Star Lines
Saturday, September 14, 2002
  More on Titles:  We had an interesting discussion on titling books at the Think Tank last night (thanks to Nicosian for bringing up the subject) and I've been trying to chase down some online resources on the topic. Here are a few:

1.  Sometimes I look up a word here just to get synonyms, then I'll make a list of them and play. Example: Say something important in your novel has to do with the color blue. Enter the word blue and you get this:

"III. ORGANIC MATTER 2. Sensation; special sensation; light; complementary colors Blueness. [Nouns] blue; garter-blue; watchett. [Pigments] ultramarine, smalt, cobalt, cyanogen; Prussian blue, syenite blue; bice, indigo; zaffer. lapis lazuli, sapphire, turquoise; indicolite. blueness, bluishness; bloom. [Adjectives] blue, azure, cerulean; sky-blue, sky-colored sky-dyed; cerulescent; bluish; atmospheric, retiring; cold.

Take a working title like "Blue Dawn" and substitute some synonyms -- "Cyanogen Dawn" "Syenite Skies" or just "Indicolite" all sound much more fun.  You may want to keep the "blue" and work on a synonym for "dawn" -- whatever works for you.

2. Bartlett's Quotations:  An online version of the 1919 edition, with over 11,000 searchable quotations. Example: Maybe your book's theme is all about justice, and how to get it. Enter the word justice and you'll get 712 quotations with the word "justice" in them, like this one:

NUMBER: 29345 QUOTATION: Justice has its anger, my lord Bishop, and the wrath of justice is an element of progress. Whatever else may be said of it, the French Revolution was the greatest step forward by mankind since the coming of Christ. It was unfinished, I agree, but still it was sublime. It released the untapped springs of society; it softened hearts, appeased, tranquilized, enlightened, and set flowing through the world the tides of civilization. It was good. The French Revolution was the anointing of humanity. ATTRIBUTION: Victor Hugo (1802–1885), French poet, dramatist, novelist. the old revolutionary, in Les Misérables, pt. 1, bk. 1, ch. 10 (1862). BIOGRAPHY: Columbia Encyclopedia. WORKS: Hugo Collection.

That quote is just chock full of great title possibilities: "Justice Has Its Anger" "Wrath of Justice" "Tides of Civilization" "Annointing of Humanity" and you can rearrange the words from the quote, too: "Anger's Justice." "Unfinished Justice" "Tides of Justice" etc.

3. Scrabble Word Lists:  I love to play the game with the kids. :) This site has all kinds of interesting word lists, such as "J, Q, X, & Z Words, All Consonants, Overs and Outs, Re and Un, The INGS, Vowel-Heavy" and will give you some new directions to think as well as a real boost to your vocabulary.  
  Child of Fate:  I had my fortune told this morning, thanks to a friend who dragged me off to have tea with her Aunt, who evidently forecasts with some accuracy for everyone else in the family.  The friend swore she's told her Aunt nothing about me except that I write books.  I'm a little suspicious but for now, I'll take that as verbatim.

After refreshments the lady took my left hand (I was born a lefty, trained to be right-handed) and looked it over.  She said that I am the third child in my family (true.)  She picked out the breaks in my lifeline and gave ages when I'd been seriously ill (all close) and said I should have died the last time (true).  She told me I have three children (true) and that I would marry three times (over my dead body.)

She said my biggest problems were pride (very deep line) and blindness (frayed line), and that I needed to look at things more carefully (? probably true.)  Healthwise she pointed to my swollen joints and said she could see my arthritis getting much worse but not for some years.  At my request, she didn't predict how or when I would die.  When she asked me if I had any questions, I asked her in what direction my career was headed.  She pointed out one line and said that I would be more successful than I ever imagined I could be (let that be true) but not how I expected to be.  She gave me a little weird smile when she said that, and it genuinely spooked me.

She talked about my family and kids, and most of that was good.  I'll agree with her prediction that of all the children, Katherine will need me the most as she gets older.  At the end of the reading, she put my hand next to hers and my friend's.  I don't have a lot of lines on my palm compared to them, and she said this was because whether I accept it or not, I am a child of fate.  She refused payment (and was a little offended that I offered) and asked me to keep her and her family in my prayers.

I am not a great believer in psychics, fortune-telling, or fate, but I try to keep an open mind.  It was an interesting if unsettling experience.  I think I would have enjoyed it more if I'd been prepared (or warned, thank you, my dear friend.)  My religion doesn't tolerate this kind of mysticism, but I've learned God works in ways we can't begin to understand, and who am I to say what is or isn't a legitimate faith?  For all I know, the atheists could be right.  What you believe is a little like playing poker; you are dealt a set of cards and you keep or discard them as you think best.  The cards in my hands have changed often enough that I've learned to respect all beliefs, even ones that depend on the natural striations of the dermis to predict the future. 
Friday, September 13, 2002
  Deadline Slain:  Revisions for the Kissing Blades went off on time; an easy job thanks to the new editor.  It's such a pleasure to work with someone in sync with me and who has a terrific sense of humor.  Makes my job a lot less of a minefield, anyway.  I've been too busy to watch the news, but I assume Alligator Alley and/or Miami didn't blow up because I didn't hear a great big boom.  At one point this afternoon I actually pulled some hair out of my head, bouncing between the deadline, the kids, the threat of bombers and some bad news from a friend.  Won't do it again, either, it really hurt, but sheesh, that was kind of new. 
  Close to Home:  Alligator Alley, which is only a few miles from my home, remains closed after two suspicious vehicles were stopped and checked for explosives.  Some details on the story are here.  Hopefully this was some kind of hoax or joke and someone throws these guys in prison for the next 100 years. 
Thursday, September 12, 2002
  Titles:  Thinking up that naming word or phrase to put on the front cover of a book can be really tough at times, and there's no guarantee it will stick if the book gets published.  I've been luckier with StarDoc and my other SF novels; only one was retitled (Endurance was originally Skin Games) but nearly all my romance novels have been retitled by the publisher, with their titles -- Dream Mountain and Sun Valley were my suggestions, the rest someone else thought up.  I don't like long titles; my comfort zone is one to three words, with less being more for me, too.

"Playing Jax" was the title of an original mystery story which has now morphed into a horror/fantasy hybrid, and it needs a new title.  Usually I comb through faqmous quotations, looking for little phrases that jump out at me, but for this book I decided to use a different approach.  For reasons specific to the plot, I've been searching through my medieval books, looking for old words no longer in heavy use that could be combined with a more modern word to give the title a little paradox and punch -- along the lines of "The President's Alchemist."  I haven't hit on the right combo yet but I'm finding all kinds of lovely old words I want to use, either in the story or maybe as the title of a sequel or a future Jax story: vennel, archway, weir, weirgold, striga, wicce, Sabaoc, wigleras, maleficium, fara, kasaph. 
  Dispelling Another Myth:  From an e-mail huffing over my old tribe post: "You're only a real writer when you get paid for your work." Emily Dickinson, Anne Frank and Franz Kafka were never paid for their work; do we burn their books?  How about the guys who wrote the Dead Sea scrolls or the Torah or the Bible?  And all those scribes who chiselled the mythologies of Egypt on the walls of the pyramids -- some of them were probably slaves, should we bulldoze Giza into the ground?  Yes, it's nice to get a paycheck for what we do, but it doesn't automatically validate our parking ticket.  Sometimes, only time and history can do that. 
  RIP Johnny:  I'm not much of a sports fan, but this deserves a mention -- legendary NFL quarterback Johnny Unitas passed away on Wednesday from a fatal heart attack at age 69.  Johnny is part of my family lore in being one of the many speed-crazy celebrities my grandfather (a county constable) stopped on Maryland highways in the 50's and 60's.  My grandfather, a huge football fan, didn't let Mr. Unitas slide, but wrote him a ticket just like anyone else -- then had the nerve to get an autograph for his grandson (my oldest brother.)  That bit of lore is preserved in a scene in "Blade Dancer," in which pretty much the same thing happens to my protagonist.  Safe journey, Mr. Unitas, and don't give Grandpa a hard time when you see him again up there.  
  Hey, Janet (Waving Hand) I voted!  I didn't think it was possible, but the idiocy from the Bush/Gore election is being repeated once more here in Florida.  In a fairly tight race for governor, local favorite former state attorney/attorney general Janet Reno may have to call for a recount as votes are incorrectly tallied, cast and God Knows what else.  Just in case someone can't read my punch card, I did vote in the election.  For Janet, not McBride.  As for the problems with our voting system, maybe if we got rid of the circa 1950 booths and did something a little more modern -- including employing people at the voting centers who can actually speak English, maybe we'd straighten out this problem.  On the other hand, Jeb Bush is presently governor of Florida, and you saw what he did for his brother in 2000.  
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
  9/11 Memorial:  The kids and I attended a school memorial service today to honor those we lost in the 9/11 attack on America.  Our church posted a huge sign listing all the names of the victims outside the front of the sanctuary and our children placed flowers, flags and balloons around them.  Then we sang and prayed for our country and the families, friends, and loved ones of the victims.  It was very moving and helped dissolve a little of the knot I've been carrying around in my chest.  Tomorrow I'm going to drop off donations of new books at the hospital and the fire department, and try to get through the day without checking the news every five minutes.  I'll be posting a memorial graphic in the morning but otherwise StarLines will be closed down for the day.  If you have time tomorrow, please take a few minutes to remember and honor those we lost.  
  Vanessa and Company:  Another proposal heading out; "Nature's Decree" and "A Personal Injustice" are now combined and expanded into novel form, tentatively titled "Night Blade."  I may combine this storyline with characters from my short story "Infusion" and my existing vamp books as they are set in the same time period, follow the same mythology and can connect through the medical subplot.  Plus I just want to throw Ness and Norby together and see what happens.  
  PW Industry Weather Reporting:  There's an interesting business report over at Publishers Weekly online this morning, in which PW cites some broad statistics on printer, retail, educational and trade aspects of the publishing industry.  
Monday, September 09, 2002
  The Rollercoaster:  Everything came in at once today: three proposals were accepted and are now pending final approval, four proposals were bounced, and I'm in the running for a major new deal.  If all goes well, yours truly will be adding another genre -- or two -- to my rap sheet.  Will post more details as things finalize and we go from verbal to contract ink.  
  Anti-Tribe:  Another marvelously small-minded essay on who gets to be writers and who doesn't over at Locus today; I think the editor is hiring these people like stand-up comedians now.  As for my reaction -- other than laughter -- you can read my position on the tribe back in the archives here. 
  Forward Motion Community Notice:  The FM site is temporarily down, but Holly has a crash board and chatroom set up here.  Here's the official word:

Jatol's server provider has done really nasty things to them the past two days. We are not mad at Jatol (Official Position, TM) They've done a terrific job and are currently working their asses off trying to get us back on line. Hang in. We'll be back as soon as possible.

I'll stop by crash chat to commiserate with you all after I take the kids to school. 
Sunday, September 08, 2002
  Auctioning the Author:  If you were at an auction, what could an author put up for bid that would most appeal to you?  The reason I ask is, I'm trying to think of ways to help out with a possible future fund-raiser and I'd like to hear your ideas.  Obviously, things like a licentious weekend together in Vegas or the author's hand in marriage aren't going to be realistic auction items; think more along the lines of a private chat about writing, critique of your work, etc.  For you readers, things like an advanced reading copy of a forthcoming novel, a signed original manuscript, and so on could also be possibilities.  Any suggestions you have will be much appreciated.  
  Cooking Class:  In response to a couple of requests, one of my favorite recipes:

Bread That Bites Back

Bread Machine Recipe or mix for 1 pound loaf white bread
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 oz. jalapeno peppers, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, chopped and sauteed (cook onion in a 1/2 tspn. of margarine in skillet until semi-transparent)
1/2 tspn cayenne pepper

Prepare your favorite 1 pound white bread recipe or mix in your breadmachine, add cheese, peppers, garlic, onion, and cayenne. Bake as usual in machine (note: if you want the jalapenos to remain whole, add toward the end of the machine's mixing cycle.) Serves 6-8. Great with vegetarian chili. 
  Music:  I've fallen in love with music by Ekova lately, and found their web site tonight. It's fun and creative, just like their latest album, Space Lullabies.  If you stop by, click on the flower cluster on the bottom left for the English version (right for French), then wait for it to load -- it's worth it.  For more surprises, move your mouse around and watch what happens, especially when you hit those little purple things in the upper right hand corner. :)  
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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