it fast and straightforward. Or love me the moment you meet me. But waiting... aaaarrgh!

What? Reality is all about waiting? That's what they keep telling me. I suppose it's true, which is why I'm practicing so hard to get good at it. But I don't live in 'reality'. I live 'here', where I write all the time, and even though my writing might not be perfect, people tell me what's hinky and I get to keep working on it until it hits that sweet spot and makes them smile and ask for more. 'Reality' is just that annoying place I have to visit every so often, like to pay bills, go to work, etc. I'm adept at carrying 'here' with me into 'reality', however. Anyone who's met me isn't likely to have forgotten the huge notebook I was undoubtedly dragging with me. That's why I love longhand. Paper never runs out of batteries, and even if my pen goes bogey, I can use someone else's... or a pencil... or a sharpened piece of stick charred black with a borrowed lighter... whatever. Suffice to say that it's harder to be thwarted from writing when you're willing to write on anything that'll hold still long enough to soak up ink.

And speaking of writing. I've started a new project. One that I see right from the off as being a series of three books. I'm in love with it. Not that I couldn't refrain from working on it in order to work on one of my other WIPs... you know... if someone I thought a lot of who was interested in me professionally suggested that I work on one of my other WIPs instead... But until that happens, I'm bouncing from my WIP Genesis to Kiss the Devil, my new love interest (henceforth referred to as KD)

KD involves another male MC, like AGMG and I'm finding that I adore this male perspective thing. I've always been more 'one of the guys' than 'the girl that hangs with the guys'. You know, in on all the fart jokes and pointing out hot numbers as they came in the door while we're shooting pool (an ideal way for men to scope the field without looking like they're scoping the field) and taking my turn at burping the alphabet. It's not that I sympathize with men more than women, or enjoy objectifying women (far from it) but I think that I've always been able to access this sociologically-fascinated part of my brain and objectively observe how men think and how women think.

Not that I'm an expert. No way. *snorts* I still have to check with my girlfriends when we're clubbing to see if a guy is trying to hit on me (I think most of them approach me like it's a bomb squad training session. You can tell how well it went by the number of guys who suddenly drift to the other side of the bar.) No, I'm not an expert. But I love trying to see things from a guy's POV, and somehow, it's sort of more fun. At least right now. Especially with Priest, KD's main character. He's a bad ass with a golden heart, even if he doesn't know it yet. And a big part of the story involves soldiers, what they go through in battle and how they're treated when they come home, which is a subject close to my heart. I've got a brother serving right now in the Navy and my family's been in the armed forces since... well... since history started. Anyway, I'm all about KD right now and I'm really excited about the idea that it could become a strong series, which is something I've been cautious about getting into since I'd rather not write a series, than write a series that flops in the middle of book two and goes toe-up in book three.

Now that I've rambled for a while in 'reality' I think I'll head home to 'here' and write a little more. I'll leave you with a picture though, just to prove that I do get out into 'reality' on occasion. Yes... having Walelu present at those locations of 'reality' is a darn big draw for me. And for the record, yes that was my drink, but no I didn't finish it.The menu said 'margarita' not 'fish bowl full of alcohol' so I ended up drinking a little less than half. And I got brain freeze several times. The best part of the picture isn't actually in the picture. There were about eighteen police officers eating at the table behind us... watching me ham with the baby and my drink... and I had no idea they were there until Walelu woke up and looked over my shoulder at them... *blushes* Yes officers... I write YA fiction... and occasionally act like a goober at dinner....

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Random Thought...

Am I the only person out there that stands up in front of the computer, takes a deep breath, slaps the 'send' button on a query, and then runs around the room in a tizzy unable to look at the computer again for fear that I'll see something amiss in the query?

I mean... I'm just wondering if it's a personal flaw... like something I should never mention again...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pitch Workshop!

Guys, I'm officially 'over' all the dramamrama that's been going on this week... okay, so I'm like 96 and 3/4 % 'over' everything that's gone on. And losing Pierre doesn't fall into that percent. You don't get 'over' things like Pierre, you just get acclimated to not having them underfoot...

But I digress...

The reason for this post is to invite everyone who happens to read this to head over to Adventures in Children's Publishing where the Pitch Workshop is officially open! Now this is one of the contests that I'd mentioned entering in an earlier post. There are fifty-one entries. Each of the entrants must critique five other entries, but we can comment on more if we want. The public at large is also encouraged to leave helpful, professionally worded and non-hating critiques and remarks. I'm having an uber good time just scrolling through and reading everyone else's pitch and I imagine that I'll be on the computer all afternoon commenting on them. Drop in and check them out!

And in honor of being back on the proverbial horse, I'm throwing in an absurd picture of me that my bff Pippi found some time ago.From left to right, Fenris (twin sis) me, Pippi (bff) and a one questionable upstart I'll dub G.I. Jane, who has, in the interim between the taking of this picture and the present, gone to college, had a child and turned into an awesome mom... In case you're wondering, I think I was nineteen or so, and randomly we're in the parking lot of a funeral home... yep, good times...