Showing posts from 2010

Holiday Break


Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for visiting my blog.  In the coming week, I have a high school dinner concert, two elementary program dress rehearsals, two elementary programs, an elementary band concert, a junior high band and choir concert, and a sing-along to attend and/or lead.  I rather doubt that I will be able to squeeze any blogging in between cramming 120 first graders into bug costumes.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year to you all.  I hope your time with your family is blessed.

Crossed Genre Review

I reviewed Issue 24 of Crossed Genres for The Portal.  The authors in the issue include Sabrina Vourvoulias, Daniel Jose Older, Sandra McDonald, Barbara Ann Wright, Angela Ambroz, Fadzlishah Johanabas, Audrey Fine, Kelly Jennings, Teresa Jusino, Lavanya Karthik, and Paul Lamb.

Here's the direct link to the review.  I hope you find it helpful.

Review of Crossed Genres, Issue 24, The Portal

Why I Had a Dead Cow in My Shed for Two Years

When I was a first year teacher, I was incredibly eager to please.  I still have a a tendency towards it, but at that point in time I took it to extremes.

The band room at the private school I worked in used to be a morgue when it was a hospital.  There were only two teachers in the basement, myself and the art teacher, Barb.  It was a miserable place to be.  The doors didn't work properly, it flooded twice with rain or freshwater while I was there, and I was only there one year.  I had the better end of the flooding deal.  Barb's room had flooded more than once with sewage, and my understanding is that it's flooded with sewage since I left, too.

One day, Barb and I were chatting.  We talked a lot since we were so isolated.  I had talked to her before about the type of art my grandmother does, which is painting western scenes on bones.  I mentioned in an offhand manner, "Wouldn't it be cool to get a whole skeleton, have a different kid paint each bone, and then w…

Discord's Apple

I just finished a book, Discord's Apple, by Carrie Vaughn.  Without writing any big spoilers, let me say that she made some religious assertions in the story with which I could never agree, but one part of the plot made me ache with longing.  King Arthur returned.  (Though he is not the main focus of the story.)

It took me quite a while to figure out why I longed so much for the return of a mythical King.  It's not like I knew the guy, though the character was written well enough to make me feel as though I did.  After some soul-searching, I found that I've been falling into our collective despair, praying that God would send someone, anyone, to deliver us from troubled times.  Why not Arthur?  He's cool and has a sword forged from pure awesome.

As I think on it longer, no matter how seductive the concept of an invincible crusader for righteousness may be, it's really a fool's errand.  The world doesn't change when a hero slays its dragons.  It changes whe…

Defining Urban Fantasy

I noticed that there have been several conversations on Twitter lately that have been trying to define urban fantasy.  I just attended a session that tried to do just that at the World Fantasy Con in Columbus, OH.  The panel was comprised of authors Holly Black, Michele Lang, Cinda Chima, and Stephanie Robertson.

To sum things up, urban fantasy:

holds hands with paranormal romance and contemporary often influenced by the mystery genre.takes place in the modern world or in the comprised of weird stuff in the real world.  (This is the most broad and my favorite.)can have an open or closed world.Much was said regarding open or closed worlds in urban fantasy, mainly because the very heart of the genre involves blending the real with the imaginary.  The authors defined an open world as one in which the general population is aware of the supernatural/magical elements of their world.  A good example in my mind would be Kim Harrison's Dead Witch Walking.  She supplies …

Say Hello to The Portal's Newest Reviewer!

I wasn't able to post about it the other day, but I am one of the newest reviewers at the Portal.  For this month, I'm working on reviewing the current issue of Crossed Genres, and so far, I'm enjoying the hell out of it.  I'll be posting my review on the 21st of November.

Stop by and visit the site!

The Portal

There's a Story in There Somewhere

It sounds like it could be a sequel to The Hangover, but there's a story in there somewhere.

The Art of Leaving Things Out

On the last day of the World Fantasy Conference, I attended a panel regarding the art of leaving things to the reader's imaginations.  Some of the comments got me to thinking, and I knew this was an important topic for me, as I usually try to hit my audience over the head with whatever point I am trying to make.  Repeatedly.  With a big-ass hammer.

When I was a kindergartener, I suffered from chronic nightmares.  While my sister dreamed of watchdog rocks that blew her on the butt and scrambled her like a TV screen, I don't remember much of what I dreamed.  I only remember that it terrified me and occasionally gave me glimpses of Armageddon.

I loved to poke around in my dad's library in the office, which sounded grand, but it really consisted of a shit-ton worth of books on bowed bookshelves.  Most were pretty heavy-duty, consisting of dad's college texts from his chemistry degree, his chemistry set, and Step-Grandpa Art's artificial kidney.  There were range manag…

I Freakin' Love Hyperbole and a Half

Sadly, it sounds as though Allie has moved from Montana.

Gladly, she still runs her blog.  This post brought me joy as I waited for my delayed flight back from the WFC.

On My Way to the World Fantasy Conference!

I'm sitting in the Denver International Airport, and I'm so excited to be on my way to the WFC that I can barely contain myself.  I was going to edit during my layover, but I can't muster enough concentration...

Hey!  Look!  There's a bird!

Seriously, there's a tweety bird hanging out by my departure gate.

I'll be spotty for the next few days on Twitter and on the blog.  The conference schedule is packed and I'm staying with a cousin instead of at the hotel.  I'll be spending a lot of time driving and soaking up info, and sadly, my phone freezes whenever I tweet.

If you're coming to conference, I can't wait to meet you!

Gettin' Ready for the World Fantasy Convention, 2010

After having entertained some wonderful friends from out of town, I'm shifting my focus to preparing for the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, OH.

I'm a convention virgin.
I don't know how to dress.  I don't know how to pitch.  I don't know if I should pitch.  Will there be anyone who'll help me out with my manuscript?  No idea.  The schedule looks like Greek to me.  Will I be able to kick Social Anxiety in the balls and cut loose?  Not a clue.  Do I have to wear a, "Hi, my name is..." badge?  
All I know is that I'm packing my boots.

Good News? Bad News?

The other day, I found out from a friend at church that we both knew an author that has successfully published 12 book.  He's a great guy, and writing never came up as a conversation at church, so I had no clue.  Though I felt monumentally stupid for not knowing, she suggested that I ask him for help.

I totally blew the phone call.  It sounded something like, "Hi, I'm the accompanist from church and I wrote a novel and I have no clue what I'm doing and you rock socanyoureadmystuffformeplease!"  Once he recovered from the verbal assault, he asked me to email him the first chapter.

I received an email last night.  He wants to meet for coffee and discuss the chapter.  On the upside, the first chapter needs the most polishing before I submit it.  On the downside, I have no idea whether "discussing" will involved kudos or dope slaps.

My husband's right.  (Don't tell him I said that.)  It doesn't hurt me either way.  If he didn't like it, I…

The First Major Freakout Has Passed

Shortly after posting about my need for a developmental editor, I discovered what developmental editing would cost.  After I changed my underwear and removed the proverbial brick, I glided into a spiral of despair that went something like this:

1.  I don't have $4,000.
2.  I won't have it in the foreseeable future.
3.  My book won't get edited on the completely arbitrary deadlines I've set for myself.
4.  I suck.
5.  If I suck, my book sucks.
6.  Sucky books are hard to market, unless one has committed the crime of the century, has a huge fan base for reasons unrelated to writing, or knows the power of the carefully applied horizontal mambo.
7.  Sucky books are useless to edit.
8.  Therefore, I'm useless.

I spent a few days moping and absorbing the fact that all of my carefully laid plans were completely thrown off course.  I prayed a lot, asking if it was something I was supposed to do, even if it leads to things not even related to publishing, which is what I rea…

Finding a Developmental Editor

As I near the end of my second draft, I'm starting to explore my options for hiring a developmental editor.  I feel this is necessary for several reasons:

1.  I'm a complete novice.  I write well, but I know my writing lacks the polish required for a professional-level manuscript.

2.  I want my novel to have the best possible shot at being published before I start shopping it around.

3.  Did I mention I'm a novice?

The options right now are overwhelming.  I need someone who enjoys urban (rural) fantasy, is compassionate, has had past clients succeed in becoming published, has experience in the industry, and has a wry sense of humor.  Any takers?  Anyone?

"The The Impotence of Proofreading," by TAYLOR MALI

Thanks to Rachelle Gardner for bringing this to bloggers' attention.

The Wonders of No TV

My husband and I got rid of our TV service several months ago, and I can't say I miss it all that much.  Instead, we stream Netflix to our TV and love it. for hundreds of special interest and shopping channels, or download only what I want to watch with no commercials...let me think about that for a minute.

It's had a few unexpected side effects, however.

On the bright side, I find that not being bombarded with ads that I have to sit through has decreased my desire to buy shit I don't need.  I'm an incredibly careful consumer, provided I'm properly medicated, and can usually talk myself out of anything.  Even as skeptical as I can be, ads can instill an inane or over longing in my subconscious, depending on the level of dissatisfaction in a particular area of my life.  
If it's home organization stuff, I can just picture perfectly organized closets and drawers that would impress my husband so much that he would be inspired to put something away in t…

Holy Crap! The Beach Boys!

I think I've probably pasted this across the Net, but MY HUSBAND'S BAND JUST SOUND CHECKED IN FRONT OF THE BEACH BOYS! 


A Public Safety Message

As you know, my friends, medical marijuana has been approved in Montana. I'd like to bring your attention to a little-known effect of marijuana. When ingested by juvenile bunnies, it impairs their judgment, making this look like a good idea. For our safety and that of the bunnies, I beg you, I implore you, DON'T USE MARIJUANA!

The point still stands, even though the video was shot in Texas. And also despite the fact that bunnies lack the opposable thumbs to hang onto a joint.

Dad Life (Father's Day Opening 2010)

Sample from The Rider of Nealra

When a tragic accident forces musician Ellie Johnson to operate her family’s 7,000 acre farm and ranch in Eastern Montana, she soon finds the place plagued with unseen predators that can crush cow bones to dust and drain all fluids from chickens without any punctures.  Hopelessly accident prone, Ellie’s innate ability to be a smartass does nothing to find impossibly strong hooligan with very sharp, pointy ends.  With Stinky the mustang and the mouth-breather Sven as her only allies, she sets out to the Badlands to find the source of eerie blue lights that appear to the west, but instead tumbles into another world riddled with famine, disease, and the Necragii, the Death Priests of the Urtun.  

In the segment below, we find our heroine exhausted by weeks of calving and predation on her animals.  She finally decides to ask for help. 
After getting back to the house, I collapsed into the chair by the phone as dawn broke over the sky.  With a groan, I decided to call another neighbor with a…

He Who Laughs Last, Thinks Slowest

I often find myself agog at my own stupidity.  The following is one of those moments in which I have to laugh or I'd blush from mortification, though I usually do both anyway.

Finally! There’s light at the end of the tunnel! Due to numerous concerts and music festivals, I hadn’t really slept or been home regularly since the middle of March. I was absolutely exhausted, but thrilled that I was going to finish the year with an exemplary recorder program.

I had prepared for Murphy’s Law to the best of my abilities, but still had a busy day ahead. Have you ever herded 45 fourth graders onto risers without anyone falling off, puking, breaking their instruments, or bleeding? I’m convinced it can’t be done. To complicate things even more, Aaron and I needed to drive different cars to work because he had to be there at the butt-crack of dawn. I elected to sleep a little longer and drive my ‘87 Mercury Grand Marquis, a car, at least until that day, I loved probably a little more than was enti…

The Time Has Come, the Walrus Said....

I've been at this for years.  I've written some good stuff.  I've written a lot of crap, including a painfully awful first novel.  I've read countless agent blogs and how-to sites for writers.  I'm terrified, but I'm ready to take the next step, to go to second base, so to speak.

I'm lined up for my first writer's conference in October, at which I'm sure I will look like a complete idiot.  After the conference, I'm going to take what I learn to finish editing my novel and start querying agents.  I'm absolutely petrified, but the time has come for me to stop hiding behind my computer screen in the dark.

I'm afraid my ego is too big and my common sense too small, but I hope that good things will come of it.  I know publication may never happen, but it has a zero chance of happening if I don't try.

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