Star Lines
Saturday, October 11, 2003
  Reverse the Curse:  I'm not a baseball fan, but you'd have to be made of stone -- or a New Yorker -- not to cheer Boston as they battle it out with the Yankees today.  So, with apologies to my stepdad:

Go Red Sox!

**Update:  Boston won the slug fest in the fourth but lost the game.  Hang in there, RS fans. 
  Despite:  Premature deadlining, ex's newest GF, Mike developing maybe-strep throat, editor curve-balls, juvenile hate mongers, three trashed chapters and a life-altering decision to be named later, the last of my summer/fall novels is, at last and to my satisfaction, done.

Now I'm going to rediscover the joys of not being vertical. 
Friday, October 10, 2003
  Awwww:  Locus online editor Mark Kelly finally went and coughed up a terse little mention of my HC debut.  Bet that must have hurt.

I have this fantasy.  Someone deluded noms me for a Nebula.  Instead of yanking the book, I say nothing.  I win (yeah, I know, but remember, it's a fantasy.)  They send me the statue.  I take a hammer, smash it into a thousand pieces, and send the rubble back enclosed with a signed copy of my latest romance novel.

God, I love that fantasy.  
Thursday, October 09, 2003
  Misc:  On e-mail, I'm terribly behind (again.)  Will probably be that way until the end of the year.  My apologies to the folks who are waiting for a response.  Also, my volunteer e-mail readers are still getting hit with virus-laden attachments, so the process has slowed down quite a bit.

Evidently a bunch of people are still perpetuating this myth that I'm writing novels under the name S.L. Farrell.  I'm not.  I'm also not married to him or ghost writing for him, and I don't know him personally.  S.L. Farrell is a pseudonym of fantasy author Stephen Leigh.  Interested parties wanting more info can go bother him here.

I'm going to be scarce for the next few days.  See you when the book is outta here. 
  From the WIP:  Differing attitudes within a family are never more on display than when we talk about someone else.  It's like a Rashomon effect, in that we all see people from our own unique angle and tend to judge them accordingly.

Makes scenes like this one fun to write, too.

Excerpt from "Home for the Holidays" by Rebecca Kelly
Uncorrected First Draft

(To set up the scene -- the Howard sisters, their Aunt Ethel and Acorn Hill's mayor Lloyd Tynan are preparing to decorate the Christmas tree at the inn.)

Louise suggested they check through all the boxes first, and to their relief all of the antique ornaments they had inherited from their parents were still intact, thanks to careful wrapping and the old, heavy boxes they had been stored in.  The boxes of the glass ball ornaments they had purchased more recently, however, had not fared as well in their flimsier containers, and most had been cracked or broken.

Lloyd helped Jane dispose of the boxes of broken ornaments, while Louise, Alice and Ethel began unwrapping the ones that were still intact.

“I should have ordered a smaller tree,” Alice said, feeling a little depressed as she looked from the decidedly shorter stack of ornament boxes to the enormous tree.  “I don’t think we have enough left to decorate it properly.  I won’t be able to use any of these for my wreath, either.”

“We can improvise and make up some ornaments of our own.”  Louise described the way Viola had decorated the greenery around her home with ribbons and fruit, and then added, “The tree is only for family this year, so no one should object."  One side of her mouth curled.  "Unless you want to invite Max Ziglar to the house."

"I hear that man complains about everything,” Ethel put in.

Louise regarded their aunt.  "How do you manage to gather your information so quickly?"

Ethel produced a small, satisfied smile.  "If I told you, dear, I would have to kill you."

“Is he really as irritable as he looks?”  Alice asked.

“I am not sure what he is.”  Her older sister took a beaded apple ornament from one box and attached a wire hanger to it.  “He was the first to criticize and find fault with things, particularly that nice young man in the group.  The only thing that seemed to please him was talk of financial success.  Other times . . .” she shrugged.  “I would swear that the man is upset or lonely.”

“Missing his money, most likely,” Ethel said.  “I told you.”

Jane returned without Lloyd.  “The mayor insisted on making us his special recipe hot chocolate,” she told her sisters and aunt.  “I tried to argue him out of it for two seconds, and then caved in.  I think it was watching him get out the saucepan.  I love men who aren't afraid of pots.”  She glanced at Ethel.  “What’s this about money and why would anyone miss it?”

“Silly girl.  I was talking about Max Ziglar and how wealthy men are.”

Jane nodded.  “Big man, unhappy eyes.”

“He gave Louise a hard time today, and he’s got too much money for his own good,” their aunt insisted.  “Wealth makes you unhappy and dissatisfied with everything.”

“I cannot agree,” Louise said at once.  “Look at the Holzmanns. They are quite wealthy in their own right, and yet they are a generous, happy couple who genuinely care about the community.”

“Rachel and Jacob are exceptionally good people, I’ll grant you that,” Ethel said.  “But this Ziglar man is never going to be like the Holzmanns.”

“Why do you say that, aunt?” Jane asked.

“I ran into that group in town today on my way to hear the ANGELs.  Their driver had brought them from the Holzmanns’ to do some last-minute shopping in town, but that rich man didn’t want to stay.  He told that skinny woman that he wasn’t interested in buying gifts for anyone.”  She sniffed.  “What sort of man doesn’t buy a gift for someone in his life?”

“Maybe there is no one in his life.”  Always the champion of the underdog, Jane jumped to his defense.  “He might not have a family, and lots of wealthy people have trouble making friends.”

“Ebenezer Scrooge had a family,” Ethel said darkly.  “Look at how he behaved.”

“He might just be depressed about being alone during the holidays,” Jane said.  “I think you should try to cheer him up, Alice.  Treat him like one of your crankiest patients at the hospital.”

“I don’t think Mr. Ziglar is going to let me give him a foot rub,” Alice deadpanned.

Lloyd brought in a tray of steaming mugs.  “Jane, I nearly got lost in your pantry.  But if I ever do, I won’t starve for at least two years.”

Feeling suddenly chilled, Alice paused to pull on a sweater before she accepted one of the hot cups.  “I should adjust the thermostat, it seems like it’s getting colder in here.”  She breathed in the dark, spicy scent of the drink before she tasted it.  “My, this is very good, Mayor.  Not like any hot chocolate I've ever tested.”

“An old family specialty.  I’ll give Jane the recipe, if she can guess what I put in it,” Lloyd teased.

“Let’s see now.”  Jane carefully sampled hers.  “Baker’s chocolate, milk, a touch of vanilla, cinnamon, and . . .” she took another sip before adding, “ground cloves?”

The mayor laughed.  “You win.” 
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
  Honesty Test:  It isn't every day I find a sapphire and diamond necklace in my mailbox.  I opened the envelope thinking it was the ink cartridge for my color printer that I'd mail-ordered, but nope, it was jewels that didn't belong to me.

This sparkly looked like it was worth some bucks, so I spent a few minutes hours tracking down the sender from the return address via computer.  Just sent him an e-mail asking him what he'd like me to do with it (I think the intended party lives in my complex, the address is just wrong.)  If I don't get a response I'm going to take it over to the cops.

It's strange but every once in a while things like this happen to me.  A wallet full of cash and credit cards under my car (no license or ID.)  $2000 once in the drive-through at the bank (the teller put someone's deposit in my envelope.)  Even the ex has tried to give me baubles that he thought were mine but were his mother's heirlooms.  I return everything to the rightful owner, or (as in the wallet) turn it in to the police.

I'm not being snotty about being honest; it's hard.  Especially when you're young and poor.  I could have taken the money out of the wallet; no one would have ever known.  That two grand I gave back to the bank could have bailed my ass out of a tight spot with some bills at the time.  There is a part of me that really likes jewels that is going to utter a small nasty shriek when I give back this necklace.  Try as we might to be honest, it's human nature to consider being otherwise.

I just wonder why I keep getting tested.  Haven't I passed yet? 
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
  My 15 Minutes:  The comments I made about a recent article on EMS and advances in trauma treatment evidently will be appearing in the next issue* of Popular Science.  I've given them my permission to use them, anyway.

I guess now I should quit making posts about telling obnoxious fans to bite me, huh?

*Update:  Just heard from the requesting editor, they'll be in the December issue.  
  Whammied:  On top of this morning's shocker (over which I am still kinda off-kilter, how the heck did I manage to do that?) I got the usual deadline week visitation from the Ghost of Novels to Come.  GNC delivered a sizzling idea for a new novel that I really don't need right now thank you very much and sat it right in the middle of my pastoral scene.

This one is killer.  On the order of StarDoc.  I want to write it so much my brain hurts.  And I've got three requested proposals and two more novels to finish before I can even think about it, so I filed it away for February.

Always happens when I'm finishing a book.  Like my subconscious is worried I'll be bored and uninspired and start watching soap operas.  Like that'll ever happen; I get novel ideas going to the mailbox.  Just not as good as this one is. :) 
  Shooting Myself in the Foot:  I wrote the really tough e-mail to my editors this morning, telling them I was going to be late with the book.  When you screw up, you do this, and you be honest: don't make excuses, don't blame the rest of the world, just accept the responsibility and take your lumps.

I never have to write e-mails like this, though, so it was particularly hard for me.

The executive editor of the division wrote back immediately, and I didn't want to read it, but (cringing) I did. It went something like this:

Hi Sheila, what's the problem? The book isn't due until October 15th.

Somehow I cut a week off the deadline on my end -- probably deliberately, to make sure I had it in on time -- and forgot.  I do this with clocks and watches and personal planners -- always setting everything ahead so I get somewhere or do something early.

Thus it turns out I'm not late, but I'll actually be six days early.  After the extremely apologetic e-mail I sent this morning, however, I may look like a bit of an idiot to my bosses.

Anyway.  Onward. 
Monday, October 06, 2003
  Might Not Make It:  Book is finished, but: having serious doubts about three chapters and the way I have them structured.  I can't say exactly what the problem is -- hell, if I knew that I could salvage -- only that they're seriously bugging me.  So of course I'm going to do the extremely stupid thing that I should not do, that I don't want to do, that I'm not supposed to do, which is trash them and rewrite them from scratch tonight.  Ninety-odd pages, no problem if I don't sleep, eat or move from this chair for the next ten hours.

I hate when I do this to myself.

The good writer angel is sitting on my keyboard right now beaming up at me.  That's right, Sheila, don't turn in something you don't believe in. The bad writer angel is repeatedly whacking me over the head with the deadline.  Stop listening to that silly bitch in the white robe and get it the hell outta here!

I'm so tired.  I wish I could tell you how tired.  All summer has been building up to this last day, and I'm not limping toward the finish line, I'm crawling toward it.  I've already blown my hard copy deadline; it'll be a day late.  That really ticks me off -- I'm never late -- but when I went to pack up the manuscript today, I couldn't do it.  Not until it read right on the page.

My good writer angel just rolled up her sleeves and punched out my bad writer angel.  Never mind, sweetie, just write.

Sokay.  Hoping the reserve tanks hold, I'm off to make writing.
  One Drawback:  Of being a nice, middle-aged Christian woman writer homebody -- I'm not able to confront cowardly little jerks who send me the really nasty hate mail.  Right now I'd like to grab a certain anonymous ass by his scrawny neck and tell him to blow me.

I can't say blow me, either, can I?  Damn it, I hate being a girl.  Okay, so the author's formal response to dweebs shall be henceforth: bite me.

Blow me sounds better, though. 
  Neat:  Morton Grove Library has an interesting web site which includes "Books in Your E-mail" online book clubs:

"Each day, Monday through Friday, you receive a short excerpt that takes about five minutes to read. Over the course of a week, you'll have read two or three chapters of book."

You can sign up for a nice variety of clubs: audio, business, fiction, good news, horror, mystery, nonfiction, pre-publication, romance, science fiction/fantasy, and teen books.  Blade Dancer by yours truly will be the SF/F selection for the week of November 3rd.  
  Home Stretch:  One day left to get the book finished.  I've had a lot of trouble with the grammar in this one, mainly because I'm trying to write more grammatically correct novels.  It makes me want to hunt down and kill my ninth grade English teacher.  The one who suggested I should learn proper grammar because some day I'd need it to make a decent appeal to a parole board.  God, that was like thirty years ago and I still hate that bitch.

I am always duking it out with grammar.  I don't like rules to begin with and it's illogical and stupid and it pisses me off.  I have a terrific editor, though, who was a teacher and who is basically re-teaching me ninth grade English, one book at a time.  If not for him I would totally give up on this nonsense.

I try to say good things about teachers, because I think as a whole they do a great job for little respect and pitiful pay, but right now I want the harpy responsible for screwing me up dead.  I don't care how obnoxious I was -- and I was, make no mistake about that -- her job was to reach me and teach me, not have me write punishment sentences on the chalkboard or send me to detention every five freaking minutes.

I got out of regular classes in the years after that, and developed a nice hefty little mental block against grammar.  Because Broward County didn't know what the hell they were doing with me and the other nine test monkeys, I was able to spend most of high school sitting and reading in the library.  And I didn't read books on grammar, I read Faulkner and Chaucer and Shakespeare, and they sure as hell didn't seem to care whether they ended a sentence with a preposition or not.

Sigh.  /rant.  Back to work. 
Sunday, October 05, 2003
  Never Fall in Love:  With yourself.  Some important reviewer guy named John Clute has published a collection of his book reviews for all of us to read.  That's right, a book of reviews of other people's books.  You're breathless with anticipation, right?

With cons.  Cheryl Morgan just gets more interesting in the latest issue of Emerald City, in which she rips Worldcon to shreds.  At length.  I mean, this girl is hardcore, in your face fandom.  I wouldn't be surprised to see pie charts next time.

With me.  Got another of those six page e-mails explaining to me why the books don't work and I can't write.  I was getting concerned, I thought all the twits out there had like died off from a disease or something.  Anyway, put me in a very good mood to have yet another vastly superior but as yet unpublished writer instruct me on how much better he could do my job.  
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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