Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant
Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

To all of you out there who are my friends and readers and who are mothers, a blessing to you for a day where you are shown how much you’re loved and appreciated, and may you have many more years of daily love and appreciation to come.

I was going to discuss several points about blogging that recently came up, but decided to save it for an article for this week’s SDR blog. So there! 😉

Busy day yesterday: Banking, bill paying, post office (the rates go up Monday, don’t forget), dealing with Verizon wireless (they are such a pain in far too many parts of my anatomy), bookstore, wine store, grocery store.

When I got my mom her bookstore gift card, I also decided to pick up a couple of books for myself. This store had nothing by any of the authors from MISSPELLED, which annoyed me. However, I picked up BLOOD KING, Gail Z. Martin’s next book (and I’m hoping there are fewer typos than in THE SUMMONER). I’m interested to see where the story goes from where THE SUMMONER stopped. I also picked up a book called DHAMPIR by Barb & J.C. Hendee, which looks and sounds very interesting. I think it’s the first of a series. It’s supposed to be quite witty, according to an actual person who recommended it to me. It’s a person whose opinion I trust, and someone who didn’t just think it was good because she liked it, but she thought the writing, the characters, and the wit would be aspects to which I’d respond.

I know we live in the Cult of the Book Blurb, but I hate them. Blurbs on the cover are more likely to make me put the book down and not buy it than to take it to the register. I don’t want to be told what to think about it, unless I personally know the author and have a reason to respect that author’s opinion. And then, the book will be recommended to me other than on a blurb. A lot of the cover art nowadays also turns me off – it’s too similar.

MISSPELLED has one of the best covers I’ve seen in a long time. But, actually, it was the title that made me pick up the book. I wanted an anthology, and the title was clever. Then I looked at the cover, which I thought was lovely. Then I looked at the editor, whose name was new-to-me, and thought, “Great.” Then I read the back of the book, and it sounded good. I just looked at the cover and, guess what – no blurbs! No wonder I bought it. Then I read a few random paragraphs. And it had to come home with me.

And it just happens to be one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

Anyway, I went to the bakery to get my mom a cheesecake for Mother’s Day. Cheesecake is her favorite thing, and I’ve never mastered the art of making a really good one. I can make all sorts of other cakes, but haven’t gotten the knack down for cheesecake.

In the afternoon, I wrote my pre-Preakness article, started the write-up for Confidential Job #1, roughed out in my head the script (tentatively titled THE MATILDA MURDERS), caught up on blogs and BookMooch, and roughed out two more stories. I also started playing with a better tracking system for the short stories. The Submission Log’s useful to let me know what’s out, what’s in, what’s paid, but I need a history of each story in one place, not different documents for different years, and a central location as to the length, pseudonym, and genre (or lack of genre) for each. It’ll take weeks to sort out properly, but it will be worth it in the long run.

I’m reading SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN, which I enjoy. I see glimmers of some of my favorite characters in the Twelve Houses series here – they could be relatives; they are, at least, what Anne of Green Gables would call “kindred spirits”. Elisandra in this book reminds me of Casserah; Roderick could be a more easy-going cousin to Justin. It’s very interesting.

I’m getting a new, 5 shelf oak bookcase on Tuesday. Can’t wait. Then I can bring more books back out of storage.

On, in response to all your helpful comments about how to stop the mail tampering – building management knows it’s happening and doesn’t care. The perpetrator claims he’s doing it at their instruction. It is simply another tactic o their part to drive people out of the building. Management has been talked to about this for months. Now, it’s time to bring in the feds. When one or more of their people are arrested, maybe they’ll realize we mean business.

Now, some quality time with my mother, and some writing time.

Devon

Published in: on May 11, 2008 at 6:39 am  Comments (4)  
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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

I’m back. I lived a lifetime in a few days, and had my hands full with my elderly relatives and their primary care person, who was also under the weather. Unfortunately, I can’t go into details without invading their privacy, much as I would like your opinions on some of the events. Let’s just say it was – and is – complicated.

We had some beautiful days, though. I managed to stop for awhile at one of the Ongonquit beaches. On another day, I drove up to Naples and around Long Lake and Sebago Lake. Just gorgeous.

I stopped at three great restaurants: Amore Breakfast in Ongonquit, The Stone Dog Café in North Windham, and my old favorite, The Egg and I, in Ogonquit. Of course, we stopped at The Stonewall Kitchen to stock up. They have a new Roasted Apple grilling sauce that’s wonderful, and a Mango Lime Salsa. Plus, I needed the Garlic Teriyaki and the Wasabi Ginger sauces.

I continued reading Will in the World, and taking notes for the various projects it feeds. It truly is one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. The author, Shakespearean scholar Stephan Greenblatt, has a play he co-wrote, Cardenio, opening at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge. I’d like to get up there to see it. It’s only running until June 8, and I’m not sure I can get up there within the time frame, but I’d like to.

I was disappointed in two other books I took up with me. Both were by authors I don’t know personally, but whose work I’ve read before, and who I understand from others are lovely people. Both sell very well, and I respect what they’ve achieved in the business. One author’s work I’d read before and liked; the other’s work I’d read before and it exasperated me, due to the lack of research and believability. The attitude that came across to me was, “well, I’m writing fiction, so who cares? I’m supposed to make it up.” I thought maybe I’d been unfair and should give Author #2 another chance with my money and time. Won’t make that mistake again. The ideas were fun, but poorly executed. The work took place overseas, and it was obviously she got her info from the tourist board and something like Wikipedia. There was no sense of anything unique about it – it was advertorial travel babble, not a true sense of place. And, while I thought some of the ideas were clever, the execution was poor. I know this author sells A LOT, but, although some of the ideas are clever and fun, I find the writing sloppy and all the protagonists and antagonists always sound exactly the same, no matter from which country they supposedly originate. There’s no cadence, there’s no individuality in either people or place. And it drives me nuts.

At least there weren’t any typos. That author has a good copyeditor!

The other book, by the author whose work I previously liked, was an even bigger disappointment. Again, some interesting ideas. But I loathed the female protagonist. There was absolutely no reason for me to give a damn whether or not she survived, much less succeeded in her quest. I hated her and wished she’d be killed off. She was weak, stupid, and selfish, and, when she had shown zero growth by the midpoint of the book and zero potential for it, I put the book down.

But no typos. 😉

I did read the last chapter to see if I should go back and read the second half of the book – couldn’t be bothered. Ick. Which is a shame, because I’ve really enjoyed other work by this author. It doesn’t put me off the author, unless the next few books alienate me as well. I think writers should write whatever they want to explore, and not every book is going to please every reader. It is the writer’s right to follow the vision. Once I’ve decided I like a writer, it usually takes several books to alienate me.

I got more writing done than I expected, which is good. Of course, none of it was on what I planned to work. It was an idea I had while in Maine, and Maine is practically a character in it. It means doing some research on the natural history of Maine, but that will be fun.

I also got some ideas for a new Fearless Ink brochure, which I will sketch out and work on this week. I found some places for whom I’d really like to write on this trip, but I need a new brochure, and I think I’m out of business cards.

The mail tampering in this building has gotten out of control. It’s time to bring in the US Postal Inspectors. I had someone stop by to pick up the mail every day I was gone after work – and by the time the person got here, the mail that didn’t fit into the boxes had been tossed. I’ve talked to management over and over and OVER about this, and we have an eyewitness to the perpetrator, who was spoken to about the fact that removing someone’s mail is a felony. His response was to shrug, walk away, and keep doing it. Time to bring in the feds. I put up a poster provided by the post office with the consequences of mail tampering and it was ripped off the wall during the day. Gee, wonder who’s doing it? Three guesses, bet you’ll get it in one. I’m going to keep printing them and keep putting them up. It is my right, as it is my right to have un-tampered mail. I should not have to pay for a post office box because building employees are thieves. I warned building management what the consequences would be of ignoring this situation; now it’s time to show them I’m serious.

Yesterday was a raw, rainy, cold day, so of course I was running around like crazy and got soaked to the skin. I’d had to cancel out of a few things because of complications in Maine and here at the building. But I was still running around enough to be soaked to the skin.

On the up side, I stopped in a bookstore because I wanted something different. I wanted new-to-me authors and something I wasn’t being paid to read.

I picked up two books. One, Summers at Castle Auburn, is by one of my favorite authors, Sharon Shinn. The other is an anthology called Misspelled, edited by a new-to-me author (with an amazing track record) named Julie E. Czerneda. I started reading it on the train, and all I have to say is:

WOW!

What a great, witty, charming, intelligent, inventive collection of stories! I can’t wait to go to the bookstore and get more by these authors. I sat down and read the whole anthology late last night and into this morning, cover to cover. I liked every single story in it, but my favorites were “Trippingly off the Tongue” by Lesley Livingston, “8 rms, full bsmt” by Kristine Smith, “Chafing the Bogyman” by Kristen Britain,, “A Perfect Circle” by Kent Pollard, and “Crosscut” by S.W. Mayse (every writer should read this one). It was actually hard to pick these, because I liked all the stories so much. The first two mentioned particularly enchanted me. Livingston either just had a novel come out, or one is coming out this summer, and I’ll definitely buy it. I don’t want to tell authors what to write (hating it so much myself), but I hope Kristine Smith does more with her story’s characters. I can’t stand golf and Kristen Britain’s story still captured me. I don’t game or know anything about gaming, but Pollard’s story was so well written it hooked and carried me. All of the stories are worth reading – the inventiveness, the quality of writing, the flashes of humor!

Bookstore, here I come!

What a great way to end the week!

Tons of errands to run this morning, and bills to pay. And then I have to buckle down and have a very productive writing weekend. Deadlines are looming, some new contracts came in, and next month’s bills will be here before I want them.

A new idea sprang fully formed into my head. I’ll make some notes on it, and put it in the queue.

Devon