- Tue, 14:00: Hello folks! Put your brains in gear, it's time for Tuesday Trivia!. I've tried to be even sneakier this week, so... http://t.co/k3J0EpxciR
- Tue, 14:05: Jeez shopping people. Don't ask me to rate your business till you've shipped me everything and I know it's all good.
- Tue, 14:07: I'm not Goodreads. I don't rate things I haven't bought/tried. *koffs & grins* And no, that's not very politic of me to say. I did anyway.
- Tue, 14:13: RT @laurendane: A good editor manages to say the tough things without destroying you in the process. a good editor does not shame an author.
- Tue, 14:26: Breaking news bulletin from my cats: THERE ARE BIRDS OUT THERE IN THE YARD!
- Tue, 14:42: I now have eight cat toys by my feet. I think *somebody* is hinting for Sandy Paws to get here soon.
- Tue, 15:40: Dropped one of my shoes with heavy, chunky heels on my little toe. Almost sprained the damned thing. Toe, that is.
- Tue, 16:00: Hello folks, I'm just reminding you again (since there seems to be new faces here every week now!) That Yasmine... http://t.co/eN5CF4dUxj
- Tue, 22:45: You get it when I'm done writing it! As in, working on it now. RT @Camille_DArtigo: Hey @YasmineGalenorn! When do I get my next book, huh?
- Wed, 08:00: Dear Iris: I’m married to a werepuma. I’m an FBH. I love her dearly but I also love having a tree during the... http://t.co/Hx9VK1hqKP
I started writing my script yesterday. In about an hour's worth of work, I managed five pages (two scenes), though a lot of that time was spent trying to convince Word to let me format it the way I needed to. I imagine I'll need to find a dedicated screenplay program if I decide to really do this on a more regular basis. It's definitely a mental shift from novel writing because you can't write anything that doesn't show on the screen, and that means no thoughts. I have to find a way to dramatize everything.
Some of my writer friends are doing a series of Christmas-related blog posts, and I figure I might as well play along. Since I'm talking about my Christmas movie, I'll start with my favorite seasonal movies.
When it comes to the made-for-TV movies of the sort I'm writing, I have two major favorites that I can rewatch multiple times, and I still like them. They fall into the "I want to write something like this!" category (as opposed to a lot of the other ones, which fall into the "I could do better than this" category). Most of the rest of these movies I watch either to snark at or to be amused by seeing actors who are more familiar from various science fiction shows in entirely different roles.
One is The Christmas List and is from sometime in the mid-90s on the Family Channel. It's about a woman in her late 30s who, on a whim, writes out a Christmas wish list. When her co-worker at a department store puts the list into Santa's mailbox in the store display, the wishes start coming true in unexpected (and not always pleasant) ways. The thing I like about this one is that although there's a hint of magic in how this works, once the magic kicks things off, the heroine gains the confidence to start going for things on her own, and the magic isn't even necessary anymore. Now that she's admitted to herself what she wants, she goes after it. There is a romance, but it's more of a byproduct than a goal, and she has to learn to be confident in herself first. One of the best scenes comes when she's wished to go to this fancy restaurant she's always wanted to go to, and her boyfriend won't take her there because it's a waste of money. After she dumps the boyfriend, she gets dressed up, goes on her own, gets treated like a queen by the staff and has a wonderful time.
The other is an ABC Family movie from a couple of years ago, The 12 Dates of Christmas, a Christmas take on the Groundhog Day story, in which a woman finds herself reliving the same Christmas Eve twelve times. In each iteration, she has a blind date that she starts out resenting because she's not yet over her ex-boyfriend, but by the end of the cycle she's fallen in love with the guy. Along the way she's started noticing all the other people in her life and learns to appreciate them more and do the things that they need. This one is refreshing because there's no "villain." The ex is a decent guy, his new girlfriend isn't a harpy, and he had a good reason for breaking up with the heroine. The heroine doesn't need to be reformed so much as taught a few minor lessons. She's no Scrooge, just someone who's been too tied to her own plans for her life to really consider other people. It's fun, funny, and gives me the warm fuzzies.
On the big screen, The Holiday may be my favorite. That's the one in which a depressed British journalist and a stressed movie trailer producer swap homes for the holidays, so the movie trailer producer winds up in a quaint cottage in a tiny English village, where she meets her hostess's handsome brother, and the journalist ends up in a Hollywood mansion, where she learns some lessons about gumption from an elderly screenwriter. I think the main reason I love this movie is that a quaint cottage in an English village and a pile of books would pretty much be my dream vacation if I wanted to get away from it all and relax. But I also like the character arcs and the romances, and it's another movie that gives me the warm fuzzies. More movies like this, please.
Another favorite is the classic Christmas in Connecticut, the original, not the remake, in which a single woman who writes a Martha Stewart-style magazine column has to improvise when her publisher invites a returning war hero to spend Christmas at the Connecticut farm she writes about in her column as a publicity stunt. She quickly has to come up with a farm, a husband, a baby, and home-cooked meals (when she can't cook), and then regrets the husband part when she meets the war hero. I kind of want to write an inverse version of this, in which a homebody who writes a Sex and the City-type column has someone want to join her for her glamorous Christmas-in-the-city life.
My favorite version of A Christmas Carol is either the musical Scrooge or the Muppets version.
There's been some controversy over Love Actually lately, with a columnist talking about how awful it is. I love it, but I have to be in a certain mood to watch it, so I don't watch it every year.
Opening lines are a tricky business for us writers, Gentle Reader. I had cause to dive into some of my favorite books in order to research great opening lines recently. (Mostly as a means of abject procrastination.)
Here are a few I tracked down:
- "In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three." ~ Diana Wynne Jones, Howl's Moving Castle
- "That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me." ~ Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted
- "Linderwall was a large kingdom, just east of the Mountains of Morning, where philosophers were highly respected and the number five was fashionable." ~ Particia C. Wrede, Dealing with Dragons
- "There was a man and he had eight sons. Apart from that, he was nothing more than a comma on the page of History. It's sad, but that's all you can say about some people." ~ Terry Prachett, Sourcery
- "The first arrow hit me right between the breast." ~ Claudia J. Edwards, Taming the Forest King
- "Blessed – look out!" ~ Mercedes Lackey, By the Sword
- "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck." ~ M.T. Anderson, Feed
- "When the Catteni, mercenaries for a race called the Eosi, invaded Earth, they used their standard tactic of domination by landing in fifty cities across the planet and removing entire urban populations." ~ Anne McCaffrey, Freedom's Choice
- "And the moral of the story: never call a two star general a basterd to his face." ~ Tanya Huff, The Better Part of Valor
- "I pulled the shard out just as his wound began spurting blood." ~ Elizabeth Vaughan, Warprize
- "I bet Hippocrates never stepped one foot into a dump like this, I thought as I peered through the tavern's narrow entrance." ~ S.L. Viehl, Stardoc
- "I didn't realize he was a werewolf at first." ~ Patricia Briggs, Moon Called
- "When I was a young boy, if I was sick or in trouble, or had been beaten at school, I used to remember that on the day I was born my father wanted to kill me." ~ Mary Renault, The Last of the Wine
There seem to be some trends in opening lines. Mind you, I refuse to put this under scientific study, so this is all wild speculation. Most SF/F authors opt to start with setting or character description. I'd say this is the hardest and most challenging way to begin. You really have to write description exceedingly well to pull in a reader's attention in this age of short attention spans. As a reader, I rarely stick with a book if it opens with paragraphs of description. Which brings me round to that small pocket of authors who lean in favor of opening with dialogue. I like this, and do it often myself. More recent works launch with an action sequence, needless to say, I like this as well, but it can be kind of a cop-out.
So, what about you, Gentle Reader, favorite opening lines? ("Best of times, worst of times" doesn't count.)
Or how about great favorite books with awful starts to them?
"Miss Alexia Tarabotti was not enjoying her evening."
~ Soulless opening line
GAIL'S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
|1900 The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
|Swift and Roe|
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
|Oven Mitt as Bubble Wrap?|
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Baby Got Back...Story
PROJECT ROUND UP
Waistcoats & Weaponry ~ The Finishing School Book the Third. Waiting on copy edits.
Curtsies & Conspiracies ~ The Finishing School Book the Second. Out now!
Manga ~ Soulless Vol. 3: (AKA Blameless) Available serialized through YenPlus. Out now!
Prudence ~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Delayed. Why? Begin rewrite in 2014.
Sony ebook store has Gail Carriger's 5 Spunkiest Females in Fiction.
Quote of the Day:
"You don't have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great."
~ Les Brown
Yukon Cornelius and Bumble surveyed the carnage. Icicles of blood littered the field. Blackened pine trees still smoldered, turned to brittle black skeletons by elfin flamethrowers.
The calves had all survived, but two adult reindeer and an elf lay dead. Bumble let out a howl of dismay. Cornelius patted the abominable snowman’s fur-matted, thick-muscled arm. Bumble had grown fond of Santa’s herd over the years, and they had adopted him like a big, not-too-bright brother.
“It’s ugly all right,” said Cornelius. “Doesn’t look like the snowman had any strategy beyond smashing whatever he could find.”
Mrs. Claus’ stern voice buzzed from the speakers in Cornelius’ yellow earmuffs. “Can you track him?”
A microphone braided into his moustache carried his answer back to the Pole. “Of course I can track him. I’m Yukon Cornelius! You just make sure Jack Frost holds his breath a little longer so he doesn’t bury the trail. The last thing we want is a blizzard covering Frosty’s tracks.”
Frosty hadn’t gotten away unscathed this time. According to the reports, the flames had thinned his armor and set fire to his broom. The snowman had been forced to flee, belly-sledding away at speeds neither elf nor reindeer could match.
As Cornelius walked, he checked to make sure his silver and gold-inlaid revolver was fully loaded. He had grown up in the northern wilderness, and had faced everything from angry yeti to rabid reindeer. These days, his beard and moustache were more gray than red, and he wasn’t quite as quick to pick a fight, but he was still twice the hunter and tracker of any man within five hundred miles.
Bumble sniffed the air. His lips peeled back in what would have been a fearsome snarl, if Hermie the elf hadn’t pulled his teeth all those years ago. The flat, too-white dentures just weren’t the same.
Cornelius dropped to one knee and jabbed a finger into the ice-crusted snow. It tasted of pine, blood, and soot. Relatively fresh. They couldn’t be more than an hour behind. “Don’t you worry. We’ll find this snowman and be home in time for dinner!”
“Just find him,” Mrs. C said sternly. “Do not engage.”
“Understood.” He pulled his pick axe and shifted his belt, making sure the revolver was in easy reach. The point of that axe could punch through stone. It would crack Frosty’s frozen armor like a nutcracker through a chestnut. He might not be planning on a fight, but he’d be a fool not to prepare for one.
A second set of tracks intercepted Frosty’s trail. Cornelius jabbed his axe into a human-sized footprint, then licked the tip. The tracks were fresh, and from the residue, they weren’t local. Elf-made boots had their own sugar-sweet aftertaste. These tracks tasted like old rubber.
He touched his moustache. “Frosty’s not the only one wandering our woods.”
A less alert man would have missed the sharpening of Mrs. Claus’ words. “His master?”
“Won’t know that until I find them. Yukon Cornelius doesn’t make assumptions.”
The tracks did follow the same path as Frosty. In several places, the human prints indented the smooth slide of Frosty’s path, meaning the human had followed behind the snowman.
Bumble grabbed the top of Cornelius’ head, and turned him gently to the right. Unfortunately, the beast’s oversized fingers also prevented Cornelius from seeing what Bumble was trying to show him.
“I can’t see through your hairy mittens, you big oaf!” He pried the hand free and looked around.
The pine trees here were thin and undecorated, unlike the woods closer to the Pole. A short distance ahead was an icy crater, lightly dusted with snow. It looked like an enormous ice cream scoop had gouged the ground. In the fading sunlight, Cornelius could make out something sparkling in the center.
He readied gun and axe and moved closer, checking the trees to either side for movement. “Looks like a bomb went off here.”
The tracks continued on, passing the crater a ways to the side. It didn’t look like they had stopped. On a hunch, Cornelius approached the edge of the crater and jabbed his axe into the snow. He circled slowly, squinting and tasting. He had gone halfway around when his tongue confirmed what the snow had hidden – the human had been here. Three, maybe four days back.
“It’s some kind of ornament,” he said. “Crystal, maybe. Busted all to pieces now.”
“Don’t touch it. I’m sending Rudolph and a pair of elf researchers your way. Can you tell what the ornament used to look like?”
Something in Mrs. Claus’ tone made Cornelius’ moustache itch. Bumble’s hackles raised, and his eyes spun to and fro, searching the shadows.
“I’d say a star. Or maybe a snowflake.”
“Get back to the North Pole now.”
He spun, gun raised. “There’s nobody here, Mrs. C. Just me and Bumble. And we still don’t know where Frosty—”
The snow exploded as if the snowman’s name had summoned him up from an icy hell. He was larger than Cornelius remembered. Without missing a beat, Cornelius put two bullets through the center of Frosty’s head. “Found him!”
Frosty roared and leaped, broomstick raised like Death’s scythe, but Bumble tackled him from the side. They fell into the snow, rolling like cats. Bumble was all claws and fury and angry growls, a regular Bumble rumble.
Cornelius charged in. “Get out of the way, you overgrown hairball!”
Snow swirled to his left. So focused on trying to line up a shot that wouldn’t hurt his friend, Cornelius ignored the movement a second too long. By the time he spotted the figure stepping out of the snow as if through a curtain, it was too late.
“Clever girl,” he whispered.
“Cornelius, what is it?” shouted Mrs. Claus.
He spun, throwing his axe and raising his pistol, but his limbs had already begun to slow. Cold seeped into his bones.
He saw Bumble jump to his feet and start toward him. Frosty clubbed Bumble’s knee with his broomstick. With an angry howl, Bumble seized Frosty by the head and hurled him through the air at one of the pine trees. The pine tree broke with a crack like bone, and Frosty went down.
Bumble charged to Cornelius’ aid. Blood matted his fur, and one of his ridiculously huge eyes spun in circles, a sure sign of concussion in bumbles.
“I’m not afraid of you, beast.” The woman’s words grated like death itself. Ice flew toward Bumble’s face, sharp as shards of broken glass.
Bumble howled again, but he kept coming. However painful his physical injuries, his grief and determination were stronger. Bumbles were loyal to the end, though it was unusual for a Bumble to show such loyalty to humans and reindeer and elves. As long as Cornelius was alive, Bumble would fight to the last breath to save him.
What had an old prospector ever done to deserve that kind of friendship?
As his strength ebbed and his hands stiffened, Cornelius forced his wrist to bend, until he was peering down the barrel of his own pistol. “Get out of here, you dumb Bumble!”
With Bumble’s anguished cries echoing through the woods, Yukon Cornelius forced his frozen finger down on the trigger.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Good news! POOR LITTLE DEAD GIRLS by Lizzie Friend releases today! Lizzie is part of Clan MacLeod — authors represented by Lauren MacLeod (my agent!), so of course the entire Clan was excited and eager to celebrate. But as things do within the Clan, it all got a little out of hand.
Harmless writer pranks, or murder games? You decide.
Mónica B. W.
Perfect people aren’t just born. They’re made.
The first time she is blindfolded and kidnapped, star-athlete and posh boarding school newbie Sadie is terrified. She wakes up in a dark room surrounded by hushed whispers, hooded strangers, and a mysterious voice whispering not-so-sweet nothings in her ear.
But once the robes come off, she realizes it’s just an elaborate prank designed to induct her into the group that’s been pulling the strings at Keating Hall for generations. The circle has it all–incredible connections; fabulous parties; and, of course, an in with the brother society’s gorgeous pledges.
The instant popularity is enough to make Sadie forget about the unexplained marks on her body, the creepy ceremonial rituals, and the incident that befell one of her teammates the year before. So the next time Sadie is kidnapped, she isn’t scared, but she should be. The worst of Keating Hall is yet to come.
of the Oldest Wild Bird in the World
with a special child(ren).
"On Dec. 10, 1956, early in my first visit to Midway, I banded 99 incubating Laysan Albatrosses in the downtown area of Sand Island, Midway. Wisdom (band number 587-51945) is still alive, healthy, and incubating again in December 2011 (and in 2012 and in 2013). While I have grown old and gray and get around only with the use of a cane, Wisdom still looks and acts just the same as on the day I banded her. . .remarkable true story. . . beautifully illustrated in color." -- Chandler S. Robbins, Sc.D., Senior Scientist (Retired), USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD.
CLICK BELOW to view
the story of the 63-year-old bird
in your favorite store.
An odd thing is happening on my current WIP: I am writing the story out of order.
Here’s the process for this story–which will change, of course, for the next story.
- Jot down rough ideas for the story. This project is book 3 in a series, so I knew the characters and setting. I just needed to sketch out the main conflict and how it fit into this world.
- Check continuity issues. Of course, this mean that I had to check continuity issues. What was the name of the homeroom teacher and how is she described. In other words, I had to dip back into the previous stories and re-immerse myself in the milieu.
- Expand the ideas. Next, I expanded the ideas to a paragraph or more for each of the ten chapters.
- Check the narrative arc and strengthen. At this level, it’s easy to see flaws in plotting: not enough tension, not enough suspense, not enough at stake, etc. I worked with story line, actually struggling for about two weeks, trying to get all the elements to work together. The result was about ten pages, or one page per chapter. These consist of snippets of setting, dialogue, or character emotions. I know roughly what story beats will be involved, though each chapter needs expansion.
- Expand. With that foundation, I am now writing out of order. The narrative arc is strong, so I’m confident that the planned scenes will actually fit into the story about where I have them now. I am confident of the content that belongs in each chapter. I’m not worrying about fine-tuning each scene, I just want something down and I can turn to any chapter/scene that I want at this point.
- Integrate. I have about six of the ten chapters written and already much has been revised. I reread the whole thing each day and find weak places to edit and continuity issued to address. This time, I mean continuity within this novel, not necessarily within the series. But I am also going back to Books 1 and 2 to change things for series continuity.
- Repeat steps as needed. I am working all over the landscape of this short novel and it’s interesting to see it unfold and how connections are creeping into the draft, making it stronger.
Some sequences are easy to write out of order; some sequences must be written in order or the author gets confused.
Will I use this process again? I don’t know. Maybe for Book 4 of this series, but maybe not for another genre or other series. Usually, each project needs its own trajectory and working method. All I know is that this is moving me forward. For now.
It's been a pretty good year for me, productivity-wise. I've published four short stories, a novella, a novelette, a piece of flash fiction, and a novel. And I've written and delivered a whole bunch of stuff that's not coming out until next year...
...and my dance card for 2014 is officially full. That's a pretty nice feeling right there.
If you want to find any of my work from the past year, here's your handy year-end list for doing so.
Shattered Pillars, the second Eternal Sky novel, came out in March. This central-Asian epic fantasy has been pulling in great reviews and reader response. I also made an intemperate blog post about being the first writer of an epic fantasy trilogy in history to deliver the third book on time. And I did it, albeit by the skin of my teeth. Steles of the Sky is scheduled for April of next year, and the ARCs are already in the hands of reviewers.
My other stand-alone book of the year was Book of Iron, a novella from Subterranean Press, the prequel to Bone and Jewel Creatures. These stories are also in the Eternal Sky universe, set about four hundred years later and in a different part of the world. In this one, Bijou and her friends race through poison Erem in order to stop a foreign Wizard from making a very, very bad mistake.
The flash fiction was an untitled piece for Popular Science, published in the July 2013 issue, dealing with interstellar travel and the way space smells.
The novelette was audio-only, in METAtropolis III: Green Space. It's called "Green and Dying," because everything is improved by Dylan Thomas, and it's a caper story about an attempt to liberate some IP from a seastead. Of course, something goes... really, really wrong.
And then there's the short stories!
From Fireside III, "Form and Void," a science fiction story about mean girls and hurt girls and space exploration and Io. I'm awfully proud of this one, and you can read it for free here. (I think this one is technically a 2012 publication, but it happened very late in the year, and you can actually read it online now.)
From Dark Faerie Tales, "Samarkar's Tale of the Three Genjia," in which one of the Eternal Sky protagonists retells a fairy tale. You can read this one for free as well. Obviously, this too is an Eternal Sky story.
There's a second Eternal Sky story out this year: "The Ghost Makers," in Fearsome Journeys. It's about a Gage and a Dead Man who discover they have an enemy in common, and what they do about with that knowledge.
My last story for 2013 is "The Governess," which was published in Queen Victoria's Book of Spells. It's about an unlikely alliance between two very different women... and some other things.
- Current Mood: productive
- Mon, 12:10: RT @AlexisASmith: SB I-5 closed- If you must travel south, exit @ SR 512 to SB SR 7. Starting to see delays there too. @KIRO7Seattle http:/…
- Mon, 12:29: RT @EmrgencyKittens: Tis the season. http://t.co/JVGVGUJBVl
- Mon, 12:30: Today is a day for music and kitties and words. :)
- Mon, 13:02: Husband called me from Starbucks to ask what I wanted. The man understands me.
- Mon, 13:03: RT @SundaysSparrow: Trust...... .. http://t.co/9PooFENvOF
- Mon, 13:16: Caly wants everybody to know THERE ARE BIRDIES IN THE YARD!!!! (She's guarding the house via watching out the window).
- Mon, 13:23: Later this week, on my FB page: Cover Reveal for the 5th and final Indigo Court Book--NIGHT'S END. http://t.co/uQGE7Iry9r
- Mon, 13:46: Would love to be that limber! RT @EmrgencyKittens: If I can't see you, you can't see me. http://t.co/x2DNp0JL80
- Mon, 13:53: RT @jayewells: Would anyone be interested in reading Meridian Six in print form? It’s an e-only novella now.
- Mon, 15:23: Low carb lemon-blueberry muffins in the oven. Twenty-two minutes till melty goodness.