Meanwhile, back at the Bat Cave:
Had to spend most of the morning at the hospital, but got through the required therapy by biting the inside of my cheek and plodding through. Was in a terrible mood afterward, though. My condition for the most part isn't going to change or get better, I have to deal with it every single day, but I get really sick of it sometimes. Whiny selfish sick, you know? When you do that whole "Why me?" thing with yourself and/or your higher power. So as a little self-prescribed therapy, I went to the bookstore. Scored the new Judith Ivory PB and picked up Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts when I saw it was Seth Quinn's story. The Quinns are cool, but then, so is Nora. Dispersed my why-me demons immediately.
Also, it's time for me to do something with my hair again. I'm thinking, stick with the dark expresso brown, add some dark red highlights, and chop off another two inches or so. I know you're all absolutely riveted by the soap opera of my hair, but I'm depending on you guys to jump in and yell at me if I start mentioning any shade lighter than chestnut, okay?
If I Only Had a Brain:
An e-mail came in from a reader asking if this segment of HODS (a story in the e-book, over at my author website
) is true:
"Let me tell you a story. I had a young kid come in to see me about six years ago. College student, complaining of migraines. No apparent cause. When I did the cranial MRI, I found nothing."
"Very fascinating, I'm sure, but--"
"I mean I found nothing inside her head. She had no brain tissue." Thea's mouth opened and closed a few times. "Yeah, that was my reaction. All she had was a two-centimeter clump of tissue where her brain stem should have been. Her skull was filled with spinal fluid."
Thea looked skeptical. "I never read about this case."
"I never published anything about it. How do you think the patient would have reacted if I told her she had no brain? I gave her a script for some painkillers, told her to take it easy on the all-night cram sessions, and sent her home."
He smiled. "She's on the dean list this year."
I have a pretty good imagination, but I didn't make this up -- it's based on a real case, diagnosed by Professor John Lorber, which you can read about here.
Behind the Silk Curtain:
Disturbing news out of China as the country's leadership has been shuffled, and Hu Jintao takes over
as the new leader of the Communist party. Hu is positioned to take over for Jiang Zemin, the head thug best known for his atrocities during the Tiananmen Square massacre. Jiang has not completely retired, however, and remains behind the scenes the most powerful man in China.
While most of the newspapers are dismissing Hu as a Jiang puppet, he was a bit more animated when he served as communist party chief in Tibet, where he imposed martial law in 1989 and suppressed anti-Chinese protests with all the finesse of a sledgehammer cracking eggs. Other party positions have been taken by Jiang cronies, assuring that this lineup will not only stick to the party hard line, but make sure everyone else does too. I know everyone is more concerned with the Middle East at the moment, but we need to keep an eye on these yoyos. Hu is not a friend of the U.S. and in a world increasingly hostile toward American interests, we don't need another world power giving terrorists the green light behind our backs.
We Catholics always know:
when we're driving too fast.
P.S., if anyone gets offended, sorry. I just thought it was hysterical.
I received another marriage proposal today -- in person, from a friend. Now that
hasn't happened in a while, so I was a little disconcerted, but I managed to politely turn him down and preserve my single hide. Geez, you never know what guys are thinking . . .
Recrunched the quota today and worked out what I have to produce in new material per day and edit per night to get these books written:
240K (all contract work wordcounts added together) divided by 45 working days = about 5333 new words per day or 21 pages
Editing means one working and one final read through, so 5333 X 2 = 10666 edit quota per day or 42 pages
Approximately 20% of what I produce will need revising, or 48K divided by 45 working days = about 1066 per day or 4.2 pages
All the above means is that I have to write at least 21 pages of new material and revise 4.2 pages every working day, and edit 42 pages every night to meet my current deadlines. At a steady pace, that means ten to twelve hours of work a day, seven days a week. I am going to take off a few days around Christmas and spend three hours at the Think Tank every Friday night. I'll probably work a couple 16 hour days to buy myself some extra time off for Thanksgiving and Kathy's birthday. This is a good way to shut up those distracting ideas that come out of nowhere, btw. Would love to play, but I just don't have any more time to spare now.
Got to see the entire school rehearse the Christmas play I wrote for them this morning, and for a first run it went very well. Almost all of the kids already had their lines memorized, and if we can work out a few bugs with the props and the stage directions, and keep our new school administrator from having a nervous breakdown (it's her first big program), we should be good to go.
I know it's not a debut on Broadway, but I've never seen a story I wrote acted out before, so I had a big goofy smile on my face the whole time. It was neat to hear them speak the lines and add their own little nuances to them. The boy who plays one of the lead characters is a riot, he makes the whole show. Katherine is in seventh heaven -- she gets to be a toy soldier -- and Mike is one of the Wise Men. I didn't assign the roles but whoever did certainly knows my kids. :)
The Other Policy:
(rated PG-13 for language, children, bedtime) Thanks for the e-mail interest in Jessie's pool, but I don't read reviews written about my books anymore and would rather stay as far away from them as possible. For me, reading professional reviews is like reading mail from incarcerated federal prisoners, minus the scary/licentious proposals.
To the gentleman reviewer who objected to my stand (you know who you are): For the record, I don't consider myself exempt from negative reviews. I am not a perfect writer, far from it, and my books aren't going to leave any footprints in the Sands of Time. I break too many rules. I'm not academically brilliant, I don't have any formal education to speak of in regard to writing, and yes, it shows. I'm aware that my style and delivery, as well as my writing in other genres, offend a large chunk of the hardcore SF fans. Compared to my colleagues, I come up short in plenty of other areas -- ask them, they'll give you a list. And, obviously, I am not James White, I will never be James White, and I'm not going to try to be James White. Let the poor man rest in peace.
All I want to do is write books. I can't do that if I'm constantly watching my efforts and by extension my income be chopped to bits by someone who has some ax to grind. That's not saying I'm wonderful and they're assholes. Hey, maybe they're right. Maybe I am a disgrace, a nasty sarcastic bitch, a purveryor of sadomasochistic kink (my Mom really enjoyed reading that one, thanks), and a producer of paper products more suited to being ladies sanitary aids. Whatever.
This is the way it has to be for me, to keep going and to keep writing. I can't allow myself to be influenced by the opinions of people who have very little idea of what I do, or I will freeze up and choke and toss it all away, like I almost did back in August. This is my dream -- I'm writing pro. I'm living my dream.
How many people can say that?
What would you
do to protect that?
So, now that we're straight on the whole review deal, let's laugh it off and move on.
Mom & Kid Project:
Kathy has taken a serious interest in quilting, so we decided to work on a uncovering hidden quilt together. Here's the one we started with today, which judging by the outer layer was probably made by a Canadian quilter in the 1940's:
We opened one of the binding seams to have a look inside, and saw the inner, much older quilt the maker used as batting:
It took a couple of hours, but at last we removed the outer coverings on both sides to reveal this lovely old relic,which is about 30 to 40 years older:
The hidden quilt was pieced and quilted entirely by hand, with thousands of tiny stitches. The patchwork is made up of clothing scraps, feedsacks and a lovely indigo calico which also was used for the backing:
Oh Man Not Now:
The worst distraction I have to deal with when I get really busy with work is The Story That Comes Out of Nowhere. It usually drops on me while I'm editing, feels better than anything I'm currently writing and wants to get out on paper so much I can knock out fifteen or twenty pages in an hour. Apple trees in Eden aren't this tempting, or cause as much ruckus.
The one that hit me last night is a monster distraction. It feels like one of those terrific stories that will spill out in a rush with no hitches, and it doesn't want to be consigned to the idea file for later. I'm also pretty sure it will siphon the brains out of my skull if I try to fit it in tandem with the current WIPs. Goodbye to at least half of what little sleep I do get for the next week etc. But that's the writer's dilemma: is it a muse decoy, because my subconscious is looking at the deadlines and saying "Whoa, lemme out of here," or is it the real thing?
Self-discipline isn't a problem -- I'm pretty ruthless that way -- and paying work must always come first. The bills won't give me time off and they're completely deaf to my muse. If it's that good it'll get better on simmer. I just wish the ideas would go on vacation until I get these next two books done.
Online Writing Help:
For those who would like to improve your writing but don't have the time or funds to attend night classes, Purdue University has the impressive OWL
(Online Writing Lab) site that offers basically everything you could possible want to learn about grammar and other technical aspects of writing. The site map is here
if you want to skip the virtual tour and get right to work.
Dusted another deadline this morning, finished the outline of the first of the Christian fic books, on its way to the new editor as I type this. That leaves two more deadlines to assassinate in 2002 -- revised BioRescue synopsis (Dec 1st), Illumination (Dec 1st), and two more hits for immediately after the New Year -- the complete manuscripts for the Christian fic book (Jan 15th) and Into the Fire (February 1st). This will all get really complicated if I sell last of the new novel proposals, the revised version of which is sitting on my desk glaring at me.
Lots of folks from my writing clan are participating in NaNoWriMo,
and I think it's a wonderful project. Anything that gets people to write has my seal of approval. I think it also gives people a real taste of what it's like to be a pro and write every single day toward a very tight deadline. If you want to be a multi-genre author and have more than two books out in a year, pretty much figure on every month of your life being NaNoWriMo. :)
Here We Go Again:
Evidently I've been reviewed by another of the Sacred Cow Rags, and knowing the folks who write for this one as I do, it's another Indignant Hatchet Job. There have been a lot more of these slams since Locus announced I'm moving into hardcover next fall; I think the purists are panicking. How the heck did she
get in through the back door etc. etc.
Jessie had a cute idea -- she thinks we should start a pool with points for:
how many times they trash you for sex, romance, technology and aliens. Bonus points for any mention of James White, Sector General, Gary Westfahl and kindly doctors dispensing wisdom along with the meds?
Much as I would enjoy making money off snotty reviewers -- after all, they have no qualms about messing with my livelihood -- I think I'll pass. It's too much like ridiculing a three year old for having a temper tantrum. After the problems I had with the Westfahlout, I can accept that they don't get it, they never will, and that my name will never make the Approved Cow List. Can't expect everyone to adore me. Onward.