Sunday, May 3, 2009

Are my scuba diving lessons tax deductible?

Here's my thinking on this, folks. The Secret of the Sea Witch is about a mermaid whose brother is kidnapped by (spoiler! spoiler! spoiler!). Of course, it turns out that there's MUCH more going on than that. At any rate, Marisa, our heroine, embarks on an epic voyage to find her brother. Trials. Magic. Scrying shells. Enchanted sailfish. Complicity. Pomeranians. (I LOVE Poms...had to get one in there!)

At any rate, in order to think like a mermaid and feel like a mermaid I am taking scuba lessons. Sort of cinéma vérité without the cinema. Or perhaps a better comparison is method acting...without the acting. Whatever. My point is (there's a POINT to this?) that I feel the need to do and see certain things in order to write authentically. World building is one thing. Inspiration for fantasy world building often comes from the real world (Hogwart's modeled after British boarding schools, for example. Berger's electronic inspiration boards = real images to inspire vampire fantasies.)

So...I am breathing underwater (pretty cool), moving underwater (cool...but not as easy as Jacques Cousteau made it look), and generally learning what life is like "Under the Sea" (and, with that, we can all break out into a rousing chorus of Disney songs and go to bed.) And, of course, this is because I am planning on writing the second book in the trilogy!

So? Whaddya think, folks? Are my scuba lessons tax deductible?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Submission Accomplished!

I worked on revising A Warrior Born last night until 3am and submitted it by email to Sword and Sorceress for their 24th anthology. Around 8pm tonight I got a note from the editor say she's holding it for consideration. This is good. It means the editor liked the story. But there are many reasons an editor chooses or rejects a story for publication. For example, if a famous author (someone whose inclusion in the book would mean sales) submits a long story and yours is also long, guess whose will get chosen? Or if your story touches upon a theme that they already have a story for and the other fits the editors space requirements (it's shorter/longer and they need shorter/longer) you get the idea. I tried to keep the word count down on this one because they did say that shorter stories are easier for them to publish. We shall see. case you're wondering....

A Warrior Born is about Brin Torren, a girl with no talent for magic who lives in a world where magic is the norm. She is a misfit who prefers the Old Ways of the sword and is cast out from her home when her mother catches her sneaking around to practice the discipline. A huge and terrible beast (is there any other kind?), who exists by voraciously consuming the power of magic, appears in the southern regions of her world. Is this time for Brin to prove herself? (Oh, for pete's sakes, of COURSE it is!) But, can one young girl who has never even had a sparring partner succeed against such incredible odds?

I hope I've handled the requisite formula in a unique, professional, and interesting enough manner to join some of my published colleagues. Some of the mags that take sci-fi/fantasy are a very far reach for me. S and S was just a little stretch but one I felt I might be able to achieve. If nothing else, it's good practice to leave your comfort zone!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ANOTHER one? (Is she talking about stories or adventures?)


"A Warrior Born", my latest opus, was completed last night. Another marathon "write in" where I did not leave my laptop except to answer nature's calls or pay the pizza delivery boy when he arrived with dinner. This was a short story and I managed to complete it and revise it in a day. It joins the other works on my flash drive, waiting for summer and the time to write query letters to agents so that someone besides my son, my friends, and my writers' group might share the adventures of all these people living inside me.

Speaking of adventures....this summer I go to visit an area that Marisa (the main character in my mermaid novel) might easily call home. THE FIJI ISLANDS! Yes, seven days on a liveaboard, three-masted sailboat, sea kayaking, zip lining, snorkeling, scuba diving, and god knows what else they've got planned for my "adventure cruise". I'm very excited. Bali H'ai here I come! My mother thinks I'm crazy but she doesn't realize this is ALL HER FAULT for making me watch the 1958 version of South Pacific with Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor multiple times on television when I was a kid. (Okay! I admit it! I LOVED it. I also ADORED the play on Broadway this year. I cried like a BABY when Paul Szot sang "This Nearly Was Mine".) I've always wanted to go to the South Pacific...this summer, my dream comes true!

You liiike?


Thursday, March 26, 2009



I LOVE having writer friends! Had dinner with Pat Nash and discussed my new vampire short story with her. She said ONE WORD and the brick wall I was facing with the plot collapsed. Had breakfast at Lunacon with Pauline Alama (Eye of Night). She said ONE SENTENCE and I decided to rewrite the beginning of the story I'm submitting to Sword and Sorceress.

Of course, writer friends can also create a lot of extra work! ;-)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Greetings from Lunacon!

Spending the weekend in Rye, NY at the Hilton for Lunacon. Very productive experience. I'm feeling "in my element" surrounded by authors, agents, publishers and lots of people who like to dress up in costume! Went to a Steampunk ball last night. Dragged a purple satin Victorian dress from my closet (yes, I own these things as a matter of course. Hey! You never know when you're going to be in a movie based on a book by Jane Austen!) I dressed it up with some metal and a bike chain bracelet and I thought I pulled it off well enough for last minute notice (I found out about it yesterday afternoon.)

Today I went to panels, most of which were both fun and productive. (One was fun but NOT at all productive!)  Met Lucienne Diver from the Knightsbridge Agency, Michael Kabongo from Onyx Hawke, went to a panel on publishing contracts with Jane Jewell from SFFWA and Michele Lang.

Also met Mercedes Lackey, S. C. Butler, Pauline Alama (my roomie and the excellent author of Eye of Night), Lawrence Schoen of Paper Golem Press, Dave Freer, Mary Robinette Kowal, Misty Pendragon, Michele Land, Paul Levison, Jeff Lyman, Ben Yalow, Eddie Schneider from Jabberwocky, Nathan Lilly (who started Thaumatrope), Mary Aileen Buss of AASL, Aaron Rosenberg, Josepha Sherman of Sherman Editorial Services , Alma Alexander, Neil Clarke, Robert Katz, James Chambers, Laura Anne Gilman, Sean Fodera, Lawrence M. Schoen, Michael Walsh, and more. (I also saw a painting demonstration by Donato Giancola that made me want to burn every canvas in my house and donate my paintbrushes to the Salvation Army.)

My eyes are bloodshot from lack of sleep. I've been running around all day to panels and talking, eating, and sleeping writing.

I feel at home.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


So...duh...I just realized my blog could be searched by...well, almost anyone.

I decided NOT to change that feature, that I wanted to share my erudition with the world (I'm just so magnanimous!).

Actually, I realized I haven't said anything (too) compromising yet and that if I keep personal bad habits out of the conversation, I'm probably safe.

I recall Dave Barry once saying that the writing process involved a lot of picking on your feet. YUK! Did I ever forget that? No. Did I ever DO that? (See sentence #3).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Writing School of Life

Why am I thinking of my next story only one day after I finished a rather difficult project? I was keeping up a crazy pace, writing until 2 a.m., getting up to go to work at 5, and you know the rest of it with family/work/my fifth teaching certificate/health matters and more... I should at least TRY to relax!
Writing means so much to me. It feels like such a good fit for who I am. Contrary to the outgoing nutcase that I appeared to be to certain myopic observers in the past, I don't crave a live audience. Even when I was in the entertainment industry I always preferred the jobs that were done behind the scenes...voiceovers and getting up in front of hundreds singing or acting live. Give me a camera any day. My short cable TV show stint was probably my favorite acting gig. I got to be funny in front of a camera. Stand up? Don't think I haven't thought of it but I was never able to get up the nerve.
But writing works for me. I am disciplined enough to get up every day to work on my own...I LOVE it! I pass up summer days to sit at the pc when I'm into a story. Sometimes I drag my pc to the deck just so I won't waste the fresh air and sunshine locked in the den. Then I am the most content of all because I feel that I have everything I writing, my garden, my waterfall. Even making people laugh.
All my life, all the jobs - from cabdriver to dishwasher to waitress serving chili to Johnny Cash in Nashville; the broken dreams - the time that Richard Thomas called me in for the movie part and my boss didn't tell me until closing time; the meat grinder of love, betrayal, and the years of loneliness; the insanity of travel - picking up a Mayan family in a golf cart on a dirt road in Belize, beaches in France, canoe trips down the Corobici with crocodiles, swimming with sharks in Mexico....all of this was, to me, the "school" I attended to become a writer.
Now I'm ready to graduate.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I REFUSE to have writer's block!

I laugh in the face of danger! I bungee cord jump off mountains! I achieve the impossible! And I REFUSE to have writer's block!
I don't know what came over me. Maybe SAYING I had writer's block jolted me out of it because the very IDEA is anathema to me. Writer's block is like some odd literary disease for which there is no sure fire cure. It could last days or weeks...or years! I'm too much of a control freak to live with that uncertainty. It's bad enough living with cholesterol. But writing isn't hidden deep inside the flesh. It's in the heart and mind and only God knows how many times I've torn THOSE apart. Surely a modicum of introspection, a measure of concentration and I could beat THIS monster?
So I sat and stared at a blank screen until a semi-lame idea blossomed. I went with it and it metamorphosised into a good idea, which grew into the ENDING OF THE BOOK! I'm too close to it now to state that it is an excellent idea, an excellent ending. Like my paintings, I have to step back and away for a little while before I can determine what might need tweaking.
I know I beat things to death and I will go back, reread, revise. But I can go to sleep IN PEACE now. My baby has come full term. It may not have a perfect APGAR score, it may need a bit of care, but not too intensive I think. It's out and I feel relieved.
Hmmmm....maybe it was the FORCE! Thanks, Obi Wan!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

You're My Only Hope

Finished a short story. I felt very good about that. I am really pleased with the piece. I'm waiting until Sword and Sorceress opens up for submissions again. But, when it comes to my banshee plagued heroine from Dover, time does not seem to be on Brandy's side. I've got my heroine hanging on the cliff, so to speak, (actually, she's locked in a basement) and I'm experiencing my FIRST case of writer's block. My house looks like...well, let's put it this way....if I called the police and told them I'd been robbed they'd believe me. There are thirty some odd library books I'm using to research another story I'm concocting in my brain covering every available surface in the kitchen area. I've had a lot of loose ends to catch up on...important things like not letting the 50+ foot oak trees in the back fall on my house. And doctor visits. And bridal showers. And work. And the work keeps piling up in the course I'm taking as well. It seems like every time I log in there's a new assignment, and not necessarily one I understand! Someone SHOOT ME if I EVER take another online course! I feel overwhelmed and I can't seem to focus. And, truth be told, if I had a clear idea of the finale, I'd be writing like a nut case but I'm....blocked! Help me, Obi Wan Kenobe....

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I should be in bed....

Let's illness, graduate course, squirrels in the attic (the flying variety. Who knew? I thought they were only in National Geographic, not New Jersey), overload at work. It's been a tough few weeks for writing. I've gotten one chapter completed and the aforementioned events (plus more) are sapping my creative energy. Everything from the attic is now in my great room (due to aforementioned squirrels) so I have to negotiate my way to my computer with a machete and a balancing pole. Ah, yes, this too shall pass. Just wanted to explain my absence.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's Nice to have Friends....


About a month ago, Dave Sklar, one of the writers in my sci-fi/fantasy writers' group (aptly named Writers of the Weird), introduced me to Deena Fisher from Drollerie Press during an online chat. He mentioned my banshee book and she said she'd love to see it. But, of course, there was Dublin. Then family matters came up. (Auntie is much better, thank you. My forcible intervention helped her to avoid that small medical complication called death!) At any rate, I'm currently humming along with Brandy every possible moment I'm not working, saving lives, or trying to prevent the sky from falling. Meanwhile, back at the desk, The Darkest Book on the Shelf was already completed. To sum up this long story...Deena is looking at it now. WISH ME LUCK!

And...a very appropriate THANK YOU, DAVE!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Snowed in and under....

I have not yet gotten back on track since my trip to Dublin. First I had to reconstruct my home from my son's 21st birthday party with the guys. Then, when the floors were mopped and the beer was moved off of the refrigerator shelves so that I could once again store less necessary things like milk and eggs, there was a family emergency. My 88 year old auntie had to be taken (almost forcibly) to the hospital. Once we got her there, she made a point of reminding everyone that it was her FIRST time in the hospital ever. She was loathe to break her record but I called her doctor and, when he heard of the condition of her leg, he directed her to the emergency room for admission...stat!

First crisis of the week averted and auntie nestled snugly in her bed (at 3 am!), I decided that facing 127 teenagers on 2 hours of sleep was beyond even my superpowers so I called in sick. Good thing. A half hour fire drill in the freezing cold because of a smoke bomb set off two doors down from my classroom would NOT have improved my mood!

Friday was a blur and today I had to catch up on all the details that I neglected during this tough week. It's 1 am and I'm finally done with bills, e mail, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...


Friday, January 2, 2009

Tea and no sympathy for the (unintentionally) obnoxious American...

It's easy to feel sorry for yourself when you don't feel well and you're thousands of miles from home. Three gals from London asked me to join them for an evening of drinking and watching Irish dance and I had to decline. Instead, I'm eating Jacobs Crackers and drinking Barry's classic blend tea in my room,trying to settle my stomach since my flight is tomorrow morning and right now, on level ground, I feel the need for dramamine.
The Irish days are short and the sun arcs low. I've slept three hours or less every night I've been here. Luckily, last night was the exception and I'm glad I slept well because I needed to be alert to conduct my research at the National Library of Ireland. Still, in spite of a good night's rest, I cannot tell you how many photos I took before I actually saw the sign that stated: UNAUTHORIZED PHOTOGRAPHY PROHIBITED. I also took out books without a readers' ticket. I had the application with me but no one asked to look at it and, since it was not filled in or validated, I was basically looking at books from 1748 without permission. It was only when a very stereotypical librarian in tweed came shaking fingers at some students in front of me, chastising them soundly for lack of a ticket, that I realized what I was doing. For some reason, she passed me by and I was glad of it since her demeanor brought back every fear I ever felt from year's of similar castigations by vicious Irish nuns in parochial school.
I spent a long time in the geneaology department (taking photos! Will my camera be confiscated at Dublin airport?) I'm glad I didn't see the signs. What I accomplished in five hours with photos would have been impossible to do by handwritten notes in pencil. I would have needed several days there and, with the holiday hours, I couldn't have managed that. I also took photos of the Yeats exhibit. I ASKED this time since I did not want to be "the ugly American" or obnoxious, which I am certain anyone observing me taking photos in the verboten areas must have thought I was. Photos were permitted without flash so I snapped away. I spent so much time copying a replica of an esoteric journal that it was only when a woman next to me commented in Italian that I was taking too much time that I stopped. Sometimes it sucks to be alert...and multilingual. I would have loved to have had a visual of the entire book. Yeats was fascinating and so much of what he devoted his spiritual and religious energies to fits in with the types of things I am writing. His journal was both illustration and addendum for Rosa Alchemica. The library should jump on a printing of the story (if they have the rights as I was told they do with the journal) with pictures from his journal. I guarantee it would be a money maker for them.
I hadn't had anything all day but toast when I left the library so before I went back to my room I decided to make one last stop at my FAVORITE place to eat in Dublin - LEON'S on Exchequer Street. There are three Leon's in town but I frequented the one near the end of Exchequer. Anri and Rachel were DELIGHTFUL! They got to know me by name. Anri took my card to contact me on Facebook (and I hope he does because he was fun) and Rachel hugged me Happy New Year and Bon Voyage before I left. FABULOUS food and equally fabulous people. I highly recommend the French pastries!
I have enough material now to finish Brandy's trip to Dublin. I have actually written a chapter here. I think I've stayed away from the story a bit too long though. I don't feel the same inspiration. Ah well, I think what I need is a few nights of sleep, more tea, my own bed, and a to examine a few gigabytes of photos !