Star Lines
Friday, April 19, 2002
  AWOL again: Going to be outta here for a bit, but never fear -- I shall return once all the fires are out. :) 
Thursday, April 18, 2002
  Pssst! Hey, lady, wanna buy some...? Along with discreet sources for Viagra and breast enhancement cream, I get some very strange SPAM. I was hit by those Nigerian bankers who want to deposit millions in my bank account, but I've also gotten cash/marriage proposals from Russia, endorsement payola offers from three e-entities, and one Brit who is convinced I'm related to the monarchy and will prove it for a couple hundred pounds.

Obviously, I can't use the Viagra, and breast enhancement for me would really be overkill. I've managed to resist becoming an overnight millionaire and sorry, I wouldn't marry again if billions were involved. Payola is kind of ridiculous, it's not like I'm Michael Jordan or anything. But the monarchy thing does tempt me a little. Imagine finding out I'm in line for the throne -- don't laugh, there are already a couple of Americans who have "if all these other important people die suddenly, you're it" certificates that entitled them to wear the crown. I think Catherine Oxenburg (sp?) is one. My bloodlines are, well, muddled, but there's some English in there somewhere.

Princess Di was only two weeks older than me and we were pregnant with our first kids at the same time, so I always liked her, poor girl. I could have hung out with Di, no problem. I've always felt sorry for the Queen, too. Imagine dealing with some of that family of hers, ouch. But the whole monarchy thing just doesn't work for me. Even if I do come from a bottom-feeding mongrel white trash trailer park no-name American background, I understand tradition, and history. I know the British people are alternately fond of and exasperated by the royals, but ferociously proud of them, too.

Thing is, I don't think leaders should profit from their position. Power already corrupts enough, and having all that wealth on top of it makes for poor leadership, and creates distance between leaders and the common people -- and it's the common people who do the work that runs the countries these leaders are in charge of. Look at what happened to Marie Antionette when she lost touch with the riff-raff. I'm not a communist, more like a capitalist -- everyone should have the right and opportunity to better themselves and their situation -- but I don't like class distinctions. The Queen may be descended from a lot of important folks, but she's just a woman, like me.

Because tradition and history are important, I don't think the monarchy should be dissolved. Be nice if they would take a huge pay cut and donate the money to building schools and creating jobs for the less fortunate, but like that's ever going to happen. As for finding out where I stand in line for the throne, I think I'll pass. With my luck, I'd be in the top ten, have to go over there and be nice to Camilla during introductions.
  Quote for the Day:"I saw an angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free." -- Michaelangelo

If sculptors are the surgeons of the arts, then writers are the pharmacists.

Medical Fact for the Day: Separation Anxiety is a term referring to the fear or panic children display when faced with separation from a parent (usually the mother, but sometimes both) usually in relation to attending school. Children with chronic separation anxiety feel sick from tension, or will "play sick" to avoid being separated from the parent. The disorder is most common among children 5-7 and 11-14 years of age. Other behaviors typical of children with separation anxiety are: feeling unsafe staying in a room by themselves; displays of clinging behavior; displays excessive worry and fear about parents or about harm to themselves; shadowing the mother or father around the house; having difficulty going to sleep; nightmares; have exaggerated, unrealistic fears of animals, monster, burglars; fear being alone in the dark, or severe tantrums. The potential long-term effects (anxiety and panic disorder as an adult) are serious for a child who has persistent and untreated separation anxiety, and parents should seek professional help. 
  Successful Surgery: I completed eviscerated the '50's red quilt tonight to uncover a beautifully stitched but not quite Civil War era quilt inside. I'm going to tag this one as a well-loved and much used '20's --'30's household quilt. Cotton batting (with seed hulls) pilled all over the place, and every one of the forty-patch friendship squares are badly deteriorated. She's a beauty, though; the backing is completely intact, and the quilting is an incredible ten to twelve stitches per inch. I also found another mysterious bonus -- the '50's quilt maker padded and extended one end of the original quilt with, of all things, surgical gauze. I've got two yards of the stuff, neatly folded and tacked together. I thought I'd seen every kind of substitute batting there is, but this is a new one.

It's such a blast to unearth this old treasure. I felt like Indiana Jones when I snipped that last tie and separated the two quilts. I wonder if digging in the dirt for bones and artifacts is as satisfying. Now the real work starts -- the 50's quilt covering is 95% intact, and I'll have no problem restoring that one. The inner beauty is in really bad shape, but I think I can salvage it. I have to test the remaining patches to see how they'll hold up to new stitching. It'll be at least a six-month job if she holds together, but what a coup if I can pull it off.  
Wednesday, April 17, 2002
  Inspiration: Since I'm too sick to do anything but make everyone else miserable, I went net surfing today and found a site that you simply have to see to believe. Sarah Coleman's front page takes a little while to load, but wait, it's so worth it -- and turn on your speakers so you can hear the sounds that go with it. It's hard to think of the internet as art, until you see someone who has created something as beautiful as this. Thanks to KaneBlues Journal for the link.  
  After indulging in Sudafed, hot tea and lemon, the very congested Quote for the Day: "My grandmother once told me to avoid colds and angry people whenever I could." -- Walter Anderson

Mine said the same thing about unemployment and Republicans.

Medical Fact for the Day: Sinusitis is an infection which causes inflammation of the facial sinuses (the cavities in the bones around the nose.) This bacterial infection usually originates in the nose, as a complication of a viral infection like the common cold, or more rarely, from an abcess in an upper tooth, from infected water being forced into the sinuses, or a severe facial injury. Symptoms include tension/fullness in the affected area, throbbing pain, fever, congestion, and loss of one's sense of smell. Treatments range from antibiotics to combat infection to generic decongestants to reduce inflammation and promote drainage. In very rare cases, surgery to drain the sinuses is required.  
Tuesday, April 16, 2002
  Born to Write: I just read an interview with author/screenwriter William F. Nolan on SciFi site, of whom I knew nothing before reading the piece (I've always admired the movie "Logan's Run", but had no clue he was responsible.) Mr. Nolan gives a nice interview, and is very matter-of-fact about his work, which makes me wonder how the heck he ever got into writing SF. He's also done exactly what I'd like to do -- written all over the genre map, as well as writing for TV and the big screen -- and has been writing since childhood. But it was the end of the article that gave me goosebumps -- what he says about rejections: "Whenever I receive a rejection in the mail or from a producer I begin a new story or project that same day." Sound familiar? The only difference between our methods is, I submit the same day. :)
  Oh, Aych-ee-el-el: Actor Robert Urich passed away and it's put me in a lousy mood. He was another of those very nice looking 70's actors who happened to have one of the most beautiful male voices I've ever heard (he's definitely in my top ten, all-time great voices list.) I could tell a voice-over was done by Robert Urich after three words. Besides the Hollywood stuff he narrated a lot of documentaries, especially after he started fighting his cancer, lost his hair, and put on weight -- probably from chemo. He was always charming, brave, and I get the feeling he really was a nice man and therefore entirely deserving of happiness. Does that make someone like a magnet for cancer? Anyway -- safe journey, Robert, you will be missed.  
  Quote for the Day:"If at first you don't succeed, remember to bring the fully-loaded AK47 next time." -- Jessie

If you're going to stick little gems like this in your e-mails to me, please make the subject line "Don't Drink While Reading."

Semi-Medical Fact for the Day: Everyone who filed their tax returns on April 15th is going to be in a bad mood on April 16th. Which is basically every other American you meet. Also, discussion topics to avoid in America for the next fourteen to thirty days, unless you want your jaw broken: "President Bush, Tax Reformer", "Why We Need to Suppport Welfare Families", "Let's Give Everyone on Social Security a Raise" and "Gotta Love the Internal Revenue Service."  
  Writer Trick #1: Since I can't sleep, and I've already bashed my brains out over the new proposal (which is going okay, if slow, must construct this one with extreme caution), I thought I'd write about one of the tricks I use. Trade secrets and all that. Here's how to avoid excessive description:

(Um, what is excessive description?) Okay, here's an example of how other writers do it:

She glanced at him, and saw he had altered his appearance drastically. He was a tall, lean man with compact, sinewy muscles, who gave the impression of always being on the edge, but now the edge had teeth. He had bleached his short, straight hair to a blistering surfer blond, which didn't match his dark eyebrows. His narrowed eyes were so blue it almost hurt her to look into them. His pale skin spoke of too many days inside, and too many nights on the street. The obsidian leather coat and pants gleamed like the hide of a serpent. A chunky silver chain hung from his neck, and glimmered faintly in the dim light. All of that added a distinct air of reckless, defiant danger to his already-tense aura.

This is okay, if you're comfortable with it. When I was starting out, I did the same -- I think you have to exercise all those adjectives and adverbs like little demons before you can become selective and start honing it down.

Now, this is how I do a description of the same guy at this stage in my career:

She glanced at him. "You look like Spike from Buffy."

The difference? 119 words. (129 words versus 10 words.) Also, which gives you a more direct image? All that sinewy muscle and edgy tension and hurtful blue eyes and yada yada yada, or Spike?

The pro trick is to be selective about the words you use, not to use as many as you can find in the thesaurus. Control of the language is extremely important, otherwise, you dance off into self-indulgency land and you leave your reader in the dust. Don't do that, it's rude. Exceptions: there are some readers who enjoy lengthy description, and who have complained to me because I don't often get very wordy that way. I do tend to be more wordy in romances, but there's a style difference between SF and romance, and that's a whole 'nother discussion.

There are problems with my way of doing it, too. Obviously, if the reader has never seen an episode of Buffy, the whole analogy is lost on them. But I take care to pick very common references, and to date, I haven't met anyone who hasn't seen or heard of Buffy. But if you haven't, here's what he looks like:


Resources: If you want to observe a master of the analogy, watch an episode of Dennis Miller Live. The man rocks.
Monday, April 15, 2002
  And the winner is . . . Someone has sprayed everyone with award fever this week and they're trying to infect me. I don't do awards and contests, they're basically meaningless stroke fests and the big ones are so political and lobby-oriented I'd have to kiss SFWA or RWA butts for years to crack the top ten (yeah, you can see me doing that, right? Snort) I let the Campbell slide because the guy who maintains the web site talked me into it, and I didn't have to do anything like write a cutesy bio or gush about my books, but that's the last one. I do have this fantasy about winning one particular award, getting the trophy in the mail because I wouldn't show up for the ceremony, smashing the trophy into a million pieces, then mailing it back to the awards committee with a note containing two words that begin with F and Y. In reality, I would never allow one of my books to be on the slate, and I'd yank it if anyone attempted to nominate me.

My personal feelings aside, winning awards and contests are one way to bring attention to your work, and I don't diss other authors who decide to go that route. We all have to make our own decisions, and sometimes politicking can help an otherwise lacklustre career. I believe the writing should sell itself, but stowing the modesty for a moment, I'm also a consistent, prolific writer who doesn't need self-esteem boosters to keep going. And you know what my awards are? Reader mail. Sell-through numbers. Bestseller list ranking. Those I do care about, and if they're negative, I'm not doing my job right. So far, they've been great, and if that isn't a boost to the self-esteem, I don't know what is.
  Quote for the Day:“My first books are an embarrassment to me now.” --Robin Lee Hatcher, born-again Christian romance author, referring to the sexual content and quality in her earlier works.

Hey, Robin, guess who invented sex? God. Want to tell Him how much He's embarrassed you?

Medical Fact for the Day: Menopause is the period in a woman's life when her menstrual cycle begins to cease, due to reduced production of estrogen hormones in the ovaries. Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with physical symptoms which include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, painful sexual intercourse, and the need to urinate frequently. Psychological symptoms include poor memory, poor concentration, tearfulness, anxiety, and loss of interest in sex. If the symptoms are severe, hormonal replacement therapy is recommended.
Sunday, April 14, 2002
  AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH: Well, no, actually, I did that about two hours ago. Since then, I've cleaned the bathroms and did the grocery shopping. What can I say -- I can't stand not doing something.  
  Taking the Day Off: After four months of seven day work weeks, I am sitting on my backside today, and doing some fun things like reading for pleasure or painting my toenails. I should be ready to scream by 7pm at the latest. :)  
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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