Star Lines
Saturday, December 01, 2001

Free e-books for the holidays from S.L. Viehl

As my way of saying happy holidays and thanks to my readers, there are two free e-books available on my web site, at:

"Sink or Swim" is a collection of my short stories published on the site from November 2000-2001, plus two new stories never before published. "Night of the Chameleon" is one of my first paranormal romances. Both are available in HTML or .pdf format, both are completely free of charge, and if you want to check out my writing without forking over the $6.99 at Borders or Barnes and Noble, here's your chance. :) The books will remain up and accessible through the entire month of December, but they will not be archived, so don't procrastinate.

(Is this large enough, Jessie? )

  Reader mail bag offerings: The free e-books have already generated a half dozen e-mails, mostly thanks, one wanting to know why NOTC is bylined Sheila Kelly (to avoid conflict of interest with my Onyx books, mainly), Shockball, why did I cancel the booksigning (long story), another hate-you-gram, what about Eternity Row (damn, forgot to announce the release date, sorry Paula. Smacking myself in the forehead), and a really cool question about the genetic stuff in HODS.

Scientists are exploring the possibility of cloning humans and engineering them to be born without heads to serve as organ donor banks, I didn't make that up. Suppressing cranial case development is not the problem, it's redesigning and relocating enough brain tissue to keep the bodies alive. HODS was my ethical response to this ghoulish idea. I am very sympathetic to the plight of people who need organ transplants, believe me, but this is not the answer. Let's clone organs individually, not redesign our species to create a sub-class of human.
  Famous Quote for the Day: "This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, will come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women." D.H. Lawrence, 1885-1930

There are monkeys in my forest.

Gloat for the Day: "Heaven for climate; Hell for society." Mark Twain, 1835-1910, on being asked where he would like to go after death.

Purgatory for hope?

  We're back to take a tour of insomnia city tonight, ladies and gentlemen . . .

I can't sleep again. Oh, I haven't tried very hard, so it's not a total loss yet, but I haven't pulled a 72 hour straight-awake session in a couple of months. When I go past 48 hours I start wondering if I need to get medication. So far, I've resisted, but it's wearing me down. I still can't eat, but that's a hangover from getting through deadline week.

I feel miserable but elated -- my two e-books are up on my web site, thanks to my wonderful web designer (bless you, Willa) and I'm hoping they go over well. If you feel like finding out what keeps me awake at night, check them out, just click on HOME over to the left there and it'll take you right to them. They're free to anyone who wants to read them, in HTML and .pdf format.

I had one of my rare epiphanies tonight, too -- I've really got to take some time off and think about stuff. There are always novels to write, plans to make, kids to manage, but I haven't really stopped and given myself a breather since I left the ex. This contributes to the insomnia, I know -- the manic hyperactivity, the endless writing, like the world is going to end tomorrow so I'd better get it all done yesterday. One of the writers on the Fitness Board meditates every day and I was thinking I might try to do something similar. Make a regular focus adjustment, slow everything down and let my problems hover for an hour or two each day. Maybe it'll help me sleep better, I don't know. I'd just rather do anything than go on pills.

Okay, I'm done whining. Off to bed.  
Friday, November 30, 2001
  While prepping for class tonight, I had to read through several publisher's guidelines and was once more struck by the specific wording used by some editors who, I'll assume, consider unpublished writers as "the rabble." The wording is often lofty and pompous and sometimes, it's downright snotty. Is this a diversionary tactic, or what?

Let me give you an example:

". . . overall the work must at least strive for originality."

You can almost hear the tonal emphasis on strive, can't you? And what does this say about this editor? Has he/she become so jaded by the demands of his/her profession that all hope has been extinguished? Or does editing bring about with some kind of misguided notion of superiority, like, you become an editor, you move up the food chain? I don't get it. Yeah, I know there are a lot of lousy writers out there. I know they submit horrible manuscripts. But there are good people out there who write very well, who should be in print. Do they read this and think, "Christ, why should I even try?"

  Famous Quote for the Day: "I am not an editor . . . and shall always try to do right and be good so that God will not make me one." Mark Twain, 1835-1910

So there's an option to burning forever in the Pit of Hell.

Gloat for the Day: "Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." Matthew 23:24

And it comes with a job description. How nice.

  Insomnia city last night -- I was horizontal for an hour but I didn't sleep, and I got tired of keeping my eyes closed hoping I would. If I don't nap today, then tonight I'll sleep like the dead and maybe break the 2-3 hour barrier.

I hate sleep, but I really hate not sleeping when it makes me feel like this.

This is the most wretched hour of an insomniac's life -- that hour before you have to start everything for the day. Your eyes burn, your body feels like lead, and you're tired (but not sleep tired. Sick of yourself tired.) Only after a couple of hours does a second (or third or fourth) energy surge come through and then you can cruise through the rest of the morning. Another wave of exhaustion generally hits around four p.m., but those are easier to resist because it's another busy time of day. Then you're up again until midnight or one am, when the whole cycle repeats itself.

I should write a book on this. No, no, I'm on vacation! Forget I said that.

  I had to read through Iceman AKA Mine to Have one more time tonight -- yeah, I know, obsessivous compulsivous writerous that I am -- and I stumbled across another of Raven's lines I'd forgotten I'd put in there. (This is rated PG-13, kids, go watch the Disney Channel):

The Army has just threatened to court martial Raven if she doesn't cooperate with them, and the officer warns her with this line: "From my point of view, you don't have a choice -- you're looking at thirty years, minimum."

Raven gives him a cool smile then delivers her line: "I'd like to see your point of view, but I don't think I could fit my head that far up your ass."

I'm almost sure my editor is going to kill it, but I love it. I love Raven. Hee hee.

Thursday, November 29, 2001
  Getting ready for my session tomorrow night at Holly's, and trawling through some queries and book proposals for examples to give the troops. Now, would you want to buy an article or book based on one of these one line pitches?

Have you ever met a man so infuriating that you'd like to push him off a high-rise building?

What could go wrong when an interested editor calls and asks you to overnight your manuscript?*

Being eighty-seven, crippled, and having a viper for a daughter-in-law is no picnic -- especially when she's trying to kill you.

What does a grumpy celebrity living on a deserted island do with a half-naked groupie who washes up on shore?*

If you sent a radiotelescope signal to the center of the galaxy, what would you do if someone answered?

Shooting a bear in the middle of a blizzard is one thing, finding out you've shot a homeless paranoid schizophrenic man wearing a bear skin is another.*

How does an ethical neurologist treat headless human patients who have developed minds of their own elsewhere?

Cherijo's Law: Just when you think being a fugitive genetically-enhanced clone doctor is enough of a career challenge, the Hsktskt will show up to enslave you.*

(FYI, I sold all the ones marked with a *)

  Finished my article for Vision and sent it off to the editor. Today is get-stuff-done day, apparently. I like finishing things. Gives me that Tom Hanks Castaway fire scene feeling, like "Look! I made writing!"
  Cruising on 2.5 hours of sleep, tried to go back to bed after taking the kids to school but my back said, "No, I don't think so, sweetheart. If I'm up, you're up." Despite the depressing state of my lower lombar region, I do have an announcement to make: I'm done writing books for the year. Wait, that isn't loud enough.

I'm done writing books for the year!

Boxed up both manuscripts, went to the pack and ship place this morning and kissed them goodbye. They are gone, baby and I am done, done, DONE.

Hello, four weeks of vacation, I'm all yours. :)

  After many days of editing, I have invented a number of more romantic modifiers without resorting to the dreaded adverbs ending in -ly, eliminated a society, created a zaibatsu -- sort of an Asian chamber of commerce -- and misspelled the word inadvertantly seventeen times. I'm not even sure if it's spelled right here. I've also had to switch gears and go into SF writer mode, which revives my extremely ticked off and battered muse (who will get even with me for this month from hell if it's the last thing she does) and commence the final rinse and set on Blade. The eerie thing is thinking about doing none of this for four weeks. Last year my SF editor wrecked my holidays with revisions so I've never actually taken a vacation this long. But the new computer will soon arrive, and I'm going to overhaul my whole work setup while the kids are in their last two weeks of school. Should keep me out of trouble.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001
  I just bought a new computer -- CD burner, two different WP programs, the talk-and-it-types software, the best laser printer they have, hi-speed internet ready, and probably ten thousand other things. Gateway put everything together for me on the phone (hi Colton, thanks again!), all I have to do is sign for it when it arrives next week. Price tag: $2161.76 Not cheap, but an investment in my future, and I'll have tech support for as long as I own it. I spent the same amount of money going to RWA National this past summer, and since I'm not going to conferences anymore it sort of pays for itself.
  Quote for the Day: "Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper." Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

And life is the white kitchen counter under the paper.

Gloat for the Day: "How did I manage to get marooned on the only island in the world occupied by a complete maniac?" Me, Paradise Island

Because the mountain occupied by the homeless paranoid schizophrenic is in the next book.
  E-mail from my agent, she's waiting on me to go to the table for the next contract. I now have to decide some things over the weekend -- stay or go, development, hardcover, overseas rights, audio books, and what editor I'll be working with for the next year or two. All very serious issues.

Despite that, it will come down to the money. I can't afford to be artistic, I have two kids to support and they come first. I'm not nervous, I'm tired of (youngsters, cover your eyes) a certain amount of bullshit. Also, I have other offers waiting from other, unrelated fields, and I can make a lot more money doing a lot less. It's the prospect of getting into the serious money some writers are making that has kept me doing it full time so far. Bottom line, whatever we negotiate on the issues, the publisher had to ante up now, and I am cold-blooded enough to walk away if I have to. Like I said, my kids come first.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001
  Reader mail bag offerings: More on Shockball, a couple who've just read the first StarDoc and are now hooked (the buy-one-get-another-book-for-a-discount offer has generated some sales, apparently), my books suck, would I donate signed books to a library (always), my literacy friends need another fun raiser, two more SF newsletter reviews (zap! history), write faster, was I a doctor (in my dreams), question about future geography -- good one, too, this kid lives in LA and knows the terrain, disappointed and would I be so kind as to kill off a certain male character.

It's funny how passionate we get about certain characters. I know one series being written by another author in which my fondest wish is to see a certain annoyingly perky female protagonist Get Hers. Most of my readers obsess about Reever and Cherijo, but I've had others gravitate toward the supporting cast -- Squilyp being the most popular, with Alunthri and Xonea battling it out for runner-up. Hawk from Shockball is gaining on them fast, though, and I imagine by book seven folks are going to start taking sides over him and the character he gets involved in. Who will it be? Stay tuned to As StarDoc Turns. :)

  Note to NAL copy editor Tiffany -- yeah, that's her name, quit snickering -- who is evidently obsessed with ellipses: According to Webster's Universal Collegiate Dictionary's Grammar Notes, The dash can be used to indicate hesitations in speech, i.e. "Well--uh--how do I put this? If I need to use an ellipse--like the four hundred you red pencilled in over my dashes on this manuscript--I'd have put them there myself, thanks."

Punctuation can be according to personal taste in some cases. Tiffany must think ellipses are romantic, while I only use them when someone has a head injury or is drugged.

  I refuse to believe there are only 28 days left until Christmas. Someone is messing with my head and it's not funny. Cut it out.
  Chinese leftovers: the word guanxi means relationships, and there are all kinds: qinqi guanxi is what you have with non-blood relatives while yueyuan guanxi is with blood relatives; you have shangxiaji guanxi with bosses or employees, tongshi guanxi with coworkers, and tongxue guanxi with classmates in school. Relationships between men and women are nannu guanxi including the all-important xing guanxi in which you get naked and will need a bed. We won't even get into the useful guanxi you maintain with people who are in a position to help you.

"I have an unnatural guanxi with my computer," she said, eyeing the chains around her wrists and ankles. "And I need more xing."
  Chinese comes in handy at times, tonight I feel like gousheng (dog leftovers.) I'm not sure why editing makes me so tired and nauseous -- I wrote in my fitness post that it feels like I've swallowed a fist and that's not an exaggeration (are there two gees and one ar in that word?) I am the world's lousiest speller, and half the time my grammar sucks just as much. I capitalize too much. I use too many eye references. The word look gets in my book and breeds like cockroaches. I think it's mating with the word glance, another slut for overusage, and together they're producing little gazes all over the bloody damn novel. It gets so that I want to blind all the characters and be done with it.

Still, I'm nearly done. I'm finishing it tomorrow if I have to put in twenty hours. That will give me two full days to give myself another ulcer over Blade. Now I'm going to enter a brief coma. Good night, all.
Monday, November 26, 2001
  If I misspell occasionally one more time, I am shooting myself in the head (the author mutters, along with "Two cees, one ess. Two cees, one ess . . . ") 
  Is it entirely necessary to have a Monday at all? 
Sunday, November 25, 2001
  I did the anti-flea-tick drops on the boys, and now all three of them hate me again. I really resent this, my felines never had fleas until I left them with my vet for a week while I was in New Orleans over the summer for RWA. The nurses fell in love with all three of them and let them wander around the office all week -- they couldn't believe how affectionate they were (I know better, they were scoping out the new territory and establishing who was the soft touch for treats.) In fact, the boys poured on the charm so much I almost didn't get them back.

It was a relief to get them home, because like my kids, I've never been separated from them for so long. I didn't realize they had fleas until Jakol started scratching. Jakol is too fat and lazy to do anything but eat, lay in the sun, sleep, and let the other boys groom him. So I checked his fur, found a flea and shrieked to high heaven.
"Parasites?! In my house?!"

We went on this three month treatment to get rid of them that has now extended to six months, as the first three doses didn't work. And we hate the drops. I hate putting them on, they hate smelling them (the vet assured me the stuff was odorless, but I swear, you should see the noses flare around here.) This new batch is like oil, and I have to get it against the skin from the back of their necks to the base of their tails. Because all three of them are domestic shorthairs with very dense, compact pelts, this is not easy. It's mostly like parting Don Johnson's chin stubble with a Q-Tip.

Then when I do get it applied, they turn on me and give me the evil how-could-you eye and take off to plop on my bed and try to get at the drops to lick them away. Have you ever seen a cat try to lick his back? It would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic. They really are the cleanest animals I've ever had, poor things. I hope this treatment works. If it doesn't, it means (shudder) a flea bath.

  Pop Japanese vocabulary lesson: Rikishi: Sumo "wrestler". Tegata: A rikishi's handprint, the sumo equivalent of a signature. Tachiai: the initial charge at the beginning of a bout, also the time most sumo wrestlers say the match is decided.

Americans tend to poke fun at sumo wrestling, but it's a serious and much-admired sport in Japan. A rikishi who rises all the way to the rank of yokozuna (sort of sumo's Top Gun) is treated like movie star, as there are only two rikishi permitted to hold that rank at any given time. The physical complications of wrestling on these athletes are brutal. Not only do they gain tremendous amounts of weight to lower their center of gravity (to make it more difficult for an opponent to knock them over, which is basically the way you win) but they regularly fracture bones from collisions during the initial tachiai charge. Think two elephants smashing into each other at high speed, and you'll get a pretty accurate visual of the impact. A few rikishi die in the ring every year, generally from severe injuries sustained during the bout or health problems related to the unnatural weight gain, such as congestive heart failure.

  Aren't you tired of that ad up there? Watch, I'm going to make it disappear. :) 
  Famous Quote for the Day: "Even the disciple has his uses. He stands behind one's throne, and at the moment of one's triumph whispers in one's ear that, after all, one is immortal." Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900

And then he whispers, "I will love you forever."

Gloat for the Day: "One should always be a little improbable." Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900

As long as one doesn't have to join a group for it.
  Finished the hard edit on Iceman and Blade today. Which means for all intents and purposes (save a little authorial fussing for the next five days over word choices) I just finished the last two books of the year. Stick a fork in me 'cause baby I'm done!

This is such a relief, I can't tell you. I was really sweating over the time limitations. And I am totally wiped out. I still have to tally up the final wordcount, but I wrote at least 100K or better over the past four weeks. And I'm facing producing another 200K with two new books at the beginning of the year, but I'll have three months to do that, maybe four. We shall see.

Adventures at the KeyBoard

10/28/2001 - 11/04/2001 / 11/04/2001 - 11/11/2001 / 11/11/2001 - 11/18/2001 / 11/18/2001 - 11/25/2001 / 11/25/2001 - 12/02/2001 / 12/02/2001 - 12/09/2001 / 12/09/2001 - 12/16/2001 / 12/16/2001 - 12/23/2001 / 12/23/2001 - 12/30/2001 / 12/30/2001 - 01/06/2002 / 01/06/2002 - 01/13/2002 / 01/13/2002 - 01/20/2002 / 01/20/2002 - 01/27/2002 / 01/27/2002 - 02/03/2002 / 02/03/2002 - 02/10/2002 / 02/10/2002 - 02/17/2002 / 02/17/2002 - 02/24/2002 / 02/24/2002 - 03/03/2002 / 03/03/2002 - 03/10/2002 / 03/10/2002 - 03/17/2002 / 03/17/2002 - 03/24/2002 / 03/24/2002 - 03/31/2002 / 03/31/2002 - 04/07/2002 / 04/07/2002 - 04/14/2002 / 04/14/2002 - 04/21/2002 / 04/21/2002 - 04/28/2002 / 04/28/2002 - 05/05/2002 / 05/05/2002 - 05/12/2002 / 05/12/2002 - 05/19/2002 / 05/19/2002 - 05/26/2002 / 05/26/2002 - 06/02/2002 / 06/02/2002 - 06/09/2002 / 06/09/2002 - 06/16/2002 / 06/16/2002 - 06/23/2002 / 06/23/2002 - 06/30/2002 / 06/30/2002 - 07/07/2002 / 07/07/2002 - 07/14/2002 / 07/14/2002 - 07/21/2002 / 07/21/2002 - 07/28/2002 / 07/28/2002 - 08/04/2002 / 08/04/2002 - 08/11/2002 / 08/11/2002 - 08/18/2002 / 08/18/2002 - 08/25/2002 / 08/25/2002 - 09/01/2002 / 09/01/2002 - 09/08/2002 / 09/08/2002 - 09/15/2002 / 09/15/2002 - 09/22/2002 / 09/22/2002 - 09/29/2002 / 09/29/2002 - 10/06/2002 / 10/06/2002 - 10/13/2002 / 10/13/2002 - 10/20/2002 / 10/20/2002 - 10/27/2002 / 10/27/2002 - 11/03/2002 / 11/03/2002 - 11/10/2002 / 11/10/2002 - 11/17/2002 / 11/17/2002 - 11/24/2002 / 11/24/2002 - 12/01/2002 / 12/01/2002 - 12/08/2002 / 12/08/2002 - 12/15/2002 / 12/15/2002 - 12/22/2002 / 12/22/2002 - 12/29/2002 / 12/29/2002 - 01/05/2003 / 01/05/2003 - 01/12/2003 / 01/12/2003 - 01/19/2003 / 01/19/2003 - 01/26/2003 / 01/26/2003 - 02/02/2003 / 02/02/2003 - 02/09/2003 / 02/09/2003 - 02/16/2003 / 02/16/2003 - 02/23/2003 / 02/23/2003 - 03/02/2003 / 03/02/2003 - 03/09/2003 / 03/09/2003 - 03/16/2003 / 03/16/2003 - 03/23/2003 / 03/23/2003 - 03/30/2003 / 03/30/2003 - 04/06/2003 / 04/06/2003 - 04/13/2003 / 04/13/2003 - 04/20/2003 / 04/20/2003 - 04/27/2003 / 04/27/2003 - 05/04/2003 / 05/04/2003 - 05/11/2003 / 05/11/2003 - 05/18/2003 / 05/18/2003 - 05/25/2003 / 05/25/2003 - 06/01/2003 / 06/01/2003 - 06/08/2003 / 06/08/2003 - 06/15/2003 / 06/15/2003 - 06/22/2003 / 06/22/2003 - 06/29/2003 / 06/29/2003 - 07/06/2003 / 07/06/2003 - 07/13/2003 / 07/13/2003 - 07/20/2003 / 07/20/2003 - 07/27/2003 / 07/27/2003 - 08/03/2003 / 08/03/2003 - 08/10/2003 / 08/10/2003 - 08/17/2003 / 08/17/2003 - 08/24/2003 / 08/24/2003 - 08/31/2003 / 08/31/2003 - 09/07/2003 / 09/07/2003 - 09/14/2003 / 09/14/2003 - 09/21/2003 / 09/21/2003 - 09/28/2003 / 09/28/2003 - 10/05/2003 / 10/05/2003 - 10/12/2003 / 10/12/2003 - 10/19/2003 / 10/19/2003 - 10/26/2003 / 10/26/2003 - 11/02/2003 / 11/02/2003 - 11/09/2003 / 11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003 /

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