Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Year in Review

This was quite a year for Jordan's Croft. We put down new floors, finished renovating the kitchen, put in a matching island. My office went from junk storage room to usable space. There were a couple of loads of donations to Goodwill from that.

On the other hand, we had lots of trouble with the dogs. Trouble had parvo virus. Jar Jar needed extensive dental work, then Mocha was hit by a car and survived. Thank heaven the horses stayed healthy.

I finished my first 'real' romance novel, taking it from 30k to 80k words. Thanks to Forward Motion, Karen, Dale and Jeff for that. I would never have done it without them! I've been writing queries to agents, and have wracked up a few rejections. Then I wrapped up the year with NaNo and 25k on a second romance novel. Tomorrow my first flash fiction story will be published "Perfect Bait" goes into the News-Enterprise's Wednesday magazine.

We also got my parent's computers straightened out. Took buying two new computers after extensive efforts to repair the old ones didn't work . In fact, there were extensive computer issues all around, but we have managed to get all that straightened out, to date. There are still web pages to work up, pictures to scan and so forth.

In closing, this year, number three, has been the best year ever. We have been blessed. To quote a Trekkie friend:

May the Great Bird of the Galaxy roost gently on your planet, in 2009.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Progress in Odd Places

Since I've been home full time, I've done the organizing my house desparately needed. The papers in Bob's office have been sorted and purged. I've purged the closets, taken bags of stuff to Goodwill and gotten reciepts. My office is no longer a kennel, I cleared the boxes and purged stuff.

The first batch of Christmas cards went out on time. I've baked cookies, and frozen balls of dough, so I can just pop them in the oven as needed. (Only a dozen on the counter!) The dishes are done, the counters are faily clean. The old island has been replaced by the new one, with the drawers all sorted out.

Thanks to my family, the horses stalls are clean, and the barn is getting there. I put a timer on the chicken coop light, and we are getting two to three eggs every other day, instead of one or two eggs a week. That helps when I'm doing a bunch of baking, I'd hate to have to buy eggs after all this time.

The guest room has the correct mirror on the dresser. (The closet in there is still stuffed with dead electronics.) I have my tender herbs under lights, finally, instead of drying out and dying on a shelf in the den. I managed to save two snap dragons, so we may have flowers in the house in a month or two.

I've been clicking along like a robot programed by Martha Stewart , it certainly feels good. I know it that it won't last. Once I get my laptop back, I'm going to be working on selling my novel again.

I did get the nicest, most encouraging rejection letter this morning. I think it is because I'm writing professional queries. I hope it is because I'm writing professional queries. I've written and re-written the damn things until I hate the sight of them.

In fact, I'm thinking of sending my next query off and asking them directly to help me break into Harlequin's top line. I have a goal, and need an agent to get there. Maybe that will help me get the novel read by an agent. After all, money is money. I need to be a best seller on the first book, I need to get a niche.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Somewhere Out There

I've been gone from Ohio for 18 years. There were no jobs and no hope of ever having a descent life if I stayed. Here in Kentucky, we are comfortable, and I can have my horses and my farm without taking us to the poorhouse.

Yet, there was a trade off to escaping from abject poverty. This time of year, I think of far-flung familly, and wonder where they are.

I have a half-sister out there somewhere. I haven't seen or heard from her for 30 years. The last I knew, she was moving to Arizona. Her son, my nephew, vanished without a trace at the same time.

My sister's two sons have been lost in the shuffle of moving and divorce. Nevada was the last I heard. That was also 30 years ago.

I've also got a number of cousins that I've completely lost contact with. They never reply to Christmas cards, though I still send them out every year. Futile as it may be.

It's far to easy to lose the ones we care about, when "life" gets in the way. Google can get you an address, but nothing can give you contact with those who never reply.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Murphy Strikes Again

Well, it happens to all of us, sooner or later. My laptop hard drive has crashed taking all my data, including my address book with it. I spent 12 hours trying various ways to boot the hard drive. No luck, just access denied.

Besieged was backed up. But I have only half of the Gothic novel. I'm just too bummed out to even try to resurrect "Moon" for now.

So, I think, this will be the last bit of writing I do for a few days.

My husband will take the laptop to a shop, see if they can get my data back.

I don't have a whole lot of hope.

The Company We Keep

I had one of those "Oh Shit" moments at the library the other day. I ran across a Holly Lisle book in the romance section.

I was surprised.

I didn't know that she had anything in print. I read the novel, and found it to be a nice tense romantic suspence.

When I looked I was able to find four titles with her by line. The one that gave me the "Oh Shit" moment was the one co-written with Zimmer-Bradley. To say I was taken aback would be an understatement. The mental dominoes fell and a pattern was revealed, Forward Motion is a direct offshoot of the Darkover fan fiction "fanomina."

Which explains many things. I understand the 'whys' of the site. Why the majority of the writers are fantasy writers. Why the site was put up in the first place.

My hat is off to the departed great lady for the opportunities she had provided, and the 'pay it forward' legacy that still exists.

I will forever see Forward Motion in a different light.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Coming to Print Soon

Great News!

The News-Enterprise is going to publish my first flash fiction story 'Perfect Bait.' I am thrilled! It will come out in Wednesday Magazine. There is no payment, but hey, its a start.

I've never been much for flash fiction. But I'm happy to say that I was able to ferret one out of the data file that I could cut down.

I didn't tell them it was a romance. (G)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Momentous Discovery

I was an avid reader of Fantasy or Sword & Sorcery as it was called in my youth. I was a rabid fan of Lovecraft, Poe, Tolkien, Norton, Zimmer-Bradley and McCaffery. (May they all rest in peace.)

I've been trying to read Fantasy, mostly because the majority of people on Forward Motion seem to be writing and referencing Fantasy stories. But I have yet to read anything that I like. Nothing grabs me, and the very fact that some of these novels made it to print dismays me. One novel actually changed so drastically in mid-plot that I believe the original author died and the novel was passed on to someone else. Someone with a drastically different style!

I have hesitated to rant against against other authors. Since I'm a wannabe romance writer, I've got no room to bitch when somebody else makes good. I posted one rant on vampires, then took it down when the movie came out.

My hat's off to her, she's making a killing writing syrup and sparkle instead of blood and darkness.

Today, however, I am presenting this address as the answer to all my prayers: Somebody who is still reading and ranting about a genre I gave up on, for the very reasons that I gave up on it.

Behold, a reader who thinks: http://limyaael.livejournal.com/559559.html#cutid1

Whoever this person is, they have nailed it. Every rant has me nodding my head and saying 'oh yeah! Tell 'em, baby, tell 'em straight.'

This is a sample quote from some old "Live Journal" rants:

"3) There doesn't have to be a typical Quest Object. As Tolkien's characters themselves note, the Ring is a rather odd Quest Object. The journey in LOTR isn't actually about finding the Ring, but returning it to the place it came from and destroying it. The fantasy Quests that spring from bastardized versions of Tolkien ignore this, however. The Quest Object is just about always beneficent (in fact, some of them can't be used by evil guys at all) and far away, so that the point is getting there and using it. The idea of destroying it even if it's dangerous rarely, if ever, occurs to your typical fantasy moron hero."

Whoever is writing under 'Arin i Asolde' has taken the words in my heart and put them on the web. I have no need to comment further.

We live in an age where the suspension of dis-belief is not a good trait. We need to be critical readers, and thinkers. The world is full of bullshit, and if we can't tell gold from compost, we will always have a handful of compost.

I have a compost pile.

I want to write gold.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Doggy Dentistry

This time it's not Trouble, no it's my Jar-Jar whose got the problem.

I never really thought about dogs and their teeth. But when Jar stopped playing, sitting on my bed shaking, his face swollen, I took him to the vet.

Abscessed teeth was the diagnosis. At least one and maybe more. (It was more.) Dog dentistry is not up to root canals, and I certainly couldn't afford to pay cash for that kind of work. A week of pain pills and antibiotics followed. I figured out that his teeth had been bad for a while, when he was perky and playful again.

We took him in yesterday morning. All the tests came back fine, so they operated on his mouth. Nine teeth had to go. It sure as hell knocked a hole in the Christmas budget.

It had to have been hard on him. I gave him ice cream last night, and elk stew for breakfast this morning. (Yeah, he's the most spoiled of the three. He NEVER eats my earrings.) An hour ago, he got up from his nap and played ball for a couple of minutes.

So he's going to have to get canned food or soft food for at least a few weeks, maybe always.

As any pet owner knows, it's not a big deal to make a few adjustments for an older pet. As long as they are happy, you do whatever to keep them going.

I am a little worried about when he regains his strength. Mocha and Trouble may have to adjust the pecking order. I'm hoping they can wrestle it out. Trouble has been very servile to this point, but Mocha is dominant.

The last thing I'm willing to tolerate is a dog-fight. I may have to discipline my pack. Not sure the best way to stop this nonsense, but I'm watching.

They need to remember who's in charge here.

(I typed, as Trouble was trying to type with his nose. Then he chewed on Mocha's ear, pushing my fingers on the wrong keys.)

This may not be as easy as it sounds.