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Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da

There are two ways to go with this post:
1) OMG, this has been the craziest summer EVER.
2) Oh. My. Gawd. This has been the most tedious summer ever.

By ‘craziness’ of course I mean ‘chaos’ and, seriously, I’d gotten to the point about mid-July where crises became so routine that it reached the point of tedium.

“Oh, there’s water pouring out of the ceiling? I guess that’s this week’s thing.”

“Did you just use the word ‘cracked’ and ‘engine’ in the same sentence. Just making sure. How many zeros in that estimate again? That many? Okee doke, let me get back to you on that.”

So yes. A lot of personal and family stuff going on the last few months. It’s like kayaking through the rapids (or so I imagine), where it’s challenging but not impossible, but it’s hard to spare the concentration for things like, oh, say blog posts. Or remembering to… Well, thinking about anything other than avoiding smashing on rocks or tipping over or whatever.

What if someone came up with an app that bent time just enough so that you could send yourself a text or an email from the future?

“Hey, you know that thing you’re thinking about right now? Go ahead and do it. Trust me on this. Sincerely, A Friend.”

I suppose life wouldn’t be the same if we knew the future. At least our personal future. I’ve been exploring this concept with an author friend of mine, who’s (incredibly entertaining) time travel book comes out next year. It’s easy to say “Oh, I wish I’d done/not done X or Y.” Hindsight, blah blah blah. I’m not talking about obvious mistakes. If you have sound decision A and sound decision B, each may lead to the same place via different paths, or to really different places. So say you’re in place A and you don’t like it. If you sent a message to past you saying “Take path B,” who’s to day that place B wouldn’t be worse/harder/sadder than place A?

No one can, unless you can see down the road in two alternate universes.

Maybe I’ve been watching too much Fringe on Netflix.

Netflix on the Apple TV now goes straight into the next episode of a series. So you’re like, “I’m going to turn this off after this episode, but then the teaser for the next episode starts before you can find the remote that slid between the sofa cussions, and then you’re hooked for another 43 minutes.*

Coming back from the theoretical and back to my own life (because this is my blog, and it’s all about me), I’m still kayaking, still avoiding rocks, still keeping my head above water (mostly).

Hey, sort of like most of the other people on the planet!

Life goes on, bra. La-la-la how life goes on.


*It’s not all Netflix and cupcakes around here. I’ve been working on a new paranormal romance that y’all are going to love! I’m having to do a lot or research about yacht racing, though. If anyone yacht races, email me, will you?)

2014 DFW Teen Writers’ Workshop

Rosemary:

Teen writers in the DFW area. Starts soon! Totally free! Great teachers. Whoo!

Originally posted on DFW Writers Workshop:

DFW Writers’ Workshop is very proud to announce the schedule for the 2014 Teen Writer’s Summer Workshop!  The best part of this announcement is….the workshop is completely FREE.

The scheduled events will take place at The Egg & I on Hwy. 26, from 12:30 to 2:30. Below are the dates and the list of speakers, who are all DFWWW members and traditionally published authors.  The sessions will include instruction and critique time.

t-shirt-2

Adult sizes small, medium, large and extra large are $10 each. XXL and XXXL are $12 each

With registration, teens will get a binder full of helpful advice. At the end of the workshop, an anthology will be created with their work. It will include a short story, excerpt, or poem that is polished during the six-week session. Each student will get a printed copy and may purchase as many additional copies as they’d like.  AND there’s…

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A post about women science fiction writers… eventually.

Mary Shelley, arguably the first Science Fiction Writer. (This is relevant to this post.)

Mary Shelley, arguably the first Science Fiction Writer. (This is relevant to this post.)

I love when the premium channels like HBO and Showtime run free preview weekends, because it reassures me that I’m not missing much not subscribing to them. Even if it does mean I have to wait until the DVDs come out to catch up on Game of Thrones. Or read the series of books full of spoilers that bearded guy is writing. Whatever—

Cue record scratch thought derailment sound effect. That (above) was the start of  a Movie Monday post, because my mother has started reading blogs, which is a blog post in itself, and she has been nagging encouraging me to blog more often. It goes like this: “That other blog has a theme for every day of the week. Why don’t you do that? You’re so smart and funny, you should write that in your blog. You would have a lot more followers if you posted more often. This guy has way more followers than you, and he’s a monk.” (I am not even making that up.)

So I sit down to write a Movie Monday post. I’ll write about Ender’s Game, which I watched during the HBO free preview this weekend. Only I went looking for that faux article about George RR Martin writing spoilers for the GOT TV show, and then I found the picture below.

DirewolfandUnicorn

Photo taken (and tweeted) by the amazing artist/photographer Sarah Allegra (@sallegra). It is only tangentially related to this post.

Here follows my exact thought process from that moment until this:

1. Aw, that’s cute! GRRM has a little stuffed dire wolf.  Oh hey, that other guy has a little stuffed unicorn. Oh HEY, that’s Peter S. Beagle author of The Last Unicorn which is an amazing book (and an animated movie, so I guess this is still Movie Monday.) OMG The animals from their books are totally kissing noses! That’s so adorable!

2. Why is that funny? Two venerable old guys being dorks with toys from their books. That sort of makes them cooler. Authors! They’re just like us! Then I’m like, oh yeah, Ender’s Game.

3. Ender’s Game is kind of a venerable book itself, a military science fiction novel that explores the psychology of war and society, pretty much just like Starship Troopers (the novel) did, which also had giant bug-like aliens. I wonder why that is? Is it because the insectoid shape makes them seem true alien and icky, where a more mammalian thing might look like you could have it for a pet?

4. But Starship Troopers (the movie) was more action-y. It also had a lot more decapitations and impalements and also some brain sucking, if you like that sort of thing. Much more than the book.

5. This whole blog has become about venerable white guys who write science fiction and fantasy.  That’s just not right. I need to talk about some women science fiction writers.

6. Which women science fiction writers should I recommend? There’s Anne McCaffrey and Madeline L’Engle of course. Ursula L’Guin and Connie Willis. Would my blog readers be interested in them? I should go look up who are recent women science fiction writers (other than Suzanne Collins).

Literally the first line of A Wrinkle in Time. (This is the book that made me want to write books.)

Literally the first line of A Wrinkle in Time. (This is the book that made me want to write books.)

7. This first Google hit is a list of science fiction FOR girls, which is not the same thing, especially since half these books are by men.

8. THIS list starts with The Handmaiden’s Tale?  Ugh.  Well, there’s Willis and L’Guin. Oh yeah! Octavia Butler. A woman AND an African American. Yes, there’s Andre Norton, C.J. Cherryh, Lois McMaster Bujold. Also Elizabeth Moon. Well, there’s Kristine Kathryn Rusch, those are a little less dusty, more space opera-y. Tanya Huff!  I love her books.

9. These are great books, but kind of… old fashioned. Well, not all of them. I should still recommend them. They’re awesome, and my readers aren’t intimidated by big books.

10. But, still, I should look at YA science fiction and find some contemporary things to talk about, too. Oh, here’s Kirkus’s list of the Best Teen SFF books of 2013. Excellent!

11. Wow, these sound really good. I should put this on my Goodreads list so I remember them.

12. And maybe read a sample chapter…

13: Or two.

14. THREE HOURS LATER, I still haven’t written anything about Ender’s Game.

15. And it’s not even Monday any more.

For Writers Who Want Readers

I am really good at four things:

  1. Writing.
  2. Teaching.
  3. Being humble.
  4. Teaching about writing.

I’ve wanted to teach more online classes for awhile now, but first I had to beta test and tinker, and eventually announcing the classes became like sending a novel out on submission. I had to, like the ads say, Just Do It.

Which leads me nicely to the subject of my inaugural class:

Make Your Book a Must Read:
The Foundations of creating a stand-out pitch for your project. 

 

Click that title to go straight to the class description page. The first class is soon.

Don’t worry, loyal readers! I’m not quitting my day job. I wouldn’t mention it on the blog except I figured you might be curious what I’ve been doing with my time besides eating ice cream for breakfast and taking pictures of my dog. (Skip down if you’re not interested.)

What it is:

The class is about coming up with a description of your book that will make people want to read it right away. A “pitch” generally means ‘pitching’ the idea to a literary agent or editor to see if he or she might be interested in your book. (When you send a letter (or email, these days) it’s called a query letter.)

Who should take it:

  • You have finished your first draft and you’re getting ready to start the revisions. It will make your revisions easier, I swear.
  • You have polished your manuscript to be as awesome as can be and you’re ready to start trying to sell it to a publisher.
  • You plan to independently publish your work and you want a description that will make reader click, “Buy Now.”

And one more:

  • You’ve started a book, or you’ve started a lot of them, and you can’t seem to find any traction. What makes a good pitch makes a good story. This class is about finding the strongest elements of your story–the pillars that hold it up–which will help you write finish your novel.

Besides, the introductory price is crazy economical for this kind of class, so it’s low risk/high yield. You don’t have to travel to a conference, you don’t have to download any software, and you can see me but I can’t see you, so you can take the class in your pajamas

So, writers, what are you waiting for? Click through here to go to web class page, which has all the information. You can also get there from the “For Writers” menu at the top right of the header.

Now, readers (and writers who are readers): I have been busy.  A lot of you have asked: am I working on a new book, is there going to be a sequel to The Splendor Falls/the Goodnight books, am I ever going to leave my house and do an event again…?  The answers are yes, don’t worry be happy, and pretty soon, actually.

I will be moderating a panel of spooky awesome authors at the Valley Ranch Public Library on June 19th at 7pm. (Valley Ranch is kind of sort of part of Irving, TX. Ish.)

Also, I’m working on a new book that is going to make you happy if you enjoyed The Splendor Falls. (It’s not a sequel, sorry, but it’s mysterious and romantic and full of atmosphere. Also, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I like to connect my books, even when they’re not sequels. It’s just not always obvious.)

Other than that… you know I’m superstitious about talking about works in progress, right? That’s the problem. Everything I’m working on is in progress!

 

What about you guys? Do you have projects in the works?  What are you working on right now?

 

A funny thing happened on the way to this post

So, I’m driving home from my grandmother’s house on Saturday, which is important only because in a city not exactly known for colorful characters, unless you count the Cowboys. I see flashing lights at an intersection ahead and think, oh, dear, there’s been an accident.

But no. On the corner of a business/industrial thoroughfare, a police officer is interviewing a youngish man. I figure, he got pulled over, only I see no car. Also, I see no pants.

No, really. WHY?

No, really. WHY?

Me, to Mom: Is it just me, or is that guy not wearing pants?

Mom: No, that definitely looks like underwear.

Me: How am I going to live without knowing what’s going on here?

I have to say that, as guys in underwear go, it could have been a lot worse. I’m no connoisseur of underwear, but they, I guess, on the nicer end. So to speak. They were opaque, for one thing, and if this had been a magazine ad versus… whatever was going on there, it would only have been weird because he was wearing street clothes from the waist up.

As it was, it looked liked he hadn’t finished dressing, or possibly he’d lost his pants in some Mother’s Day Brunch incident, possibly mimosa related. (Thanks, @sarataylorwoods for the mimosa contribution.)

Red lights are only so long, so I take in as many details as I can: There are a couple of boxes on the corner. There’s a second cop, a motorcycle cop, interviewing someone else about 30 feet away, a tall, thin man with long, thin white hair and beard who looks like he smokes two packs of cigarettes and day and runs a pawn shop or possibly one of those electronics stores with the bars on the windows and doors.

What is going on here? Did this guy just take No Pants Day to the street? Was he hawking something (something other than the obvious assumption) without a license?  Maybe Underwear Guy’s girlfriend threw him out, pantsless, and he was trying to buy something shiny to get back in her good graces? And when he went into The Diamond Exchange, Two-Pack-A-Day was like, Dude. And Underwear-Guy is like, I have a shirt, give me some service, and Two-Pack is like, No Trousers, No Trade, and Underwear is like, Take all the stuff my GF tossed out along with my well-toned tush! Whatever! Just give me something to win her back, and Two-Pack is all 911 on his cotton-clad ass.

Some stories write themselves.

Actually, that’s not true. Developing a piece from idea to draft to story is a lot like growing a rosebush. It has to be fed and shaped and nurtured, occasionally pruned to let the best blooms show, all while keeping it looking like that happened naturally.

But then, yeah. There are also the weird scene on a street corner moments that aren’t going to go anywhere by themselves. Not every idea has roots, and that’s okay. To overextend the metaphor, those are the kinds of things that you press and keep safe until you find the perfect place for it.

So if you ever read in one of my books were a pants less guy is trying to get his hands on a diamond from a pawn-store-looking-guy who calls the cops on him?  You’ll know where it came from.

Spring Spring Spring

In the spring I always get the urge to: 

  • Redecorate my house. 
  • Redesign my blog. 
  • Plant flowers. 
  • Ride a bike everywhere. (After I buy one.) 
  • Go to a farmer’s market.
  • Cook all organic fresh meals. (After I spend all my money on the bike and farmer’s market.)
  • Train my dog.
  • Dye my hair.
  • Sew adorable, quirky clothes that look I share a closet with Zooey Deschanel. (Because I certainly can’t afford to buy them. It’s expensive to look like you shop in a thrift store.)
  •  Learn the guitar.
  • Run around like Rapunzel after she gets out of the tower.

Which is weird, because I live where we don’t have an especially long or cold winter. Our winter weather is kind of on-again, off-again, so it’s not like I’ve been cooped up behind snowdrifts or anything. But real spring just feels different. I think it’s the daffodils and the tulips. 

Flowers and Bike

That’s why March is my favorite month, besides October. (October has the edge because its not a precursor to the summer heat.)  Despite the fact that weather is a roulette wheel. Despite the fact that it’s tornado season. Despite the fact that my roof is leaking again. 

ANyway. The only thing on that list I’ve done is change my color scheme. I never thought I’d get tired of pink and green, but I did. It wasn’t terribly gothic for a ghost story writer anyway. 

What do YOU like to do in the spring?  Tell me in the comments.  You can weigh in on whether I should keep the polka dots or get rid of them, too.