We've bought a house, lost our kitten to heart problems, got a new cat, and had a baby.  In that order.

Writing is going slowly.  I tend to take long breaks between writing sessions.  Too long.  I seek to change this habit, but right now all my time is spent caring for the baby and sometimes myself.

Frostbite is being completely revamped.  I'm a little over halfway through with the rewrites.  Though the plot is roughly the same, almost every scene has been replaced.


Book to Movie: How Does That Happen?

I remember being a fan of LJ Smith back in the 90's when she still put out Night World books with regularity, and one misconception has persisted: the idea that authors control what gets made into movies.

To get a book turned into a movie, the author must try to sell his or her movie rights to a studio.  I say "try" because there is no guarantee that anyone will buy the rights.  LJ Smith's work got picked up right after Twilight because TV studios wanted something to bring in that fanbase.  She had to wait well over a decade and for a huge boom in vampire popularity for that to happen (and she still gets accused of ripping off Twilight, which simply gave her work new relevancy).

Once movie rights are sold, there is still no guarantee that anything will come of it.  The author does not have control over any part, up to and including major plot changes.  The rights belong to the company that bought them and that company can twist and mutate the story any way they want.  (Which is how we got that terrible bastardization of Ella Enchanted.)

In fact, if anyone makes book movies happen, it's fans.  By being rabid and many and full of ticket sales.

And creepy. Don't forget the creepy.


The Healer's Apprentice

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson combines two main elements: religion and fairy tale.

The fairy tale aspect is swathed in the book's historical atmosphere.  Set in a time when invisible demons were an all-too-real fear of the common man, Dickerson forgoes evil fairies and sets us up with a sorcerer who can commune with demons.


Responding to Readers

Do not respond.

"Do not respond" is the generally accepted rule when dealing with people who comment on your work.  Either thank them for their feedback or say nothing.  Never try to argue or explain.  For example, in writing classes, those whose stories are being discussed?  Not allowed to talk.  We could answer direct questions, but we couldn't respond until the end, and even then we weren't allowed to argue or get mad or tell people they were wrong.  We answered any last questions, thanked everyone, and took our notes home like civilized human beings.


Traditional v.s. Self Publishing

I'll put this in super-simplistic terms:

In self-publishing, there's no one to stop you from publishing!

But there's no one to stop you from publishing.

Both have pros and cons.  Under the right circumstances, the pros are the cons, and vice versa.  Do your research, choose whichever is right for you, and try not to be a jerk to people on the path you didn't choose.



I've previously complained about trying to keep my timeline and character ages straight, and a few months ago I discovered a solution.


Thesaurus: The Good, The Bad

The thesaurus is an amazing tool.  I've used it a bunch this weekend when I know a synonym for a word I want but can't quite recall the perfect word I need.  Yet every time I use it I remember the caution of Mrs. Field, my junior & senior year high school English teacher:

"Be sure that you know the connotation of the synonym you're using," she told us.  "I once had a young man turn in a paper that talked about 'handling' the subject but he didn't want to overuse the word 'handle' so he broke out the thesaurus.  Therefore, several times in the paper, I got to read about how he would 'fondle' the topic."

I'm sure she had a very awkward conversation with him after they got their papers back.


My Brilliant Plan

I've noticed something simple but vital about the authors I love, as well as authors who are popular, and I've devised a brilliant plan to give my writing career the best chance at getting noticed by anyone other than my parents.

Step 1: Put out a lot of books.
Step 2: Don't suck.

Let's start by discussing step two.  I have plenty of suck stacked away in my old stories bin, but a writer will start to suck less the more he or she writes.  I like to think that I've crossed the line from "sucks" to "doesn't suck" by now.  However, just because I think I don't suck doesn't mean everyone will.  The line is different for each person, but I believe everyone can agree on the following criteria:

  • A plot that readers can follow.
  • Above-average grammatical awareness.

This criteria is, of course, the lowest common denominator for not sucking.

Now to step one, which I feel is just as important.  Due to the decreasing amount of suck on each writing project, later projects in a writer's repertoire tend to be better, and it becomes that much more likely for readers to stumble across your work.  I've found this to be true for myself as a reader -- I'll love something from later in a writer's career and then go back and read their earlier work.

In conclusion, I believe public awareness of a writer depends both on their quality and quantity.  At least, that's my theory.  It seems practical, don't you think?


Coronets and Steel

Sherwood Smith is the author of two books on my top five favorite books list, right by Pride and Prejudice.

I got Coronets and Steel for Christmas and, though it's good, it's not in my top twenty by any means.  I'd probably rank it higher had we gotten to the action sooner.  In both Crown Duel and Trouble with Kings (which tie for first or second place in my top five, depending on how I'm feeling about Jane Austen that day), Smith starts in media res -- in the middle of the action.  The crisis is upon our heroines and they must react, so everything happens quickly and we get to the good stuff almost immediately.

In C&S, the first half of the book felt like setup and included a bevy of historical, musical, and literary references.  I like references, myself, but the sheer volume and diversity in C&S felt overwhelming.  Smith, with her masters degree in history, pulled out all the stops and clearly had fun thinking up references, but I personally could have used a few stops put back in.  In her usual fantasy worlds, for example, references are explained more thoroughly to readers so that everyone can follow along, but the references here (being real-world references) were often left on their own without elaboration.  Thus: overwhelming.

The second half of the book picked up in action and pace and carried both off to a rather inconclusive end.  Luckily, there's a sequel for those of us who want to continue the story -- and I'm fairly certain the historical references will stay toned down as in the last half of C&S and, with any luck, the pace will remain energetic.

My conclusion is that I probably won't pick up and reread C&S again for fun like I have my two favorites, but I'm going to find and read the sequel.  The story was getting pretty good and I'd like to see how it ends.