Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lucky Seven

The other day, the lovely Laurel Garver of Laurel’s Leaves tagged me with the Lucky Seven meme. To fulfill the meme, I have to post a section of my current WIP. For this blog, I'm posting from the sequel to Screwing Up Time. The tag requires the author to post seven sentences, lines, or paragraphs from p.77, seven lines down. So without further ado:

She shaved my face and my neck with sweeping movements. The straight razor scraped—it made a slick wet sound. The cold blade against my hot skin. I tried not to swallow. I tried not to breath. And I refused to think what would happen if she pressed too hard or I had a hiccup. As I contemplated where exactly my carotid artery was and how much pressure it would take to sever it, she finished and the attendant wiped my face with a hot towel. It was over.

The final requirement of the Lucky Seven is to tag another seven writers. (I can’t wait to read their excerpts. I can’t remember who’s already been tagged—so if you’re getting tagged twice, sorry.)

1.    1.  Melissa Pearl
2.    2.  Anne Riley
3.    3.  AB Keuser
4.    4.  Misha Gericke
5.    5.  Lydia Kang
6.    6.  Krispy/Alz
7.    7.  Theresa Milstein

Also, as a treat I’ve also decided to post from my literary/historical/upmarket women's fiction on my A Merry Heart blog. So click over if you’d like to read that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How Do You Choose A Book?

I remember going to the library as a child, touching the glossy covers of books and reading the blurbs to decide what to choose. Or I’d devour the Scholastic paperback list, trying to decide which paperbacks I wanted to spend my money on. The thin novels were often only 25 cents, so I could buy several.

But now everything has changed. There are still libraries, but I don’t have to always drive there. I can download books to my Kindle from the library’s website. But the selection isn’t extensive. And the more I read, the fewer books are left that I’m interested in. The same applies to the library’s physical collection. Budgets are dwindling, which means the collection of books is too. To help generate revenue, they charge for new releases. And they aren’t cheap. Plus, I’m amazed at how long books are considered new releases. I’m beginning to think something is no longer a “new release” only when people aren’t reading it anymore.

Several months ago, I found an e-newletter that advertised free and 99 cent novels. I signed up and thought my book problems were solved. They weren’t. Now I receive a daily newsletter of listing free and cheap e-books. Some of the books are written by indie authors while others are by traditionally pubbed authors, who are making their backlists available to e-market. But I haven’t got the time or energy to weed through the newsletter, read all the blurbs, check the books’ ratings on Amazon, read a sample to see if the writing is quality or not. The e-newletters advertise books regardless of quality—basically it’s a pay-to-play situation. And the cost isn’t cheap. (If any of you know of some e-newletter that’s different—and not just the reviews of a single book reviewer—please let me know!)

So I’m not really reading the free newsletter anymore. Instead, I’m paying attention to other writer’s recommendations. If writer X, whose novel I liked, says, “Book A is really good and it’s free/99 cents/cheap,” then I usually buy it—assuming the plot and genre are interesting to me.

What about you? If you have an e-reader, how do you decide what e-books to buy?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dreams Captured in Thread

Every writer adds bits of their interests into their novels—things that fascinate them. At the end of Screwing Up Time, Miranda gives Mark an embroidered gift. And, guess what, embroidery fascinates me. I love the Bayeux Tapestry, which is more embroidery than weaving and details the Norman conquest of England--see not all embroidery is flowers.

So what’s the story behind my fascination? My mom was old European so I had to learn skills that Europeans viewed as important womanly accomplishments—stuff like cross-stitch (yuck), needlepoint (really yuck), embroidery, and sewing. Somehow I missed out on knitting, crocheting, and tatting (which actually looks kind of cool). Maybe my lack of interest—if you’re bad at something, people stop teaching—made her give up before we got to knitting. I did do a bit of weaving. My Swiss aunt was a professional weaver and helped me weave a scarf made out of heavy raw silk. Actually, I only did a small bit and it looked terrible--she finished it for me. At any rate, my uncle was an architect and designed a house around her looms. She could weave and look out the glass walls down the mountain and into the village of Altdorf below. (BTW, I’m sure I could write a bestseller/weave silk/embroider the Bayeux tapestry from a private chalet in the Alps—just sayin’)

Though I've given up most of the "womanly" arts, I’ve gone back to sewing and embroidery. I sew for myself, and for my kids I sew the Renaissance costumes that they wear when their Shakespeare troupe puts on a play. And I do embroidery because I like beautiful linens. I love embroidered tablecloths and napkins, sheets, and pillowcases. I even have a very old embroidered linen napkin that belonged to my great-great grandmother. Even though it’s age-stained, I love to feel the butter-soft fabric and dream about the summer villa where my grandmother used to go as a child. For me, beautiful linens are embroidered with dreams. And that’s why Miranda gives the gift to Mark—it’s embroidered with her dreams.

Here’s a photo of a pillowcase I embroidered for my daughter’s 20th birthday.

I was recently interviewed on the blog Searching for Heroes. Here's the link.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Modernism and Codeine

I recently had surgery, and now I’m supposed to be recovering. (Actually, I’m feeling a lot better today). Since I hadn’t had surgery before, I assumed recovery meant “lay on the couch and edit.” And then, I discovered that codeine befuddles my brain and exhaustion makes me fall asleep. Even writing coherent emails was hard. One of my minions would look over my shoulder and say, “Uh, I don’t think you mean what you typed.” And the minion was right. It’s a bad thing to write and forget words, especially words like “not.”

So editing is on hold for the next few days. But my experience got me to thinking about modernist literature. You know, stuff by James Joyce, Djuna Barnes, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, et al. Now I finally understand those works of fiction. The authors were all under the influence of codeine when they wrote them. It’s not that Joyce was making some kind philosophical statement when he used pronouns without antecedents. It’s just that under the influence of codeine, he forgot. It’s not by eschewing dialogue tags that modernists hoped to explore fragmentation. It’s that they deleted the tags by accident.

Aren’t you glad that it all makes sense now? I am. Armed with my newly acquired insight, maybe I can read Six Characters in Search of an Author and have it make sense. Or not.