Archive for March, 2014
Monday, March 31st, 2014
Hi Everyone. I’ve talked about Marianne’s books before and I adore them. She’s got a new book out titled Peacemaker. I can’t wait to read it. I’ve got a copy burning through my kindle right now.
Before I introduce you to Marianne, here’s a description of Peacemaker:
Virgin Jackson is the senior ranger in Birrimun Park – the world’s last natural landscape, overshadowed though it is by a sprawling coastal megacity. She maintains public safety and order in the park, but her bosses have brought out a hotshot cowboy to help her catch some drug runners who are affecting tourism. She senses the company is holding something back from her, and she’s not keen on working with an outsider like Nate Sixkiller. When an imaginary animal from her troubled teenage years reappears, Virgin takes it to mean one of two things: a breakdown (hers!) or a warning. When the dead bodies start piling up around her and Nate, she decides on the latter. Something terrible is about to happen in the park and Virgin and her new partner are standing in its path
Doesn’t it sound like a great read? And now, let me turn you over to Marianne, who has kindly agreed to blog today.
Developing a character from a short story to a novel
I wrote a short story back in 2003 entitled Gin Jackson: neophyte ranger. It was a far future, science fiction tale set in outback Australia about a young woman who was a ranger for a vast, sparsely inhabited area. It had recognisable SF trappings: a town in an environmental bubble, bio-modified part-mechanical horses, and some other nifty technology. I found it a challenge to create the world and tell a self-contained story in three thousand words, but I think I did an O.K. job. The short story was published and then republished. It didn’t win awards but it was out there and got read by a few. More importantly though, it took root in my subconscious. I liked the main character. She was the capable, energised kind of heroine that I enjoyed hanging with.
Years passed. Literally … like seven years. Time came to begin a new novel, potentially a series. Gin Jackson starts banging on the inside of my skull, demanding to be let out. Before I even know what I’m doing, I’m writing about her again. She’s still as opinionated as ever, still as capable, but the Gin who’s been trapped in my subconscious has undergone a few changes (imprisonment can do that to you). Short-story-Gin had inherited the ranger’s job but didn’t really want it. She also had a problematic relationship with her father, and life sucked way out there in the bush.
The gal in the new novel insists on being called Virgin, LOVES her job and is her father’s greatest admirer. More changes follow these. The setting becomes the city, and the endless outback becomes an endangered park. The Wild West takes over the Australian West, and her sidekick turns out to be a real life cowboy. Go figure?
So why am I telling you this?
A writer’s hindbrain is an unfathomable, fascinating, and unpredictable place. Stories can brew in there for years, or they can strike like lightning. There is no way to chart the its anatomy. It’s a rabbit hole of Lewis Carroll dimensions, capable of creating a perfect storm. Like the red spot on Mars, it churns and boils and never ever stops. All you have to do to keep it in working order, is to live life.
And the one thing I have learned in twenty years as a novelist is … to trust it. We do our best thinking when we’re not!
Learn more about Marianne and her books
Order off Amazon here: Peacemaker
Thursday, March 27th, 2014
I don’t want to be too soon on this, but today was the first no-barf day for my son in 2014. I’m beside myself. He’s on the super expensive medication that costs 4 dollars a pill and he can take up to six a day as needed. Yep. $275 for a 10 day supply. On the positive side, he took only two today and wasn’t fighting nausea all day. I’m holding my breath, afraid it won’t last. Still, the first no barf day in three months. It’s kind of a miracle.
In celebration, we are going to OMSI tomorrow. We’ve never been, and we’re looking forward to what it has to offer. The nice thing is is that we became members, so we can come and go all year, so if boy gets to feeling bad, we can leave without feeling like we’re wasting the money.
Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
I read this book yesterday. It was light paranormal fantasy with some romantic elements or hints of it. It was terribly flawed, yet I read to the end, eager to see what happened and why. I think I’ll be reading the sequel when it comes out. I’m thinking about why, though. As many flaws as this book has, I should have stopped reading and moved on to another book. So what did it have going on?
Let’s start with the flaws, or what the book needed to overcome. First, there were a lot of spelling and other errors, like changing names of characters in a scene or mis-referencing the various characters in their actions. Second, there was some info dumping, and then some weird pacing issues. Some of the character interactions seemed odd and inexplicable. When a big event happened, there was little believable reaction. Things seemed to develop in an unconnected way. Little of the magic was explained, and what was, was repetitious. There wasn’t enough showing to go with the telling.
Okay, that’s a lot to overcome. So what made me keep reading and wanting to keep going? First, the magic was fun and the world was different. I loved the interactions between the characters and I liked them. I was curious about some of the events and I wanted to know more. There were a lot of episodic moments that ran to completion, which I liked, even though they didn’t seem interconnected. I didn’t like the bad guy was predictable and that one of the main sort of bad guy (not bad, but significantly obnoxious) fell off the radar and turned out to be completely unimportant to the story. I didn’t buy certain motivations. And yet I still liked this story! I did enjoy the voice of the character. She wasn’t stupid, and she wasn’t over the top brave/kick-ass. She was a quieter sort of protagonist.
So my take away from this is that you can make a lot of mistakes and still pull readers in if you have good characters, an interesting world, a good voice, and entertaining action. It’s so far from perfect it isn’t funny, but it was a fun read.
Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
Today I had an absolutely lovely day. Took girlie shopping and we had a lovely outing until . . .
I had to go into Costco to get another prescription for boy (his nausea medicine) and a few other things. We decided to get a slice of pizza and so sat down to eat before we left. This smiling older gentleman sat down opposite us and his wife beside me. He started chatting, and pretty quick he dove into politics. He firmly believes in Glenn Beck. I firmly believe Glenn Beck is mostly delusional. He insinuated that if I in any way supported Obama, I therefore did not support the constitution. Voting for Obama even though much of the Republican party lately is (from my perspective and based on legislation passed by Republicans and blocked by Republicans at a Federal and State level) anti-science, anti-education, anti-gay marriage, anti-women’s rights, anti-middle-class worker, and into privileging companies over people, is a vote for the end of the world apparently (Biblically, for these people). They quoted information at me that I found to be problematical and/or downright wrong. Also, the Bible is not a convincing support for me. Sorry. Unless you’re going with the Do Unto Others rule, which I support.
I consider myself an independent voter. I’m not enthusiastic about any of the party offerings for the most part, but right now, there’s very little that would convince me to vote for a Republican. I’d rather vote for Randy of the Redwoods (an old MTV reference, for those who don’t know). I am also not convinced that the Republicans can and will save the economy. Their track record is not that good. So while those people who tell me I should be voting Republican will acknowledge (some if not all) the problems I mentioned above, they will say it doesn’t matter because the economy matters more than everything else and only the Republicans can save it.
I don’t buy it. I’m not saying I’m a particular fan of Democrats. I see tons of problems there and frankly I think if a politician’s lips are moving, s/he is lying. (Although I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Warren). I think that too many politicians have no idea how ordinary middle-class people live and I think that all too often they’re in it for the prestige and power and money. I am not enthusiastic about the NSA spying. I’m really disgusted by the recent attempts to make it possible to refuse services to people because your religion might not accept the way they live and who they are. Suck it up sunshine. This America. We believe in equal rights.
I like guns. I like equal rights and human rights. I like the environment. I like for women to have equality under the law. I like universal healthcare. I like lower taxes. I like education. I like decent wages. I like the separation of church and state. I like unions and protections for workers. I like a woman’s right to choose. I like freedom of religion. I like gay marriage. I like the constitution. I don’t believe corporations deserve the rights that people do. I think quality education is vital. I believe in evolution and science. I believe people have a right to defend themselves in their homes and kill if necessary (I’m thinking home invaders here and abusive spouses, and imminent danger).
I hold both conservative and liberal beliefs and a range in between. I’m not Christian, but neither do I know what I am. I’m not sure I’m atheist. I’m just not convinced in any particular direction. I honor and respect those who do have faith, no matter what it is, though I’ve no respect for people who are hypocritical about their religion. Of course, I don’t respect hypocrits in general. I believe in Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You. I also believe in the Wiccan Rede, An it do no harm, do what ye will.
I got up and walked away from this couple. Mostly because I was done eating and I wasn’t going to change their minds and they weren’t going to change mine and I didn’t want to be preached at, and I didn’t appreciate their judgements of me.
On the positive side, after a horrible bout of barfing this morning (brought on I think by a coughing attack), boy has had a good day.
Monday, March 24th, 2014
The boy barfed up a ridiculously expensive pill tonight. Nuff said on that.
And now for a snippet. This is from my nameless novella, and I have not written any words on it for awhile. Same as my other work. But I hope you enjoy. It’s rough. Be patient.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Whoever killed the incubus was targeting him. Finding him, luring him down here—it was well-planned.”
I nodded, my brow furrowing. This was reasonably obvious. “Yeah?”
Law grimaced. “If he is after the stolen box, you’ll be going after him.”
“That’s the job,” I said.
“This thing is dangerous,” he said.
I was beginning to see where this was going and anger rolled through me. “It is.” I offered nothing more. I was going to see if he was really going to jump off this bridge.
“What if you can’t handle it?” he asked bluntly.
It was a fair question, and if it had been anyone else but him asking, I’d probably have taken it better. As it was, all I knew was that he was doubting me, questioning my ability. Maybe because of the lich incident, or maybe because I’d failed to grab the box already. Maybe the ghosts made him think I was weak.
“I guess if I can’t handle it, I’ll end up painting the walls like the incubus,” I said. “Let’s hope I’m better than that.”
Law dragged his fingers through his hair. “Damn it, Mal! This is serious.”
“I’m well aware of that, Law,” I snapped. “I just didn’t realize that you had such low opinion of my skills.”
He gripped my shoulders, jerking me against him. “This has nothing to do with your skills, and you know it,” he seethed between gritted teeth. “We don’t know what this thing is, but we know it’s smart and it’s dangerous. What makes you think you can handle it by yourself?”
I shoved myself back. He extended his arms, but didn’t let go. “What makes you think I can’t?” I demanded.
“I don’t think so, but I also don’t know that you can. For one, you’ve decided you’re anti-killing. All well and good, but that handicaps you whether you like it or not. For two—” He broke off.
I waited, chin jutting stubbornly. He didn’t continue.
“That’s it? I don’t kill so I’m doomed to fail? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” This time I succeeded in pushing out of his grasp. “Good thing I broke our partnership up when I did. I knew you wouldn’t trust me to guard your back any more.”
Sunday, March 23rd, 2014
We went to the beach as planned. Boy was sick this a.m. but he managed to get through the day with only nausea. We walked on the beach and it was lovely. The waves were a rich blue green and the sun was shining bright and the wind was light. Girlie played in the waves, boy hunted for treasure, and the doggies played tumble, roll, and chase. We had fun. Ended up waiting a billion years for lunch because it was crowded and the kitchen was slow.
The one weird thing I did today was forget to rinse the conditioner out of my hair. It was disgusting. Stiff and greasy feeling. Spent the whole day that way. Blech. Don’t ever do that.
And boy just got up and got sick. Sigh. So much for the end of a lovely day.
Saturday, March 22nd, 2014
I decided to make an effort this weekend to entirely ignore the writing and my issues with it. Instead, I decided that I wanted to get out of my head and try to find some equilibrium. I started this morning with sleeping in, then got up and made some chai and had grapefruit, then we went outside and planted some flowers (the primroses I bought awhile back and haven’t had a chance to get in). Then I watered all the new plants we’ve put in. After that, we decided to run errands and go eat. The boy of size was willing, so off we went. We ate some Chinese food, then went to an estate sale we drove past. We ended up having to walk a ways to get there, and that was good. Kids stayed in the car. Didn’t get anything, but it was fun to poke around. The walk was lovely. The air was redolent with all sorts of flowers.
After that, we went to run some other errands and ended up with some birdseed and feeders, and then we went and got gas and then stopped for an ice cream cone and headed home. There were naps in the afternoon, and then a before dinner walk, and after dinner dog brushing and toenail clipping.
Tomorrow is the beach. At least that’s the plan, providing the boy can handle it. The dogs definitely are looking forward to it. Me too. Maybe we’ll find something cool. No matter what, I’m going to enjoy the weather and the waves and the smells and the walk. I’m hoping to plan some bulbs this week. Our ground is clay, so I’ll need to put in some good dirt/peat/manure. I have a bunch to put in. I’m going a little bit overboard with the whole flower thing, but after Montana where too few things grew, it’s probably natural. Next we’ll need to get going on building the vegetable beds and getting them filled.
And I have to find some words. I just have to.
Friday, March 21st, 2014
One of the tough things about this illness with my son is being the mom. He’s with me all day and so I’m primary. I have to think about his care and feeding, while also thinking about the rules, the chores, and the learning how to be a self-reliant person. He’s hit his teen years, so that makes things tougher. He’s really going through changes and yet he’s sick and he wants to be independent, but doesn’t want to do some of the things that are required of him. So I’m in a position of trying to decide what lines to hold and what lines to let slip. This is part of what’s wearing on me. It isn’t that the man isn’t totally supportive, because he is. It’s that I’m in the trenches and so I have hours and hours where I’m the only one.
I am struggling with that. Being strong enough, being wise enough, being calm and careful enough. Especially when I’m the target of the dramatic tantrums and outbursts (he doesn’t yell at me or anything. But he’s good at sucking the air out of the house all the same).
I just sent the man out with the kids to get dinner so I could be alone in the silence. Well, the dogs are here. The sun is shining bright through the window and while I’m tempted to go for a walk, I also just want to sit in the sunbeam. I did not make words today. They just aren’t there right now. That’s worrying me a lot, which no doubt helps the situation tremendously. Both kids are home right now–spring break–which doesn’t make it any easier. I suppose there’s always tomorrow.
Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
I’m wiped out. Mentally and emotionally. Doing the caretaker thing isn’t physically hard, but it’s incredibly draining emotionally and it’s interfering with my ability to write and generally function. I’m trying to work around this. I have to sort it out and figure out a way to get through and make words. I am having trouble focusing. I can do tasks like errands, cleaning, even tax stuff, but the creative part of my head is tough to access. I want to bang my head on my desk sometimes and try to knock it loose inside. I’ve been walking and trying to take time by myself (that doesn’t really happen well), but even when I do sit down to write, my head is fragmented and disjointed. But it is my job, and my job needs doing. So I have to do it. Put my head down and one step at a time, no matter how hard.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m surprised by this exactly. I get that stuff is going on. It’s just that I feel like I ought to be able to deal with it–compartmentalize and keep on keeping on.
Friday, March 14th, 2014
It’s one of those days. The doc is putting Boy on a new drug that is not covered by insurance apparently because it was in existence before the FDA started approving drugs and is unapproved, and called by the insurance company a “desi-drug.” This drug will cost $300 for 20 days, I believe. Crap. Still if it works, it will be worth it. I hope it does. So do me a favor, and go buy a crap-ton of books because I need the money. Ain’t got nothing in the couch cushions. I’m reminded of the scene in White Christmas where Danny Kaye asks Bing Crosby how much it’s going to cost them to bring the show to Vermont and Bing Crosby says somewhere between ouch! and Ping! So there’s that.
Now I need to go write. Maybe go pick up cans on the side of the road. My husband says we’re going to be nillionaires.