Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Another year... something

So, today's my birthday.

(I cannot say that without hearing The Beatles in my head.)

Can't say it's been a banner year, but, you know, it definitely had it's high points as well as it's struggles. (I guess that's one thing about a birthday at the end of the year. It makes it easy to thing about the year in review.)

So, lots of health problems in my family since my last birthday (including my own). But we're all still here! Even Lizzie, who was SO sick in November. (She's hanging in there, FYI. Good days, bad days. Kind of like my mom, who probably wouldn't appreciate the comparison.) This year I've lost half my thyroid, gained a lovely scar. Added something like 13 states to my total US states visited (but still didn't get up to Canada, despite being close enough to the border to listen to their public radio station).

But... this year has been an awesome one in the friendship department. I've lucked into (that's how I feel!) some really fabulous new friendships and discovered real gems among my existing circle. My girlfriends gave me a wonderful pre-birthday birthday on Sunday, and it was fabulous. The best present, though, was the support, laughter, and affection. That's worth more than gold.

On the whole, I count myself richer this birthday. Even the struggles have made me appreciate what I have. So, happy birthday to me!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Splendor Falls redux!

I was going to present this new cover with much flourish, before my October and November went sideways. But since it is only FOUR WEEKS until it hits the stores, I’d better present, without further ado, the new cover for the paperback of The Splendor Falls.

TA DA!

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The book will be available in Trade Paperback on January 11, 2011. Tell your friends. And if you haven’t written a review on Goodreads or Amazon or Barnes and Noble yet, that would be so awesome. (Why? More sales equals more books in the future. I get tons of mail about a sequel to this book, and the way to put pressure on me to write one is to spread the word about this one!)

Oh, hey! While Googling my own book, I found out there’s a Facebook community for The Splendor Falls. I mean, if there’s a community for “Justin Beiber should have my babies,” I guess it’s not a huge deal that my book has one, too. (Apparently on Barnes and Noble you can also “like” the book. Who knew! I my Facebook Fu is sadly lacking.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Schizophrenia

I cannot believe that another month is almost half-gone. Especially THIS month. Once again, I am late with holiday cards and to-be-mailed gifts, I have not even started shopping AT ALL, and when I look at my list of Things I Wanted to Accomplish This Year... I just want to cry.

No wonder December is such a tough month.

Going through old posts makes me realize I’ve become something of a Grinch. But only sometimes. I love so much about Christmas, but I’m definitely... Cranky about the whole holiday hoopla.

For perspective, I should point out that the religious holiday of Christmastide and the secular holiday are two different things in my mind. I *love* Advent at church, because it’s a season of anticipation and mental preparation. [The religious holiday doesn’t start until December 25, and lasts for 12 days (the 12 Days of Christmas). To be really traditional, you wouldn’t put your tree up until Christmas eve, and you’d leave it up until January 6th. We leave ours up until then, though we put it up on December 6th (St. Nicholas day).]

And generally, I do love the more secular side of the holidays, too. I love giving cards and presents, I adore the lights and decorations. I even love the music. I think where the stress comes in... well, it’s two-fold. One, we are HAMMERED by Christmas commercials, which start earlier every year, and everything retail related (which is EVERYTHING in the US) goes right along with it.

I don’t remember feeling this way while living at the ranch, but in suburbia I feel *besieged* by the holidays. I don’t know if it’s because of simple access (I lived 100 miles from any major shopping) or the general pace of life being SO much more laid back (the major Name Brands being Wranglers and John Deere), or if it’s actually gotten worse in the last 5 years. (I do believe that the recession has make the Christmas advertising about 200% more obnoxious and desperate.) I also know that for personal reasons (my Dad died at Christmas), my tolerance for the commercial aspects of the holidays has plummeted.

So I guess part of my Grinchiness is my cynicism shield going up in response to all that.

The second part... Well, I fully admit is something I bring upon myself. But I’m not alone in this.

One of my friends summed the holidays up as one big To Do list. I can totally relate to that, but apparently it’s even worse when you have kids, because not only do you have more presents to buy, you also have to make cookies/cupcakes/etc. for school parties, take the little ones to see Santa Claus at the Mall (shudder), please the in laws, give the in-laws the list of gift suggestions...

At least I don’t have that. My kids are easy to buy for. A new squeaky chew toy never goes unappreciated.

When did such a happy time of year become so stressful? I know that for me things changed after Dad died, because now I have this neurotic anxiety to make everything as Happy As Possible. But since my moving to the suburbs ALSO coincided with my increase in Grinchiness, I’m not sure that’s not related, too. Because I’ve noticed I’m not the only nutcase who gets anxiety about being happy during the holidays.

A LOT of this goes back to the media (which goes back to commercialism) that we--and I may be talking mostly about white middle class Americans in this respect--have to do things RIGHT. We have some unrealistic Martha Stewart level of Holiday-ness that we strive to achieve. Or what? The Happy Holidays Police will come to your house? I know I feel it in my present giving. I love giving presents, but I find myself stressing over giving the RIGHT present to certain people. (And please believe me when I say that I KNOW the ridiculousness of my stressing over this when so many kids will get NO Christmas presents at ALL. I stress over that, too.)

Now... the fact that I always leave things until way too late... that I can’t blame on anyone but myself. Though I thinks some of that is me digging in my heels in response to Christmas ads starting mid-November. I won’t celebrate until I’m damned ready. Unfortunately by the time I’m ready, I’m behind the rest of America.

And I guess that’s a large part of my curmudgeonliness this time of year-- I time of year that I generally DO love. In this country, we’re so lucky to be able to celebrate whatever holiday we want, in whatever way we want. I feel like, by my Holiday schizophrenia, I’m exercising my right not to go into debt or a stress-induced fugue state over trying to celebrate a joyful time of year!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blog o Rama

Two blog posts in one week. OMG. Who is this writer?

I’m not the most prolific poster HERE lately, so you might want to know about the places where I’m a little more scheduled.

If you read and love YA, you should definitely check out YA Outside the Lines. Oh my gosh, so many YA authors! With so many in one place, it’s a great way to find an author you may not have heard of before, as well as catch up with some of your favorites (like me.)

If nothing else, you should go to my post from last week. (This month’s topic is “Outside the Lines” and it’s kind of fun to see how 20+ authors interpret that differently.) Along with revealing that I’ve ALWAYS been... um, particular about the way I like things, this is also the first place I’ve publicly posted the Paperback cover of The Splendor Falls.

I also post every Friday on the Genreality blog, which is a very cool writing related blog with authors of all different genres. (Urban Fantasy, Romance, Thriller, Young Adult and more.) It’s kind of cool to see how, no matter what you write, some of the same things apply.

And I’ll try and post here more regularly. I went straight from all that travel to dealing with my very sick puppy, but I’m trying to get back into a routine (ha!) for December. (What a great month to pick for that, huh? Holiday craziness!)

I saved the Lizzie update for last, because not EVERYONE is obsessed with my dog as I am: Whatever is messing up Lizzie’s nasal cavity, it’s not cancer. (Yay!) Unfortunately, they don’t know WHAT it is. Right now getting antibiotic shots to try and clear up her sinus infection. Daily! Poor wee puppy! And poor me, because I’ve been giving them to her, which isn’t difficult, except that it makes her yelp and cry. :-(

Poor Lizzie. We’ve been calling her Snuffleuffagus because of all the snot. She’s like a toddler with a terrible cold. But now that it’s getting a little better, she’s perking up considerably! If we can get this infection cleared up at least we’ll get back to some status quo.

Here are Lizzie (on the right) and Penny (left) hanging out with me in my office. (Lizzie always looks this serious in pictures. She was actually feeling decent this day. Note the lack of snot bubbles.)

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Movie Monday

Watched a mess of movies over the holiday weekend. A lot of them were old favorites, but these were new to me, and of course I have opinions on them:

IRON MAN 2: Terrific fun to watch, and I loved the involvement of Nick Fury & Shield (and a throwaway Captain America reference, plus the teaser after the credits, which really whet my appetite for an Avengers movie). Scarlet Johannsen is so beautiful, it should be illegal. As in the first movie, I love the interplay between Tony Stark and Pepper Pots (I love Downey & Gwenneth in these roles) but the rapid fire patter that Downey delivers throughout went right up to the edge of Annoying and stared into the Abyss of Asshole. At least the movie gave him a reason for relapsing into Jackass. It was good to see him pull himself up out of the depths. BUT, I was somewhat less sold on the character development arc, which was what really set the first movie apart from the usual smash and ‘splode superhero action movie. They nailed it so perfectly in IRON MAN--without delving into the poor-me-navel-gazing of, say, SPIDERMAN. This was solidly entertaining, worth a rental.

UNDER THE MOUNTAIN: This was a New Zealand kids movie that I picked up because it has Sam Neill in it. (Looking rather rough and shabby in the Kooky Old Man/Wizard Mentor with a Secret role. Shabby and awesome.) I’ve watched some crap movies because of Sam, but this, fortunately, was not one of them. It wasn’t high art, either, but enjoyable. It was shaky on the sci-fi backstory details, but genuinely creepy in places (especially if you’re a kid, or a pansy, like me). I liked the lead, and the story was interesting while I was watching, though I’m not sure it would hold up to close scrutiny. I think my enjoyment may have been also swayed by the setting--it was neat to see a movie that was not set in America, and actually FILMED not in America with not American actors. I’ll bet this one will come on cable; put it on while you’re knitting or something.

PREDATORS: I really wanted to like this movie. A movie doesn’t always have to be well crafted to be enjoyable. Lots of explosions, aliens, guns, shooting, dismemberment, crazy-ass Lawrence Fishburn, Adrian Brody (who must have spent HOURS in the gym). The premise is these people wake up as they’re being air-dropped onto a planet, where they’ll serve as prey for the Predators. Who are also hunting each other. Or something.

Here’s the problem. Besides the one with how, of all the bad ass creatures in the galaxy, the predators would consider humans a challenge. These people, half of them are reprehensible. Which isn’t a deal breaker, because we know most of them are going to get picked off, and we hope it’s the most unpleasant character who will die the most egregious death. Unfortunately, the lead character, who is played as a stone cold, abandon-the-weak-and-injured-if-it-keeps-you-alive type pulls his ending about face too late and too unmotivated for me to give a rat’s ass about him at the end. Well acted (None of these actors was dialing it in.) but there’s a conceptual problem there. I mean, it’s PREDATORS, yeah, but I should at least be happy that the last man standing is someone I don’t want to shoot in the head.

PRINCE OF PERSIA: Yeah. I fell asleep for about 20 minutes in the middle of this movie and missed nothing. Formulaic and all flash, no substance--which wouldn’t necessarily be a problem except that it was full of unpleasant characters I didn’t care about. I cared so little about this movie, that’s all I’ve got to say about it. Sadly. I usually enjoy a fun swashbuckling movie.

So, what have y’all seen lately? Anything good?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Movie Monday: TRAILERS!

Okay, so the OBVIOUS thing would be to talk about the Harry Potter movie, since of course I went to see it on Friday. I’m really very proud of myself, because I’ve gotten into the habit of saying I want to go see a movie when it comes out, and then not going. Pretty much, I have to see a movie the first weekend, or I lose initiative and end up waiting for the DVD.

On of the reasons is reviews. I hate to read reviews of something I already want to see. One, because objective quality is not always a reliable indicator of my enjoyment of a movie. (See: Ghost Rider, et al.) Two, because once something is pointed out in a review, I can’t NOT see it--good or bad--and it kicks my brain into editorial mode. I start analyzing whether the review was right or not, or justifying why I like the movie anyway.

Fortunately, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was actually a really well made movie in it’s own right. Definitely one of the most objectively awesome in a long time. It was tightly written, atmospheric, emotional (best acting out of the kids in awhile) and truly horrific. Bring a hanky and a jacket. The landscape of the movie is appropriately bleak, and made me physically cold, like I was right there with the heros.

BUT... all that aside! I got my money’s worth out of my ticket before the movie even started, because we had the BEST trailers! I think there were eight, and six of them were movies I can’t wait to see. (Okay, five of them are, and one looked intriguing.)

TRON LEGACY: My brother and I watched this video so much, I think we wore out two or three VHS tapes. So there is a huge nostalgia factor to supplement the UTTER COOLNESS. Expect us to be lining up with all the other 30 something nerds who actually remember when computer generated imaging was a crazy new thing. Not to mention, a movie about a video game??? Dude, that was SO original! (Though later would come The Last Starfighter, which ALSO used early cgi to turn a video game ace into an action hero.)

THE GREEN HORNET: I never watched this TV show, though I’m aware of it’s existence. I just know that the trailer looked funny and very cool.

(NARNIA) VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER: I always have a hard time getting past the horribleness of Eustace in this book, but hopefully it will be watered down by the actiony-adventure parts. I’ve enjoyed all of these movies; visually and stylistically, they paint such a vivid picture. I know they have detractors from people who loves the books (and hate the books, who aren’t going to be pleased regardless), but both the previous movies have trilled and transported me. So I’m looking forward to this one.

RED RIDING HOOD: Not sure I’m going to be lining up to see this one, but it certainly LOOKED cool. The trailer made a point of telling me it was from the director of “Twilight” which makes sense. It looks like it will be big on the teen-love-angst and visual imagery (lots and LOTS of shots of red cloak flowing on white snow, etc.). How it holds up on story, I’m not sure.

COWBOYS & ALIENS: Holy crap. Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig and horses and aliens and laser weapons and oh my GAWD I cannot wait for this movie. (I am only leery about Olivia Wilde; her appearance in this trailer looked as wanly boring as Thirteen in House. Maybe she’ll get eaten by aliens early and we can get back to the awesomeness that is Ford and Craig in a movie with COWBOYSANDEFFINGALIENSOMG!!!

YOGI BEAR (in 3D): Not if you paid me. Okay, maybe if you paid me.

KUNG FU PANDA 2: I enjoyed the first movie much more than I thought I would. But not everything needs a sequel.

THE GREEN LANTERN: I’m on a Green Lantern kick right now anyway, by complete coincidence. So I was THRILLED by this trailer, which gets so much of the imagery just right. (Unfortunately, superhero costumes are unavoidably awkward in live action, no matter how ripped (um, very) the actor is. Or is that just me?) So this was another trailer that thrilled me just for being what it was. After Iron Man, I’ve begun to believe again in the coolness of the super hero movie. I’m really looking forward to this one.

(OMG this post is SO LONG. Making up for lost time, I guess. Enjoy!)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lizzie Report

I hesitate to post this, because I don’t want to mourn Lizzie before it’s time. But I know that some of you have been following our adventures in vet visits (on Twitter), and a few of you might be wondering why I’ve kind of disappeared off the face of the internet.

Lizzie has been sick, on and off, for almost two months. We’ve had vet dentist visits, and vet ER visits, and yesterday we went to a vet internist for a CT scan and biopsy.

The report isn’t good. Without getting too technical (email me, medical people, if you want the details), there are two possible scenarios, and both aren’t really treatable, not without putting her at huge risk, and through a lot of pain.

The GOOD news is, Lizzie has no idea that she’s so sick. We’ll keep her on medication that will keep her feeling well, and I’ll enjoy her company as long as she’s not in pain or suffering.

I am very sad, but I’m determined not to mourn her until she’s actually gone. That would ruin our time together. (I say this as I’m typing this through my tears--but she’s in the other room, so it’s okay.) Anyway, after the biopsy results next week, we’ll have more of an idea about a time table, I think. Until then, I’m going to try to get back to a normal routine. (Which is hard when all I want to do is curl up on the couch with her.)

Thanks for your good wishes this week. Now my prayers are just that she stay’s comfortable and happy for as long as possible.

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Lizzie on one of our trips to Starbucks.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Texas Gothic Cover

I was going to do a big tease to reveal the cover of Texas Gothic, but it’s up on Amazon for Pre-Order. Way to steal my thunder Amazon.com! But also, woot! You can pre-order!

So here it is, in all it’s glory. (I have no news yet about a UK or other foreign edition. I’ll let you know!)

Coming July 12, 2011:

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

I feel guilty for getting so behind (again) on blog posts. You love me anyway, right?

Here’s a teaser from Texas Gothic to atone for my absence:

---
Phin had to show off a bit. “I heard that fossils and archeological finds can go for millions of dollars.”

“Yes,” said Mark, “but we’re not talking australopithecus. This is a modern skull.”

“But—” I started. That couldn’t be right. The bone had felt old. Literally and in some way I couldn’t quite define. “You said it wasn’t recent. And Dr. Douglas said the site by the river had been here maybe a century or two.”

He grinned. “‘Modern’ on an evolutionary scale. As in, ‘less than half a million years old.’”

“Oh,” I said, embarrassed because I should have known that. I mean, they did teach evolution in Texas public schools.

“It might still be prehistoric, though,” said Mark. “If this turns out to be a mass burial of some kind, the value will be in information.”

---

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day Three: Ferry over Puget Sound to Port Angeles

(Note: I’m posting some of these as I originally wrote them, since I really WAS planning to post as I went.)


I’m at Zeitgeist Coffee grabbing a cup of coffee and a snack (and some WiFi) before boarding the train to Chicago. Had a great conference over the weekend (though that doesn’t necessarily leave me with a lot to blog about, travel-wise, since I’m busy with conferencing).

Sunday I rented a car and drove out to Port Angeles to see Gwen Hayes, who added to her awesome by being a fabulous hostess. (I already knew she was a fabulous author. Her marvelous YA paranormal romance comes out next year.)

Why does renting a car always give me a successful Grown Up glow? Seriously! I feel like I’m a kid playing dress up for some reason. Maybe because it’s, like, the last thing you have to wait to be old enough to do. Until Social Security, anyway.

So I climbed into my cute little red Toyota and drove to Edmonds, and the ferry. Here was something else that gave me a glow of accomplishment. Drove onto the ferry, did not freak out or anything. I thought being on the top layer of cars would be bad, but it was actually better, because the sides are open. And of course I vacated the car as soon as possible, and went up to the passenger area where the lifeboats and stuff are.

Here’s a picture of Puget Sound on the way over. It looks very gray because it was. The blue would sort of tease for a moment, then go away.

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This is taken from Port Gamble, a historic little village. Until 1995, it was the oldest continuously operating saw mill in North America. I think I may move there, a whole lot of books from now.

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And here is the town of Port Gamble, the General Store on the left. (Some of my pictures seem to have been eaten (!!) by my camera! A bunch of them would not load onto the computer. *pout*)

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Then I was stopped by the raising of the drawbridge over the Fort Hood Canal. Fortunately, I did not that this was a floating bridge until after the fact.

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I really hope that ambulance wasn’t in a hurry to get somewhere. Here is the view that awaited me:

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Next, Port Angeles! (The joke all weekend was that I was going to shop for a prom dress. Which OMG! That picture is SO not the dress from the movie. I guarantee Bella did not buy that dress in Port A. No offense.)

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Downtown Port A. I loved this town an amazing amount. It reminded very slightly of Rockport, Texas, except completely different. Maybe remote coastal towns are a little the same all over.

Dang I have a lot of pictures from there. You’d think I was in love with the Olympic Peninsula or something. I’ll continue Sunday in another post. (Look for it on Monday, since I don’t usually blog on weekends.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Appearances

We interrupt this travelogue to advertise a couple of appearances by yours truly. (Why does ‘truly’ looks so weird? Spellcheck says it’s right.)

Tonight (Thursday, 14 October) I will be in Scottsdale, AZ at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore to help celebrate the release of Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Here’s the deal (it’s kind of cool): They are livestreaming their book tour, and at each stop, they’re being interviewed by a fabulous guest author. Tomorrow, it’s me! The details are here on their website, and I hope that if you’re knocking around, looking for something to do on Thursday, you’ll come out and see us.

And if you’re anywhere ELSE, you can watch the event online here. Tune in at 4PM MST. (I think that’s 5 PM central... you can figure out the rest.)

If you’re not familiar with Kami and Margaret’s book(s), they are spooky and as Southern Gothic as they come. So if you are a fan of The Splendor Falls, you will probably really enjoy Beautiful Creatures (the first book) and it’s sequel. It’s their party, but I don’t think they’ll be offended if you want me to sign a book or two, too. (My own books, that is. Obviously.)

Saturday, 16 October, I will be in Balch Springs (near Mesquite and Dallas, TX) at the Weekend Reader Book Shop. (Here’s a map.) I will be signing starting at 11am and going until... oh, 1ish, or I run out of steam. They should have copies of Prom Dates From Hell and The Splendor Falls, as well as the rest of them. This is a great little bookshop, so even if you have all my books (or, you know, you hate my books or something), stop by and say “Hi.” It’s a nice place to do some early holiday shopping. (And we know that books make the best gifts.)

I am very sad that I will not be at the Texas Book Festival this weekend! I will be driving THRU Austin on my way to Boerne. (Time for Mom’s and my monthly trips to start again; Dodging Duck, here I come!)

Next weekend, 23 October, I will be in Tulsa, OK, on the University of Tulsa campus at the Nimrod International Journal’s Conference for Readers and Writers. Whew! That’s a mouthful. I’m speaking on Legends: The Hero’s Journey in the YA Novel.

And then I have to hurry home for A. Lee Martinez and Sally Hamilton’s wedding! (Cause that’s how cool I am!)

Day Two: ECWC in Bellevue, WA

Emerald Coast Writer’s Conference was lovely. Many great workshops, lots of great writers. I’m amazed by how many writers there are in the Seattle area, though I suppose I shouldn’t be. If you have a job where you could live anywhere, why wouldn’t you want to live somewhere as beautiful as the pacific northwest?

The view from our hotel room:

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Paranormal romance author Alyssa Day earned a place in my heart forever by quoting Dr. Lazarus from Galaxy Quest in her Keynote speech on Friday night, about how your mantra as a writer, no matter what stage you’re in, should always be: Never give up, never surrender.

My workshop with Caridad Ferrer and Tera Lynn Childs went very well (as far as I could tell, since no one walked out). The title was: On the Threshold: Three RITA winning YA authors tell all.
Then I was free to enjoy the rest of the conference, which I did, meeting some awesome authors for the first time, or the first time in person, or the first time in a year or more.

THEN I won a basket full of True Blood stuff, including a crew t-shirt and a way cool messenger bag with MORE POCKETS than you can POSSIBLY IMAGINE!!!

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The basket was donated by Deborah Schneider, who’s cousin (I think?) works for the show. (Deb is a librarian as well as writer of rockin’ western romances. Two kinds of awesome.) Thank you, Deborah!

Tera had to listen to me geek out in the room... not about True Blood, though there is that, but about the pockets in the messenger bag. Seriously! SO MANY POCKETS! I used it on the way home. Here it is on the train:

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But I’m getting head of myself. I haven’t told you about Port Angeles yet, which was one highlight of my trip, so I’ll save it for tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day one: Seattle (repost with pics)

In the interest in being organized and stuff, I’m going to start my trip recap by reposting my first day post, but with pictures!

Here are the awesome parts of my trip so far:

I upgraded to First Class and sat next to Tera Lynn Childs for flight from DFW to SeaTac. This was excellent because of Tera, who distracted me from my abject terror of flying and also... First Class, Baby!

The weather in Seattle was *gorgeous* yesterday, and looks to be more of the same today.

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And look! A tree with actual color on it! (This is sort of rare where I live.)

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Tera and I took the bus to Pike Place Market. On the way, we passed Cupcake Royale Coffee Shoppe. These are, like, my favorite two food groups in one place!

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Missed a stop, ended up walking a wee bit farther than expected, but that meant I didn't have to feel guilty about my big bowl of award winning chowder from Pike Place Chowder.

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I am not lying. This may be the best clam chowder I have ever eaten. Ever.

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Then the market, which I didn't see on my first (and only) trip to Seattle. I always thought Pike Place Market was just fish, but it was actually started as a place for local growers to sell their produce without a middleman. So even now, the produce has to be locally grown. I tasted an apple that... Well, I wouldn't have blamed Eve a bit for eating it. (I just deleted a ramble about how much we lose by modern transportation giving us anything we want.)

Next, a harbor cruise. Gorgeous day for it.

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We saw Mount Rainier, and apparently you don't get to see it very often because of the cloud cover. (This morning you could just barely see an outline.)​

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Out for dinner with my friends Lance and Kelli (and new friend A'mee). OMG best Indian food and Nann-n-Curry. (There is a definitely food theme to this post.) I adore Lance and Kel, and am so grateful they could meet up last minute. *hugs* Dropped Lance off at his rehearsal with Seattle Opera (!!) then grabbed desert at B and O in Capital Hill.

So total count:
Delicious meals/snacks/deserts consumed: 4+
Adventures in transportation: 3
Terrifying transportation: 3 (one plane, two LONG tunnels)
Close encounters with moving vehicles: 1

Today: Working in a Tully's coffee shop until time for the Emerald Coast Writer's Conference!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Still Travelling

I'm grabbing some WiFi in the train station to tell you that I have a whole backlog of blog posts about my trip to share with you, but at this point, rather than dump them all on you at once, I'll schedule them for next week. That way I can include pictures. :-)

I'm having a great time. The Empire Builder was amazing. I saw scenery I've never experienced before. I'm in Chicago now, waiting on the train to take me home to Texas. (Look up the Texas Eagle on Amtrak's website if you're curious.)

Now I'd better run along and get to my platform! 24 hours and I'll be home. It's been a fabulous trip, but I'm definitely ready to see my puppies!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Day One: Seattle

Here are the awesome parts of my trip so far:

I upgraded to First Class and sat next to Tera Lynn Childs for flight from DFW to SeaTac. This was excellent because of Tera, who distracted me from my abject terror of flying and also... First Class, Baby!

The weather in Seattle was *gorgeous* yesterday, and looks to be more of the same today. (I'm going to try and post a picture here, but this is my first blog post from my iPad, so I'm not sure how to do that yet.)

Tera and I took the bus to Pike Place Market. Missed a stop, ended up walking a wee bit farther than expected, but that meant I didn't have to feel guilty about my big bowl of award winning chowder from Pike Place Chowder. (I am not lying. This may be the best clam chowder I have ever eaten. Ever.)

Then the market, which I didn't see on my first (and only) trip to Seattle. I always thought Pike Place Market was just fish, but it was actually started as a place for local growers to sell their produce without a middleman. So even now, the produce has to be locally grown. I tasted an apple that... Well, I wouldn't have blamed Eve a bit for eating it. (I just deleted a ramble about how much we lose by modern transportation giving us anything we want.)

Next, a harbor cruise. Gorgeous day for it. We saw Mount Rainier, and apparently you don't get to see it very often because of the cloud cover. (This morning you could just barely see an outline.)

Out for dinner with my friends Lance and Kelli (and new friend A'mee). OMG best Indian food and Nann-n-Curry. (There is a definitely food theme to this post.) I adore Lance and Kel, and am so grateful they could meet up last minute. *hugs* Dropped Lance off at his rehearsal with Seattle Opera (!!) then grabbed desert at B and O in Capital Hill.

So total count:
Delicious meals/snacks/deserts consumed: 4+
Adventures in transportation: 3
Terrifying transportation: 3 (one plane, two LONG tunnels)
Close encounters with moving vehicles: 1

Today: Working in a Tully's coffee shop until time for the Emerald Coast Writer's Conference!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

And now for something completely different. Here’s a teaser for a short story that appeared in the 2010 FenCon program book. Right now that’s the only place you can read it. I picked up extra copies, which I’ll be giving away here on the blog when I get back from Seattle and my train trip of awesome.

--
Dixie Donovan, ace reporter, caught herself on the wall as her platform pumps skidded on the linoleum. That would teach her to defy rationing with two-inch heels.


The cinderblock skinned her palms and snagged her hair, as if the building itself tried to stop her escape. The echoing clang of footsteps spurred her to pick a corridor, any corridor, and try not to picture a rat in a maze.


She turned right. Fifty/fifty chance this was the way to the lobby. The odds were significantly less that would live to contemplate what would have happened if Al Menken hadn’t gotten food poisoning at his sister’s wedding, or how the fate of the free world hung on a plate of bad oysters.
--

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dangerous Ideas

It’s Banned Books Week, wherein the American Library Association encourages readers to think for themselves, and read a challenged book. I am, as you can imagine, against censorship. (Not every book is appropriate for every age, but I think there’s a difference between, say, putting a book on higher shelf in the library and removing it so no one can read it.)

I have firm convictions about how I live my life (or at least how I try to), but tend to be broad-minded when it comes to the whole universe. Both those things come from being an avid reader. I was lucky. My parents always encouraged me to read everything, think for myself, and find my own truths by reading a wide spectrum of ideas in literature.

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Books are full of ideas, but ideas are only dangerous when they are limited. Reading across the spectrum of ideas and ideologies helps us to form our own. I’m baffled by the idea that one book is going to convince someone (even a young someone) of a point of view completely opposite from how they’ve been raised. People don’t read one book and convert to that idea, then read another and convert to THAT way of thinking. We spend our formative years gathering a whole lot of idea--from books, movies, tv, our friends, teachers and parents--and forming our own philosophies out of that. I have to wonder, if parents are talking to their kids about these things in the home, why are they so worried their going to be swayed by a story in a book?

When we read a lot, and maybe some things that are way far out from our experience, our personal philosophies, our notions of right and wrong (because that’s really what people are worried about when they censor books) become stronger, not weaker, because they’ve been built on a broad foundation.

Books don’t break down beliefs, they temper them. The weak and groundless ideas are broken by the notion that there’s another side to an issue. The worthy metal is hardened by the challenge. When I read something that runs counter to my faith or philosophy, and it makes me question why I think the way I do, it makes that conviction stronger, and able to stand up to a real life challenge. This is why it’s so important to read books outside of our comfort zone. Books make us questions what’s bad, what’s good, and what we’d do in a given situation. We live bad decisions vicariously so we don’t have to make them.

Are there some books that some kids aren’t ready to read? Sure. Are there some books that need to be discussed with a parent, to help a younger reader answer the questions raised? Oh, definitely.

Ideas ARE dangerous, but instead of worrying that a kid is going to read an Dangerous Idea in a book, maybe parents should arm themselves by reading a few Dangerous Ideas, too. The way to counter something you disagree with isn’t to lock it in a box, but to diffuse it with discussion, to mix it up with other ideas until what emerges is someone able to make their own decisions because they’ve got an armament of information to draw upon.

So, go fight the good fight against group-think. Arm yourself with a few Dangerous Ideas. Read some Dangerous literature.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Adventures in Amtrak

It’s been a little quiet in the RCM world lately. With two book releases last year (Highway to Hell and The Splendor Falls), I had a lot of travel and signings, where this year has been more about non-fun stuff like family emergencies and health issues. But I’ve got a totally fun trip coming up, and y’all are going to hear all about it because I’m so excited.

So, I’m going to the Emerald City Writer’s Conference. (If you’re going, be sure and catch Tera Lynn Childs, Caridad Ferrer and I talking about writing YA in: Over the Threshold: Three RITA winning YA authors tell all.) Funny story: I got this confused with the Emerald Coast Writer’s Conference, and thought I was going to the Florida panhandle, so I wouldn’t have to fly. But it turns out it’s Emerald City, which is Seattle (Bellvue, actually), which is awesome, because I’ve been to Seattle once and can’t wait to go back.

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But the really cool thing about this conference? I’m using it as an excuse to do something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m taking the train home from Seattle to Texas. Specifically, I’m going on the historic Empire Builder route from Seattle to Chicago. It goes by Glacier National Park and through the Cascades mountain range, through parts of the country I’ve never seen. Plus, I’ve only been on commuter trains, so I’m excited for the experience of taking a train vacation.

This is how much I want to take this train vacation, y’all. I have issues with small spaces, bridges, and motion sickness. So it makes perfect sense to cram myself into a little room on a little train car going through the mountains were there will be tons of bridges and tunnels. And rocking back and forth. But it’s so cool! There’s a dining car! And a scenic viewing car. And I get a little bunk to sleep in, just like in North by Northwest. Sadly, without Cary Grant, but also without people trying to track me down and kill me. So, you know. It works out about even.

So anyway, the train goes to Chicago and then I’m overnighting there, then taking the Texas Eagle from Chicago back home. Hopefully I’ll get to see a little bit of Chicago even if it’s only for a few hours in the daylight.

So, it’s my first train trip. Other than calling my doc for a motion sickness patch (which I’ve done already), anyone got any hints? I’m also open to suggestions of Things to See in Chicago if You’ve Only Got 20 Hours There.


ETA: Also, I need a cool tag for this trip. RCM's Trip of Awesome Awesomeness is a little long.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Since someone reminded me we haven't had a Teaser Tuesday in a while, here are a couple of paragraphs from Texas Gothic: 


I stared at the spot on the highway were I would swear--where I would bet four tires, or possibly my whole car if I hadn't managed to control her swerve--that someone had been standing just an instant before.

Nothing.

Fear crept up my neck with sharp, cold feet. When I say nothing, I mean, nothing. There was no man, there were no other cars, not even a distant house or barn light. I was completely alone.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Eeek!

Have I really not updated this blog in a week??  Want to know why?  Um, there's a clue in my Genreality post today: Altered State of Consciousness. (It's not quite what you think.)

Last week I was good about at least posted something. I actually turned in my rewrites on Tuesday, but then I ran around all day Wednesday doing all the things I'd put off while finishing rewrites, and then Thursday I got hit with a Headache From Hell.  You know one of those where you can't even watch TV or read because it hurts your eyes?  And the dogs insist on having Puppy Wars XI on your bed? And your family wants to talk to you because they haven't seen you for two weeks while you've been finishing your work, but you can't really hear them through the roar in your ears?

One of those.

But I'm better now, and  headed to FenCon for the weekend. Here's my schedule, if you're going and want to see me. I'm talking YA books, I'm on the Liar's Panel (always a fun time), I'm talking books into TV shows and I'm doing a reading. Not sure WHAT I'm reading, but I'm doing one. :-)

Hmmm... What SHOULD I read from?  Dramatic reading from The Splendor Falls which comes out in paperback in January? Or from Texas Gothic, which you can't get until next summer?  Or something completely new and off the wall. (*Goes to hard drive to see what's ready for public consumption.*)

ANYhoo. Happy weekend, everyone.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gandalf Goes to the World Cup

The World Cup is long over, and it's been months since I've had a cause to use the Vuvuzela app on my iPhone. Maybe it's not current anymore, since the pain of listening to the constant buzz has faded from memory...

But just to bring it all back:



Maybe it's just me, but it's the expression on Gandalf's face that does it for me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

TribbleKat

Crazy week included a sick puppy, 6 inches of rain yesterday, power outages, flash floods and tornado in downtown Dallas... And lots and lots of rewriting, revising, and hair pulling.

And so in lieu of an iLesson, today I offer a LOLcat:

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Peace out, TribbleKat.

Fresh Takes

Did you know I’m a columnist, as well as an amazing novelist? Every month on FreshFiction.com ‘s Fresh Takes From The Teen Shelves” highlights upcoming YA books that have caught my attention. It’s an eclectic list (because my tastes are eclectic) but usually there’s something for everyone: paranormal, contemporary, literary, and so on.

It’s geared for readers who may not be as familiar with what’s on the teens shelves (i.e., adults who haven’t discovered the wonders of YA books, or think it’s all Sweet Valley High and Twilight. Not that there’s anything wrong with those.)

Anyway! This months selections include Firelight (and an interview with author Sophie Jordan), Personal Demons, The DUFF, Fallout and more. Check it out here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Jane Austen's Fight Club

This is SO AWESOME. (Oh, but PG-13 for one F-bomb.)



"The first rule of fight club is one never mentions fight club. No corsets, no hatpins, and no crying."

Read more: http://jezebel.com/5595473/welcome-to-jane-austens-fight-club#ixzz0yVJObJPC

(The comments on Jezebel are worth checking out.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

iLesson: Tension (the good kind)

Every books has scenes in it where "nothing happens." No explosions, no dead bodies, no break-ups, no make-up, no make-out... no ninjas dropping from the ceiling.

Sometimes you need a scene just to get information across to the reader. This may be:

1) Clues to the mystery that don't seem important at the time, but will be vital later.
2) Character development.
3) Establishing the value of a place, situation, or relationship so that the reader knows how important it is before you, the author,  either destroy it mercilessly, or put it in jeopardy.

The problem is, those are YOUR goals as the author. The reader doesn't care what YOU are trying to accomplish in the scene. He or she only cares what the character is trying to accomplish in the scene.

Even in ninja-less scenes, something *does* have to be at stake for your character. It doesn't have to be a BIG something, but it has to be A something.

Say your (author) goal is to have your knight in shining armor chat with the princess a bit so that when the princess is later kidnapped by the Evil Sorcerer, we will care that the knight gets her back.

He (Sir Dauntless) still needs a goal to give the chit chat tension. Does he like her and want to impress her? Does he want to NOT like her because she's off limits? Or maybe his goal has nothing to do with her: Does he just want to get through dinner without humiliating himself?

I wrote a scene recently where the heroine's only goal was to get from one side of the room to the other, but people kept interrupting her to tell her or ask her things--about her sister, about her mother, about a rumor going around town (that would, coincidentally, be extremely important in the next chapter).

My heroine wasn't trying to learn these things. She was just trying to get to the bathroom. But giving her a goal, ANY goal, gave the scene much needed tension.

Ideally, the reader didn't (wouldn't) notice what I did there. Half of what we do as writers is subliminal. She probably wouldn't notice if I just had my heroine wander around the room with people randomly stopping her to chat and drop nuggets of useful exposition in her lap. But side by side, one scene has energy, and one is obviously an excuse for me to exposition.

So add a little tension to your scenes by giving your character something to accomplish (or try to accomplish) in every scene. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Following/Friend policy

This seems like as good a place as any to park this policy while I'm thinking about it.  I mean, I know I need to start a FAQ page, and about eleventy other things. (Which doesn't even count the personal stuff, like take my dogs to the groomer and do something about my hair.)

Following and Friending: Okay, this isn't so much a policy as the way it seems to be shaking out due to my general distraction. (I'm not an absent minded person, I just have a LOT to try and keep track of.)

Twitter:  I don't automatically follow back, but I do generally answer mentions (with an @ so I'll see it). And if you reply to or mention me, the chances go up I'll follow you.  I usually follow readers, other writers, book bloggers/reviewers, librarians and other book people. And also @russellcrowe and @nathanfillion.

But let's face it, if you compliment my books and don't try and sell me something or get me to visit your site to see your sexxxy pictures, chances are, I'll follow you back. I'm easy that way. (But not any other way.)


Facebook: If I'm pretty sure you are a reader (or a book person as mentioned above), I'll friend people on my FB page until I run out of spots. If you're not obviously my audience (i.e., young adult and generally female) it helps if you drop me a message along with the friend request telling me you're a reader, or that we met at a writer's conference, or we're in YARWA together. But make sure you "like" my writer page, too. One, because I need people to like me to bolster my self image. And two, that's where I (try to) post updates about signings, appearances, new book news, etc.


Now I have to think about what else to put on a FAQ page. Other than: "Will there be a Splendo(u)r Falls sequel?"

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Unraveled!

Gena Showalter’s YA series, Intertwined, featuring paranormal magnet Aden Stone continues this September with UNRAVELED. To celebrate her new release, Gena and her author BFFs are hosting a 4-day scavenger hunt on their blogs; including this one. Three grand prize winners will each win a $100 Visa gift card, plus Miss Gena’s giving away signed copies of UNRAVELED to five lucky runner-ups! All you have to do is find all eight letters, unscramble them and email the word to Contests(AT)KnightAgency.net. Easy peasy. Today, P.C. Cast and I have our letters up front and center. To get the skinny on where the other letters are hiding in the great internet universe, click here for a contest road map and rules.

Participating UNRAVELED hunt blogs include superstar authors Rachel Caine, PC Cast, Marley Gibson, and Tina Ferraro and Linda Gerber. This contest runs from Monday, August 30th to Thursday, September 2nd. All entries must be received by Monday, September 6th at midnight ET. Happy Hunting!

So, are you behind the curve and wondering what UNRAVELED is all about? ;-) Read on to learn more about Aden:

For once, sixteen-year-old Aden Stone has everything he’s ever wanted:

A home.

Friends.

The girl of his dreams.

Too bad he’s going to die... Since coming to Crossroads, Oklahoma, former outcast Aden Stone has been living the good life. Never mind that one of his best friends is a werewolf, his girlfriend is a vampire princess who hungers for his blood, and he’s supposed to be crowned Vampire King – while still a human! Well, kind of.

With four – oops, three now — human souls living inside his head, Aden has always been “different” himself. These souls can time travel, raise the dead, possess another’s mind, and, his least favorite these days, tell the future.

The forecast for Aden? A knife through the heart.

Because a war is brewing between the creatures of the dark, and Aden is somehow at the center of it all. But he isn’t about to lie down and accept his destiny without a fight. Not when his new friends have his back, not when Victoria has risked her own future to be with him, and not when he has a reason to live for the first time in his life.

--
Ready for the secret letter?  

*Cue Secret Letter Revealing Music*



Now go on to P.C. Cast's blog and get the next one!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blue Monday

TGIF is wasted on me, and Monday is usually something I look forward to, since it means the house will be quiet so I can work. (Well, this is relative. Mom is talking to the dogs right now. Mom is convinced that if she speaks loudly enough, they will suddenly become obedient.)

But so far to day I have:

1) Overslept

2) Spilled coffee all over my desk

3) Fed the wrong dogs the wrong food (which they didn't mind, but I will, much later in the day)

4) Gotten stung by a wasp...

5) ...on the bottom of my foot...

6) ...right when the carpet guy knocked on the door.

So the only thing worse than being in excruciating pain is having to hobble around trying to crate barking dogs while reassuring a workman that no, it really is safe to come in and just excuse me for a minute while I hop around on one foot and curse a lot.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

iLesson: Storytelling voice

Think about when your mom or dad told you a bedtime story. Or your camp counsellor told a ghost story at the campfire. Or when your dad told you about meeting Elvis while he was in the Army.  Or your grandmother told you about the Nazi occupation of The Hague. 

The storytellers probably didn't use perfect grammar. They weren't following any rules. If it was a good story, well told, it held your attention. If they lived the story, then the emotion in their recollection, the rate of their speech, or the way they drew out the story in some places and skipped over the boring stuff in others... or even where they skipped over the bad stuff, giving you only a hint of how bad it really was... that's the story teller's voice. 

When you write a story, you have a voice, too. Instead of inflection and rate of speech, you have long sentences and short ones. Your descriptions are lingering and detailed or stark and bare. You have delicate, sparkling dialogue or raw, gritty action. 

Or any combination in the world. 

Voice is one of the hardest things to teach. You can't read in a book how to have a good voice. You can have a natural 'ear' for it, like a musician has an ear for pitch, or a ballerina may have natural grace or dexterity, but you still have to train and practice.  In a way, you're developing your ear for language, and your grace and dexterity with words. 

The only way to do that is hands on. A singer with a good ear may recognize good music when she hears it, but but she still has to train her instrument. 

How do you do that? 
  1. Write and write and write.
  2. Read all different types of writing.
  3. Reread a book that you love and pay attention to how the writer draws you in to the story, how she choses to handle emotional moments, action scenes, or description. 
  4. Experiment with different styles. 
  5. Mimic other writer's voices, and see what 'feels' good to you. 


And finally...

6) Combine what you like most from what you've read and written into a voice that's uniquely yours. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday

Do you like how I’m coming up with some really creative blog titles this week? That’s because the new book is going to have chapter titles instead of numbers, and all my title creativity is going there.

Of course, right now those titles are something along the lines of:

Amy Falls Down a Hole

and

Phin and Amy Fight. Again.

Is this making you want to read the book?

I must be feeling pretty confident about the rewrite, because usually I don’t like talking about my projects until it’s in the can, so to speak, and I can’t waffle any more. (Yes, I’m a pancake girl, until it comes to my writing, and then I am the World’s Biggest Waffle.)

Take for instance the chapter:

Nothing Happens In This Chapter

which after a full day of work was subsequently titled:

Big Major Clue Buried Deep In This Chapter

but then became:

BMC Buried TOO Deep

which lead all the way back to the newest title:

People Will Think Nothing Happens In This Chapter And Mock Me On the Interents.

And on that note, I will get back to work on the latest chapter:

Scary Ghosts Are Scary. Hopefully.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

From TEXAS GOTHIC, coming out next year:

“Fine. I’m trespassing.” Dropping my arms, I refilled the dogs’ bowl and capped the bottle. “If you’re going to run us off, can I at least get a look at the cool stuff first?”

“You swear you’re just here to satisfy your curiosity?” he asked, a skeptical twist to his brows.

I drew an X over my chest and raised my right hand, careful what I said, because oaths have consequences. Even implied oaths. “My motives are pure.”

If I was lying to anyone, it was to myself. I told myself I wanted nothing to do with ghost hunting, or rumors of haunting, but last night’s apparition, its reaching hand and gasping mouth, weren’t far from my thoughts. It had only moved to the corner of my mind, where the morning sun couldn’t reach.

Ben seemed satisfied, and he stepped back to let me pass. As I did--ignoring the tingle where my shoulder brushed his--I added, for the hell of it, “But I can’t promise my sister won’t get a wild hair and decide to experiment with raising the dead.”

His brows shot back down; they were extremely expressive, really. “You aren’t nearly as funny as you think you are.”

“Who’s joking?” I said, as I headed toward the dig site, and the uncovered grave by the river.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Monday...

No movies to talk about today, because I’m trying really really hard to get this revision finished, and I haven’t even watched TV for a week. My living room has actually stayed neat because I haven’t been in it.

(Okay. It’s stayed neat from dog-height up. It’s normal to wade through a minefield of squeaky toys, right?)

The nice thing is, I have episodes of Psych, Covert Affairs (which was renewed, yay!), Warehouse 13 and Eureka waiting on me. Plus a stack of books! Plus I really need to get out to see a couple of movies before I have to wait for them to come out on DVD.

Here’s one thing I DO love about Living in The Future: The Networks are quick to cancel, but it seems that quriky, niche shows can flourish on cable. So people like me, who have always said “If I like it, it will be cancelled,” have options for viewing that we never have before. There are channels just for the weird or offbeat.

I am a little worried that I spend so much time on USA, which demographically makes me a woman of a certain age bracket. I sure have to suffer through a lot of minivan commercials. *shudder* Of course, thanks to my love of the History Channel. (Anyone else been watching “Chasing Mummies?” That’s my kind of reality show.) I know that I can go to the Grand Canyon in a Hoveround, and what kind of denture cream to get for the best fit.

So here’s my TV recommendations. You should check out Covert Affairs on USA on Tuesday. Pretty, likable heroine, hot guys with guns, hot guy with keyboard.

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Covert Affairs. Aren’t they cute little spys?

And you should follow @psych_usa on Twitter if you like that show. There’s one crew that’s got a handle on this Social Media Networking thing: Amusing, informative, makes me want to watch the show.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Prom-tastic

I'm not sure what prom-pted it, but last night people were posting their prom pictures on Twitter. As you can imagine, much hilarity ensued. Let's just say some fashions have not stood the test of time.

Of course I'm going to show you mine:


I'd actually dug this picture out of a box, because I was thinking about using it for something when Prom Dates From Hell came out, but then I never did. Which is probably too bad, because it's one of the most flattering pictures in my life.

This dress (and gloves, and hair) were not at all fashionable. I designed this dress and mom made it. (You can't see, but it has a point at the waist, like a ballerina tutu or a Victorian gown. That was very important, because I knew that was more flattering as I am short waisted and have, um... I was stacked even then.)

I felt like a million bucks. You can kinda tell that from my smile. And funny, I had gotten a terrible sunburn a few days before. I itched like CRAZY. But it had faded to the point where it just gave me a really nice glow. Seriously flattering, completely by accident.

But back to the fashion thing. I was *horribly* insecure about my looks in High School. I was younger than everyone else; I had great hair, but I kept trying to make it do unnatural things (A spiral perm omg);  And even more incredible, I thought I was chubby (!!!!).

I did have a bit of baby fat through most of high school, but the real problem was that I was a very curvy girl when the fashions were unforgiving to anyone with boobs and hips. Just the shape of the jeans--high waisted, pleated front, peg legged--were the perfect storm of hideous on a short, short waisted, big boobed, curvy hipped girl. I actually HAD a waist, but I went through school looking like a Weeble.

And the Madonna lingerie trend? I hadn't worn lacy-strapped lingerie since I was 12. By the way, I'll say this for advances in engineering. The bras for bigger girls are infinitely prettier now. Back then "support" basically meant something a little like a harness. Unfortunately, thanks to the media, and some comments made by classmates at a rather formative point in my life, my curves translated to 'fat' in my eyes.

Then some time in my senior year, I stopped paying attention to fashion. I stopped buying my jeans in the juniors section of the department store and got plain ol' straight leg Wranglers from Cavenders. I loved old Hollywood musicals, and when I looked at the gorgeous women in the 50's and realized I was shaped just like them, and THEY looked amazing. In trying to put together things that *I* thought looked cool, I made plenty of blunders.  But the prom dress? That worked out.

Don't get me wrong. There were no whispers of "Who's that girl in the beautiful dress?" Or "Who's that ugly duckling turned into a swan?" I was as under the social radar as I'd ever been, but with my own set of friends. It's looking back that I see what happened here.

I was *myself* in this picture. Even better, I was the me I wanted to be: independent (of fashion), creative (I'd designed the dress), and confident (obviously).  That would come and go (a lot!) and it still does. But when I look at that girl in the picture, I see the person I've become now.

Mostly. When I'm not eaten away by neurosis and worry.

Huh. Maybe I should look at this picture more often. :-)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Social Media Networking has ruined my Internet Social Life

Social Media Networking has taken all the fun out of my Internet social life.

I have been on the Internet since I had to dial up with my telephone. My BFF "from college?" We met on a writing bulletin board from three states apart. Before Internet dating became mainstream, I told people we went to school together because only freaks became friends with someone they'd only communicated with at 56 Kbit/s. (Look it up, kids)

Especially because I lived in rural Texas, I've always relied on the Internet to connect with like minded people--reader people, writer people, comic book people, fannish people. (This is not to say people don't read in rural Texas, or even that they don't read Science Fiction in rural Texas, but just... Well, the entire population of Refugio County could fit into Cowboys Stadium ten times.)

What I'm saying is, I was social on the Internet LONG before Facebook or Twitter. Even before MySpace or LiveJournal. I actually *remember* my computer telling me "You've Got Mail." (I also rode a dinosaur to school.)

Now comes along Social Media Networking. It may surprise you to know, dear readers, that authors take *classes* in how to talk to you on the Internet. How it's not enough to have a website. We need to have a Facebook and a Twitter platform, and provide Meaningful Content on a Regular Basis and Ohmygodthepressure!

I can't just tell you that I celebrated with a vanilla latte because I made it through one day without having to clean up dog pee from my floor. (I didn't think anything could be harder to house train than a Papillon until I got a Pomeranian.) Now I have to be Entertaining! Informative! Profound!

Talk about performance anxiety.

Twitter is easier, because it's a smaller investment on both our parts. I angst less over whether you will consider my love of caramel frappuchinos a waste of 140 characters. But a whole blog on my frustration with the running toilet right next to my office? (No, really. I've changed the flapper like five times.) just doesn't seem worth the click through on Google Reader.  (Um, it is, I promise. I'm hysterically funny when it comes to ranting about my plumbing.)

The thing is, I love the Internet, but I don't like Networking. I like talking about movies and books and MY books and my dogs and coffee and my diet and how I hate to go to the gym but I have to because I love cheesecake. I might also mention Russell Crowe occasionally. And mixed in with that, I'll tell you about whatever book I've got in the works.

So, I hearby declare myself done with Social Media Networking. I'm just going to go back to blogging and tweeting with my friends, colleagues, and most of all, readers.

In honor of that, here's a picture of my dogs:


(If you want to see more of them, you can follow me on Twitter @rclementmoore. But don't bother to friend me on Facebook. I still haven't figured that one out.)

(I'll still be doing iLessons on Thursdays. There's an iLesson here, if you look for it.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mermaids vs Ghosts... and the winner is YOU

Vampires vs. Werewolves is old hat. And zombies? Gross. What about the under-represented supernatural creatures?  Where do they fall in the world of WWFC (Wacky Wrestling Fantasy Creatures)?

Right here:

THE ULTIMATE SUPERNATURAL SMACKDOWN

In a paranormal fight of epic proportion, Tera Lynn Childs (Forgive My Fins) and Rosemary Clement-Moore (The Splendor Falls) are hosting a throwdown between two of the fantasy world's most elusive creatures: GHOSTS and MERMAIDS.

Now it's time for you to choose sides in the battle, and reap the rewards. Your challenge is thus:

Write a 500 word essay declaring whether you will align with ghosts or mermaids and why. You can debate the relative merits of either creature (mermaids are corporeal but ghosts can move through walls) or explain how you think the battle will go down or just flat out say why you prefer one over the other. You can even write a flash fiction piece that makes your preference crystal clear.

To submit your essay for consideration, either email your entry to one of the hosts (tlc@teralynnchilds.com or rosemary@readrosemary.com) or Twitter reply them (@teralynnchilds or @rclementmoore) with the #ghostsvsmermaids hashtag with a link to where you have it posted.

Ah, but what about the rewards? The hosts will choose three winners from each side (making six winners in all) to win a signed book and swag pack.

Deadline: September 1, 2010

Let the battle begin!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

iLesson: Things I never learn

I'm trying to decide what to share with y'all today, since the iLesson usually comes out of whatever we discussed at IHOP after my wednesday writer's group. Only we didn't got to IHOP last night, because IHOP was closed for redecoration. (I will say, as I drove by, that the new blue coat of paint on the roof looked very fresh and... IHOP-y.)

If I was going to share with you what I learned at critique group, I could actually just link to previous posts. For instance, I learned the Perils of the Prologue, to trust my gut, and to stop second guessing myselfbecause chances are my instincts are right the first time.

I COULD just link you to my vlog at WriteOnCon.com where I talk about (and give a visual representation of) my (Pizza) Pie in the Face Writing Lesson. (Here's the text version.)

Or I could tell you this piece of advice: Don't let the internet and things distract you when you haven't gotten your work done for the day.

So now I'm going to go get my work done for the day.

Happy Writing!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Trifecta of Movie Monday






Movies are one of my favorite blog topics. I guess because it's still story telling, but it's something I enjoy watching and talking about because it's not WORK. Even when I dissect the story arcs and/or characterization, and talk about how it applies to writing, it's still NOT writing. There's no pressure, and it uses a different part of my brain.

So this weekend, I caught up on a stack of movies from Blockbuster. The problem with the "unlimited" package is that if you let your DVDs sit around for a month (or, ahem, more) it's not as much of a bargain.

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First, INVICTUS. I'm not a sports movie fan (I know this surprises you) unless there's a lot of other stuff going on. And that's certainly the case with Invictus, which is about the South African Rugby team winning the World Cup in 1995. Except that's not really what it's about. It's about how Nelson Mandela began to unify and reinvent the country.

I find Mandela a very interesting individual. He is revered for his work ending apartheid, recipient of the Nobel Prize, regarded as the unifier of his country, he's a prime example of how one man's activist is another man's terrorist. And vice versa. What I find interesting (and admirable) is that after essentially being at war with the apartheid government, and after the way he was treated by them, he was about reconciliation and not retribution. That's the point that the movie makes about Mandela.

So, it's kind of one of those movies where you know what's going to happen, but watching it unfold is a pleasure. It hit the emotional moments a little obviously sometimes, but that didn't stop me from sniffling. I was really struck by how hard it must have been to take the reins of a broken country, looked down on by much of the world, and have to basically reinvent it.

perseusclashofthetitansposter-2010-08-9-09-36.jpgOn the other end of the spectrum, there was CLASH OF THE TITANS. I actually saw this in the theatre, but Mom hadn't, so we rented it. I have to say, it didn't make any more sense on a second viewing. I said on Twitter, it's like the movie makers took a bunch of things that would look cool (Giant scorpions! Hot guys in short leather skirts! Liam Neeson and Ralph Feinnes chewing scenery! Big! Giant! Kraken!), put them all in a hat, and drew them out at random. Then just as randomly stuck them in the movie.

No character has consistent motivation, the throughline is muddled... Actually, that's too generous. No one seems to know what the theme is. Man rebels against the gods? Then why does it takes the gods' intervention to save men from the big monster sent by the gods because man rebelled against... See what I mean? Basically it's just "Everyone is pissed for no reason except to have an excuse to fight big scary monsters."

TheGhostWriter-2010-08-9-09-36.jpgAnd finally, THE GHOST WRITER. I'm still thinking about what I think about this movie. I was very interested in the story, but I figured it out pretty early. After that I became more interested in what director Roman Polanski was trying to say about politics, extradition, and war crimes. I'm still trying to figure it out. It was certainly a stylish movie, and I like Ewan MacGreggor in just about everything. (Definitely the best thing in three Star Wars movies.) But I'm on the fence about the 'triller' part and the 'mystery' part. I guess file it under "interesting" but not terribly exciting. But maybe that's just me. Like I said, I figured things out pretty early. Maybe this is a testament to the skill of the actors for playing 'squirrelly' so well?

What about you guys? Catch any interesting movies lately?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

ILesson: Get ride of the Nice Nice

This advice comes from my friend Candace, though I think she may have heard it somewhere else. When writers pass things on, it’s usually our interpretation of something someone else has said that clicked with us. So we steal it and pass it on to you.

So, the nice nice, as Candy tells it, is the conversational things that happen in civilized dialogue. So a conversation between character could go like this:

“Hi,” Jim said.

“Hey,” said John. “How was your flight?”

“Smooth, but the in flight movie sucked.”

Jim grimaced. “I hate it when that happens.”

The two men walked through the restaurant and then sat down and a waitress came over. She put down two cocktail napkins, then straightened and took out her pad and pen and then she looked at Jim and said, “What will you have?”

Jim looked over at the bar and read the signs on the wall to get an idea what they had on tap. “I’ll have a beer.”

She wrote it down and looked at John. “How about you?”

John read over the menu and said, “I just want a Coke.”

She wrote their orders down. “Thanks. I’ll have those right out.” Then she turned and walked off and after she was gone Jim turned to John and said, “I hear you’re under indictment for murder.”



Without my telling you, you can probably pick out the nice nice in the above example. It’s the things that are very “real” because it’s what real people do. However, dialogue in books isn’t meant to be exactly real but only to FEEL real. You want to mimic the way people talk, and maybe the rhythms of conversation, but you don’t want a literal transcription.

There’s a lot of nice nice in the action in this example. Again, you want to give the feel of the scene, not a blow by blow transcription.

You want to get to what’s important as quickly as possible. How quickly that is depends on your style, the pace of the scene, where it is in the book, and what you’re trying to accomplish.

If you’re trying to keep the pace of the book up, you could pare it all the way down to this:

Jim greeted John when he went into the restaurant, as if they were just two guys meeting for lunch. He kept up the fa├žade until the waitress had seated them and taken their order, then leaned across the table and said under the clatter and chatter of the lunchtime crowd, “What’s this I hear about you being indicted for murder?”

Nothing wrong with that; if the purpose of this scene is to get to their conversation, get to their conversation. The ambiance of the restaurant may not be important, but it’s also easy to slide in with a carefully chosen word or two.

Sometimes you need a certain amount of nice nice to get you in and out of a conversation. And you need stage business to set the scene and avoid sounded like you have talking heads. But in that case, it’s not just nice nice, it’s establishing scene or character or tension.

Jim let is eyes adjust to the dim light in the restaurant, and wished they’d met somewhere with a better line of sight. He found John, and felt out his state of mind with a neutral, “Hi. How was your flight?”


“Smooth,” said John, glancing at the hostess as she stepped into earshot. “But the in flight movie sucked.”

It’s all a matter of balance. Everything in the scene should serve the story in some way. Pare it down until nothing is in there just to be nice. Make it work for you.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Disney/RWA Day 137

Any time I travel, but I think especially when it's for work, when I'm doing a lot of socialization and stuff and OMG have to be professional and nice to people, I usually reach a point where I am just ready to be home. I usually go off on walks by myself or hole up in the hotel room to "work," which is how I generally refer to surfing the Internet when I don't want people to bother me.

The Awards ceremony was really neat this year. I got to be a presenter, which was tremendous fun. Got to schmooze with other amazing authors and meet new people. Also, I totally sat next to Meg Cabot at dinner.

I didn't like how any of my pictures turned out. I don't think I'm that red faced in person, but *every* picture of me lately, I'm like a beet!

So, about to call for a bell hop to take down massive amounts of luggage. Glad the Equinox I'm driving has hands free calling, since I'm having to keep up with my mom, who has been ill. Think good thoughts, and I'll post more trip report when I'm back in Texas!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Boardwalk Ramble

So, this morning, I had to get out of the hotel for awhile. I actually feel bad for the Equinox, sitting lonely in the parking lot. I wanted to get out and drive somewhere, take advantage that I have an actual car here. Only I was worried I might not find my way back. Well, the car has On Star, so I wouldn't have actually gotten lost, but I might have gone too far afield and not gotten back in time, and I'm the type who worries (obsessively) about these things.

ANYWAY. I put on my gym clothes, thinking that was a start. Headed for the gym. Somehow ended up walking out of the hotel instead, and going over to Disney's Boardwalk. It's build to resemble the turn of the century boardwalks in Atlantic City and all that.

Here. A picture is worth a thousand words:
BoardwalkBreakfast2-2010-07-31-10-03.jpg
Oh, well, you have to ignore that big pyramid thing back there. That's my hotel, the Dolphin. Nice, but not exactly turn of the century Atlantic coast.

Anyway. I walked down to the Boardwalk Bakery, stood in line for an egg and cheese croissant and a cup of coffee, then took it outside and sat on a bench to eat. It was only 8 am, so while I was dripping from the sauna humidity, the sun was still low enough that I could still breath, just not deeply.

Here was my view of the vacation condos across the lagoon:
BoardwalkBreakfast-2010-07-31-10-03.jpg
They're pretty swank, with activities and very fancy pools and stuff. But mostly I dig the lighthouse and the shipwreck. Obviously the lighthouse isn't very effective. (I walked around the lagoon, which, as it turns out, is a solid mile, so I felt less guilty about skipping the gym after I found that out.)

While I was eating, I had a visitor:
BoardwalkDuck-2010-07-31-10-03.jpg
This guy was very interested in my sandwich. I MAY have *accidentally* dropped a few crumbs into his waiting beak. I'm a sucker for beady little eyes.

As it happens, the egg and cheese croissant had WAY too much cheese on it, even for me, so I ate enough to silence my mother's voice in my head telling me to eat some protein, then I just peeled off the yummy croissant part. Disney is surprisingly not very vegetarian friendly. Most menus have only one meatless option (not counting a dinner side salad). That surprises me, with visitors from all over the world. So it's been a bit of a challenge getting protein.

Anyway. I was sitting there, feeling all Boardwalk-y, and vacation-y, except for the sauna and the complete lack of breeze. Then a bird splat landed on my shoe, and I decided it was time to walk back.
BoardwalkShoe-2010-07-31-10-03.jpg
Could be worse. Could have been in my coffee.

Tonight, the Rita Awards, where I get to present the award to some lucky YA author!