Friday, August 25, 2006

An Eventful Night

If you woke up with a weird, straight, 1/2-inch long cut right at the top of your forehead, that you didn't have before you went to sleep, what would you think happened? Aliens, right? Aliens came and abducted you in the middle of the night, performed their odd little brain experiments, and then dumped you back in bed?

Yeah. Um, okay, so that was my first thought. I clearly have watched too much sci-fi TV. (Yes, I know it was probably just my own fingernail, but darn it, the alien theory is more fun.)

I did have a wonderful elation-dream last night. I woke up at 3:30 and was so pleased that I could just drift right back into it. Do you have those? I wish I could remember what it was about now, but I remember very clearly the feeling of peace, of utter contentment and satisfaction. Like that moment after making love, when you kiss your husband on the cheek and allow the pure bliss to flow through you, without doubts or worries. Like the moment when your child looks up at you, unprompted, and says "I love you." Like sitting down with a cup of hot coffee and a new, waited-for book, and 2 hours to yourself.

When I have dreams like that I wake with the sensation that I've touched the otherworld somehow, made an important connection. The feeling of relaxed happiness lingers all day, just on the edges of my mind.


Oh, and note: I'm leaving on vacation tomorrow, so I might not post until Friday of next week. I will have the laptop, so I might...but then I might not. {g} Have a fun week!

Medieval Word of the Day: reaver: A robber or plunderer; a marauder, raider.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tell me about yourself

We were doing some chatting in the comments about the Myers-Briggs personality test, and our results.

I have an unhappy memory connected with Myers-Briggs, so I do a little mental cringe whenever I hear it. When I was a freshman in highschool--coming off of some difficulties in elementary school, and ready for a whole new group of people, a new start--my math teacher announced that we were going to start off the year by doing Myers-Briggs, "to get to know ourselves and each other." Fine idea, right? Except that part of this "getting to know" involved revealing our results by physically separating out for each dichotomy. We start with E/I, and there is a mass movement to the 'E' side of the room.

There was only one. other. 'I'. And the other was one of those ultimate smart math-geeky people who seems perfectly happy to never talk to anyone else. {sigh} Way to fit in!

Anyway, we did the test 4 years later, again with the same teacher, and I got the same results: INFJ/P. By that time I was rather proud of the classification, and could recognize its truth for me. But it still rankles.

It was interesting that several people popped up in the comments column as INFJs, INFPs, or even both like me. Wow! It's supposed to be only 1% of the population for each type! But...ahem...look at the description for INFJ (from the "Personality Test Center" website, linked to below):

INFJ: "Author". Strong drive and enjoyment to help others. Complex personality. 1% of the total population. These are serious students and workers who really want to contribute. They are private and easily hurt. They make good spouses, but tend to be physically reserved. People often think they are psychic. They make good therapists, general practitioners, ministers, and so on.

"Author". Yeah, baby.

I looked up the Myers-Briggs tests this morning, and was surprised to see that the real one is not only NOT free, but expensive--up to $170 at some places. However, there's an approximation test at the Personality Test Center, for your enjoyment--either for a re-take or for the first time.

You can also learn a lot more about Myers-Briggs at the Wikipedia article. (It IS Wikipedia, so take it with a shaker of salt, but this one seems more well-researched than most.)

Please do comment if you take the test, or you have an experience with it. It appears to be self-analysis week!

Gotta run now, I have my first grad school class this morning!

Medieval Word of the Day: smoterly: Besmirched in reputation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Color me...

I'm sitting here happily eating radishes and salt (yes, it's the salt that appeals, I admit it) and listening to the Coffehouse internet radio station. I've gotten a lot of work done already this morning, so time for a brief Blogger break.

Continuing in the self-analysis vein, here's another quirk that I wonder about. I assume it's not uncommon, but who knows? You tell me.

I am greatly affected by color.

Not actual clothes so much as other environmental influences, things I stare at or work with all the time. My desktop, my browser. My planner. Post-it notes. My pen. If these things are bright, appealing colors, it cheers me, even when I'm depressed. Even better is when I can change these colors on a regular basis. I update the Yahoo color template often, and download funky Firefox themes. I love pictures too--webshots is my friend for photogenic desktop shots of castles, beaches, Bringing beauty to the everyday workspace.

(This is why I love our Mac. Apple understands this urge in me, and caters to it. {s})

I also have my wall at work plastered with drawings and paintings my daughter has done--they explode with multi-layered color, and they always make me smile.

When I was little I was quite happy to sit for hours with the 72-color box of Crayola crayons, organizing them. It was clear to me that this color needed to be next to that one, to create a spectrum that was pleasing to the eye...

So what is this? Color freakiness? Color sensitivity? Anybody else strongly affected by color, or is it something else, like music, that changes your mood?

Medieval Word of the Day: significavit: A form of writ employed in ecclesiastical cases; spec. one formerly issued by Chancery for the arrest of an excommunicated person; also, the bishop's certificate on which such a writ is based.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It's all about me

I had a 3-hour business meeting yesterday, so no time to blog. Barely time to think! However, as per my usual, other than blogging I was quite productive. How annoying to find out that I really do have to be busy to get things done.

I sometimes wonder what life is like for people who are not so...self-reflective. Ever since I can remember I have analyzed myself, my actions, my thoughts. Comparing them to other people, comparing them as I changed. Trying to discern trends, patterns, to figure myself out. I even was a psych major for a while, but thank goodness I quickly realized that wasn't healthy (when I started to self-diagnose horrible things like schizophrenia or paranoia after one semester, it was a sign; I quickly switched to English).

Unless I'm wrong, not everybody thinks this much. Most of you do, of course, because you're either writers or avid readers, but it seems to me that many people just live. Sometimes I wish I could do that.

Anyway, I'm not woe-is-meing. I'm quite happy at the moment. I wrote 600 new words on Saturday (yay), and plan to continue that scene today. It's amazing what happened when I said "Oh, all right, go ahead, have sex if you want to. I can re-work everything else, or take it out later if it doesn't work." {eg}

I'm also waiting (not patiently) for my transcript to come, which will complete my grad school application package so I can register. Classes start Thursday.

Oh, and we're going to San Diego for a 5-day vacation on Saturday. Woo-hooooo!

Medieval Word of the Day: primer: A name for prayer-books or devotional manuals for the use of the laity, used in England before, and for some time after, the Reformation.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Figuring It Out

Go see Sara's discussion on voice. She covered it much more coherently and completely than I did.

Yesterday I decided to take a blog vacation day. This was a good thing, since I was still feeling all petulant and weird about writing. Even though I'm supposed to be taking a "writing break" I have not stopped worrying about it. I try to read THE ILLUMINATOR to relax, and all I think is "oooh, why don't my characters do THAT?" Or "that description was much better than mine of the same thing" or "I really should consider the opening differently". Kreek had to slap me to get me to stop.

She also helped me in another way--as my good writer friends so often do--by making me face up to something I knew already, but didn't want to admit. I've been holding back an eentsy bit sometimes in my writing. It's there in the first 30 pages or so of TMT, and it's been there in the first bits of Book 2 that I've been working on. This is part of why progress was so slow. I wrote the first scene all out, quickly, and then I just started crawling along, picking my steps very carefully. Because I so want this book to be RIGHT, you see. I want it to be all that I didn't quite manage with TMT, or that I wanted to do better. But the problem is that I don't know what's right for Book 2 yet--I don't even know the characters! And this is the bloody First Draft. I need to let go, be free to write down whatever the hell I want and let it sit there for a while, instead of panicking over each word choice. That's what I was doing. I was sifting and sifting and sifting through what I had, then inching forward, instead of letting the imagination go.

Next revelation? I might just have to do this one in chunks, because I don't know that I can write Isabella-at-11 as well until I know Isabella-at-30. Plus there are some oh-so-good scenes I already have in my head a little, and if I go in order it will be months before I can write them.

So there. New approach: kitchen sink (thanks, Vic). No restraints. Write it ALL in, no matter how stupid it sounds to me at first. Then I can also go back and slash it. I haven't really had to do that before; it might be interesting.

Medieval Word of the Day: lime-twig: A twig smeared with birdlime for catching birds.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


A rather resounding silence.

Hope you liked the story yesterday--I am just paranoid enough that the lack of any comments whatsoever makes me nervous. No, I am NOT fishing for compliments. I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, one of my writer friends was just asking about the elusive 'voice', and how to cultivate it. Sometimes us writers see the constant agent request for a "new, fresh voice" and we just panic. Is voice something that can even be created? Is it inherent to a writer, or learned? And how can we change voice when moving from one project to another, or one POV to another?

I was very pleased to see, when I re-read the story below yesterday, that the voice is completely different from that in TMT. The character is, at least to my read, completely male, and clearly Native American. His thoughts, his actions, his words and metaphors, all reflect that point of view. If I wrote that story with the same word choices as TMT, which are supposed to reflect the thoughts and actions of a young, medieval woman in England, we would have a serious voice disconnect. That would lose readers. (By the way, that story was a perfect example of the writing magic. I wrote it in 2 hours, with very, very few changes as I went along. Almost like dictation. I love it when that happens, but it is oh so rare.)

In my mind, then--and I may be wrong on this, so feel free to call me out--voice is largely a matter of being deep in the POV character. The words you use even to describe the actions of a POV character should be different from those for another character--and that culminates in voice.

However, sometimes there is a voice for the novel as a whole (or series of novels) rather than for one particular character, and I'm not sure I can define that as easily. That voice may be inherent to the writer: a certain type of chapter structure, perhaps, or a way of opening scenes. The method of handling tension and flow. These are beyond individual POV and beyond word choice.

Have you ever read a book by an author and started thinking like the book? D.H. Lawrence does this to me, and so, unfortunately, does James Joyce. (Which is why I avoid James Joyce...who wants to go around thinking like Ulysses?) That is an example of a strong book voice. It's so insistent that it pushes into your head.

Voice may well be a challenge for me with Book 2. Here we are with another young, medieval woman in almost the same time period as in TMT--yet the voice has to be different. The character is vastly different: Spanish-born, royal, warped by tragedy. Isabella is not naive as Katherine was; she didn't have a chance to be. My choice of words, of cadence, of everything will have to reflect that. Oh, and it has to be engaging, and "fresh and new" too. No problem, right? It all depends on whether I can 'hear' her or not, and whether I can capture that 'voice' on the page.

Medieval Word of the Day: pomely: Marked with rounded spots, dappled.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Storyteller

No time for a "real" post today, as I'm scrambling to pull together and submit my grad school application. {s}

But I thought I'd give you a story instead. This one was posted previously on the Writers Forum, and came to me whole in one sitting. Hopefully it's not too long for this format!

The Storyteller
Copyright Susan Adrian, 2005, All Rights Reserved

Beaver Tooth stepped carefully across the boundary of the village. Not too silent, as if he stalked a deer, nor too brash, like jumping the buffalo. He must let the scouts know he was here without seeming to attack.

It was late, far too late for uninivited visitors. Moon had already risen, throwing her pale light across the land to help him find his way. But he was cold, and hungry—no deer, rabbit, or even mouse had been willing to sacrifice its warm body to feed him these four days—and far from home. He hoped the stories were true, and this Chief a welcoming man.

A twig snapped to his right, hidden in the trees.

Beaver Tooth sighed in relief. They knew he was here, and did not threaten him. A runner would already be in the village. The Chief would already know of him.

He strode more easily now, the smooth, packed dirt of the village path a pleasant change from the rocks that had been prodding the thin soles of his moccasins. Too thin, after this long trip. When he returned, one of the women would have to replace them.

His nostrils flared with the twin scents of smoke and roasting meat, and his belly rumbled. There…yes, there was the orange flicker of a fire. The outer ring of tipis loomed before him and he stopped, hesitant. Would they not come to greet him?

After a few moments he heard the rattle of many seeds, in time with strong footsteps. The Chief, a tall, hawk-like man, walked slowly, alone, to Beaver Tooth. He wore a ceremonial welcome robe, the bright colors dulled by night, though his hair was not braided.

Beaver Tooth waited. It was not his place to speak.

The Chief stopped before him. “You seek shelter as a guest, and one of the People?”

Beaver Tooth bowed his head in assent.

“Welcome, then. You may share my fire, my meat, and the words of my Storyteller.” He smiled, and clapped both hands on Beaver Tooth’s shoulders. “We were just beginning a tale.”

They made their way through the tipis, past family fires and many eyes. Beaver Tooth was surprised he did not feel scalded by so many thoughts directed at him, but they seemed friendly, these people. It was a large village, and even their silence was confident.

The Chief led him to the central fire. There, ranged comfortably in a ring and wrapped in blankets, was the Chief’s family: three warriors, wives beside them, one with a small child at her breast. Other children sat here and there, some already drowsing. A few young girls giggled at the sight of him. One woman stood and nodded.

Beaver Tooth’s heart thudded at the sight of her.

She was clearly the Chief’s wife, her aura of power as strong or stronger than his. She wore a red-dyed deerskin dress, the skin rubbed to a supple softness he longed to touch. A fine, blue necklace hung about her throat, moving as she swallowed.

But her eyes, and her hair. Both the deepest of blacks, the dancing black of obsidian. Her hair hung loose and long, the shine purple in the firelight. Her eyes met his, full of laughter.

Beaver Tooth looked away, embarrassed that he could not hide his hunger for her. But she laughed and sat, as did the Chief. Beaver Tooth sat too, across the fire from the woman, and humbly took the bowl of roast meat and squash that was offered him. He ate slowly, as he knew he must to avoid the fasting sickness.

The Chief made a soft call for attention. “This is our guest. Tonight he will rest and eat, and share our fire. Tomorrow will be time enough to question him.”

He turned to the woman. “Storyteller, will you begin again?”

Beaver Tooth’s gaze jumped to her. Storyteller? No woman could be Storyteller; all knew that. It was like a woman being…Chief. How could a woman be trusted with the Stories?

She laughed again, black eyes seeing into his soul. She had known he would be surprised, and had waited for it.

He flushed and looked to his food, as a thought struck him. If she was Storyteller, perhaps she was not the Chief’s wife?

She took a sip of liquid from a bowl, and began.

“In the beginning, there was darkness in the Land.”

Her voice was low and rasped, as though Raven had scratched her throat. But it was right, somehow. Beaver Tooth accepted a second bowl of food and some honey-water, and settled in a blanket to listen, wary of a Story in a woman’s mouth.

“Then the Creator made Sun, and Moon. But they, like all brothers and sisters, could not agree. Who should light the Land first? When? For how long?”

She leaned closer to the fire, and shadows showed beneath her cheekbones.

“They fought and they battled. First Sun would leap into the sky, and the light would burst across the Land; then Moon would pull him down. Moon would jump up, and her whiter light would glow, showing us the stars. But Sun would knock his sister out of the way. Each wanted to be strongest. Sometimes they both tried to hold the sky at the same time. Sometimes they both hid in their anger, and the People and the Animals had no light at all. There was no night, and no day. Their crops would not grow, and they could not do their work.”

Now everyone leaned forward, Beaver Tooth too. The Storyteller’s hands moved as she told, making the magic of the Story.

“Soon the People and the Animals grew tired of this, and called a great meeting to decide what to do. Who should go and talk to Sun and Moon, and try to settle their differences?

But all, even the great warriors and stout bears, were afraid. Sun and Moon were great beings. Would they listen? Or would they cast the spokesmen into the Great Darkness?

Finally, two brave souls volunteered for the journey: a young girl, her child-name Otter, and a Fox.

Otter wanted the day so she could play in the river, her best joy. As it was, she would just begin to play, sliding and splashing, when Sun would go away and plunge her into darkness. Otter hated having to pick her way out of the river in the dark.

Fox wanted the night so he could hunt. As it was, he would just be ready to pounce on Goose…or Duck, or Mouse…when Sun would pop into the sky, alerting his prey and ruining his meal. Fox hated going hungry.”

The Storyteller paused to take another sip from her bowl, and smiled at all the eyes fixed on her.

“So they set off, Otter and Fox, on the long journey. They walked through woods and plains, over hills and through rivers. When they grew tired they rested, though often as not Sun would then be prancing, high and bright, so that they had to squeeze their eyes tight to sleep. When Moon was up they stumbled over roots and stones, but they kept on. And as they went, they made a plan.

As they traveled, they gathered food from each place. There was little enough, with the battle, but each type of land they traveled through offered its best. The woods gave berries, both tart and sweet. The rivers gave fresh fish and water-herbs. The bees in the plains gave honey. After a very long time—of course, none could know how many days, as there were no days—Otter and Fox reached the land where Sun and Moon dwell.

First, they hid their stock of food near Moon’s house. There Fox waited, while Otter went to visit Sun.

Sun lived in a beautiful roundhouse, shining with copper and gold. He accepted his visitor easily enough, as he liked to show his fine things, and his radiant self, to others. Sun was quite vain.

Otter approached him with care.

‘Yes, small one?’ Sun asked, in a high, pure voice. ‘Have you come to admire my beauty?’

She bowed her head, unable to bear his brightness. ‘Yes, Great Sun,’ she answered. ‘And to bring you a challenge from your sister, Moon.’

Sun growled. ‘She dares to challenge me again? She shall lose. What is the challenge?’

‘She asks for a race,’ said Otter. ‘Around the Earth, and back again. To begin now.’

‘Howooooo!’ Sun yelled a battle cry. ‘I will beat her!’ And he leaped into the sky, and began to race around the Earth.

At the same moment, Fox was visiting with Moon in her own roundhouse, lined with silver and gleaming blue stones.

‘I bring you a challenge from your brother, Sun,’ Fox said.

Moon narrowed her eyes. ‘What challenge?’

'A race around the Earth, and back,’ said Fox. ‘But first, I have brought you a feast, from all the lands beneath you. See, here is fish, and honey, and berries, and many sweet things to enjoy.’

And so Moon sat, for no woman can resist such a feast.”

The Storyteller paused as the laughter rippled around the fire, and raised her eyebrows to Beaver Tooth. He drew in his breath. If she were Sun or Moon, which would she be? Moon, he decided, for her dark beauty was like that creature: of the night, yet lighting it for others. She began again.

“And so Fox feasted Moon for full half a day. Then, when he saw that Sun was far enough, and darkness was falling, he told Moon the race had begun. And she, in turn, leaped into the sky and began to race.

So Fox and Otter came together, pleased with their efforts, and journeyed back to the Land. And still Sun and Moon are caught in that race, chasing around the Earth, but never catching the other. For they are two halves of the same whole, as are Man and Woman, and their speed is equal. And the People and the Animals have day, and night.”

She sat back, smiling, as the others praised the Story. Then, as the others stood and made their way to their tipis, she stretched out a hand to Beaver Tooth across the fire.

“Shall we go,” she said, in her Raven-voice, “and see who is Sun and who is Moon?”

And Beaver Tooth stood, and took her hand.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I need more!

All right, you convinced me: it is a little burnout. I'm going to take a 1-week "vacation" from works-in-progress to clear the brain. Two is too much for me, but one sounds about right. {s} And I know exactly what I will work on when I "come back"; I have a very special project that needs my attention. So, yay. Thanks to all for your support! And I'm going out to lunch today!

Now for my big news: I'm pretty darn sure that I'm going to register for Grad school for the fall, to get my master's in Technical Communication.

Why? Because I don't have enough going on with the full-time job, 4-year-old child, husband, selling one novel and writing another. I need MORE.

LOL. Well, I guess that's not really it. But it seems silly not to pursue it at this stage--I work on a university campus, and they will pay for up to 6 credits a term. Work will let me have release time to take courses. I can waive out of quite a few classes with just my work portfolio, and I can use a work project as my grad project. So I can basically get a master's for almost-free, with a fair portion of the work stuff I would be doing anyway. And it will look oh-so-nice on my resume. {g}

Plus? I do so love challenges, and I work better under pressure. Sad, but true.

Medieval Word of the Day: recche: To tell, narrate, say.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Yesterday we generated quite a bit of excellent discussion about what fiction should be: deep or entertainment? Fortunately the consensus seems to be that we need both around, AND that everyone takes something different from a story. What's deep and meaningful for one person is fluff for another, and vice versa.

Thank goodness for diversity.

I feel like ranting about something, but since the true target of my dissatisfaction is work politics (*&$%#), it wouldn't really be fair to just pick a random subject merely to vent. So instead I'll go for honesty today.

I seem to have temporarily fallen off the work bandwagon. For a couple years there I was doing really well with persistence, and schedule; I worked every lunch-but-one during the week no matter what, and crammed it in elsewhere when I could. But for the past couple of weeks I've been guilty of doing exactly what I often rant about: talking about writing, even thinking about it, but not actually doing it.

I'm not sure what my problem is. Well, if I analyze I think there are several: I am struggling to get into writing an all-new book for the first time in oh, about 6 years; the submission process is not going as well as I'd hoped, so I'm feeling a little down about writing; and it's beautiful weather outside (our 4 weeks or so of beautiful weather), and my husband seems perfectly willing to indulge me in meeting up and going out to nice lunches several times a week. So I have written maybe 500 words this week, which is AWFUL. {groan}

I know, I know. I am the queen of getting on other people who slack, and here I am. "My name is Susan, and I am a slacker..."

But. At least I'm finally aware of what I'm doing, which is Step 1. Yes, I am going out to a nice lunch in the sun again today. But next week I am dragging out the chains, and chaining myself to my desk every day-but-one. I will re-gain my work ethic!

Medieval Word of the Day: hell-hound: A fiend; a fiendish person: as a term of execration.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I was having a discussion yesterday with someone who was claiming that in order for fiction to have value, it must have deeper meaning. The reader must be able to not only relate to the characters, but recognize themselves and the human condition in them. More, to have real, lasting worth, fiction should try to show something "new", at least a new take, on the world and people. That without this, fiction is "empty" and "mind candy", a recitation of events.

I argued that it's great for fiction to try for this--at least some types of fiction--but that it's absolutely not necessary to have deeper revelations about humanity in order to be valuable. That sometimes it's enough just to have a good STORY.

But I wonder if the arguer is right in one sense--that the books that stand through time, that we still go back to and re-read in spite of the decades or centuries that have passed since they were written DO include a true reflection of life, and possibly also new thoughts about living. Or maybe this is what makes great books great--that the characters are real because they reflect the complexities of people.

What do you think? Does fiction need to strive for the deeper, richer, truer vision of life to succeed? Or are you attracted also by fiction that tells a story, more simply?

Medieval Word of the Day: sye: To sink, fall, descend (lit. and fig.); to collapse.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

In Memory of Nana

My grandmother passed away early this morning.

Dorothy Bertram Caward was an absolute kick, all of her life. She didn't really care what other people thought—she did what she knew was right, and she did what she wanted to do. She said what came into her head and damn the consequences. (And yes, she said damn.)

She also embraced life every day, with vigor. She got up early, because she didn't want to waste the day. She always tried new foods, and encouraged us to do the same ("How can you say you don't like it if you haven't tried it?" still rings in my head). She loved cottage cheese on pancakes and salt and pepper in buttermilk.

Her favorite color was orange—probably because it was one of the colors of her baseball team, the San Francisco Giants. They were only surpassed in her affections by her football team, the San Francisco 49'ers. Oh, she was passionate about sports. Many's the time I sat on the back bed with her while she argued with the TV, shaking her fists and rattling all her bracelets. But she also loved bridge, and earned her master's certificate (she was quite proud of that; it hung on the wall above the dining room table). And she was an excellent cook. She made the best chocolate pie I've ever tasted, or probably ever will.

She was only 5' tall, but you'd never know it for all the energy she had; she filled up the room. She loved people, all people. When we went anywhere with her she'd either see someone she knew—and stop to chat—or make new friends: with the waitress, the clerk, the child in the next booth. She was always waving or smiling or calling out hellos.

She was stricken with Alzheimer's at the end of her life, but even without her memories she still loved to interact with people. Almost to the end she was vivacious and positive.

To me, she was "Nana". I loved her deeply. I was very lucky to have her in my life, and she will be missed.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Rejected, not Dejected

Rejection sucks.

Well, there's a deep and insightful statement, eh? New ground being broken right here, folks!


I'm feeling a little bruised and battered this week. I won't go into details, but a couple of agents I had very high hopes for--meaning they'd requested materials from me within only a couple of days of query, and my stuff fit their profiles--well, they didn't pan out. Surprise, surprise, I will not be an instant success story after all, and the work is not over.

Yes, I know this is NOT a surprise. Instant successes are rare. First-time successes are rare. Nobody wins a free pass. (This knowledge didn't stop me from hoping, however. But still.)

I moped for my allowed day, and I think I'll just be irritable about it for a day more. {g} But now it's time to get back to the drawing board--back to my keyboard. Back to work.

I am so grateful that I have kick-ass writer friends who support me, who tell me what's wrong when something is, and send me virtual hugs when I need them. Who tell me, even though none of us believe it, that those agents will be sorry eventually. Who remind me, and we DO believe it, that those agents weren't right for me or my work anyway. Thank you to them. And yes, I'll go get back to work now.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Last night Child went down the waterslide by herself.

She's been on it with me maybe 50 times; she wears her life jacket and sits on my legs. At the end I hold her up so she won't get water in her mouth and nose in the big splash. But she's 4 1/2, and on an independence streak lately. She wants to make breakfast herself, water the plants herself, order at restaurants by herself...(my husband asked her, jokingly, if she would like to drive home. She said "I can't reach the pedals." He responded, "But what if you could reach them; would you drive home?" Her: "Sure, I've watched you do it.")

So here we are at the top of the slide, a line of wet teenagers behind us. She's holding my hand, waiting her turn, but she's not nervous. She has her life jacket on, she knows what to do. I'm petrified.

(What if she gets stuck? What if she bangs into the side and cuts herself? What if she panics in the enclosed space by herself and...) And what? All unlikely. She's never gotten stuck before. I've banged myself once, but only once. Her daddy is waiting for her at the bottom, I'm here at the top. There are lifeguards. It's perfectly safe.

We're next. I set her, my perfect, bright little girl in her flowered bathing suit, into the bubbling water. I wave out the window to her daddy, and kiss her on top of the head. She gives me that grin, the one where she's so proud of herself she could burst. She'll be safe she'll be safe she'll be safe she'll be fine she'll be fine she's fine.

The buzzer goes and I push her back gently, and then she is gone, washing away down the slide. I can't see her anymore; from the first curve she's hidden from me. I peer from the fogged little window, waiting for a sight of her at the bottom. It seems a long time, longer than usual. The lifeguard is watching too, her hand on the buzzer.

And there she is. In a whoosh she flies out from the end, right into her daddy's arms. The buzzer sounds and it's my turn. I slip down the slide. I had wanted this, to ride by myself, to be able to ride on my back and go fast. But now all I want is to have my baby back with me. At the end they're waiting, the two of them, with a tale of her ride--she had lost her balance, flipped over, come out feet first on her belly, backward. But she made it.

"Was it fun?" I asked. "Did you like it?"

She smiled. "Not as much fun. I think I'm too small to balance it right by myself."

I smiled back, relieved. She'd tried it, she'd made it--yay for her!--but decided on her own that she still needed me. She wasn't quite ready for the world on her own yet.

Then she drifted over to the sweet spot in the pool, where the hot water bubbles up from the spring. "Look at me," she said giddily. "I'm basking in the fizzy water."

I knew, even at that moment, that this is what life is like, that there are lessons here. You have to let your children go, you have to push them down the slide out of sight. You have to trust them, and then wait helplessly to make sure they're okay. Sometime soon she won't want to ride with me anymore, and I will be able to ride it by myself as much as I want. Be careful what you wish for. But most of all, that there will always be that moment, if you're lucky, when after trying and maybe not-quite-succeeding to your expectations, you can get a hug, and then bask in the fizzy water.

Medieval Word of the Day: bask: To bathe, especially in warm water or liquid, and so transf. to be suffused with, or swim in, blood, etc. Obs.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday Game Day

Happy Friday!

Yesterday's post about personal themes really got me thinking. I love delving into questions like that, the deeper layer of why we do what we do. (okay, you got me, I did start out as a psych major. {g})

So some of you came up with your themes already. Excellent! For those, you can still play along today and see how well you fit. For the others, let's do a game to start to figure it out, if you're up to it! Kreek and I did this yesterday, and it was kinda fun.

The Game (What's My Theme):

1. List 5 of your favorite movies. From any era, the ones you would willingly watch over and over and over.
2. List 5 of your favorite books from childhood. These should be ones you treasure, those that really meant something to you.
3. Look at the lists, and try to see a theme.
4. I'll look at the lists, and see if I see a theme as well--the same or different. {s}

Ready? Play!

Medieval Word of the Day: sturme: a. Of the weather: To storm, rage. b. To cry out loudly.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

It's a Theme Thang

What a very odd week. My mom had dental surgery on Monday, and has been having some trouble since--she hasn't been up to taking Child back during the days. So hubby and I are taking sick days, splitting days (he works half and I work half), going in early to make up time...I got here before 7 this morning, and will leave around 11:30. Half a day catching everything up and half playing Angelina Ballerina. {shaking head} (BTW--I stopped by the donut shop on my way into work this morning and it was CLOSED. What's up with that? Aren't donut shops supposed to open at 5 or something?)

This morning I would really, really like to just go sit down somewhere quiet and finish reading Harry Potter. I got to a Big Scene last night where something horrible supposedly happened, and I would like to Know More (look at all those capitals, Vic). This is what good fiction does for you. It sucks you in and interferes with the rest of your life, twitching into your thoughts at random moments, making you daydream about exactly what will happen next.

The reason I started reading the Harry Potter books, though, wasn't really because I knew they'd be good, but because the first one was a perfect example of My Favorite Theme.

What? Y'all don't have a favorite theme? Sure you do. If you aren't aware of it already, you just have to find it. Mine is pretty clear, has been since childhood, and fortunately is very well represented in fiction and film:

Individual (often child or teen) finds out that they are not the normal, everday person they had been raised to believe. Oh, no. They are magical/royal/the chosen one/fated to face great challenge and overcome obstacles and change the world. Yeah, that one.

This theme comes up over and over, in everything from King Arthur to Harry to The Dark is Rising to the Princess Diaries. I suspect it's universal, and has been around since stories have. Doesn't every child secretly believe, or wish, that their mundane life is not their REAL one? That someday they too will be tapped on the shoulder and find out about their dramatic, fated past, their true quest? Somehow that theme has stuck with me, and I still absolutely love to relive it. Nearly all of my favorite all-time books fit the theme. I have been known to watch otherwise average movies or {gasp} TV shows (yup, Dark Angel) because they fit the theme. I can't help myself.

TMT does not, surprisingly, fit the theme. Nor does Book 2, I think. Though maybe someday I'll write a YA that does. {s}

How about you? What are your favorite themes? What kind of story do you like to hear, over and over?

Medieval Word of the Day: speer (Scot and North): To put a question or questions; to make inquiries; to ask.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Wait


I am so not good at waiting. I get itchy, wanting action, wanting to be able to do something to affect the outcome. Unfortunately, waiting with at least apparent patience is largely what this stage of the query process is--I have a fair bunch of possibilities, both queries and partials, Out There still, so it's not time to send more yet. I've read Miss Snark; I wouldn't dream of sending nudges. All I can do for TMT, all, is check my email regularly and think positive thoughts.


That's not a lack of positive thoughts, that's just frustration. {s}

I know, you blithely respond "Work on Book 2! That's your action!" Yeah. I would say the same thing to you at this stage. And I AM working on Book 2, and I'm excited about it. But what I didn't realize when I was saying that to people? It's kinda like saying, "I know your first child is out in the ocean by herself, in a rough storm, without any kind of boat or even lifevest. But hey, you can't do anything about it, so why don't you just sit down quietly here and play with your second child?"

Doesn't sound quite so easy when it's put like that, does it?

Anyway, enough whining for today. I'll work on Book 2, I'll check my email. I'll wait. Patiently.

Medieval Word of the Day: quide: A will, legacy, bequest.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Sorry, not much in the ol' brain today in terms of interesting things to talk about. I promise to get back on the horse tomorrow. Today seems to be full of shopping and playing with Child, cooking (mmm, lamb with mint jelly and fresh cucumber salad), drinking coffee, and reading Harry Potter. Maybe I'll go work on my garden scene before I read the Harry so I don't get too lazy. Hum.

But I would not leave you without a:

Medieval Word of the Day: iseli: Happy, fortunate, prosperous.