Amazon.com has sample pages from the first three StarDoc novels available for people to read now when they go to the respective book's page. I know some authors fuss over this but I think it's pretty cool. Why not give people a sample to help them decide if they want to buy? That's the best advertising, imho, letting the work speak for itself. Be nice if they put up some for Shockball, but I don't know how they pick the books they do this with -- or if they're doing it with everyone.
I was asked to read "The Bone Doll's Twin" by Lynn Flewelling by a friend who loved the book, but I don't know if I'm going to make it through to the end. Reading about many ways to torture children is not my idea of entertainment, no matter how creatively or cleverly it's done, and I wish I'd been warned. I know it's the literati thing to do, but I'm a mother. Not counting the storyline, which disgusts and enrages me on the maternal level, it's a well-written, if somewhat pompously delivered tale. But then, show me a fantasy writer outside of Holly Lisle who doesn't constantly patronize the reader with that Stern Parent tone.
An owl took up residence in the pine tree outside my bedroom window last night (I am on the third floor, the branches scrape the window panes.) This one didn't hoot as much as yodel
and kept me up until 3:40am, pacing the floor and wishing for a bazooka. Don't get me wrong -- I love Nature -- but not when it contributes to my insomnia.
In other developments, I took the geek test posted on the Discussion Board at Holly's site, and discovered I am only 19% Geek. Which, considering the evident qualifications, is something of a relief. (Sniffing clothes to see if they're clean? Not showering for three days? Ick.) Then Kathy and I both took an online IQ test -- I read the questions out loud to her. She scored 141, I scored 168 (five points down from my last IQ test, ten points higher from hers. I'm getting dumber, she's getting smarter.) I've got to get her seriously tested, she's already reading independently and while indifferent to math is showing an obsessive interest in science, especially biology. I was holding off until she was older (I was 11 when they put me under the microscope) but it's obvious she needs new challenges now. I'm going to tutor her myself, as a supplement to school, so she can maintain the social contacts with her age group.
Now, off to see the ex. I won't stop at Bazookas-R-Us, much as I'm tempted.
Great session at Holly's tonight, wrapped up the romance market workshop. Always feels good to finish a project. Heavy writing weekend ahead, may yank the phone cord out of the wall because it always seems like the known universe begins to teeter on the edge of collapse whenever I do these marathons. I also have the beginnings of a sore throat, probably my tonsils again. I'll know tomorrow if my voice disappears. I won't get sick, though. I refuse to get sick until next April.
Back to melting the iceman.
Reader mail bag offerings:
Let's see, lots of Shockball comments, the positives outweigh the negatives two to one. Plenty of folks who cried at the end (#1 on the frequent comment list), multiple cheers when I killed off a certain character, two cheers when I maimed another (you people are mean), have I ever had broken ribs (oh yeah, the author says with a wince), didn't like it, loved it, stayed up all night reading it, too much sex, I'm anti-American for condemning contact sports (damn right I am. Go see all the paralysis victims out there who snapped their spines on the effing playing field, then come talk to me about the glory of contact sports), am I Navajo, loved the twists, was late for work because of me. Finally, a man who has written three times before to inform me I can't write, I'm dull, the story sucks, etc. This one stinks too. Yet he keeps reading them. Masochist, maybe?
Famous Quote for the Day:
"Marry money." Max Shulman's advice to aspiring authors.
Or be even happier -- stay single and earn it yourself.
Gloat for the Day:
"I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you." Unknown
Finally, the perfect message to write in the ex-husbands' Christmas cards.
Looked at the calendar, only three weeks left to finish two books. One of those weeks, the kids will be home with me, so I'm reserving that time for editing, which means two weeks to finish two books. Then, vacation!
Sliding out of accountant mode, getting a late start on the night writing. Did a very wise thing and untangled myself from a largely unpleasant group, but it took a couple of hours to finish something I'd promised them. Now I'm done with that bunch, I feel a thousand pounds lighter in the soul department, but enough said on that
Mike was hanging with me earlier because he had a tough time at school today. My son is usually the Zen of nine year olds, but he sometimes gets into it with kids who are vicious or don't play fair. To him, there is nothing worse than someone who cheats or uses ridicule as a weapon. He generally has a good cry at home then pretends to shrug it off, but sticks close to me until he feels better. We watched Dragonball Z together to see if Majin Bu was going to eat Dabora, (which he did, after he turned him into a big cookie) then read to each other from his book of the month. We also talked about how to handle the little dorks at school. Which in turn prompted me to deal with my group of dorks later on.
I adore love all my kids, but Mike is my good guy, my center in the storm. My hero. I wrote in BV that I hoped he would always choose the road less traveled. Now he's giving me directions.
My son Mike is watching me make this entry -- he's a great guy, just in case you were wondering. As fate would have it, the copy-edit for Sun Valley arrived this afternoon. One more task to get done before the weekend. See Sheila write. See Sheila correct. See Sheila drink lots of coffee.
Mike says, "See Mom not eat lunch or breakfast."
Got approved on my pitches on both novels over the phone. Shockball just hit 802 on Amazon.com ranking.
The highest any of mine have gone was BV, which hit the 300's for a few days. Looking good.
If at first you don't succeed, sky-diving is not for you.
I have a couple of things around my desk that are wierd, even for me. A pelican carved out of wood. A deck of meditation cards with bizarre dragons on them. A button that says "It's a dirty job and I
get to do it." A bunny made out of a Battenburg lace handkerchief. A post-it note that says "Kara Welch from Pocket" that I have no idea why I wrote. Wait, yes I do -- Kara Welch left Pocket and came over to NAL when Louise Burke left NAL and went over to Pocket. Job swapping? A purple amethyst pebble with the word "wisdom" chiselled in it. A color photo of David Duchovny in the first season of the X-Files. An entire box of Bandaids. A Laura Croft Tomb Raider Action figure. A pink teddy bear. This is just a random sampling of things that ended up around my desk over the last year. The kids gave me 75% of this stuff and although I hate loathe and despise knick knacks I can't get rid of these. But then my idea of a great room is one that has nothing in it I have to dust.
Nearly 2:30 am. The joys of insomnia. Back for another attempt at the zzzzz's.
Out of the zone, crawling to bed with my sword books, hoping for sleep eventually (doesn't look good.) I have to be utterly on the money in the morning, to get these two romances nailed down so I can generate some kind of coherent production plan for 2003. Everything is completely thrown off by the triple release in the fall now, but what the heck. I'm too obsessed with organization anyway. A little spontaneous disaster livens things up.
Mainly I don't want to have to think about any of this stuff for December. I need the break, so getting the details hammered out now will clear my conscience and let me enjoy the holidays with the kids.
With Shockball just out, I feel a little guilty about not getting to any reader mail today. The reason for which I just edited out of this weblog, because it came from a lot of dislike and stress of which I will soon rid my life forever, and it doesn't belong here.
Final proposal for the next four SF novels went off the agent today, so now I can focus on Iceman and Blade. I don't get nervous about proposals as much as I used to, but I still hate the damn things. At my level, I only have to write a one-paragraph pitch, but it's still hard -- I mean, try to distill a 100K novel into 50 words or less, and you'll see what I mean. Makes a twenty page synopsis look like a walk in the park.
Famous Quote for the Day:
"I can't mate in captivity." Gloria Steinem on why she has never married.
Wish I'd thought of that. Twice.
Gloat for the Day:
"When in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns." Raymond Chandler, 1888-1959.
And everyone laughs when I say "When you get stuck, maim someone important, blow up something, or kill a hero."
Turns out Roc is deliberately holding back Eternity Row's release date. In a very convoluted way, this could be good for me, giving Shockball more time to collect a higher sell-through, which in turn would make the automatic reorder numbers from the major chains higher, and thus justify a bigger first print run of ER.
On the downside, I have to announce this to my readers, who have complained repeatedly about having to wait so long for Shockball. I'm getting reports in now from booksellers of readers coming to stores and demanding they open shipping boxes to get the book early -- one reason so many people have gotten the book ahead of the release date.
How does this sound: "Hey, if it were up to me, it would come out in January, guys."
Interesting shipping fact: for $600.00, I could ship something to Canada via "sonic express" which -- unless customs snags it -- would arrive at its destination this afternoon. For $199.00, I could get on a plane and deliver it personally.
Anyone want to watch the kids for me today?
I found the Levenger's catalogue. And I was trying so hard to lose it.
Just made someone thousands of miles away cry. In the good
way. All it took was a little snooping and a book, wrapped in a hug, and what I got in return has tears in my eyes.
Life is good tonight.
Now, how to say a proper thank you for a cover quote that will sell another 50K copies of my book. Catherine is already my goddess. A modest shrine in the back yard, perhaps?
Quote from Catherine Coulter for my new Gena Hale book, Sun Valley:"Neala and Will sizzle right off the page. Don't miss SUN VALLEY. It will reinvigorate the iron in your blood."
Hey, I'm an author and
a nutritional supplement!
It seems Eternity Row will have of release date of 9/02, which means another ten months between books. I was hoping for early summer, but this is what I get. They do tend to bump me up the schedule whenever one of the other Roc authors drops the ball or doesn't deliver, so I may yet move up on the calendar. The problem is Blade -- I wanted it out next year, but this definitely shoves it back into 2003. And I turned ET in back on July 13th, too -- the lag time is really annoying.
On the other hand, I could have no
release dates to complain about. Sort of shoots everything back into perspective.
n. Hatred of or hostility toward men. [see Susan R. Mathews]
n. Hatred of or hostility toward women. [see John Norman]
v.t. to perplex or bewilder or -fied
to be perplexed or bewildered. [see me]
Famous Quote for the Day:
"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." Charles Lamb, 1775-1834
Not mine, Chuck, not from the moment he ate his way out of the shell.
Gloat for the day:
"If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing." Kingsley Amis
Kept me out of prison so far.
Reader mail bag offerings:
Among the Shockball raves and rants, a request that I add on this Blog software thing so visitors can leave their comments at my new weblog.
Um, no, thanks. I don't believe I need another source of comments from other people.
I like this thing. I can write whatever I want, without being polite or politic or correct. Since it is accessible by youngsters, I'll try to watch my language, but otherwise, I can be completely relaxed and totally myself. I can say I really dislike reviewers and not worry about coming back and finding ten comments from ten highly pissed off reviewers seeking to justify their routine jealousy fests. I can make Diana Galbaldon jokes. I can talk about what matters to me, what doesn't, and not have to argue with someone about every damn word.
It's a bit like being a benevolent dictator. Here I'm in charge of my kingdom. Population: 1
No, I think I'll keep the borders closed.
Platinum fountain pens -- Instruments of the Gods. I have a Koi and I am in love with it, especially when I have to write five pages of lawyer notes.
Lord of thy presence and no land beside.[King John]
I don't know why certain lines just slap me in the face, but this one did. It's been looping in my head all night. Lord of thy presence.
Yeah, I could run with that alone. I just wish these ideas would show up at a more reasonable hour. I have to see my attorney tomorrow, and I don't think he's going to accept King John as an excuse to cancel the meet.
Big Announcement Time:
My agent called. Onyx wants to do a triple release next fall -- three books, one right after the other, one month apart. Doing that put Kay Hooper on the NYT BSL, so this is a major shot for me. It also means turning in three new manuscripts by April '02, which will mean some schedule juggling. I need more details -- like whether I'm going to get the print runs and publicity backing I need to qualify for the NYT cut list. But am I excited? Damn right I am.
C'est Louis XIV qui, comme tu le sais, a fait construire Versailles. Il a fait travailler ici cinquante ans, plus ou moins. On dit qu'en seize cent quatre-vingt-cinq, trente mille ouvriers travaillaient a Versailles. Il y avait tant de misere dans son royaume . . .
Do I have to write this book in English?
We have bid Michelle adieu. Not much rain but lots of wind and tree debris blowing around. Managed to stay online to do a collaborative plotting session, went very well, but the kids got hungry so I had to cut it short. Back to sorting out the bargaining scene between Jian and Val, and I don't think Val is going to spill the beans about the Nagatoki swords just yet.
Power outages X three. Think I'll work off the Palm this morning.
Hurricane Michelle is here. I'm not impressed.
And before I head into the zone, a last reader mail bag offering:
This one is actually pretty clever, and the woman who wrote it -- we'll call her Jill the Ripper -- achieved something no one else has in the past year. It starts off like a genuine fan letter:
"Dear Ms. Hale,
I am writing to you to pass along some comments I have about your latest book, Dream Mountain."
Everybody and their brother has comments about this book, but okay, I think, and read on.
"This book is not what I would consider a romance."
I'm sure at this point what Jill considers a romance is going to be explained, and I'm right on the money. I continue reading the letter, in which Jill proceeds to tear my book to pieces. At length. She doesn't use bad language, but she apparently has a problem with red hair, bears, snowbound lovers, the Chinese, secondary romances, and just about everything else in the book. She also implies (constantly) that she could have done a much, much better job of writing it, which is the same old song I hear from plenty of sad, frustrated unpublished writers. I try to feel compassion, not irritation, because I've been where she's at, and it's not a nice place.
Finally, she delivers the punchline:
"I am a reviewer for [DinkyLittleNothingRomanceReviewWebSite] and have posted the above as my review of Dream Mountain at: http://www.[DinkyLittleNothingRomanceReviewWebSite].com/IcanwritebetterthanGena.htm. Sincerely, Jill the Ripper."
Now, it's pretty well-known that I don't read reviews of my books. I don't read them online, in magazines, or in newspapers. I mean, what's the point? I'm supposed to be crushed if a reviewer doesn't like my book? Cry? Change the way I write? Quit my job? Reality Check:
I've sold twelve novels in eighteen months, and have had six released since last year. My first book has a 93% sell through on 90,000 copies in 20 months. I think that one's in like tenth printing now. What planet are these people living on?
But damn if Jill didn't find a way to make me read her review, by pretending to be something she wasn't. So, in response, I deleted the e-mail and blocked her from my reader mail account. I like hearing from readers, not a pathetic neurotic who needs validation this badly.
Walden's monthly in-store book rag features Diana Galbaldon comparing herself to J.K. Rowling (though she coyly blames a bookseller for the analogy.) Seems Diana writes "Harry Potter for adults!"
Oh, God, China Mieville has got himself in my SF news list-serve, spouting on about the Asimov-bin Laden connection. Can't he just go wrong, I mean, write another stupid book or win another stupid award for the last piece of trash and leave me and mine alone? Every time I turn around, this guy, everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.
Thought for the day:
"Mommy, you don't have to do the dishes if you don't cook." Katherine Rose, 1994 --
Katherine will do anything to get take-out Chinese.
Gloat for the day
"Henry James writes fiction as if it were a painful duty." Oscar Wilde, 1854--1900
Henry ain't the only one, Oscar.
Heard great joke: There are three reasons why lawyers are replacing rats as experimental lab animals: One, they're plentiful, two, the lab assistants don't get attached to them, and three, there are some things the rats simply won't do.
Reader Mail Bag Offerings:
Holy Toledo, 57 new ones this morning. Shockball hit the shelves way
earlier than scheduled (I'm supposed to have another three days of breathing room, you guys!) Let's see, updates from two reading groups, asking for promo on Eternity Row (mental note: make some), cried at the end, cried in the middle and the end, too much sex (oh for Pete's sake, they're married now, lay off), hmmm . . . ambiguously worded sound-like-an-interview request [drop kick] three e-cards, Shockball is better than Pikachu (Mike will guffaw over that) and the kids are being too quiet so that's all from the mail bag for now. :)
Retitling Name this Book!
in my head -- came up with "Gidget Goes Galactic."
Name this book!
Typical "Beauty and the Beast" plot, self-depracating heroine who's in the military but of course
abhors violence and killing. She ends up in the clutches of the enemy's Big Bad Military Genius. They're drawn together as they fight for survival (lamely), love from a distance (think Juno and Rio), and end up marrying when they absolutely
shouldn't. Gee, what a surprise. This against an epic intergalactic struggle that echoes the riveting atmosphere of a Tupperware party, an overabundance of not very interesting politically-correct political intrigue and (yawn) some rather tepid plot twists.
The alleged romance appeal, for what it's worth, isn't much. The heroine kisses the hero once -- two lines -- and thinks about having sex with him once -- half a line. Otherwise, the story is as virtuously sterile as my ninety year old Aunt Frances. No skin, no tongues, no sweat -- in other words, sani-sex. There was one rather endearing sadist-maniac character I liked, but the author killed him before he could have any real fun.
The author writes very well, and is mildly funny in spots, but the humor, while sincere, never rises above lukewarm. The stylistic value is pretty apparent -- the author offers a PC heroine who won't offend the male market -- the "your best friend's kid sister" type of protagonist. The author does attempt to infuse the heroine with some daring here and there, but she's so busy falling into the arms of the Big Bad Military Genius Who's Haunted By What He's Done and consoling him that it never works for me. Personally, I'd have taken a weapon and shot him in the head by Chapter Three, gained control of his ship, and gone back to the war.
Bananas and tea while I consider art and architecture for the Iceman book. I can't eat a banana without feeling like a monkey, but I can't face any other fruit this early in the morning. Jericho woke me up by running over me, escaping Rush on the war path, and inadvertantly clawing my leg. Brief, dark thoughts of trading in the felines for a tank of fish who would not claw me and
would let me sleep in on a Sunday morning.
Famous Thought for the Day:
"A person who publishes a book appears willfully in public with his pants down." Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892-1950
I always wonder about Edna. Just what was she wearing under those skirts?
Gloat for the Day:
"There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result." Winston Churchill, 1874-1965
So is finding out a reviewer can't sell their own books anywhere.
Out of the zone, 6,918 words later, floating on the buzz. Decided writing is like sex -- it can be awful, and it can be incredible,
but you've got to get naked to do it right (you can take that literally, or metaphorically. Up to you.) And authors are like lovers -- luring the reader into all those private rooms in our heads, offering seductive promises, hoping they'll like what they see when we chuck the veneer and reveal what's underneath. What's inside those rooms . . . and what we do inside them . . . pretty provocative thought, huh?
You can tell what kind of lover a writer probably is, in reality, from reading their work. The ones who concentrate on impressing the reader with what great minds they have write info dumps with weak or non-existent characterization and predictable plotting. Just like the guy who bankrupted his parents getting nine useless degrees, who now drives a Jag and works for NASA crashing billion dollar space crafties into Mars while writing sincerely boring but immaculately scientific genre fiction, all because he has a four inch penis and takes about five minutes to go from foreplay to climax. Now, that's
some serious compensating. Jesus, I think I just described 90% of the hard SF writers out there. Bad
Imagine, based on my theory, what Laurel K. Hamilton or Stephen King is like in bed. Yikes. Or worse, Diana Galbaldon. Her husband must be perenially exhausted.
But I should skip the Freudian heehaws and explain the zone -- something I forget to explain because I assume everyone goes there when they write (then sit there in shock and horror when I hear they don't.) It's this place where the creative feed goes right from the head into the hands, when the flow of words just pours out of you, and you don't care about anything else. Pure thought = pure writing. And the story runs like a movie in your head, and you can rewind or fast forward to whatever spot you like. You have to give up a lot to get into the zone -- there's no room for doubt or ego or hesitation. You just drop in and hang on for the ride. I don't even consciously remember half the things I write in the zone. I just read them the next day and wonder where the hell I got that
Final thoughts before I enter a coma -- had two story ideas today: Angels of Destruction, a novella about the Janus girls I once considered for the X-Files episode I never wrote, and For the Love of God, a novel about myth moving into modern reality. Both are worth further development. Also refined the mental loop for Gamers, which I've put aside and will go back and play with in a few weeks. Tya keeps morphing on me (but then, that's her job.)
Now off to dream up a way to get ninety priceless swords from Paris to Provence in a not-too-obvious fashion.