Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Write What You Know

Romance writers who write about guns should either a) know what they are talking about or b) ask someone knowledgeable to vet their writing. Otherwise knowledgeable readers will be treated to such silliness as this (From “Cry of the Wolf” by Karen Whiddon, Silhouette Nocturne, January 2007):

[Heroine talking to hero about buying a gun] “I’d like you to help me choose the right one, if you don’t mind. I’d like a pistol, a revolver, I think.”

OK, so far so good. Technically a pistol is different from a revolver, but common usage by people unfamiliar with guns -- as the heroine is -- doesn't always distinguish the two.

One hand on the wheel, he guided the boat with a quiet confidence. His gaze was cool and clear and gave none of his thoughts away. “Why not an automatic? They’re much easier to use.”

To answer the hero’s question...well, for one thing, it’s illegal for most people to own fully automatic weapons -- even in Texas (where this story takes place). I think what the hero means is a semi-automatic pistol. And pistols are not necessarily easier to use than revolvers; you just get more shots before you have to reload.

She gave him the only explanation she could—the truth. “Because silver bullets don’t come in cartridges.”

WTF? Assuming the heroine is using the term cartridge correctly (meaning the assembly of the bullet, powder, primer, and casing), what does that have to do with whether she wants a pistol or a revolver? In either case, you would still need to put the bullet (meaning only the silver or lead projectile) into a casing along with powder and a primer in order to use it. Now I might buy this as the heroine being clueless, but the hero doesn’t correct her.

Later on, the hero -- after buying the heroine a .45 caliber revolver (for a beginner who is just learning to shoot?? I have a good grip and can shoot pretty well, and I still choose to shoot a 9 mm not a .45) -- says the following to the heroine:

“Now squeeze the trigger and be ready. There’s a bit of a backlash when it fires.”

No kidding. And it’s called “kick”, not “backlash”.

Silliness like this pulls me right out of the story...and off to write blog posts like this one.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Reading Meme

I guess I tagged myself with this one because I asked a question over at Lynn Viehl's blog this morning. So here goes:

Contemporary, Historical, or Paranormal? Paranormal. I’ve only read two or three historicals, and I just can’t get into them. Butt-kicking, beastie-fighting heroines on the other hand…

Hardback or Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback? Mass market. I can trade them in at the UBS if I don’t like them.

Heyer or Austen? Austen

Amazon or Brick and Mortar? Brick and mortar. I have patience issues.

Barnes & Noble or Borders? Since there are no Borders anywhere hear me, it’s Barnes & Noble.

Woodiwiss or Lindsay? Who? Am I missing some good reading here?

First romance novel you ever remember reading? The first romances I read Harlequins from the early or mid-1980’s. My mom was really into them (and still is *g*). I can’t remember the titles, but they were much skinnier, faster reads.

Alphabetize by author Alphabetize by title or random? I put all books by the same author together, with any series books in order. Other than that, there’s no pattern.

Keep, Throw Away or Sell? Keep the books I know I’ll want to reread. Trade in the others at the UBS. Any that the UBS won’t take, go to Good Will.

Read with dustjacket or remove it? Remove it. I put it back on when I’m done, though.

Sookie Stackhouse or Anita Blake? Early Anita Blake. I gave up after Obsidian Butterfly (which rocked!), though, because I can buy cheaper and better-written erotica from Ellora’s Cave.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? Stop reading when tired or I get interrupted.

It was a dark and stormy night or Once upon a time? Snoopy or Snow White? Neither.

Crusie or SEP? I have to say Jennie Cruise, because I don’t who SEP is.

Buy or Borrow? Buy – some new, some used. Hey, it helps my book budget go further.

Buying choice: Book Reviews, Recommendation or Browse? All three. I read the reviews from a few on-line sites that I like, and I consider these the same as recommendations. I also like to browse, particularly for books by authors I like.

Tidy ending or Cliffhanger? For a standalone book, it had better be a tidy ending. Otherwise the book is likely to be fed to my lives-to-shred-paper dog. For a series, cliffhangers are OK.

Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Nighttime reading? Nighttime for me. I like to curl up on the sofa with my dog after dinner and read. He keeps my feet warm.

Series or standalone? I’m partial to series if the characters are good. I like watching characters grow and change over several books.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? Hm, I’ll have to think about this one…

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - #3

Thirteen reasons I use to procrastinate at writing:

1. The sun is out, and I can go for a run.

2. House is on.

3. My home office is cold (big windows + below zero weather = cold room)

4. I just made a haul from the book store, and I have to read at least one chapter of one book.

5. I know I can beat my last Bejeweled score if I just play a little longer.

6. The toilet needs to be cleaned.

7. My fingers don’t work well after two glasses of wine.

8. The neighbors are mowing their lawn, and my terrified, 65 pound dog is literally sitting on my lap (which makes it hard to type).

9. My desk chair needs to be replaced.

10. I need to practice my pool game.

11. My muse decided to take an extended vacation – without me.

12. Pier 1 is having a big sale.

13. I’m out of coffee.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

From the comments:
3. Amy

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - #2

Thirteen concerts I’ve been attended:

1. Sting – He played at a relatively small indoor venue (only holds about 10,000 people, which is small for a Sting concert) near where I live; the man has a fantastic muscality, and I could have listened for hours.

2. Chris Isaak – Saw him twice, once in the late 1980’s at the Marin County Fair (Marin County is north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge) and once about four or five years ago at an outdoor concert on my birthday. The second time, he signed a CD for me. For part of the concert, he wore a blue wool suit with small rectangular mirrors on it; he made a joke about being able to see his a$$.

3. Brian Setzer – Saw him on my birthday the year before the Chris Isaak concert. Small venue, less than 2000 seats and not a bad one in the house. We got to dance in the aisles with other fans.

4. Emmylou Harris – We were given free tickets to this concert by my sister’s coworker. Same venue as the Brian Setzer concert, but no one danced at this one. She has a lovely ethereal voice.

5. Big Head Todd and the Monsters – Saw them twice, once at the college I was attending at the time and once at an outdoor concert at a ski resort. They rock! They know how to entertain the crowd. “Bittersweet” is still my favorite album of theirs.

6. Stevie Ray Vaughn – Early to mid-1990’s, I think. It was not long before he died. The turnout for the concert wasn’t great, but he played a long time. My first serious boyfriend used to like to fall asleep listening to Stevie’s albums.

7. REO Speedwagon – I was in high school, and they were cool. Enough said.

8. Kansas – Outdoor concert in Santa Clara, California, late 1980’s. The sun went down, and so did the temperature. We were all underdressed and froze. “Dust in the Wind” is one of my favorite songs, although now I associate it with the TV series “Highlander” because that was the “theme” song for any scene relating to Tessa’s death.

9. Oingo Boingo – Another outdoor concert in Santa Clara, late 1980’s. The “Dead Man’s Party” tour. We dressed accordingly for this one. The couple on the bench in front of us kept warm by snorting something off a key and then…um…getting it on. They were discreet, but they definitely went past third base. Someone threw a shoe at the band, which prompted the lead singer to stop and lecture the crowd.

10. No Doubt / Blink 182 – Auburn, Washington, maybe two years ago. LOUD concert. $%#%@. The speakers were to my right, and I sat with my finger in my right ear the entire time. Didn’t like Blink 182 at all. Coveted Gwen Stefani’s body (not in a lustful way, I just wish I was in as good a shape)

11. Shania Twain – Seattle, Washington, several days after the No Doubt concert. Best behaved crowd I’ve ever seen at a large concert. After the concert, we walked back to our hotel down on the water. The night was warm and humid and felt full of possibilities.

12. 10,000 Maniacs / Camper Van Beethoven – Greek Theater, Berkely, California, late 1980’s. First ticket I ever bought through BASS tickets. We had to park fourteen blocks from campus. 10,000 Maniacs were a last minute substitution for the normal opening band. I liked the Maniacs better than the Campers.

13. Richard Marx – Again, I was in high school, and he was cool.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

From the comments:

1. Janie Hickok Siess

2. John Holland

3. Rashenbo

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Most Amazing Rescue

This is the most amazing dog-as-rescuer story I have ever read. I am continually amazed at the love and dedication that animals are capable of.

[Found this link at Holly Lisle's blog.]

Sunday, January 14, 2007

3 x 3

Just a quick post tonight. I was cleaning out my bookshelves, drawers, and boxes of books that have accumulated over the years, and that got me thinking. I've posted before about books I don't like. But I haven't said much about books I do like. So here are some:

By Lynn Viehl:

"If Angels Burn"
"Private Demon"
"Dark Need"

Tales of the Darkyn, vampire bad boys, and the women who can’t resist them.

By Holly Lisle:

"Midnight Rain"
"Last Girl Dancing"
"I See You"

Not a series, but three paranormal suspense/romance books (warning, they've got a bit of violence in them, so casual romance readers may not like them).

By Stephanie Feagan:

"Show Her the Money"
"She’s On the Money "
"Run for the Money"

Silhouette Bombshell series about a crime solving CPA named Whitney “Pink” Pearl and the two men who love her.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Deep Freeze

I turned the Weather Channel on as soon as I got up this morning, hoping that the weatherman on last night's newscast was mistaken about the coming arctic front. Well, he was only a little wrong. It wasn't -8 F. It was only -3 F. Damn.

My poor dog doesn't have thick coat (he's a hound/pointer mix), and he ran outside this morning, did his business, and was back inside in less than a minute. I know how he feels. I'm not a winter person. I don't like winter sports.

I truly truly suck at downhill skiing. I tried it once, with my sister for an instructor, but I gave up after a one day because the bunny slope proved to be too much. I wiped out a lot going down the slope (I have good balance, really I do), and the tow rope just about did me in bringing me back up the slope. I mastered snowplowing that afternoon, but that's about it. The only people having a harder time than me that day were two grade school kids on snow boards. But at least they seemed to be enjoying the experience. Now that I have a bad knee, downhill is absolutely out of the question.

The only plus side to the biting cold is that the cloud cover has broken up. The sun is shining, and the sky is a beautiful shade of light baby blue. Not bad for a Friday.

Writing update: About 1000 words into my current short story. Only behind my goal by 500 words.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - #1

[Reposting because Blogger ate my post]

In their own words, the Thursday Thirteen “is a blog meme with one purpose - to get to know bloggers better. Thirteen is the magic number - because Thursday Thirty is too many!” If you wish to participate, you can get more info at the Thursday Thirteen FAQ page. Scroll down to Meme Questions.

So here is my first edition of this. Today’s list is thirteen things that annoy me (‘cause it’s been that kind of week):

1. Smoking. Recently, the restaurants around here were required to become 100% “No Smoking” (Yay!). Many of the restaurants I like have outdoor seating, and on warm days, my friends and I like to take advantage of that. Unfortunately, the “No Smoking” doesn’t apply to the outdoor seating. The smokers sit right next to us and light up, thus ruining the best seating.

2. Hypocrisy. Intellectual tom-foolery. Enough said.

3. Someone repeatedly mispronouncing words. A good friend of mine does this when he says “sup-pos-ab-ly” instead of “sup-pos-ed-ly” and “jew-ler-y” instead of “jew-el-ry”. I want to correct him, but since it would annoy me if someone constantly harped on my speech, I keep my mouth shut.

4. Writers who claim that spelling and grammar don’t matter, that it’s the story that counts. Good grief! If you love language enough to want to be a serious writer, then you should love it enough to want to know how to wield it properly.

5. Movies that hit you over the head with “moral of the story”. Movies like this don’t consider the viewer smart enough to “get” the point from watching the story unfold. They have a character flat out tell you.

6. People who drive 5 miles an hour below the speed limit in the fast lane while passing someone who driving 6 miles an hour below the speed limit in the right lane.

7. My neighbors, who have recently decided to part in front of my house instead of their own.

8. Someone buying the last cranberry bagel from the bakery before I get there in the morning.

9. Spam. This morning in my work e-mail were 38 messages, 35 of which were spam. And that’s with the spam filter working.

10. When I tell one of my co-workers something and five minutes later, he asks me a question, the answer to which he would already have known if he had listened to what I told him five minutes earlier. (Diagram that sentence. I dare you.)

11. Hillary Clinton’s voice. Shrill and shrewish.

12. 99% of rap music. The message stinks.

13. Below zero weather!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

From the comments:

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Behind on Writing and What Makes a Bad Boss

I picked a bad week to start my new writing plan. In addition to working a full-time job, I am also teaching evening classes Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week. I got home last night around 9:00 p.m. and, after making dinner and taking the dog for a quick walk, I had absolutely no energy to write. I suspect that the same will happen tonight, so I'm going to count today's post against my 500 words. Fortunately, my teaching schedule will go back to two nights a week starting next week, and one of those nights, I'll only be assisting--which means that I don't have to prepare lessons. Yippee!!

In a complete non sequitor...I watched the season premiere of "The Apprentice, Season 6" Sunday night. I've worked in a business environment for (oh gosh, has it really been...) sixteen years now. I've worked with Type A people, Type B people, passive-aggressive people, neurotic and co-dependent people, and, of course, nice people. I think I've learned something about being both a leader and a team player.

So, call me petty, but it amuses me to see a group of Type A, twenty-something, wanna-be business tycoons try to work together to accomplish a goal. Every episode of the show, two team leaders are chosen. The teams are assigned a project - renovate a house, run a car wash, etc. -- and the team who makes the most money wins. Simple, right? Not when the team members all want to be the leader. That's half the entertainment value of the show.

This year's group seems to be better than past years', and in fact, one of the two team leaders in the premiere episode struck me as a well-adjusted and practical woman -- at least from what I've seen so far. The other team leader -- a man named Frank -- will be the source of much amusement for as long as he lasts. His profession is listed as "project manager". Rather non-specific. Anyway, Frank's style of leadership is yelling at everyone in a loud, screechy, almost cartoonish voice. No motivational words. No attempting to form the group into a cohesive unit that works together. Just him telling people what to do in a loud voice.

[As an aside, the funniest moment of the whole show was when Donald Trump's daughter announced that the team led by the woman (Heidi?) had won. The camera caught Frank's initial reaction. He shook his head and pursed his lips like he had just eaten a lemon.]

Frank also likes to talk over other people, and watching him try to defend himself and blame another member of his team for the team's failure was priceless. He wouldn't let the other man, who was more soft-spoken, get a word in edgewise. If I had been in "The Boardroom", I'm afraid I would have kicked him. He was such an ass.

Next week, the teams have to design swim wear. And Frank has to be a team member rather than a leader. I'm setting the VCR now.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Publish America Follies (yes, again)

A while back, a group of professional writers got together to write a really bad book . They submitted the book, called "Atlanta Nights", to PublishAmerica, and the bottom-feeding printer quickly slurped it up.

Now it has happened again. PublishAnything has accepted "Crack of Death". Read all about it at the links provided.

[ETA: "Crack of Death" now has a web site.]

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Writing Plan for 2007

Lynn Viehl recently posted about work plans, and that got me thinking.

I need a plan for 2007. My work is hectic, and I've discovered that I work better -- or rather, I get more done in less time -- when I am under a deadline. So I'm going to give myself some deadlines for this year:

Daily: write 500 words of anything

Monthly: write and submit one short story to a decent market (no 4theluv markets).

OK, that shouldn't be too difficult.

I've already started outlining a short story that I suppose would fall under the horror genre. But it's psychological horror - no blood and guts.

Let's see how I do by the end of this week.