Dreaming of Mice

And now, for a brief moment of randomness…

Last night I slept with my bedroom window open, for two reasons.  One, it’s finally cool enough in the evenings here in Texas to get away with it.  Two, my a/c was non-functional, which made it somewhat necessary.  (Thanks for your concern; it’s working again now.)

I like to sleep with my window open, except for a few problems.  I don’t fall asleep well unless it is dark in my room.  Having the window open of necessity means having the curtain pulled to one side, which allows the light from outside to flood into my space.  Unfamiliar sounds wake me up in the middle of the night, and these also intrude when the window is raised.  I’ve figured out how to adapt to these situations, for the sake of a cool breeze while I am sleeping.

Last night I had a strange dream, which I also attribute to the open window.  I dreamt that mice had climbed in the window and were running around my cluttered (in the dream – not in real life) bedroom, playing with my dirty laundry and bothering my dog.  They didn’t bother me, but I didn’t particularly want them in my house, either.

There is a surfeit of research and theories about the meanings of dreams; I’m not sure I care what the mice meant.  I just hope that tonight, when I leave my window open again, I will have pleasant, relaxing dreams that I can’t remember when I wake up.  🙂

Pseudonym Dilemma

As I have explained before, Leigh Townsend is my pseudonym.  Now that I’m jumping back into the publishing quest, I have a small dilemma.

Do I write my query letters as though I am Leigh Townsend?  Or do write with my real name, and find somewhere in the letter to say that I use a pseudonym when writing?

When legal or money stuff is eventually involved, I’ll have to use my legal name.  I’m just not sure when I need to bring it up.

Any suggestions?

Resources and Research

Fantasy may be set in a location straight from the author’s imagination, but there are still times when a little research goes a long way.  The right resources and a tiny influx of information can make it easier to write a section and give it a more authentic feel, all in one fell swoop.

That happened to me tonight.  I had to pull out some research for the next section (I wrote) of Burden.  (It’s actually part 7, so you’ll have to wait a little to see the fruits of my labor.)  Three resources served me well tonight, although one of them is not as “legitimate” as the others.

The illegitimate resource I am referring to is Wikipedia.  One of my bosses hates that website, and I am a little ashamed to admit that I used it tonight.  In my defense, however, it is a great place to quickly find info that might not be readily available elsewhere.  For example:  medieval dog breeds that are now extinct.  The page I linked as an example references a dictionary and three 15th and 16th century books, none of which I have at hand.  🙂

 I also used the great kids’ book Till Year’s Good End by W. Nikola-Lisa, which has awesome information about the seasonal tasks of medieval peasants.  I haved a signed copy (thanks, Mom) that I have referred to more than once in the process of writing.  I also briefly reviewed weaponry in The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference.  This last book has not quite lived up to its claim of completeness, but it does come in handy from time to time.

It’s getting interesting to blog here about the story I’m posting elsewhere, as I am starting to get quite a bit ahead of what you can read.  Perhaps I should get my rear in gear and send some queries, so I can write about that instead.  🙂

Writing Out of Order

Books have a certain order (usually chronologic, although not always) but authors will tell you that they don’t always write in any particular order.

I try to stick to the next section or the next chapter when writing, but that is not always possible.  In writing Butterflies I discovered the need for a character after passing the best place to introduce her, so I went back and added a chapter. (For an ‘afterthought’ character, she turned out to be one of my favorites – but that’s a different story!)   To start the novel I wrote several scenes from various points in the three main characters’ lives and then went back and put them in a logical progresson.  I also like to write down major scenes when they occur to me, even if they come quite a bit later in the story.  I know they’re coming, so I might as well record them when they are fresh.  Of course, the scenes end up edited later, but at least the basic structure is there.

This happened today with Burden, my serial short story on Serial Central.  (You are reading my short story, right?)  I insisted to myself that this afternoon I had to work on the story.  I’m trying to build a routine: home, walk the dog, watch Fetch, shower, write, dinner.  This afternoon my brain complied with the required creativity, but not in the way I expected. 

If you’ve been reading Burden, you know that in this week’s section (part 5), I included a tantalizing tidbit from Caetlyn’s history.  I’ve already gotten comments asking to know this back story of the main character, and I’ve figured out the best moment in the tale to share it.  At this point you can probably guess what my brain worked on today – the part (several sections ahead!) where Caetlyn’s story is revealed. 

I wrote it down, and took the opportunity to (vaguely) outline the rest of the story.  I’m not going to reveal any of it here, though – you’ll just have to be patient, and keep reading.  🙂

Another little teaser

If you haven’t yet, you can read the next section of Burden of Knowledge on Serial Central today.  And here is a little teaser for next week’s section! 

I’m planning to get a few weeks ahead on the story.  Do you like the early teasers?  Or should I just let you wait for the next installment?

          “Gesturing the Guard to sit on a graceful couch, Lord Vaux took a seat in a chair near the wall.  Caetlyn was trained to think defensively, and as she sat she noted that his was the only seat with its back to a wall.  Settling into the chair, the spymaster asked, “What brings you to visit me today, soldier?””

A Little Teaser

I’ve gotten the next two pieces of Burden finished, and I’ll get them scheduled to post soon.  For now, here is a teaser for tomorrow’s section, and tomorrow I’ll post a teaser of the next one.  🙂

“While the conversation continued, the Guardswoman watched him surreptitiously.  He looked increasingly familiar, but she couldn’t place him.  Clearly, the father was a key player in James and Mara’s plot.  Caetlyn wished she could remember the boy’s identity, but the harder she thought about it the more it slipped from her grasp.”

Writing Practice

She blinked, the image before her vanishing.  Near where it had stood a few leaves moved, but otherwise the forest was still.  She took a deep breath, trying to ground herself once again.  The rich smell of loam and rain filled her nose.  The dark soil was soft and cool on her bare feet.  With dusk falling, color began to leach from the woods.  Trees, leaves, ground cover all took on a soft blue-gray shade.  At a distance she could hear the soft sounds of birds settling in to roost for the night and the first chirps and peeps of tree frogs warming up for their nightly serenade.  A light breeze danced down the path, carrying a hint of the sharp scent she expected.  Walking carefully, she spotted the faint tracks in the path that proved she hadn’t imagined it.  Crouching, she found another track near the verge of the trail.  Silently she slipped through the green barrier at the edge of the path and continued to stalk her prey.

Developing a Routine

I am finally (mostly) setttled in my new apartment, so now it’s time to start developing a routine.

I’ve established a couple already, mostly related to my dog.  I have to walk him at least two, usually three, times a day unless I want to clean up an accident.  Those times are pretty much set.  I’ve also got a kids’ show on PBS that I now make it home in time to watch.  I wouldn’t call it a routine, so much as if I’m home and not busy I turn it on.  🙂  I know my friend Kelly will ask: it’s Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman. 

One habit that I want to develop is a writing time.  I’ve managed to keep up with the (nearly) daily posts here, but the times that I post are fairly scattershot.  Starting next week I’ll try to set a time that I blog and write.  Maybe if it becomes enough of a habit my brain will kick in the creative juices at exactly the right time.  (That’s the advice that the authors who write about writing give you, and it goes along with another favorite of Kelly’s.  “Fake it ’til you make it.”)  I’ll let you know how it works out.

I “wrote” in the swimming pool today – remember, I create story away from the computer – so I’m planning to work on another section of Burden once I am finished here.  A draft of next week’s section is already written; this will be the following week’s section.  Look at me getting ahead of schedule!  I hope you’re enjoying the story, even if you haven’t read Butterflies. 

Now I just need to start querying again…  *gulp*

Shared Enjoyment

What is it about a good book that makes you want to share?

Okay, maybe a re-phrase: What is it about a book you enjoy that makes you want to share?  It doesn’t really have to be good, as long as you liked it.

I have a friend who lent me the first two Ursula K. LeGuin books.  Today she asked if I wanted the third one, and was so excited when I said yes!  My mom has probably passed her copy of my manuscript around to more people than I have, and I don’t think it’s just parental pride.  (Maybe I’m wrong – she can comment to correct, if needed. 🙂 )  And I know that I have cornered people to talk about a book I liked if I know they read it, too.

Perhaps it is the concept of a shared experience, even if it isn’t truly shared.  When you encounter another reader, you can discuss the gossip, the characters, the action – the details of a fictional place that you’ve both visited.  Here is the interesting part: reading is primarily an individual activity.  Yet through discussion, lending of books, and recommendations, we make it into a shared experience.  How cool is that?

Inconsistencies and Disappointment

I finished re-reading a book yesterday that I thoroughly enjoyed the first time through.  I even own the entire trilogy, and kept it, which is saying something.  So, having rediscovered it while moving, I chose to enjoy it again.

Unfortunately, I have become a writer since I read it the first time. 

Apparently I am now much more critical than I was before.  Perhaps I just notice more details, now that I focus on them in my own stories.  My tolerance threshold is definitely lower than before.

First, though this wasn’t a red-pen book – you know the type, so riddled with spelling and grammar errors that you are just itching to attack it with a red pen – it had a nearly unacceptable level of awkwardly-worded sentences and paragraphs with repeated words.  Did we really need two sentences in a row to end with “in the stream?”  Couldn’t the character “pass” something instead of using the word “hand” twice in one phrase?  This demonstrates it; I’ve clearly become too picky.  (This is also why I won’t read Twilight – too many warnings from friends that the writing is not so great.)

The other thing that now jumps out at me infuriatingly are story inconsistencies.  To be fair, I probably have some of my own that I didn’t catch.  I see them everywhere now; not just in books, but in movies, too.  But really, if you go to the trouble of saying the saddle has a hornless pommel, your main character can not later have the pommel horn jab her in the stomach.  Too picky again?

Another one that bugged me this weekend was not from the book I read, but from a movie.  Ocean’s Eleven (the Pitt/Clooney one).  I like the movie, don’t get me wrong, and I watched all three this weekend.  (Okay, I only watched Twelve to put Thirteen in the right context.  But I did watch it.)    I would give you a spoiler alert, but honestly, the movie is 9 years old.  If you’re planning to see it, you probably already have.  And if you haven’t, well, my apologies, as you may not completely understand the next paragraph.

Here is the part that bugs me: how do they get the duffels full of flyers into the vault?  You know, the ones that are supposedly full of money, that get sent up in the elevator and the security guys put into the white van?  I’ve looked for how they do it the last 3 times I’ve watched the movie – no one ever takes them down!  Yes, the majority of the team comes in as SWAT with similar duffels and takes out the money – but the bags of flyers are gone before SWAT arrives.  The only three guys in the vault when the bags appear are Ocean (Clooney), Linus (Matt Damon), and Yen (the grease man), and none of them came in with much of anything.  So where did the flyers (and their bags) come from?

And that random tirade clearly demonstrates that I am now way too picky when it comes to consistency of plot. 🙂  I just hope that I manage to live up to my own standards, at least most of the time.

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