Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Reads

Enough wangsting about my stress levels - they're coming down with the help of a good dose of medicinal Rum & Raisin Dark Chocolate; which I'm taking religiously o.O

Two books coming out next week (oh, I truly hope they are in the shops, waiting patiently for me...) that I have my greedy eye on:

Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen:

In Wyoming for a medical conference, Boston medical examiner Maura Isles joins a group of friends on a spur-of-the-moment ski trip. But when their SUV stalls on a snow-choked mountain road, they're stranded with no help in sight. As night falls, the group seeks refuge from the blizzard in the remote village of Kingdom Come, where twelve eerily identical houses stand dark and abandoned. Something terrible has happened in Kingdom Come: Meals sit untouched on tables, cars are still parked in garages. The town's previous residents seem to have vanished into thin air, but footprints in the snow betray the presence of someone who still lurks in the cold darkness-someone who is watching Maura and her friends. Days later, Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli receives the grim news that Maura's charred body has been found in a mountain ravine. Shocked and grieving, Jane is determined to learn what happened to her friend. The investigation plunges Jane into the twisted history of Kingdom Come, where a gruesome discovery lies buried beneath the snow. As horrifying revelations come to light, Jane closes in on an enemy both powerful and merciless-and the chilling truth about Maura's fate.

SQUEEEEEE... Gotta love Tess Gerritsen!


The Search by Nora Roberts:

To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life-a quaint house on an island off Seattle's coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescues. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare...

Several years ago, Fiona was the only survivor of the Red Scarf serial killer, who shot and killed Fiona's cop fiancé and his K-9 partner.

On Orcas Island, Fiona found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. But all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He's the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon's house, and he's at his wit's end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can't handle. Simon, however, is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he's a rugged and in-tensely private artist, known for the exquisite furniture he creates from wood. Simon never wanted a puppy-and he most definitely doesn't want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to his hormones.

As Fiona embarks on training Jaws, and Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona's life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands...

Ooooh, shiney!

I still have a couple of books to get through before I can read these, but the maternal influencer has a birthday in two weeks - I'll purchase one... hell, I'll get both for her. There. The moral high ground. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I lived!

So I survived and the speechifying went as expected - not my thing, but the students, yes, all sixteen of them, were interested and asked questions. No stammering or shaking hands from me. I love my history; the students, not so much. Fortunately, my colleague went way over time, but my fifteen minutes went well.

What I found interesting was there were four sessions (we only did one) with various organisations, but the students didn't know which group they'd be placed in. I think that was unfortunate, since they had no opportunity to do any prior research on the company for whom they'd be creating a marketing plan.

None of them had heard of the historic figures I presented, nor the fictional characters I compared them to (Horatio Hornblower, Honor Harrington) who were based on the naval heroes relevant to where I live. It could have been because all but three were Asian students.

The problem with stress is that it's exhausting; I felt like I'd run a marathon and, I suppose, with a constant high heart rate, it's similar.

I earned the glass of merlot... and then promptly went to sleep.

As a reward, today I'm off to see Shrek: Forever After - it appeals to my inner child.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fear and Loathing

Today is the day.

In a few hours, I shall be standing in front of university students trying to sound intelligent, erudite and entertaining about naval and local history, while a little voice in my head gibbers like a lunatic. I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

I haven't given a presentation in years; standing up in front of people... one of my worst nightmares (others include spiders or very sharp implements or standing on the edge of a cliff - but let's not go there).

It is not a fear of failure - I know my subject - nor is it a fear of stammering - I don't, or at least I didn't. It's something more... indefinable. Outwardly calm, but inwardly shaking.

Phobia? Maybe. I've had this whatever all my life; even went into journalism to try and quell the overwhelming need to RUN!!. The theory being the more I did it, the more comfortable I'd become. Nup. Never happened. All that did was increase my stress levels. And to think: I come from teachers. I missed that part of the gene pool - probably examining the history of it instead.

From experience, I know a coupla shots of bourbon work, quieting the gibbering idiot, but not today. I've got to be professional, speak to the subject, answer questions. The curious thing is that I never remember what I've said, whether I stayed on topic, told a few funnies, spoke clearly, informed the audience.

I'll be fine once I begin, I wallow in history, but after, I think I'll have a Bex and a good lie down - and make the museum promise to never ask this of me again (and I'll be slapping the pikers upside the head should they abandon the project at such a late stage evah again).

So. A few deep breaths, cups of calming tea, and the knowledge Lady Gertrude Denman is watching, and I'll be fine. Really. No big... much. Eager minds waiting to absorb my pearls of wisdom. Oh...


Friday, June 25, 2010

Magic Burns

Mmm... just what I like: a book with consequences.

Okay, yes I'm a couple behind, but the availability of the books I want to read at my local book stores are... Buckley's and none.

Anyway. Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniel series is a very good read. The second, Magic Burns continues on from Magic Bites in a world where magic and tech comes in waves. Set in a crumbling Atlanta, a magic flare is coming and that can't be good. The blurb:

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive…

One of the great aspects of this book is the slow unfolding of Kate's past through errors of judgement and one epic battle; we don't get it all, but it raises the reader's suspicions.

Kate's not without her flaws. Her wise-assery always gets her into trouble, especially with Curran, the Beast Lord of the Pack - and we see just how strong he is - again, raising suspicions that all is not as it seems. We also get a peek into why she keeps herself apart from everyone, and how she feels about that.

The Celtic research is marvellous. Without a single info-dump, the reader learns myths and legends that are blending naturally into the story and, again, has consequences for everyone.

Action aplenty, cans of ass-whoop opened all over the place and the growing emotional connections Kate has with various characters creates an interesting, if tragic protagonist.

The Andrews aren't above killing off characters or changing them in fundamental ways as a consequence of their own - or another's - actions. The villains are dangerous and ambitious, the heroes are equally dangerous have their own ambitions. Two sides of the same coin and yet, not black and white.

Watch the characters struggle with what they want and how much they're willing to sacrifice to achieve the goal. For Kate Daniels, her goal is as much of a mysterious to her as it is to us. What is it going to cost if her secret is revealed?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New and interesting

"Home again, home again... something, something..."

I've been busy with werk for the museum. We're putting together a presentation to give to University of Wollongong marketing students so they can develop a, well, marketing plan. I have so many ideas for it, but it's not my job, it's theirs. How much info to give them?

I've created a slide-show to give them an idea of the museum and two team leaders will be given a tour... I'll muddle on, I suppose; it's taking me away from editing, which, I have to say, I resent. Just a little. I fear it shall be me to make the actual presentation, since I have a media background, but public speaking stresses me out to near speechlessness. I can only hope the lights hide the audience.

* * *

While in Canberra, my brother-in-law set up his six-inch mirror telescope to peer at the heavens with. It was definitely a 'wow' moment; up close and personal with the craters of the moon, the clear lines between shadow and light, with the slight shimmer of Earth's atmosphere. And Saturn. OMG! Sure, it was a white dot with a line through it, but I've never seen it with my own beady eye. It was all to easy to see why the night sky inspires so many people.

He says he might be able to lay hands on a twelve-inch mirror telescope and if he does, I'm taking photos!

* * *

I've also been catching up with the family tree. Another cousin X-times removed has sent me buckets of info from a side we, here in Aus, know little about.

And I have a couple of DVDs to watch, new books to dive into and a trilogy to edit...

So many things to do, so little time.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hunting and gathering

So, I feel like I've been on a weekend hunting binge. From book store to book store, wheeling the aged parent around searching for the tbr-in-waiting pile.

I found nearly everything: Ilona Andrews, Rachel Caine, Anne Perry, Mercedes Lackey... but it took until the last shop I visited to discover the truth: DREAMVEIL WON'T BE PUBLISHED IN AUSTRALIA UNTIL AUGUST!!!

I can't tell you how pissed I was finding that out. And, I have to say, I am over shops telling me to check out 'the online facilities' to purchase other items I might find of interest. GAH!!!

Not. Happy. So not happy, that I'm over book stores. I'd like to help out the industry, keep people employed, but if they won't provide adequate service to the book buying public, then there is no point. And no, the Twilight books are NOT an acceptable alternative!! No, paranormal romances are not all the same... pushed a button there...

I have most of what I need. I shall purchase Dreamveil from the Galaxy Bookshop. I know they have it; one phone call and a couple of days later it's mine. No stuffing about, no false regrets or fake smiles.

Now, I shall read...

Friday, June 18, 2010


Woo hoo! I am in Canberra. What's the big deal? Well, really large book stores.

I'd like to support my local businesses, but when they consistently fail to provide a service, well... I'm not going to frequent them. The argument that they only stock what's popular is a load of cobblers. It took a concerted effort and constant requests for them to stock J. D. Robb! I mean... WTF? The staff didn't know La Nora and J.D. were the same person initially, until it was carefully explained.

So. Canberra. Bitterly cold and fabulous. Borders tomorrow and Dymocks on Sunday. I'm there, with list in hand, hunting down what I cannot find in my home town... village, whatever.

Viehl, Andrews, Weber, Gerritsen, Lisle, Kent and anyone else I can lay my little mitts on. It's all a matter of perspective and browsing.

Bring it...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Agent Myths

Here's some timely and interesting information from Writer's Digest:

5 Myths You Shouldn’t Believe About Agents

by Jennifer Lawler
Author-turned-agent Jennifer Lawler gives you the inside scoop on what agents really do and how knowing the truth could endear you to one.

Becoming an agent didn’t just teach me a few lessons about being a writer. It also cleared up some common misconceptions about agenting.

No. 1. An agent’s main job is to pitch her clients’ work to editors and schedule auctions. (How hard can it really be?)
It turns out pitching to editors is actually one of the least time-consuming parts of an agent’s job. Working with clients—finding them, recruiting them, helping them polish their projects, answering their questions, keeping them updated—requires the bulk of their time and resources, far more than I ever realized.

No. 2. I shouldn’t bother my agent with my questions; she’s busy.
I’ve been the writer who thought this. I should have seen it for what it was: a huge red flag that the author-agent relationship in question wasn’t going to work. As an agent, I want my clients to feel they can come to me with their questions. In fact, I’d rather know what’s on their minds than not. It does take time, yes, so try not to be too neurotic. But you shouldn’t be sending questions to random agent blogs because you’re afraid to approach your own agent with them.

No. 3. No response from an agent means the answer is no.
I understand that a lot of agents state this as their policy in trying to cut down on busywork, but it’s a mistake for writers to take it at face value. Now that I’m an agent, I’m amazed at the number of times my e-mails have gone missing. That’s why I’d never assume no answer means no. Follow-up is crucial. I once requested a manuscript from a writer at three different e-mail addresses and he never received any of my responses; if he hadn’t followed up, I would have assumed he was no longer interested in pursuing my representation.

No. 4. Agents owe it to writers to explain why they’re rejecting manuscripts they’ve requested.
I agree that a form rejection after a partial or full manuscript has been requested can feel like a slap in the face; I’ve felt that slap myself. But while I don’t use form letters in my rejections of partials and fulls, I also don’t spend a lot of time explaining why I’m rejecting them. Here’s why: This business is subjective; what I think is wrong with your novel may be what the next agent thinks is right with it. I’ve been on the receiving end of enough rejections to know that writers invest way more energy in interpreting what agents and editors say than agents and editors invest in saying it.

If I believe a book could be improved by revision, I’ll make suggestions and ask the writer to resubmit, or I’ll offer representation conditional on certain revisions being made. If I’m not willing to put my money where my mouth is, then I don’t think I have any business telling you where I think you’ve gone wrong.

No. 5. Agents’ inboxes are full of crap, which makes it impossible to spot the real gems.
My problem isn’t how much bad writing crosses my desk. That’s easy to recognize and reject. The problem is how much good writing I see. I have to figure out which of these good projects is most likely to sell, and which of those good authors is going to be best to work with. If you can convince me that I can sell your project and you’ll be a pleasure to have as a client, you’re halfway there.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Evil edits

It's all very well to write your very own masterpiece and set it aside with a happy smirk and a song in your heart at the astonishing accomplishment, but then reality sets in when the edits come around.

Oh, yes, those nasty, evil, stinky edits. They lurk, peering over your shoulder as you write with a hand over the mouth to suppress the sniggering. They'll even go to another room to ROFLOL, joke with each other and generally yuck it up with slaps on the back. And while you're typing 'The End', they've got an arm around each other and wiping away the tears of laughter. Oh, yes, they know what you've written...

Of course, their all po-faced and professional, dressed in suits with black briefcases when they turn up to do the 'revision work' on your masterpiece. With a superior glance they begin:

"Passive here, and there, and over on this page and OMG! Is that a split infinitive??" The knowing gleam in the eye appears. "WTF, noob, is this a verb conflict?"


"Oh dear, the sentence structure... and yet more passives. Tsk. Got a dangling participle here and," the edit clears its throat in an effort not to giggle, "an end of sentence preposition."

"Well, you see, it's like this..." Any explanation is brutally cut off.

"No, no, no. All this wordiness. Pithy! That's what we need, pithy, concise... succinct! BYKT. And Lord, the descriptions..."

"What's wrong with the descriptions?"

The edit glares at you. "I can't find any, BTW."

"Oh, cheap shot." You protest, but you know your descriptions aren't... well, as good as they can be. "I've done the descriptions..."

"Mm, yes, and I quote: 'white hair with a road-mapped face'. Obviously I see there's way too much information here; I can clearly imagine the character." The edit leans forward. "4tun8ly, I'm here to deal with it. Is there anything wrong with a cloud white halo of hair over a tanned, lined face with a wealth of experience stamped in each wrinkle?"

"Um, well, actually..."

"My point Ms Wanna-Be-A-Writer-Without-The-Angst, is imagery. JPEG it. Perfect imagery, matched with intriguing action and pithy - hmm, I like that word... pithy. Pith, pith, pithy - ah... where was I? Oh, right: Perfect imagery, matched with intriguing action and pithy meaningful dialogue are the basis for a good novel."

"A good novel, not a..."

"Now then: characterization." The edit sighs mournfully. "You do know what Mary-Sue-ism is, don't you?"

"Don't even go there, edit. My characters make mistakes, like anyone else, and those mistakes have real consequences."

"Yes, about those... I think less is more, in this instance. No more PMSing, o.k.?"

"Less is more? PM... Nope. I'm disagreeing with you here. Actions require consequences, not applause nor some insipid 'it was all a dream', or it wasn't as bad as first made out. People died. People were changed forever as a result of one character's bad temper. Action requires consequence."

"You forget yourself, writer. I am here to help you make this book perfect. If you want to be published, you'll listen to me. AFAICT, this needs major work, ani1 can see that."

Casually, you rise and lift the manuscript off the desk and hold it to your chest as if to protect it. "Three things, edit: one, no book is ever perfect; and two, copyeditors can do a better job at buffing the work than I ever will."

Edit scowls. "Number conflict, writer, what's the third?"

"Your abbreviations are showing."

Monday, June 14, 2010


That tracking thingie is pretty cool - a little distracting - but cool. I've cut some eighty pages from the manuscript and I'm thinking another twenty five will bring the book back to a nice, round 400 pages.

Seeing all the red from the tracker disappear and the page numbers suddenly go 'blip' and repaginate... I must confess the fear of deleting something nifty. I've left comments in (although I think I'll change the colour scheme from the 'orrible pink) and it may require adding more words.

So now I print out and go through it again, do the corrections and let it sit while I re-edit something else. Choices, choices. A stand-alone or a trilogy?

Editors and agents like to know there's work in the pipeline, don't they? So, a trilogy, all written and needin' a bit o' lurve.

And none of it is getting done while I mooch about on the 'net! Of course, I have get it done before I head off to Canberra this week and track down a number of books, including Dreamveil which I am so looking forward to...

Friday, June 11, 2010


I dumped the scene. On the plus side, the cascading effect of the scene has cut the manuscript by fifteen thousand words. I have to find between another... six to sixteen thousand words to bring Demonesque to a reasonable total of 110-120k. I'll try to find them when I print out the work for another round of edits. I suspect it will take a heroic effort to decide if I need to cut more scenes and not reduce the intent of the book.

This is the first of a few manuscripts I'm updating and reviewing for September. I want to take a number of genres to Melbourne for the World Science Fiction Convention. If I can show continuity - and exciting work - maybe someone will take me on.

I have the almost perfect second job. I work at a local museum writing the newsletter, webmastering internet page I wrote/edited and I've started work on the Wikipedia pages. Writing about the local area and maritime history is a constant source of fascination for me - so much that I often leave late. Now, if only they'd pay me for it rather than my volunteering.

At this juncture in time, I'm wavering between continued work on Demonesque and information sheets on British Naval heroes Sir John Jervis and Captain Richard Bowen! Both of whom are linked with my home town. I'm sure many locals and visitors have no idea who they were and their importance, not just to Jervis Bay, but on a global scale. Soon, my precious, they will know.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

In or out, in or... out?

Sometimes, I just don't know what I was thinking! Probably too covered in smug to think.

Okay, so a 500 page book? Oh, way cool to write so much; not so cool when it comes to editing. I think it's all to do with mood. I've already deleted at least a page, coz, no, we don't need to read about that, thank you, it's a little too graphic - and yet...

The decision on what to leave in and what to remove can be difficult. I know I can reduce the size of the book by getting rid of a character and a particular scene (except I love that scene and the character is pretty important as well). Then there are the extras, some named, some not, who do the 'busy' work. I mean, where would our rich characters be without the concierge? Or the valet? The secretary who keeps the office going?

Oh, yeah: what action-packed, thrill-bound, urban fantasy book is gonna have the above? A book with a dual-natured character under threat, that's what, so the ordinary characters become integral when juxtaposed to the extraordinary.

And I still have to add extra descriptions (at which I truly suck). I'm going to try Angela Ackerman's Description Thesaurus over at herThe Bookshelf Muse site - she also has the Emotion Thesaurus, Colour, Texture and Shapes Thesaurus and the Symbolism Thesaurus. Thanks to Natalie Hatch at What Time is it Again? for the link.

I'd love to skip the boring bits, but I think I'll just re-write them instead; maybe in doing so, I'll know what to cut and what to keep...

Friday, June 04, 2010

Rain Lashed

As I mentioned yesterday, Lynn Viehl has posted a freebie e-book, Rain Lashed in conjunction with the release of Kyndred 2 Dreamveil.

Rain Lashed is about Angela Witt, Jessa Bellamy's technical supervisor and fellow Kyndred, and takes place just before Jessa's disappearance - read Shadowlight to find out what happens - and involves Caleb Douglas, another senior staff member at Phoenix Inc., a staff consultancy firm.

The two have a 'formal' relationship that hides their true feelings as they individually believe the other is not for them: Angela because of her talent and deep insecurities that Caleb wouldn't look twice at her; Caleb because he can't give Angela everything he thinks she deserves. So they keep to the formal, circling each other, tempting each other and resisting each other.

Then Caleb attempts to force an answer to a work question and Angela's answer is very personal...

The novella begins with the death of Angela's mother and Ruth Witt's shocking betrayal of her daughter - there's an especially hot place for Ruth - and Angela's odd meeting with Jessa.

This is a clever addition to the Kyndred series, from a non-Kyndred view. Caleb and Angela have suspicions about Jessa's nature and I'll be interested to see if the pair have future involvement in the series. No spoilers about what Angela thinks of her strange... ness.

Fans of Lynn Viehl won't be disappointed. This is a story which expands on the personal issue of abandonment of the Kyndred as small children and the effect it has on one woman who knows nothing of her origins.

And it's free. For those who haven't read Shadowlight, this is an excellent introduction into a world that parallels Darkyn, but has it's own conflicts.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Waiting, waiting, waiting....

Whoo-hoo! Lynn Viehl has a freebie on Scribd! Rain Lashed is a novella of the Kyndred.

And I'm really happy about that. I needed something to read. I went into the local town to hunt down Dreamveil, or Magic Burns, or even City of Souls... nup. No sign of any of them, although there were plenty of LKH's crappyness.

I swear, sometimes living in the countryside sucks when it comes to new releases and I'm not the most patient of readers. I want to support local businesses, but if they won't stock my choices, I gnash my teeth and have to go elsewhere.

My Canberra visit is still two weeks away (and squealy fangirl moments at the enormous Borders and Dymocks stores) but I'll wait and then buy the books I want. Yes, I could order online, but that path leads to overspending and I so don't want that. sigh... I need to get back to editing my own books - and try not to get bent out of shape over the lack of reading choices.