Star Lines
Saturday, February 23, 2002

Raven's book is dee oh en ee DONE.

No rest for the wicked romance writer yet; I have to shift right into revisions on Jian-Shan's book. Still, feels great -- one down, one to go. 
Friday, February 22, 2002
  More Dos and Don'ts: You know, we ought to be keeping a scorecard on some of these blog writing experts. They remind me of those so-called successful writers who put the inch-high ads in the back of Writer's Digest, offering to critique your manuscript, usually at astronomical prices. Trust me, when you're a successful writer, you're too damn busy to play book doctor. Now this copywriter puts out his lists of the blogging dos and don'ts, thanks to Jessie for the link. I think. My opinion on the dos and don'ts rules for bloggers? Ignore the rules. Write. Just sit down, plunk your hands on the keyboard, and write. Whatever matters to you. Simple.

But tell me, is this Tick Sheila Off Day, or what? Holy Toledo. I am not looking at another e-mail until the steam clears.  
  And Another Thing: One of the reasons I happily pay my taxes every quarter is because it helps support the United States military, and the soldiers who serve our country. My family has enlisted and served in the various branches of the military going back to the Civil War. I have friends and family who are at this very moment putting their lives on the line to defend our freedom. I may despise violence, but sometimes (like now) it's necessary and right. So, sending me e-mail about what you think the military should or shouldn't be doing is not a good idea. Not when you're sitting in your comfortable home or office without anyone firing automatic weapons at your pampered civilian ass. Okay?  
  Write Softly, Carry Large Spiked Club: I don't like it when terrorists kill writers, so I'm in a really bad mood today. I want to hurt someone, but happily, I'm at a point in the manuscript where I can maim some bad guys and blow up a few things. A reasonable substitute for what I'd really like to do, like take on some of these pseudointellectual bleeding heart morons who are claiming Pearl got what he had coming and deserved to die blah blah blah. They all sound so world-weary and superior, don't they? Makes me sick. I wonder how they'd hold up if they were kidnapped by monsters and subsequently butchered for no damn good reason. Probably pee their pants and cry for their mommies.

Writers have been persecuted and prosecuted and hounded throughout history. We're the quiet radicals, though it's usually our more notorious colleagues who end up in hot water. One reason I try to read Ulysses every year (nope, didn't make it past page 64 last month) is because the book was banned in a lot of places, including this country. If you believe certain versions of history (ala the movie "Quills") the Marquis de Sade was incarcerated in an asylum for his writings. The powers that be were always so hot to control what we read -- and through that, what we think.

You'd think that writers would enjoy more freedom of speech, given our enlightened times, right? Wrong. Through book banning, public libraries still try to control what we read. Here's the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2001, courtesy of the American Library Association:

1. Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling, for its focus on wizardry and magic.

2. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, for using offensive language and being unsuited to age group.

3. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (the "Most Challenged" fiction book of 1998), for using offensive language and being unsuited to age group.

4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, for sexual content, racism, offensive language, violence and being unsuited to age group.

5. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene for racism, offensive language and being sexually explicit.

6. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger for offensive language and being unsuited to age group.

7. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, for being sexually explicit, using offensive language and being unsuited to age group.

8. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous for being sexually explicit, for offensive language and drug use.

9. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers, for offensive language and being unsuited to age group.

10. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause for being sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.

I've read most of the books on this list, btw -- and as for #8, Go Ask Alice, I read that in high school. That book was one of the reasons I didn't do drugs as a teenager.

Thursday, February 21, 2002
  Have to light a candle tonight and have a talk with God -- they've gone and killed Daniel Pearl. 
  Oh, and guess who turned out to be blue on the what-color-are-you online test? Sarah, of course. Now she's definitely blue. 
  Two chapters to write today and a pile of editing, but I got a whopping five hours sleep last night, so I feel pretty good, if a bit headache-y from being horizontal for that long. An insomniac is never happy, you know. If we don't sleep, we whine about being tired. If we do sleep, we whine about how it'll never last. Being perpetually cranky is in the international membership bylaws, I think. I'm waiting for scientists to find a way to dispense with the need for sleep forever, and hand me the cure for it in pill form. Then I would become an instant junkie, I promise you.  
  Quote for the Day: "A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing." Eugene Ionesco

That's so true it's kind of depressing.

Medical Fact for the Day: Familial Mediterranean Fever is a rather bizarre genetic condition which affects persons of Sephardic Jewish, Armenian and Arab heritage. Symptons, which generally begin in childhood, include recurrent fevers, abdominal pain, chest pain, and arthritis. Attacks last up to forty-eight hours, which may be reduced by taking colchicine, a drug used to treat gout. There is no known cause or standard treatment for affected patients, who sometimes also suffer from psychiatric problems as well. Complications of familial Mediterranean fever can lead to amyloidosis, and death.  
  Department of the Interior: Tonight, a challenge for all you writers out there: your protagonist is alone in her home, when the phone lines are cut and two men with evil intentions break in. Your protagonist has time enough to hide under her bed in her bedroom as they begin ransacking the house, looking for a particularly desirable item. She realizes they will be looking under the bed when they get to her room, and she must find another hiding place. The house is built on a hillside, so she can't jump out of the bedroom windows -- it's a forty-foot drop straight down. There's an old armoire and a bathroom, but the bad guys are obviously going to search them. There's no other place big enough to accomodate your protagonist. Footsteps are approaching, so she can't leave the room. How do you get her to temporary safety in this situation? (One answer follows, so don't read yet if you want to figure out your own solution.)

This is something I actually did once to change a florescent light bulb that had burned out, so I can verify it is possible, as long as your protagonist is a fairly small, lightweight, and agile individual. Have a drop ceiling in the bedroom or bathroom. She can stand on the bed -- or the vanity -- to get herself up high enough to reach a panel and slide it aside. Once she's levered herself up into the opening, have her stretch out along the metal supports inside the ceiling (there's usually about a two foot space between the panels and the roof) and replace the panel. It will be shaky, but as long as she distributes her weight the supports should hold. The lights, btw, should be off or they'll show a silhouette, which may be spotted.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002
  Morning Chuckles: Aspiring to better stay on top of stuff in the SF world (oh, the possibilities for puns), I've been reading a number of sci-fi e-things before I start work for the day. The one that tickles me the most is Scifi Weekly, particularly the letters to the editor. In this issue, one reader claims Hollywood is using sex to sell SF (well, duh) and another witters on about SF=cosmic truth and wraps his little tantrum with a line I can't resist making the

Quote for the Day: "The greatest of all genres, science fiction, stoops to no one." Sci-fi reader Kevin Ahearn

But isn't that great big stick uncomfortable, shoved all the way up there?

Medical Fact for the Day: Hyperacidity is a condition in which the stomach produces an excessive amount of acid, and is commonly confused with acid reflux. Most people suffering with hyperacidity suffer from underlying causes, such as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, or a peptic ulcer. Treatment can range from nutritional control to surgery to correct the cause of the condition.  
  Sigh I miss blogging. I miss everything. Seven more days. :) 
  I like green. It's my second-favorite color. My kitchen is white and green. Most of my really cool quilts are majority-green. Green goes with everything. But like Jeff, I was kinda hoping I'd score blue. Seeing as I've created an entire civilization of blue people, and all . . .  
  Me and the Amish: Taking a break from the book, I decided to finally try another online test. I failed the first one I took (the Geek test, I think) so I'm a little leery of them. But after reading the 2/16 blog entry over at KaneBlues I thought, what the heck. So here, if I've cut and paste this right, are the results:


You are a very calm and contemplative person. Others are drawn to your peaceful, nurturing nature.

Find out your color at!

I can be calm, contemplative, peaceful, and nuturing. Stop laughing. 
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
  Just When You Think You'll Get Some Serious Writing Time . . . Both of my kids are now home and sick with upper respiratory infections, thank you Jesus for messing with me again. I swear, one day I'm going to have a deadline week where nothing happens and drop dead of a coronary. On the bright side (yes, there is one) I'm humming along now and getting much work accomplished. Pressure just ticks me off and makes me write better, yeah, I know, weird me. Wrote 23K yesterday (the author takes a bow) and it looks like my revisions and Raven's book will be wrapped up in a few more days. After that I jump right into Sean's book proposal, and then I take a couple of days off to watch my toenails grow. Bliss awaits, must work tail off now.  
Monday, February 18, 2002
  Tempus Fugit: Another 20K to write today, with both kids home, so it should be interesting. No time for much blogging today, but here's something to keep the blog from getting boring (and this is rated R for language, kids, go make some waffles):

Excerpt from Blade Dancer
by S.L. Viehl

No ship, no stars, not even a grass shroud, Mom. A hole in the dirt and cotton's the best I can do.

I folded her six-fingered hands over her sunken chest. She had beautiful hands, strong and graceful and competent. I'd never seen her claws emerge, not once in twenty-four years. The numbness inside me contracted into something else. Something tight and hot and furious.

I was burying my mother.

Do not grieve for me, ClanDaughter.

I didn't want to grieve.

I wanted to hit something.

Like her.

"Why the hell didn't you call me?" The words exploded out of me. "I'd have stomped over anything to get to you! We could have gone back underground, I could have gotten the medicine in time. I could have saved you. What were you thinking?"

It was my choice. My path.

"You and your stupid fucking paths!" I kicked the shovel, sending it flying. Then I was on my knees, my arms around my abdomen, doubled over. Losing her hurt worse than anything that had ever been done to me. "How could you? How could you leave me like this? You're all I've got. All I've ever had."

Still, white-within-white eyes stared up at the stars I couldn't give her. I honor you, Jory.

I stopped acting like a jerk, and carefully arranged the coils and braids of her black hair around her face. Most of the pustules had broken before she'd died, and a few still oozed green fluid when I touched her. The same fluid that was all over the front of my shirt. Trickles of it ran down her cheeks, like dark tears.

"Nice that one of us can cry." I sat back on my haunches and pressed my palms to the sides of my pounding head. "So what do I do now, Mom?"

My answer came immediately, when light flashed in my face. "PRC. Hold it right there."

Five men surrounded me, and I curled my glove around the hilt of the knife I always carried. The high-intensity emitters they carried made it hard to see their faces, but they were obviously well-dressed. Every one of them had a weapon drawn.

Evidently one of Mom's neighbors had finally grown a conscience.

I straightened to my full height, and two of the men took an automatic step back. Nice thing about being nearly seven feet tall -- it unnerved every guy I met. "Get lost." While they were busy gaping, I picked up my mother and carried her over to the hole.

They followed, forming a loose ring around me, Mom, and the grave.

"What are you burying?" one of them asked.

I could have lied and said a really big dog or something. But the reason to do that was going in the grave. What was the point? "My mother."

"Why didn't you take her to a mortuary memorial center?" The PRC agent pointed a beam at my face.

I stepped out of the light. "Because, stupid, she didn't like them. Take a hike."

"Put down the body."

I carried her to the grave, and jumped in. New pain sizzled up my thigh as I laid Mom out in the bottom. The old fears came crawling along with it. Maybe I could cover her fast, make some excuses. I'd listed future-ager as my religious preference with the junta, that might get me some slack. Five faces stared over the edge at me. Someone enabled a weapon.

Taa-taa, slack.

"You have ten seconds to climb out of there."

I used seven to bend down and kiss my mother's ruined face. Her brow felt hard and cold against my lips. "Honor you, Mom."

I ignored the outstretched hands and hoisted myself out. The dirt from the grave sides felt dry and crumbly under my hands.

The light was in my face again. "Step aside."

Planetary Residential Commission agents had no respect for the dead. I was tempted to teach them some. "Leave. Now."

PRC hands grabbed at me, holding me, patting me down. One of them took my knife. The other grabbed my breast, and squeezed.

"No tits," he said as he slid his hand down between my thighs. "But feels like she's got a nice, tight slash."

Mistake Number One.

No female plays pro without getting groped in the locker room now and then. I'd been hit on for eight straight seasons, usually by rookies or new trades who hadn't been warned. If they came back from injured reserve, they never touched me again.

Nobody put their hands on me.

I took out two of them with one leg sweep, forcing the first backward and down by the hair while cracking some of the second's ribs with my boot. The third came running at me from behind, and I turned so he could collide with my fist. His nose fractured under my knuckles, and his jaw would have been next, but the fourth dove between us and tried to knock me away with a shoulder to the center of my chest.

It wasn't much of a block -- I'd stomped through much worse on the field -- and I weighed too much for him to move me. The problem was the not-at-all-human thing that swelled inside me. Worse than anger. My vision sharpened, my mouth dried, and I felt my claws punch through my gloves. Something huge and vicious lived inside me, and now it wanted more than a fist fight.

Take them down.

Rip their bellies open.

Fill your hands with their guts.

Take them down Jory now Now NOW

I fought it, curling my hands over, cutting my own palms as I forced my claws back into my fingers. Denying the ferocious surge was like being scalded from the inside out, but I'd kill them all if I didn't. Rij had taught me breathing methods to get through these rage spells, but that was for the game. With my mother there, it was personal.

And suddenly I wasn't too sure I could hold back the beast.

I had to get away from them. Right now. Before I could pick a direction, the fourth agent fumbled in his jacket, produced a weapon, and fired.

Mistake Number Two.

Light and pain crackled over me. From the whine of the blast I knew his weapon had been adjusted to heavily stun almost any life form. Any life form not wearing insulating thermal wraps, that is. In my case, it was like getting stung by a great big bee -- it just pissed me off more.

"That didn't work, did it, asshole?" I knocked the pistol from his hand, grabbed his jacket, and jerked him up off his feet. As he dangled, eyes bulging, I showed him all of my pretty teeth. "Want to try again?"

I might have done more to Mr. Trigger-Happy, but the fifth agent stepped up to me. He was tall enough that he didn't have to stretch much when he put his gun to my head. "Mine is set to burn a hole through your brain," Bright Boy told me. "Your move."

Copyright 2002 by S.L. Viehl
All rights reserved 
Sunday, February 17, 2002
  Now if anyone wants to know why I chose that particular medical fact for the day, remember, I was thinking about reviewers. :) 
  Quote for the Day: "So when are you going after your reviewers?" -- reader, referring to recent tantrums by authors Caleb Carr and Gwyneth Jones

I'm busy writing books, myself.

Medical Fact for the Day: A Proctoscopy is an examination of the rectum and anal canal through the use of a rigid metal viewing tube called a proctoscope.  
Adventures at the KeyBoard

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