Pages

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas writing song

It's been a while since I made up song lyrics, so this contest at MSFV was the prompt I needed. Here is my writer's version of Jingle Bells for your enjoyment:

Dashing through the words
On a newly open doc,
Over the keys I go
So many things amok.
Cell on tabletop rings,
Ignoring it I sigh,
What fun it is to write a sin-
gin' manuscript tonight!

Delete this, Delete there,
Change it all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to write
On another open page.
Typin' here, typin' there,
Typin' all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to write
On another open page.

A day plus two ago,
I thought I'd swallow pride.
Nowhere my trusty muse,
Was seated by my side.
The story lean and lank,
To be trunked seemed its lot.
I got stuck and my mood sank,
And nothing seemed upshot.

A month or two ago,
The story I need'd tell
I typed faster than slow,
'Fore in a slump I fell.
No words came zooming by
On the empty open page,
My muse taken for a lie,
Scenes quickly died away.

Now the page is white
And the night is young,
Put the words in sight
and hum this writin' song.
Just get a cup of tea,
No more block to fend,
My muse shines just for me,
And smack! I'll type the end.


Check out the other holiday songs writers came up with on the MSFV blog. I found the lyrics for Jingle Bells here, and you can read my other lyrics here. If you like the nail artwork, the Jamberry wraps are called Newspaper and Reindeer Games.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

10 Books

My brother tagged me on this meme... I guess that's what little brothers are for.
Here is my list of 10 books that have stayed with me. The instructions said to "only take a few minutes and don't think too hard. They don't have to be the "right" kind of books or great works of literature, just books that have affected you in some way." It took me about 30 minutes, but most of the time was spent reminiscing about the memories associated with those books. 

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (made me want to write fantasy)
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (This novel showed me there can be women in fantasy, and they don't always get to make good choices)
The Princess Bride by William Goldman (a love story to die for, repeatedly)
The Republic by Plato (When I first fell in love with philosophy, and the inspiration for my sci-fi world)
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder (Best history of philosophy I've ever read)
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (How I would love to really get lost in a book)
Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd (The novel I started 5 times but could never finish... premise isn't everything)
Memorias Postumas de Bras Cuba by Machado de Assis (My favorite Brazilian author. This book made me think that reflecting on your mistakes is what the afterlife is all about)
Capitaes de Areia by Jorge Amado (Heartbreaking, but you gotta play with the cards you're dealt)
A Ilha Perdida by Maria Jose Dupre (Not much to the story on a superficial level, but there can be a lot of symbolism in children's books. A friend and I spent a whole night analyzing this for a test that was way easier than the teacher threatened.)

Post your list if you feel like it and leave me a comment with a link if you do. I'd love to see the books that affected you the most.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

From start to finish

Finishing my first novel showed me I could write one. I had started thinking about the characters ten years before I decided there was more to their story than the few pages I wrote in my college journal. But with real life getting in the way, it took me another five years to gather my notes and understand the science fiction world that became Demia. Then I needed another year to feel the courage to show it to my family, and another to ask for critiques from strangers. The two years I spent revising the novel, in response to many rounds of constructive criticism, made me realize I cared about the project. And that I could be a writer.

The Legacy of the Eye still isn't perfect, but I decided to give it a rest. I spent the last year writing something completely different and I discovered that I could fall in love with this new world just as easily as I fell for Demia and the rest of the Tetracoil Galaxy. And that these new characters talking in the back of my mind could feel like family to me, just like David and Catrine.

My fantasy novel Shrouded Goddess is finished and awaiting another round of critiques. The feedback I've received so far is very encouraging, much more than for Demia. Part of the interest, I think, is because Shrouded Goddess is set in a world that mirrors colonial South America during the Portuguese settlements of the sixteenth century. Not the typical medieval fantasy world. Moreover, my novel focuses on the indigenous custom of accepting strangers into the community by marriage, and how the settlers exploited the native family values to recruit laborers, which I don't believe is a common subject either.

My excitement is growing with each round of revisions. And there are now new characters whispering in the back of my mind...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Green paint and sadness

Last night I came home to bright green paint splattered all over the clothes in the dryer. Not uniformly dyed like the pink spacesuit from the "Despicable Me" movie; a crap-hit-the-fan kind of mess. One of the soccer jerseys my dad brought back from Brazil was the culprit, but throwing the offending shirt in the trash did not prevent the tears I needed to shed.

Dada's response was to buy new ones. But these were the new ones--mine, his, and the kid's. I at least had to try to wash off the stains and maybe recover some of them, because I knew I wasn't crying over a dryer mishap. My father-in-law is dying. His speedy deterioration over the past few months has tugged at everyone's heartstrings. But just as it is a lot easier to focus my emotions on imaginary characters whose fate is at the tip of my fingers, it is also safer to cry over spilled milk and paint stains, which are much less overwhelming.

This morning most of the clothes had lost their offending green streaks. Not all of them, so I wouldn't be tempted to rescue the conniving jersey from the trash bin. This means I will be looking for other silly everyday catastrophes to unburden the pain welled up inside me. I cannot mourn a loved one still with us; those tears have to wait.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Where and when

As I struggle through the query trenches, I have taken up other projects to distract me from the torture of waiting for feedback. I outlined three companions to THE LEGACY OF THE EYE and started drafting one of them, the prequel DEAR KATHERINE.

I also experienced bursts of creativity, where random stories kept me awake at night until I wrote them down (like this one). They did not fit the science fiction world I had created; they leaned toward fantasy. The three plots I outlined shared the same comment, to "think of an interesting world." I had no idea where to set these stories or to which time period they belonged. I just knew they needed a historical feel.

So I set about looking for where and when. I needed something unique, but something I knew about enough that research would not become a nightmare. I wanted a project that would distract me, not a burden.

And now I am immersed in the colonization of South America and the exploitation of family values. I have researched the history of hammocks, looked into the vegetation of snow-capped equatorial mountains, and am currently delving into the languages and habits of indigenous tribes. Twenty-five thousand words into the first draft, I can feel the first novel in this project taking shape.

Best of all, the two other stories I outlined fit this world perfectly.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pitching time

It was my #Pitmad pitch last spring that led to an agent suggesting I rewrite THE LEGACY OF THE EYE in first person.Today, Twitter is once again the host of this fantastic pitching contest. These are the four short pitches I'll be tweeting today:

Jane Austen's Persuasion meets 1984 in space--Love and politics on a planet colonized according to Plato’s Republic. Adult Sci-Fi #Pitmad 
Austen's Persuasion meets 1984 in space--On a planet where merit trumps birthright, David must expose a secret hereditary polity. SF #Pitmad 
On a planet where merit trumps birthright, David must expose a secret hereditary polity or be tempted by the crown. Adult SF #Pitmad 
A secret hereditary polity on a planet colonized as in Plato’s Republic. David must expose the deceit or be lured by the crown. AdSF #Pitmad

I think I managed to condense the query below into just the hook...

THE LEGACY OF THE EYE is an adult science fiction with a literary bent. Think Jane Austen's Persuasion meets 1984 in space--Love and politics on a planet colonized according to Plato’s Republic. 
Like all children on Demia, David was sent to the Academy at the age of two to be raised without concepts of marriage and family. Sixteen years later, his impatience towards graduation from the Governance Department overshadows his apprehension of finally learning his parents’ identity. 
When David notices the tiny tattoo hidden beneath his girlfriend's hair, he realizes Catrine is next in line for a hereditary throne that should not exist on their academic planet. David is appalled that a single family has been ruling in secret since colonization. Demia is the center of knowledge in the galaxy. Their society is supposed to value merit, not birthright.

Then David discovers his parents are conspiring to crown him the first king of Demia by marrying him to Catrine. Desire will bind him to a deceitful government David is unsure he can change from a throne. His leadership skills might be better employed bringing peace to the turmoil at the other end of the galaxy. But can Demia prosper without him? And how long can he evade those determined to lure him home? Catrine might just be the bait he cannot resist.