Wednesday, December 17, 2008
My Christmas wishes this year are simple.
1. I wish that I could make it through just one holiday without someone in my family creating a bullshit situation in order to get attention.
2. I wish that I could have just one holiday where I wasn't pissed off at someone within the two weeks immediately preceding or following Christmas.
3. Considering the last few years, I wish I could hav eone holiday where there wasn't some odd and/or frightening health situation ongoing during the season.
4. I wish that I could have one holiday where everyone around me was happy.
5. I wish that I could have one holiday out in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, with just my husband and myself and no stress.
6. I wish that just once, I could cook Christmas dinner for everyone and finally have a meal that I could enjoy every aspect of. I think I'll volunteer to do that this year just to be different.
7. I wish that I could have a Christmas that was so wonderful it would make up for all those Christmases with my family that I missed while I was on the road in the theatre.
8. I wish that one that one perfect Christmas, it didn't involve me doing more acting that the Christmases I spent onstage performing in strange cities for strangers.
9. I wish that being together was more important that the presents.
10. And finally, I wish that all of my dear, dear friends never have to write a post like this because of a situation created by one of their hysterically mean-spirited relatives deciding to ruin the holidays early this year.
Merry Christmas and bah humbug.
But he likes Asphodel to the point where he's at. That makes me happy. It's like the day a reviewer stopped in the middle of her review and emailed me, telling me I'd better be writing more Asphodel books and that I'd better not kill off Brial. I framed that email and hung it over my desk. I may do the same with this one.
Most writers never have a clue about what people think of their work save for reviewers and sales. You can deduce that if your sales continue to rise with each consecutive book that you are building a readership. That's obvious. Reviewers are paid to give their opinions of your book--and you'd better hope they like it. Talk about a make or break opinion!
But the average reader? The one who reads your blurb on the back of the book and says, "Hmm, this sounds good. I think I'll try it." -- those are the ones whose opinions you never get to know, never get to hear, never get to ponder and enjoy. That's why, to me, they're so much more important.
There's a young lady at Absolute Write who's read all four books in the series. She was really sick at home and I sent her the unedited versions so she'd have something to read because she was too sick to get out to the bookstore and wanted something new to read. I can occasionally be nice, so I sent Asphodel on to her. She finished all four books in four days. One a day. And she loved them, even in rough form and without all that editorial polish, she got hooked by the story and loved the books.
So that's why this email meant so much to me this morning. Fantasy isn't even this man's genre--obviously, if he hates elves and dragons it eliminates a lot of it. But, for some odd reason, he likes my work and thought enough of it to write me a note and tell me so. It's the high point of what has been a not-quite-as-much-fun-as-a-gynecological-exam sort of week of me. It reassures me that maybe I'm not that bad as a writer. Perhaps, just maybe, I'm on the right track.
I'm walking on air right now and trying not to wipe out on the ice. What a lovely way to start off my day! Hopefully, he'll like the other three books in the series too. That would be an accomplishment indeed.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
In case you're interested, I also interviewed three outstanding writers for the AW Day of Listening. You should all stop by and check it out on the 14th, even if you're not members of Absolute Write. you'll get to hear the stories of writers at all levels of success--some of the interviews are oral histories, while others are feature stories/interviews. If nothing else, it will give you a fascinating insight into the minds of writers and how differently all of our minds work.
I feel all important and stuff. Don't miss it!
Work with me.
I am sad.
Although this has not been a banner year for my beloved Tennessee Vols, this is still a sad day for me. It's the beginning of the withdrawal period, that horrible couple of weeks where they tease you with pundits and then start the best two weeks of the year--bowl season.
But something is missing this year in bowl season--something besides my Volunteers. Common sense. Let's start with the obvious.
According to BCS (Bullshit Conference Suckingupsystem) any team in a non BCS conference ranked in the top twelve in the BCS rankings is eligible for a BCS bowl bid. This year, there were two such teams--Utah and Boise State. Both were undefeated--PERFECT records which not a single BCS conference team was able to pull off. So to start off with, thinking logically, why aren't the two UNDEFEATED teams playing in the National Championship game? Hmm...let me think: because they aren't the SEC team-that-shall-not-be-named or Oklahoma or Ohio State or LSU or Texas or USC. Despite the fact that both teams played BCS conference opponents, they aren't considered good enough to compete with the big conference schools. You know--like those huge powerhouses in the ACC and the Big East. So, they're being robbed from the opportunity to (probably ever) play for the BCS championship because they belong to the wrong athletic conferences.
Let's take that one step further. Utah, quite deservedly, will play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl--an Alabama team that read one too many of its press clippings and managed to lose to the team-that-shall-not-be-named in the SEC Championship. But where is Boise State, also undefeated and ranked in the top twelve playing?
The San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
What, they weren't worth even a New Year's Day bowl? Did they conveniently forget how a few years ago a huge underdog Boise State BEAT Oklahoma in the best bowl game played in recent memory. Don't get me wrong: TCU is a worthy opponent. They held Oklahoma to only 35 points, their lowest score of the year (twice, due to the Oklahoma LOSS to Texas with the same score). Problem is, TCU only scored ten points in that game.
Think about that for a minute. A Notre Dame team that lost to SYRACUSE at least gets to play on Christmas Eve--in Hawaii. What reward does Boise State get for a perfect season?
They get robbed.
Come on already, guys. Have some common sense; maybe even a shred of decency. Give us a playoff. A sixteen game playoff, using the existing bowl systems and let the teams decide our national championship on the field. I'd bet money that if we had such a system this year, there would be two undefeated teams in the final four.
And what wouldn't I give--all of us give--for a national championship game that doesn't kiss the ass of the power conferences and let two undefeated teams from *minor* conferences play for the crystal BCS trophy on the field on January 8? Right now, I'd give you one Charlie Weiss and raise you a Lane Kiffin.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Raine Delight is a woman who loves books with a passion. The storylines, the characters and the way an author weaves the words makes her believe in HEA (happily ever after). With a boy-toy of her own to cheer her on and two kids under the age of 10, Raine tries to relax by letting her muse take charge and explore the boundaries of her own writing, reading, watching movies and has a serious Johnny Depp Crush! Published with Aspen Mountain Press, her Devon Falls series is garnering great reviews and a reader following and she just released her first fairy novella through AMP called Fairy Kisses and Magical Dreams. She looks forward to hearing from readers and is at work on her newest WIPs that her muse is determined to make her write.
Visit my website at http://authorrainedelight.com/ to see what is going on with me and other goodies.
Hardest? That would be trying to make sense of it all. *laughs* Making sure that things flow smoothly yet make sense as well. Some days I get it, other days not so well. :)
The town grew from one story, Sticky Magic, which BTW I wrote in one week. :) It was well received and readers were clamoring for more. It has 5 stories planned (three are currently available at Aspen Mountain Press and 2 more are on tap for 2009). Currently a short is running through my head with Jack Frost and he is itching to visit Devon Falls. :)
I have been writing Devon Falls for close to three years and I need a break so I think 2009 will see the last of it for a spell before I let myself take a peek into it again.
Next in books is a romantic comedy/Paranormal called Love you to bits. It was my NaNo project and I got to 25K on it so now is time to check to make sure it is coherent. LOL Another is the 4th Devon Falls book-already into my publisher, the 5th Devon Falls book, plus several new projects itching to be told. A very busy time yet I love it. :)
Skye sat with her hands fisted in her shirttails so she wouldn’t throttle her well-meaning yet clueless Aunt Mary. The smoking cauldron on the stove erupted into another hiss, and the smell made her stomach curdle.
Aunt Mary muttered to herself as she gathered the necessary ingredients for the love spell from various places in the ancient farmhouse.
Skye tried not to cringe when her aunt walked too close to a knife sitting on the edge of the table. Clearing her throat, Skye mustered enough courage to ask, “Is this thing supposed to turn black and smell like rotten eggs?”
Oh my, yes dearie.” Aunt Mary said as she bustled around the kitchen.
Skye blew out a deep breath and tried to keep calm as she watched her aunt stir something that looked suspiciously like toad legs in the cauldron. Yuck. I swear, some days it’s almost too much to bear, with Mary’s new found interest in new age-isms and spells that do everything but what they’re supposed to. Skye looked at the clock and sighed, knowing she wasn’t going to get on the road back to Dayton any sooner than when her aunt deemed worthy.
Skye tried not to sound dejected but after her disastrous Valentine date where her date just talked and talked about his life and career; she felt like she was going nowhere fast. Her friends found their own true loves, got married and had their own happily ever after. Where was hers? Her aunt was determined to get the sparkle back in her eyes, or so she said the first night she visited Topeka. It was enough to make Skye cringe in horror but she couldn’t say anything mean to the one person who loved her more than anything. Flipping her hair off her face, she breathed a sigh of relief as she watched her aunt finish whatever she was doing to the brew until Mary turned around with a cup of the foul smelling stuff.
“Here you go dear. All finished and ready to be drunk by you! All you need to do is say three times: `I wish for my true love to find me´ and then within seven days, according to the spell book I got from a used book store, your true love will find you and steal your heart away.” Aunt Mary gazed fondly at Skye, who tried to look happy but couldn’t conceal the sadness in her eyes.
She took the cup and peered at it grimacing with distaste. It was blackish-blue in color, with something that looked like lightening bugs flashing in it. For a moment, Skye watched the kaleidoscope of colors; it was enough to make her cross eyed. Uncorking the bottle, Skye tried to shield her expression from Mary though if she was honest with herself, she was willing to try anything to get her happily ever after, even drink a foul looking potion to get what she desired.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I am not a book reviewer. I am a book writer. However, occasionally I feel compelled to discuss a piece of literature that impacts me strongly. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is one of those books.
I've run into a lot of naysayers about Rowling's books, which I love unabashedly. A lot of adult readers have considered Rowling an intellectual lightweight. If that's what you thought, take a look at Beedle.
Set up as a series of fairy tales told to children in the wizarding world, this version is allegedly a 'new translation by Hermione Grainger' with footnotes and interpretations by Albus Dumbledore. At first I thought this was a ploy to give us yet another Potter holiday must-have item. It's not. Rowling takes these children's tales and cleverly weaves them into a modern-day equivalent of medieval morality tales. For example, in the first story "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot," a hard-hearted son is bequeathed an old pot and a single slipper by his kindly wizard father who's spent his lifetime healing the various ills of the Muggles around him. When the son is approached by desperate Muggles, he denies them help. The pot grow a metallic foot. The more he denies help, the more the pot bangs around with its metallic foot wreaking havoc in the home. Eventually, just to gain peace and quiet, the son agrees to help the wizard. he then puts the slipper on the foot of the pot, and it no longer makes the noise that keeps him awake every night. At first glance, this is a familiar and simple tale--the stereotypical fairy tale where a father posthumously teaches his son the value of compassion.
What sets the tale apart happens in Dumbledore's notes:
The tale, allegedly written in the fifteenth century, lost popularity as a result of the growing prevalence of witch hunts across Europe. Pro-Muggle stories such as this were revised.
"...In the revised story, the Hopping Pot protects an innocent wizard from his torch-bearing, pitchfork-toting neighbors by chasing them away from the wizard's cottage and swallowing them whole..."--Tale of Beedle the Bard, page 13-14.
Dumbledore goes on to say that the wizarding world grew concerned over "...their unhealthy preoccupation with the most horrid subjects such as death, disease, bloodshed, wicked magic, unwholesome characters, bodily effusions and eruptions of the most disgusting kind..." Tales of Beedle the Bard, page 17.
In an attempt to "...fill the pure minds of our little angels with healthy, happy thoughts..." the Tales were rewritten, in a more child-friendly tone. Dumbledore's final assessment of the situation is that the revamped tale "...has met with the same response from generations of Wizarding children: uncontrollable retching, followed by an immediate demand to have the book taken from them and mashed into pump..." Tales of Beedle the Bard, page 19.
What a brilliant and pointed observation on the sanitization of literature in order to 'protect' the minds of our children today! A basic morality tale had been changed, first because the political climate wasn't favorable to the Muggles it painted kindly and then because it might be considered too violent for the fragile minds of the children who read it! I remember debates when I was a kid about the advisability of keeping Tom Sawyer on the shelves. Speaking of banning books, anyone recollect the brouhaha in recent years over a certain children's wizard book that promoted Satanism?
I'm not one to ascribe political motives to the author of a children's book. But, if this was just an unintentional coincidence and not Rowling's reaction to the reception her books have received from certain narrow-minded corners of our society I'll eat the Sorting Hat. This is an intellectual, but highly entertaining and thoroughly age appropriate set of little stories that not only expand a child's knowledge of the Harry Potter world, but gently initiates them into the concept that politics has no place dictating the future of literature. Ever.
On a different and an amazing note, this book's profits will go to help the Children's High Level Group charity, co-founded by Rowling and the Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne to help children in institutional situations--including those with disabilities. What a lovely and wonderful thing to do!
My advice to you? Buy the book. You're helping a charity, you're getting more from the amazing wizarding world of Harry Potter, and Rowling delivers a delightful and instructive series of tales that will amuse and entertain generations from 7 to 70. At just around one hundred pages, it's a perfect stocking stuffer and a fabulous gift.
And for those naysayers who blathered on about Rowling's lack of intellectual integrity, it's time to eat some crow. Hedwig will be providing shoes...and salt...so that their gnawing on their own shoes might be a bit more favorable. Do yourself a favor and learn from a writer who, despite the squawking to the contrary, has broadened her horizons into an insightful and sometimes pointed expose of the atmosphere surrounding modern literature. Beedle is beautifully written, the stories are definite bedtime stories for your young ones, and adults will appreciate the mature and elegant way in which she handles tough topics for wizards and Muggles both.
I give Beedle five Firebolts--four for sheer entertainment value and one because JK Rowling is just so darn smart.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Hurray! I'll be hosting my first guest blogger on December 10. I hope you'll all come out and check out my guest and very dear friend Raine Delight this week. She's a fun writer and a hell of a spunky lady, with some great ideas about writing and how it works. She is a another writer at Aspen Mountain Press and I love and have read all of her books. If you haven't checked out her Devon Falls series--get prepared! Raine is a little on the spicy side. *drools*
Check out her blog at http://authorrainedelight.com/blog/ for some clues into how she thinks. Very coincidentally, I'll be at her blog on the same date--answering some tough questions and doing my darnedest to be funny. Come see if it works.
Looking for me in other places Check these out:
I'll be joining Raine as a guest on Sierra Dafoe's loop on December 9th. Sierra is a very dear friend and writing mentor of mine, who came to my house this summer so we could bond over seaafood crepes and margaritas. (We REALLY bonded.) The first story I ever published, I wrote and submitted because she dared me to. She is a brilliant writer and puts the 'hot' in erhotica. (That was done on purpose; trust me) We'll be there from 7 to 9 pm EST.
Then, on December 11th, I'm hosting a pajama party at Sinful Seductions from 7 to 9 pm EST. Here again, lots of excerpts--a sneak peek at book FOUR and a HUGE contest. Might want to make it out.
Then on December 29th, it's an all day long "End of 2008" party at Love Romances Cafe. I'll have special guests, lots of giveaways of 2008 releases and some special sneak peeks of things coming in 2009--including some very dear friends of mine that you haven't met yet. ALL. DAY. LONG. What could possibly be better? Not a hell of a lot. One thing I know for certain that's being giving away--a special release CD version of the Asphodel series--with cover art and signed by moi, along with a special short story set in the Asphodel world that's never been released before!
Wanna find me on the web? Here's the schedule! Stay tuned, because there's more on the way!