Tuesday, January 30, 2007
So, I did a good bit of editing on "Fish" last night. Forced myself through a particularly unpleasant scene that I'd been avoiding work on for a week now. As I recall, it was the same damn scene that stalled me in the first draft! It's a very ugly flashback scene where my nine-year-old MC is sexually molested. I tried to make the victim experience as vivid as I could and it leaves me feeling uptight and vaguely sick each time I read through it. I'm not sure if that's a good thing. Is there such a thing as too vivid? Oh, it's not overly graphic or anything but it always hits me right in the gut. Maybe cuz it's told from the kids POV, ya know?
No new words, but I do have a stack of queries all set to go into the mail (I just have to get my lazy ass to the post office and get stamps for the SASE's!) for "Slayer". I've been hit/miss with my SCWWE plan but I've been managing to get at least three of the letters in on most nights. It's progress . . . I'll take it! Next two nights are gonna be rough; got a meeting with a bank guy about a re-finance, Boy Scouts, and another BS related event to attend tomorrow with The Boy. In between that, The Boy has daily homework I need to go over with him, and three looming school projects. Oh, and I'm still helping out on the Eagle Project write up from last week! Then I still have to try and fit in the SCWWE . . . .(sigh!)
Sow how crazy is your life? :-)
Friday, January 26, 2007
I have spent most of the week pretending to be a school teacher. Between The Boy needing me to review homework and reports, and helping one of the kids from Scouts write up his Eagle project workbook, I haven't had a minute to do any of my own work! I don't understand how people keep sane lives. We seem to be the only family on the planet who does nothing but run from crisis to crisis. Hell, even The Boy notices it. He was telling me last week how "None of his friends . . ." run around as much as he does. They spend their time relaxing and hanging out. I don't know 'bout that, but he's definitely right: for a three person family we are way over the top on the running about. I guess I just suck at organizing and scheduling.
I heard last night that Bam Bam Bigelo, the wrestler, had died. Now, I'm not generally a fan of wrestling (at least not since I was 12) but Bam-Bam was a local guy. I had the opportunity to meet him a few years back. I was coaching my son's Pop Warner baseball team and Bam-Bam was doing the same for his kid's team. We played each other a few times and I spent some time talking with him. His real name was Scott and he was a hell of a nice guy. During one of the games, my son took a ball to the teeth (ouch!) and Bam-Bam was out on the field to make sure he was alright, even before I was. The guy was a bit of a local hero as well -not because of the wreslting- but because he ran into a burning house a few years ago to rescue three children. As I recall, he was pretty badly hurt doing so. Anyway, I was bummed to hear about his passing. Nice guy.
So, I never talked about the books I read over Christmas vacation. I caught up on Lynn Viehl's "StarDoc" series, and David Farland's "Runelords" series. I also picked up Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" and "Neverwhere". I have to admit (with great shame!) I had never before read any of Gaiman's work. I had heard folks rave over him and kept meaning to, but never quite got around to it. Have to say I was heartily impressed. There's a realism to his bizarre fantasies that strikes at you. (excuse the oxymoron, please!)
Now, SL Viehl's (aka Paperback Writer)"StarDoc" series is wonderful. I love her work (under any of her names!) as a rule. I read the entire series and loved it. I picked up the latest book, "Rebel Ice". The writing was outstanding but I was a little annoyed by the story itself. I had the exact same thing happen with "Sons of the Oak", the last Runelords book, and for similar reasons. See, when you read series like this you invest a lot of time into, not just the story, but into the characters. You learn their hopes, dreams, flaws, and you are always praying for the "happy ending" for them. Sometimes it never comes, and that's alright with me. I feel bad for the character but if that's the way the story plays out, I'm fine with it. What bugs me is when the author shifts characters on you after several books. That truly aggravates me.
"Sons of the Oak" completely changes POV from the main character of the preceding novels to his children. I HATE THIS DEVICE! I've seen a lot of really good series die because of this. I'm sure there are good reasons for doing so, but I don't think it's something I'd ever do in my own work. If you can't continue with the same MC, let the series die and move on! "Sons of the Oak" might be the best novel of the series, but I'll never know. I tried, but I had to put it down after a hundred or so pages. I just couldn't bring forward any emotion for the MC's kids. I kept saying to myself: "This would be so much better if Gaborn were here . . ." I finally just gave up.
"Rebel Ice" keeps the same MC . . . sort of. The problem is, she's been injured and has total amnesia, in effect: she is an entirely different person. Now, I DID read this entire book (and liked it! The writing is wonderful!) but I still felt a little cheated at the end. I had come to the novel expecting one thing and got another. Think of it like buying tickets to see Sir Lawrence Olivier play "King Lear" and having it announced just before curtain that the part will instead be played by Anthony Hopkins. It will be a fine show, of course, but not quite what you wanted to see, now is it?
I know, I know! They're experimenting . . . spreading their wings . . . expanding their horizons, and as a writer myself I should appreciate that. I get it; I really do. BUT: as a reader, I want my characters to be the same person throughout. They can grow and change ( In fact, they'd better!) as much as the author wants and I'm good with that. It's the replacement that bugs the crap out of me. If saintly little Mary Sue from book one becomes a psychotic who murders puppies for fun in book five, I'm good with it, as long as you can show me the progression. If you decide to kill off Mary Sue cuz she's too sweet and bring in her evil twin sister to play the psycho role . . . I ain't gonna be happy! These are novels, folks, not soap operas. I want one MC from start to finish with no shark jumping, thanks!
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
“Christ, not again!” Were the first words Jim thought when he woke.
He tried to move but knew it was useless before he tried. He could feel it, the weight of the covers upon him like a train resting on his chest, the tingling running up and down his entire body, as if every muscle inside him had fallen asleep at once. Even breathing was a struggle, he gasped for air desperately, trying with all his might and barely managing a few weak gasps of stale air.
“Please move! Please move!” His inner voice screamed and howled, his body struggling to move even a single muscle. One muscle, any muscle . . . that’s all it would take to free him!
“Come on, Jim, move!” Even inside his own head he could hear the fear in those words and his chest began to ache, closed eyes burning with tears he couldn’t shed because not even that simple function was working now. The only muscle that still functioned was his heart. He could feel it slamming against the front of his chest. Slamming so hard his ribs felt like they would crack from the force of it. With the hammering chest came the heat; the raging blaze of unchecked fear washed across him and every pore spewed forth what seemed an ocean of oily, bitter, sweat. He tried to scream. He begged God, and every other benevolent power he’d ever heard tell of, for the ability to scream. One sound, one motion, would free him. Just one . . .
Then the Demon came.
It came, just like it always did. He felt it at the foot of his bed. He could hear it breathing, smell the stale sulfur of its skin, and feel its hunger as it watched him lie there, helpless. Jim’s bladder swelled, threatening to burst free and stain his underwear and mattress. He wanted –shit, needed!- to open his eyes and see the Demon but it was beyond him. All he could do was pray as the Beast’s claws touched the tips of his toes and began to move slowly up his frozen legs. He could feel the burning darkness of them. Each inch they stole higher on his legs Jim’s terror rose and his inner voice wailed and pleaded for mercy . . . for help . . . for death, if that would make it all go away! His bladder gave way when the talons reached his knees and he could hear the Fiend’s malicious laugh of pleasure as it caught the scent of the boy’s terror through the blankets . . .
Sounds like an opening to one of my stories, doesn’t it? (Not a bad one either, if I do say so!) Sad thing is: that it’s not. This is how every morning of my life began, for as far back as I can remember. When I was a kid, I pissed the bed till I was nearly thirteen. My folks didn’t understand: I had four older brothers, none of whom had ever had the problem. They constantly asked what the problem was but how could I tell them? Did I let them know the Demon came to steal my soul every night? Hell, even then I knew that folks who saw Demons were a special brand of crazy! Instead I just sat there, silently, face flushed with shame each day as they sought for an answer they never found.
Eventually, the bladder control grew and I could put that shame away, but the Demon kept coming. Not every night I guess, but regularly enough that I dreaded going to bed at night. I’d stay awake as long as I could to keep him from coming back. Through my teens and early twenties I dreaded sleep. This continued until I met The Wife. The woman saved me from a loony bin, though she never knew it. I never mentioned any of this to her. Oh, she knows I hate when she doesn’t come to bed with me but I never went into detail about why. A few posts back I talked about how I still have nightmares when she’s not there, but I didn’t talk about the details. Why? Cuz I figured I was crazier that a shit-house rat, that’s why! I thought I was the only person this happened to.
Well, this morning I stopped over at Lynn’s Blog and she was talking about something called “Sleep Paralysis”. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I read it. It had NEVER occurred to me that this might be a common ailment. I just blamed it on the insanely religious upbringing I had. (Ya’ know: Demons and all that!) Unbelievable.
I guess it doesn’t really mean anything . . . it’s not a disease and there’s nothing they can do about it, but I can’t tell you what a relief it is to know I’m not just nuts. Seriously, I have believed for most of my life that I had a serious mental problem and I was afraid to talk to anyone about it. (Sounds stupid, I know, but would YOU run about telling folks Demons visited your bedroom every day?) It’s minor in the scope of my life but I suddenly feel a lot better about myself today.
Thank you, Lynn. That post meant a lot to me.
Okay, enough crazy for one day. I’m outta here!
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Irk #1 - The opening of doors.
Listen, I'm an old fashioned guy in a lot of ways. When a lady is coming in/out of a building I'm happy to hold the door for her. Hell, I hold it for guys t0o if I happen to be closer than they are! It's a common courtesy. What ticks me off is women who don't do it. I see it every day: if I am walking a few strides behind a woman, she will not hold the door for me. They go through without a backward glance, letting it slam shut in my face. That's just rude! I've no doubt that these are the same women who curse roundly when the guy thirty yards ahead of them doesn't stand there, holding open said portal, as her royal highness slowly perambulates toward them while chatting on her cell phone.
Irk #2 - The saying of "Hello".
Now, I'll be the first to tell you that I'm a scary looking bald guy. I could understand why a strange woman might not want to speak to me when I say "hello" in passing. I'm cool with that. What bugs the hell out of me are women I KNOW who do this. I'll give them a "hi", or a "good morning" and they walk straight past without so much as a nod. Being the nasty SOB that I am, I tend to call them on this. I have fun stopping in the middle of the hall and saying (loudly!) "Oh, I'm fine, Jim! How are you?" They usually get the point and turn about to say "hi". They all apologize with the same bad excuse: "Oh, sorry! I was preoccupied." Preoccupied? Listen, I deal with men doing multi-million dollar deals, and in the midst of a divorce, who can spare the three seconds to say hello. Having a busy and/or crazy day does not excuse you from being courteous.
Irk #3 - The giving up of seats.
Again, I have no problem giving up my seat to a woman. I feel uncomfortable sitting while there is a woman -of any age- standing. (I was brought up that way, ok?) What irks me though are the women who I have heard go on at length about equality and -in many cases- the SUPERIORITY of wome in general, who get pissed off when some teenager doesn't give up his seat on the bus for her. Hey, I believe in equality 100%! I also think that equality doesn't preclude me being polite, so I do get up for women. That said though, it burns me that it's "expected" by women like this. If you're that boy's equal, then you can stand just as long as he can. Why is it the ladies most vocal about their "rights" are the first ones to fold when it's inconvenient? The fact is, there are ladies out there who are tons stronger and tougher than my fat old ass will ever be! They don't need my seat, nor should they automatically expect it. (I however, will give it to 'em anyway . . . it's just a thing!)
Irk #4 - The selectiveness of memory
In my life, I have yet to meet a woman who told me about how helpful her husband is. Put three women in a room and in thirty seconds it becomes a man bashing contest. They love to go on about our shortcomings at great length. See, men aren't like that! Put three of us in a room and we're talking about sex . . . or football. (or better yet: getting sex while we watch football!) Women though seem to get the most joy out of belittling their spouse. I listened to three ladies in the kitchen at work today tear into their husbands with such vengeance I figured the guys must have done something cruel to their cat with a fork. Nope. Just the general "Men are assholes and we're saints for staying with them" line. Okay, so: we can be assholes a lot of times . . . but then, so can the ladies. I imagine that puts us back on equal footing, don't it?
Anyway, that's my rant for the day. I have no idea where it came from (other than the lady who let the door slam in front of me as I came back from grabbing luch today!) but I figured I'd let the fingers fly and this is what came out. If I offended anyone . . . well, too damn bad. After all, you have to consider that as a male I'm only a step above neanderthal so really, you can't expect very much from me can you? ;-)
Friday, January 19, 2007
Okay, enough weather. Did another 1,200 words on "First" and edited a chapter of "Fish". I also started printing up a load of queries to submit on "Slayer". See? I told you I wasn't giving up on it yet! I've got a bunch to print out (query, synopsis, and first chapter!) so it's gonna take a couple of days to get it all printed and organized. The Wife was a huge help on this. She took care of doing all the mail-merge, address swapping, technical stuff in Word for me. I suck at that stuff. I make my living teaching folks how to work with computers but things like that make my head hurt.
Busy weekend coming. The Boy has an entrance exam tomorrow for the High School he wants to attend. It's a cool program but not easy to get into. It's a county school and they only take two kids per school district. Very competitive, and it all hinges on the test. Luckily, he usually aces these standardized things. He's always in the top 2% of every subject. I hope he does really well, he wants this school a lot and he'll be disappointed if he doesn't get in. It won't be a major deal if he doesn't. The local HS is excellent. We live in one of the best school districts in the state . . . The Wife made sure of that before we bought here. I remember laughing at her because we didn't have a kid at the time and we were planning on moving again in 2-3 years. I figured it was just one of her usual anal-retentive, panic induced, Wife moments. Boy was I wrong! nearly 15 years later and we're still here and the school system is the primary reason. Good job, babe!
On other fronts, The Boy and I have to help out one of the kids from Scouts with an Eagle Project this weekend. It's gonna be cold and unpleasant but what can you do? The kid running it only has about 3 weeks before his 18th birthday (which means he can't make Eagle if it's not done!) He's a really great kid that everyone wants to see make it so the boys are turning out in force to help him out. It should be fun actually. We have a good crew of folks and we always have a good time when we do projects together.
On that, I'm gonna split. Lunch is about over and I've got a ton of crap to handle at work today.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
So, here's an interesting twist on my writing career that I never expected: The Boy has taken to reading my novels. He came to me last week and asked if it would be alright if he read "Clans" (failing to mention that he was already halfway through the damn thing by that point!) I was surprised by the interest, but told him to go ahead. Well, he read the whole thing and -surprisingly- he seemed to like it. Now, he's buggging me to write the next book in the series so he can find out what happens to the characters. He's pumping me for info about what's gonna happen in the next book. I'm not even published and I have a pushy fan! How funny is that?
It's actually pretty cool that he read it. The idea that he's reading my stuff is a great motivator to keep writing. Even better, he's going to help me out by writing up a list of good/bad points about the book for me to look over when I go into edits on it. Strangely, his criticism doesn't bother me. When The Wife looks at my stuff we wind up in arguments. Wonder why that is? There's a clue to my twisted psyche in ther somewhere, I'm sure . . . I just don't know what it it. There's your writing tip for the day: give your WIP to your kids. they'll badger you into finishing the damn thing!
On a completely different note: at dinner last night The Boy blurts out that he wants to go to church so that he can see what it's all about. He says his friends all have religions and such and he's never been exposed to it directly and is curious. He also pointed out that most of his family are Roman Catholic and the only time he's been inside a church was for a baptism. I thought his reasoning was sound so I thought about it carefully and gave him a reasonable answer:
"Get your mother to take you, I'm not going to any damn church!"
Mature, eh? Actually, I wasn't that bad . . . but I did explain that I have a whole lot of personal issues with churches and religions and why that is. I told him that if he really wants to look into religion that's fine with me and we (meaning: his mother!) will help him out with that. I have faith in The Boy's common sense. Even just in a casual conversation with some friends about God and morality he was getting pretty pissed off at their narrow-minded answers. I've never really gotten him to buy into the whole: "Because I said so!" argument when I use it. Telling him some invisible dude in the clouds "said so" ain't gonna wash either.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
I'm working with a new concept in writing that I like to call: SCWWE (which would be pronounced "Suck-We" which maybe isn't such a good acronym . . .) Anyway, it's my new effort at being productive in my daily routine and it goes like this:
Shop - Picking up of necessary food on way home from work (I HATE this part!)
Cook - Cooking of food from step one above. (I actually enjoy cooking, The Wife hates it!)
Walk - Walking of doggy (and exercising of my fat ass!)
Write - Adding new words to novels (self explanatory, no?) Min. 1,000 per night.
Edit - Editing on a completed novel (as much as I can tolerate at a sitting - no pressure!)
SCWWE - simple! Alright, so brilliant with the acronyms I aint, but the point is that's the goal I'm working on. So far, so good! The big key is to keep the running about on weeknights down to a minimum. Life will, of course, interfere but if I can get to SCWWE four nights out of the week, then I'm golden!
Been writing on "First" and editing "Fish" this week. moving along pretty well on both, which is a nice change. The last month or so of '06 I was dying when it came time to get some work done. i was burnt out. The vacation through December was just what I needed . . . a little space to let the brain sort itself out.
Friday, January 12, 2007
I'm hoping today is the last day of crazy for a while. No trainees scheduled for a few weeks and the weekend should be fairly quiet. I'm hoping to get back to work (Real, writing-type, work! Not this crap stuff that sucks up my time for 50 or so hours a week!) on a daily basis. I'm looking forward to it. The break was much needed, but I miss writing. Funny, ain't it? When I'm doing it every day, it's a major PITA, but once I stop . . . I get twitchy fingers and my brain keeps constantly turning back to the stories every spare moment. Bizarre. I spend a lot of time wondering if I'm doing the right (write?) thing with my life. What if I'm not really a writer? What if I'm just a wannabe who's writing such absolut crap that I really amount to the joke of the literary world? Am I just kidding myself; just trying to do something I was never meant to do? Then I think about the way I always go back to it, no matter how tired or disgusted I am with my lack of success or perceived skills and I figure: no sane person would go through all this shit unless it was something they were meant to do!
Seriously though, I would really like it if I could just get that first book published. I could live with being a minor writer, on the edge of the industry, without a single complaint. It's the idea of spending thousands of hours, typing up millions of words, and never having anyone read them that looms large over the landscape of my nightmares. Anybody else get that awful twist in your gut when you think that you may just be wasting the littl bit of time you have on this earth by sitting alone in a room telling yourself silly stories? Not a pleasant feeling. Still, I keep coming back to it, so either I'm on the right path or just a perennial masochist.
I'm thinking I want to finish off "First" as my next task. It's close to the end and I've had a three month break from it so I feel good about jumping back onto it. I'm about 1/2 through the edits on "Fish" and --if I push a bit-- I can probably have that ready for type-in by the end of January. I also need to work up the balls to start putting "Slayer" back through the slush piles. I still have a list of potential agents to show it to. I was ready to put it on a shelf but I can't do that while there's still any hope at all someone might pick it up. Wish me luck!
Well, that's all for now. Hopefully you'll hear from me a bit more regularly next week!
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Not had a free moment at work or at home since the holidays ended. Been training every single day and running to appointments every night. Tonight will be just as bad, have to cancel out Scouts because The Boy has a "group project" (yay!) he has to do with another kid, after which we have to go over to his school for High School orientation. Madness! Madness, I say! We'll have to postpone dinner till after the orientation program and that means not eating until 8:30 or so (not good for my gentle constitution!) then getting back home with just enough time to let The Boy breathe for a few minutes before I toss his butt in bed so he's not exhausted for school tomorrow.
Writing total = 0.00
Haven't written, edited, or even thought of same in almost three weeks now. I hope I'll have some more free time next week (hope springs eternal, they say) I would tell you about the good things that have been happening, but off-hand I can't think of any. Of course, I can't think of anything bad either. Right now I'm just in "what's next?" survival mode. Gotta bail, trainees to tend to (that's T-R-A-I-N-E-E, Mr. SRH!) I'll be back when I'm back . . .
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Just a quick note for today to say I'm alive and well. I'm training for the next two weeks solid so I don't know how much posting I'll be able to get in, but drop by anywayy, ya' never know!
My Holidays were GREAT! I did . . . well, not a damn thing. (Seriously, I hardly moved from the couch!) I read a dozen novels, played a ton of video games with The Boy, watched some movies with The Wife and slept as much as humanly possible. That's MY idea of a vacation!
Speaking of sleep: I haven't gotten any in two days! I'm dying right now. don't know what the deal is but I just haven't been able to sleep the last two days. No stress, feeling fine, no major worries (that I'm aware of!) so I don't get it. I just go to bed (tired) and lay there all night looking at the ceiling. This really sucks! My guess is that my body is adjusting itself back to a normal diet after a week long binge on cookies, candy, cakes, pies, etc. At least, I hope that's all it is. I can't imagine doing this for more than a few days . . . I drag if I get less than 10 hours of sleep a night as it is (which explains why I'm always whooped! I never get more than 7-8 hours, even on good days!) I'll keep you posted.
Anyway, gotta run back to my trainees, lunch is about over.
Oh, and Happy New Year to all!