There are lines from certain poems that have stayed with me since I first read them, for one reason or another. One reason I love poetry so much is that it's like decrypting code; you have to read and think your way through it. The other is that a great poet will craft something that means more than what the academics dissect and pronounce it to be. A great poem has invisible levels and unseen doors; it's a mansion of hidden rooms. John Keats, who has been studied and analyzed to death, still manages to grab me by the throat and shake me, as he did last night with this:
"I am but a voice; My life is but the life of winds and tides, No more than winds and tides can I avail"
— from Hyperion
What poems have kept you up half the night, or left you dazed and speechless?
I'm going to do a holiday contest on the web site, but you guys get to hear about it first. In early December, I'll be giving away five complete signed sets of all five StarDoc books. Specific details on the contest will be posted on the website
in November, but it will be a send in your name, random drawing type thing. If you want to know who to bribe, my seven year old daughter will be selecting the winning names. :) In addition to the contest, I'll be posting the first StarDoc novella in December (gives me a little more time to buff and polish it) and a collection of all the short stories published on the website from 11/01-11/02, both in html and pdf format.
Because of the negative impact chains ordering to the net are having on me and my colleagues, I've decided to stop personally buying books from all chain stores, and will now be doing business strictly with independent booksellers. The contest books have been ordered from San Diego's Mysterious Galaxy.
Thanks to Joel
for giving me the idea by mentioning them. I'm now looking for an independent bookseller who can handle my non-fiction book needs, anyone have any suggestions?
God's Sense of Humor:
I helped Mike study for his first spelling test last night, and #26 on the list was -- occasionally.
"Aha!" Spotting one of my deadliest word foes would have made my claws emerge, if I had claws. "This one is hard, Mike. Just remember, two
cees and one
ess, and --"
My son gave me an odd look. "It's okay, Mom, I know that one."
And he spelled it back to me perfectly.
I sent Kim's copy of Eternity Row off after writing the accompanying letter about two hundred times. There's a pile of two hundred crumpled bits of paper next to the desk as I chickened out and slipped a check in the book. Fine writer that I am, I dedicate the damn book to her then I can't deal with telling her why. So I send her stupid signed books and money instead. That's my favorite way of expressing affection for people, cold and heartless as it is. I love you, how should I make out the check?
I am not good with expressing my feelings for other people. I was raised to believe they were a weakness, and should be ignored or avoided at all cost. Our family motto should be something like "Never let them see you care." But I went through therapy for that, and they said I confronted most of my demons and stomped the little monsters into dust. So why can't I tell Kim what I felt when I was writing Eternity Row, and why I wrote it the way the I did, and how I feel about her cancer? I hate talking about my books, but this is her
book. I should be able to tell her. I've got to keep trying until I can.
Will They, Won't They?
I'm not going to get into a whole war debate thing, I don't do that here. But something struck me as odd today. My mother asked me if I thought the terrorists would try to strike the U.S. again this September 11th. Without really thinking about it, I said, "Yeah. Don't go anywhere that day if you can help it, Mom."
I wasn't thinking about 9/11, or anniversary-loving terrorists. I thought of the women of Israel. This must be the kind of thing they say to their families all the time now. Don't go on the bus today. Don't go to school today. Don't take a cab today. Don't go to the market today.
And I got angry, on top of being angry about other stuff.
I don't know what the answers are, but it would not be a good idea to give me control of any nuclear weapons this week.
Have a set of revisions to add to the pile, and NAL has finalized the title for Raven's book: "The Steel Caress." This would be the third
finalized title since the spring, so I'm not banking on it. Evidently it came from the same person who thought up "The Kissing Blades" for book three. Professional tact prevents me from expressing any more opinions on this subject; just remember, when these books hit the stand, I
didn't slap these titles on them. I will also be adding a no-changing-the-title request to my next contract wish list.
Judging by the revision notes, the new romance editor is perceptive, bright, and clearly sees my weak spots, so we should work well together. We've agreed backstory is one of my worst weaknesses; I tend to skimp or skip it too much. She also surprised me with an insight on how I'd portrayed the hero of the story in one chapter. The portrayal didn't make the hero very heroic, and revealed my intense dislike of people who use alcohol.
I have to keep kicking myself on that subject, as intellectually I know not every who uses alcohol is an alcoholic, but sometimes my subconscious disgust sneaks in. Doesn't help that every time I see someone drinking booze I want to slap the hell out of them. But then, most people never have to remove the remains after a drunk driver plows into three cars at 80 mph. Most hard core drinkers happily chug their mind-altering substances, never thinking it could be them who wipes out an entire family just because they didn't want the hassle of finding a designated driver. And you know something? The drunks always seem to survive. God must be saving something really special for them.
Anyway, enough ranting about boozers. Off to revise.
Blogger, Don't Eat My Post:
Checking to see if it does again.
The B&N.com shipment arrived today, and Eternity Row looks good, but then it's always a thrill to hold the finished product. I mailed out promised copies; kept three for the kids and sent the rest to Mom. My author shipment won't get here for another two or three weeks, I guess. I like the way Hawk is portrayed, I sent specs on the character to the artist and he followed them pretty faithfully. This version of Cherijo has the right color hair, too.
Tonight Jessie is coming over to do my hair, and get rid of the yellow brown color. She promises to make it plain old dark brown again, and knows I will hurt her if it turns out any other shade. So I'll look older, at least I won't scream in horror every time I see my reflection. I know I'm acting like the vainest woman on the planet, but dear God, I cannot deal with this hair. And a warning to you other hair-obsessed creatures: when the hairdresser says the shade is "creme brulee" she really means "breast-fed baby poop."
I wrote a short story last night, possibly the best I've ever written. Very simple and tight, under 2K words, nine pages long, and it only required one edit. I was angry at the world -- really, really angry -- which helped. I'm sending it out this morning, as part of a new experiment. Onward.
Someone asked via e-mail, and besides the employment classifieds, I'm working on: "In the Wake of the Plague -- The Black Death and the World It Made" by Norman F. Cantor; "The Medieval Castle -- Life in a Fortress in Peace and War" by Philip Warner; and getting some research notes from "Medieval Folklore" by Lindahl, McNamara, and Lindow. As for fiction, Jessie sent me "Purity in Death" by J.D. Robb; she bought and read it an hour after it hit the shelf, rabid Eve Dallas fan that she is. I'm not in the mood for fiction, though. The Black Death is more my speed tonight.
More good and bad news this morning; I quit the day job. Management was unable to keep promises made to me upon hiring, and I'm not going to waste my time hoping that they will. So that's the bad news, and I'm sorry I had to bail, because I really liked the job and the people. The good news is, I've bought myself some leeway by creative financial juggling and I have a little breathing room now to get my writing career back on track or find another job.
There's a lot to think about. Going back to full time work after twelve years of retirement was not the ordeal that I imagined it to be. With the right job, I know I can enjoy it and be a success. The problem is, it will take a serious bite out of my writing time, as I've seen happen over the last two weeks. I thought I could manage four books a year and a full time job, but after seeing how much time is sucked into a day job, I've readjusted the quota to one or two books a year, max. So I have to commit -- either I'm a pro writer and I take advantage of opportunities I've passed on previously, or I write books for fun in my spare time. I figure I have about six weeks before the finances go critical again.
Nice, but Surreal:
I shelved my own books today -- reorders of StarDoc and Shockball -- and wondered how many authors have done the same. Now if I go work for a printer, then take an editing job, will I have the right to say I really have done it all in publishing?
First Day of School:
Everybody have a good one -- and don't wear the outfit your mother tells you to wear. That look hasn't been popular since Duran Duran, trust me. :)
Almost finished the web site story for September; a sequel to "Nature's Decree" tentatively titled "A Personal Injustice" which will continue Vanessa's story as she deals with her new situation. I tried to imagine what it would be like to have the kind of unusual advantages the protagonist gains, and found myself at odds again with the whole idea. Great in theory; would never work to hand over to a human being. As a species, we're not inclined to be careful with power or life as it is. We demand to be constantly amused and diverted. Take away the life span limits and you'd have some pretty frightening people wandering around, trying to kill time and their own boredom. I don't want to think about how they'd go about doing that, exactly.
It's like everyone imagining that we'd be amazing Ambassadors of Peace among the intergalactic community, if we're ever introduced to one. Uh-huh. We can't even stop killing each other long enough to achieve that level of enlightenment on this
planet. If I ever meet any aliens, I'll try to convince them to get the hell out of here before some jihad decides to hijack their spacecraft and crash it into the mothership. Or Rush Limbaugh comes to welcome them, whichever comes first. And just for the record, I'm claiming he's a different species -- or I am.
Ness has been one of the harder characters for me to write because she was conflicted before the life-changing situation in Nature's Decree happened. I haven't done her any favors, aside from allowing her to replace one set of problems with another. The medical community is a very tight-knit closed clan; once you're in you tend to avoid civilians. You begin to think of patients as units instead of people, to shut yourself down enough emotionally so you can do your job. Cyprien and his vampire pals are the same way. And no matter how you gift wrap it, both groups depend on the suffering of people to achieve success. I know how uncomfortable that sounds, but think about it.
Possibly Up for Bid:
15 year old Martin Schoyen spotted some old books for sale in Florence, Italy, and bought one published in 1592 for about 3 cents. 47 years later, Schoyen's passion for collecting ancient text
has resulted in the Schoyen Collection, which is conservatively estimated to be worth 105 million dollars. Schoyen is now considering selling the collection of more than 12,500 pieces which span five millennia, including parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Buddhist writing rescued from the Taliban, ancient symbols used by Australia's Aborigines and Egyptian King Tutankhamen's own signet ring.
If you'd like a glimpse of some of the treasures, check out the Schoyen collection site.
There's a gorgeous slide show (it take a few seconds to load) that shows a small fraction of his spectacular acquisitions. If it goes to individual auction, I imagine Schoyen stands to make a lot more $$$. Hmmm . . . if I work a bunch of overtime this week. . . maybe I could afford one fragment of one scroll . . .
Beyond the Sandwich:
I do love sandwiches; they're quick, easy to make, and no fuss for a single person. But now that I'm trying to eat healthier, bread, mayonnaise and lunch meat are no longer part of my diet. Not a problem at home, but that limits what I can take to work. Since I can't eat 99% of mall food, yesterday I bought myself a lunch box and packed it with rice cakes (yeah, I know, again
with the rice cakes), low fat cheese, salad, iced green tea and fruit. It was a nice, light meal so I didn't feel like falling asleep after my lunch break and the fruit shut up my sweet tooth. I feel a little silly carry a lunch box to work at my age, but maybe I can start a trend or something. I'm going to hunt through my vegan books to see if I can find other ideas, and hopefully this will keep me out of the food court indefinitely.
Antonio Banderas, revenge plot involving a drug lord in small Mexican town, large calibre weapons, extremely gratuitous and at times graphic violence, Steve Bushemi and Selma Hayek as supporting characters and a beautiful twist at the end. Banderas is so good in the role he's scary. Plus there's a guy with throwing knives. Not a video for the faint at heart or the literary-minded, but what fun.