Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
I’m still trying to process the events of yesterday at the Boston Marathon. Too much like 9/11 for my psyche, which immediately scrambled to “oh, fuck” and “OMG, OMG, OMG.”
- Part of me wants to bury myself in a small hole and not know.
- Part of me wants to dive deep into news stories, blog posts, commentary and wallow in the facts & reactions.
- Part of me (the more-or-less stable piece) has pulled back into “normal world” mode and, though not avoiding, is not enmeshed in all-Boston-all-the-time.
Not sure which is the healthiest or sanest, but in the practical words of Laura Anne Gilman yesterday:
Reminder: if you’re feeling echoes of past Bad Stuff, reading the news out of Boston, it’s ok to look away. You’re not letting anyone down.
She’s right. Just because I don’t look at the photos or videos from the site, I’m not a bad person. Neither are you.
I’ll focus on work today and just being alive.
Thursday, October 13th, 2011
Normally, the day before a vacation trip, I cheerfully hum the old “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go” line from Leaving on a Jet Plane. I’m a Virgo. I tend to pre-pack and prepare DAYS ahead of time.
Only today, not so much.
I do have a packing list.
I do have stuff pulled out to pack.
But for some reason or another, I’ve not packed a single item. The red and black suitcase is sitting by its lonely self in the middle of the living area of my studio apartment, empty as cicada’s husk. There’s a pile of clothes on the seat of my exercise bike, a pair of shoes on the floor next to it, nestled amongst several balled up pairs of socks.
Last night, I had every intention of packing as soon as I finished eating my yummy Thai noodle salad from Trader Joe’s. Except, it totally didn’t happen. I sat in my comfy recliner, ate my noodles and before I knew it, I was snoozing. ::facepalm::
So, instead of dropping Kit off to board this evening after work, I scrambled this morning and hauled him over to the vet and hauled myself into the workplace, trying to avoid getting drenched in the downpour.
Tonight, when I get home, I will avoid sitting down for dinner until packing round #1 is done. Then, after dinner, I’ll double check the list and make sure I’ve got all the various electronic cables/power cords/etc. that I will need for an 8 day vacation in the Big Apple.
Tomorrow, the taxi comes at eleven and I’m boarding the 1:00 train to Metropark/Iselin, where my buddy Dina will pick me up for leg one of the trip.
On Sunday, Dina & I will drive into “The City” to meet up in the early a.m. with my sis & BIL for a day at New York Comic Con. That afternoon, the sister, BIL and I check into our rental apartment (one block from Times Square!) for the balance of the week.
There will be food, fun and on Wednesday, 3rd row seats to the matinee of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying!
At some point, we’re visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art – mostly because both my sister and I were enamoured of the wonderful E.L. Konigsburg book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler.
Then 2 more days of food & fun and on Saturday, we return to our respective homes.
I’m looking forward to the adventure.
Thursday, October 6th, 2011
I posted a couple of weeks ago about my scheduled bronchoscopy. Today, I got the diagnosis: I definitely have sarcoidosis.
It’s an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation within the body. I credit my fabulous eye doctor, Dr. Nicole Teser over at the Eye Center for suspecting something more systemic than just an eye inflammation and for not giving up after my former primary care doc never followed up with me post some blood tests that indicated that this might be the case.
A lot of you know that over the past several years, I’ve been experiencing a definite lack of energy, fatigue, a lot of sinus issues, problems breathing. Well, guess what, common symptoms include:
- fatigue unchanged by sleep
- lack of energy
- aches and pains
- dry eyes
- shortness of breath
- a dry hacking cough
All of which I’ve had, in one form or another, for quite some time.
The great news is that sarcoidosis is utterly treatable. Doc’s started me on low dose inhaled steroid and I go back in 4 weeks to check in to see how that’s working.
Thanks again for all of your good wishes online and off. I feel so relieved to know what’s wrong. I can’t wait to start feeling better!
Monday, October 3rd, 2011
I confess. I hate, hate, hate summer. All that sun, surf, heat–it’s enough to drive me indoors for good. Not for me the swimming, boating, outdoorsy activities that have hordes of the rest of you pining for Memorial Day weekend.
Kind of weird considering I was born on an island. Would I have been more of a beach bunny had we remained there? Maybe. Maybe not.
All I know is that my own particular chemical makeup yearns for cool weather, the crunch of fallen leaves, the evocative scent of wood smoke from a fireplace. I pine for the sharp autumn air, the gorgeous promise of sweater weather, honeycrisp apples and hot tea (though I will admit to a fondness for summer fruits).
How did an island-born, Florida & Texas raised gal get to be a lover of autumn?
I will lay a huge portion of the credit down to reading Trixie Belden as an impressionable 10-year-old. Trixie was so awesome! Thirteen and going on adventures in the wilds of White Plains, NY. They rode horses and had this thing called “Indian Summer” (a term which I promptly looked up, but confused the heck out of me). I fell in love with this world (even more so than Nancy Drew, who, at her advanced age of 18 seemed so out of reach).
I wanted to be a Bob-White and have adventures, too. I wanted to go to White Plains (so exotic!), learn to ride English style, and eventually, I wanted to live at Crabapple Farm, have brothers and a best friend like Honey Wheeler.
Eventually, I learned to ride a horse (Western, not English). I visited my late father’s ranch (in Mexico) and never have made it to White Plains…though I’ve been several places in New York state.
Instead of living Trixie’s adventures, I write my own–and set them in the Texas Hill Country, which, in retrospect, became my version of Trixie’s world–a small town, semi-isolated from the hustle & bustle of the “real” world, populated by a close-knit group of friends and family. Yup. I got the pattern, and I owe it to Trixie and her friends.
Readers, what book(s) or stories influenced you someway in real life?
Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
So tomorrow (Friday) morning at 11, I’m scheduled for a bronchoscopy. Thanks to weirdness in my lungs and the fact that they basically work like crap (results of pulmonary function test), I get to experience a camera being shoved down my throat and into my lungs plus bonus!biopsy.
No, the I most likely do not have lung cancer. The educated guesses from both my rheumatologist & lung specialist is sarcoidosis–which answers a lot of the annoying things I’ve had wrong for several years, including iritis, sinusitis, trouble breathing and a host of fun effects. /sarcasm. (Trust me to get some weird ass disease!)
I’ve never had a chronic illness and this freaks me out a bit. I’ve already had to curtail some activity because of decreased lung function. Turns out, I wasn’t breathless and wheezing from overdoing or just being fat–my lungs really, really don’t work properly because there’s a blockage. Lung doc put me on an albuterol inhaler for a couple of weeks as during the pulmonary function test, I was given albuterol (I felt like someone in a medical TV show, sitting there with the little breathing apparatus!) and after the meds, my lungs opened up. Go figure.
So tomorrow, in order to rule out cancer and other stuff and to confirm the initial suspicion, I go to the Virginia Hospital Center, get dosed with Rohypnol (or whatever drug they are currently using for the so-called “twilight anesthesia“…I just hope there are no sparkly vampires!) and a doctor will shove a camera into my lungs, look around, and take a snippet of tissue.
I am just glad I have really good health insurance.
Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
Life continues chez Lima. Busy at the workplace.
I’m excited about the fall season. Glee was most fun last night. I’m looking forward to a bunch of season premieres, including Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Wife and Amazing Race 19.
Blood Sacrifice got a lovely review from Amberkatze. Amber’s been great, promoting the books and also helping me with the Welsh in my books. She’s totally awesome.
One thing I love about the Intarwebz is the ability to connect with, correspond with and befriend folks from all over the world. Over the years, I’ve made friends from as far away as Australia & New Zealand, from all over the US, Canada and the UK, and even from exotic places like Nepal. I’ve reconnected with family, with friends from high school and college and former coworkers.
Physically (in meat space), I tend to be a hermit (on purpose). In cyberspace, I can enjoy all these lovely friendships. And yes, it’s great to meet folks in RL, too. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting quite a few of my far-away friends/fans at cons. But cons cost money & time, and the internet is free (okay, well, I pay a connection fee which is worth every penny).
Readers, where are you from/where do you live? If you could choose a place to live, where would that be (money no object).
My dream place would be Vancouver, BC. I fell in love with the city three years ago during my birthday trip. Sadly, I don’t have Canadian residency (though that could be gotten) nor the funds (Vancouver is expensive!). But, I dream on. You never know, it could happen!
Friday, September 16th, 2011
Got my activation email from Pottermore last week and have been playing on the site on-and-off. I’ve been sorted: Hufflepuff (okay, okay, I admit it, I really wanted to be a Slytherin). I’ve got a wand: 12.5″, Pine with a dragon core, rigid. I’ve cast my first spell: Alohomora (and boy, is that tough…mostly because the directions weren’t quite so helpful).
I’m enjoying seeing the extras written by Jo Rowling: background on the Dursleys, on Minerva McGonagall and various author’s notes, including a ton of wand lore. This is kind of every author’s dreamhouse. You get to share the stuff that didn’t get published. The nifty world-building that takes up megabytes of data and otherwise, would never see the light of day.
It’s kind of like the DVD extras/easter eggs but throughout a whole site.
I can’t foresee spending a lot of time casting spells, dueling or brewing potions, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying the trip through Book 1 (via the interactive areas) and discovering the notes.
Sure, this totally Josses a whole ton of fan-fiction, but that’s okay, because other people’s stories are set in alternate universes. Doesn’t bother me in the least.
It’s fun to see how the originator came up with wand lore or what she thinks Minerva was like as a girl.
In other news:
If you are a Facebook friend or “Like” my fan page, please check out my note of yesterday evening. For various reasons, I’m going to (a) be removing the fan page and (b) whittling down my friends list to folks I know personally (either in meat space or via online interactions). Not to worry, though, as I’ve enabled the “Subscribe” function, which means that you will still be able to follow my all my public posts and comment on them. As 99% of my posts are public, that means not much will change.
The fan page will be gone by 9/30, so please be sure to change to a subscriber of my profile page!
Work proceeds apace with the audio recordings. I’ll be doing more today & tomorrow. Hoping to finish up book 1 shortly. Then it’s QA time and then turning it over to Wildside to post on Audible!
* * *
Thanks ever so much to all of you who have commented on the Blood Lines series and asking for more books. At this point, Keira and the gang are going to be taking a break as I work on audio and consider what’s next. I’ve got a couple of ideas floating about for some short stories and, if they work out, I’ll publish those to e-book. As far as another Blood Lines book in the future? Well, never say never, but I’m not going to string you along. I really don’t see that happening. I thought for a bit that perhaps I could do a Kickstarter campaign and write book 6, but then after some very deep thinking, I decided that would be a mistake. The main story is told and wrapped up. It’s time to move on. But, as I said, that doesn’t preclude short stories.
There is a new project in whisper mode right now – that being the very early stages of “oh, that would be a good idea to pursue”. It’s amorphous and wispy, but may gel soon. The only thing I can tell you it’s that it’s a middle grade novel and would include a diverse set of characters. This came into mind when conversing with a co-worker. She commented that it was too bad that her 8 year old son didn’t have any books he could read that showed families like his (he has 2 moms). Not as the theme of the book, but as a matter-of-fact situation as part of a good read. So I’m mulling this over. Not so much the diversity aspect, but the plot aspect. I mean, what do middle grade kids read? (Other than Harry Potter or Percy Jackson?) I don’t have kids and my 1 niece is only three, so I’m kind of out of that loop.
In any case, it’s definitely percolating and I’m hoping that I can get a handle on it because I’d really love to do this.
* * *
Fall is here, the weather is GORGEOUS and COOL, so I’m enjoying the morning with great pleasure! I’m looking forward to not sweltering!
Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Today, Blood Sacrifice is officially available for purchase from all your favorite booksellers.
Did I ever think I’d get to this point? Five series books? Not really. Sure, I’d fantasized and dreamt of being a published author, but honestly, even after five novels, two short stories, 4 essays and co-editing a short story anthology, I have to pinch myself sometimes.
When the copies of the book arrived, I was just as excited to see them as I was the first time I saw something of mine in print. It never, ever gets old.
Celebrate with me by stopping by any of the blog tour posts:
On launch day:
Book giveaways everywhere!
Thursday, August 25th, 2011
The Summer of Discovery series is over and it was a blast!!
Thanks to every single one of my guest authors for thought-provoking, humorous and interesting posts. Thanks to all the participants for playing along.
The Blood Sacrifice Blog Tour, of course!
I’m over at Suzanne McLeod’s blog, talking about the strange trip to publication.
Later today, I’ll be guesting at Deadline Dames as their Dame for a Day.
The tour continues over the weekend and into next week.
BLOOD SACRIFICE BOOK LAUNCH
The book drops next Tuesday, August 30, 2011! On Wednesday, August 31, I’ll be launching it at the Duncan Public library where I’m doing an author talk.
Author Talk 7:30 p.m.
James M. Duncan Branch Library
2501 Commonwealth Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301
And then what?
My next project is recording the audiobooks for the series. The books will be available via Audible.com thanks to Wildside Press. I’m just getting started, so I don’t have any information on release dates yet, but stay tuned!
Blood Sacrifice is the end of the Blood Lines series via Pocket Books. It’s been a great and wonderful ride, but it’s time to move along. Nothing definite is in the works for additional books or stories in the series, but I am tossing about a few ideas. For those of you who know the series and my penchant for cliffhanger endings, I PROMISE that this book wraps up all the storylines. I’d already planned this to be the final book of the story arc, so it worked out.
I am working on a collaborative project that is not yet ready for either prime time or announcing. Again, more on that later.
Hoping that all you guys are safe from Irene, etc. I’m pretty DONE with weather events. Last night’s (1 a.m.) 4.5 aftershock from the earthquake was more than enough for me. We’re all battening down hatches and praying really hard that Irene veers further eastward.
Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Welcome to fellow Juno imprint author, Laura Bickle, who regales us today how she learned to torture her protagonist.
Laura Bickle (a.k.a. Alayna Williams) has worked in the unholy trinity of politics, criminology, and technology for several years. She lives in the Midwestern U.S. with her chief muse, owned by four mostly-reformed feral cats. Writing as Laura Bickle, she’s the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket – Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she’s the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE. More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness at her website.
As writers, we’re told to “murder our darlings.” Don’t get too attached to any part of the manuscript, and be willing to do the tough work of cutting things that we love that don’t work. Be brutal.
A corollary of that rule is to be willing to torture your protagonist.
It’s tough stuff. We lovingly craft a protagonist who speaks to us. We give her strengths and weapons. We want to see her succeed,. We want her to answer the call to adventure, follow the Hero’s Journey, and return to the village with the elixir. We want the reader to root for her, just as much as we do.
But we can’t be gentle with our heroines. We can’t make it easy. It’s all to tempting to create a protagonist with few flaws, who’s virtuous and always makes the right decisions. If we really love our heroine, it’s also tempting to lob softball dilemmas at her, easy choices with few ramifications. We want her to follow the path of all that’s right and good, and we can fall into the trap of paving that road to the quest with golden bricks. We want to shelter her, make sure that her nicely-coiffed hair stays dry and her armor all spit-shiny.
A perfect heroine does not grow. Decisions and missions that are too easy will not challenge her. Or the reader.
To be certain, we want our protagonist to have the tools she needs to succeed: a power, a weapon, pluck, strength. But she needs to bear some flaws. Be human. Make mistakes. Learn from them. In Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, the hero is called to adventure. And the hero often refuses the call. The hero may fall into the arms of temptation. Atone for past sins.
And our protagonist must face monsters, inner conflicts and external obstacles. Campbell calls this the “Road of Trials.” It’s common in myth for the heroine to fail. And that’s what can make writers uncomfortable.
Why would we want our protagonist to fail? Why would we want her to be weak, to suffer, to fall under the sway of temptation or to be ground under the heel of the enemy? Why knock her down? Why keep shoving her to the mud?
Because we want her to get back up. Because we want her to realize who she is…we want her to become something more than we imagined or created.
We want her to have a life of her own.
When a protagonist becomes autonomous in our heads, we know it. We lose control of her. She strides into situations, and we cannot predict the outcome. We can’t tell her what to do, or expect her to conform to expectations. She may slay the dragon or shack up with it. She may take that shiny sword we gave her and use it to cut off the luxurious hair we gave her. She may tell Prince Charming to go screw himself and take up with his slightly dorky footman.
When this happens, our heroine has become a creation in her own right. She may be bedraggled, muddy, and pissed off. But she’ll smile back at us, for giving her a fictional life of her own, to be ruled by her own choices…like a real person, who’s been through trials. She’s made mistakes.
But they are all her own.
And seeing her smile back at you, whole and multidimensional, is worth it.
Readers, what challenges do you like to see protagonists undergo? When does an author go too far? When it is not far enough? Comment below by Wednesday, August 24, 2011 to win a copy of Sparks, the 2nd book in Laura’s great series!
Thursday, August 11th, 2011
I first “met” Christopher “Chris” Golden in the tiny horror section of the Bailey’s Crossroads Borders bookstore in Alexandria, VA.
Back before urban fantasy was cool, the only place I could find books that intrigued me was in horror or young adult. I stumbled across this awesome title: Of Saints and Shadows. And hey, look, there were two other books in the series!
In a very short while and through various mutual contacts, Chris and I have become friends and colleagues. He’s a great guy and a brilliant writer. I’m glad to know him & to have had the opportunity to meet him in person.
What pleasure in life is greater than discovery? Think about it for a minute. Really.
The moment when you realize that an acquaintance has become a friend or that, sometimes out of the blue, you are falling in love. The hole-in-the-wall restaurant that surprises you with its quality. The unfamiliar song that comes on the radio that makes you pause and turn it up, and want to hear more. The stopover at a place that is not your destination, but to which you realize you must one day return. Beauty in all of its unexpected places.
Years ago, my wife and I were attending a Bonnie Raitt concert in Boston. The opening act was a guy I’d never heard of prior to that night—Keb Mo—and he blew me away. Once upon a time, during a Mediterranean cruise, we found ourselves on a small boat that ran passengers from the cruise ship to the docks of Dubrovnik, Croatia. From the water, the white walls of Dubrovnik captivated me; it looked more like Minas Tirith from Lord of the Rings than any earthly city. The city had been pummeled by war not terribly many years before, and yet it was beautiful and clean and its people were friendly and welcoming. Though the cruise took us to many better known destinations, Dubrovnik was my favorite. It was our discovery.
Of course, not all discoveries are pleasant. Some are…terrible.
In February of last year, my eldest son was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I’ll never forget that phone call. I was home alone when the doctor called with the news, and I had to break it to my wife when she returned…and then to our children, beginning with Nick, as the news was his. I couldn’t tell my wife over the phone. I called my brother, but I could barely get the words out. I could barely breathe. All I could think…or say…was “What if he dies?”
The oncologist we went to see at the local hospital told us that Nick’s kind of lymphoma developed slowly, which sounded good until she explained that because of this, chemotherapy would only offer a temporary respite…that he would likely have to have chemo every two or three years for the rest of his life. Then she told us that she figured he had ten to fifteen years to live.
This was days before his sixteenth birthday.
Thing is…she was wrong. They were all wrong. We had our suspicions right from the start. I won’t bore you with the details of the worst weeks of my life. Suffice to say that almost a month later, I received another phone call—this time from the amazing people at the Jimmy Fund Clinic in Boston.
Nick didn’t have cancer. At all.
Yeah. You can imagine.
This all really happened. If I wrote it out in detail, put it in a book or a tv or movie script, a large part of the audience would think this is such bullshit. What a cop out. You don’t get that kind of happy twist to a story that dark.
But the thing is, sometimes you do.
Anything can happen. Anything.
That was the greatest discovery of my life—both in the sense that I learned my son would be all right and that I truly understood that our fortunes can take turns that are literally the worst imaginable, or the best. That discovery has affected me in many ways, of course.
Creatively, the belief that anything can happen has definitely informed my work and allowed me to give my imagination freer rein. The process began years ago while writing Strangewood, a novel that was a sort of epiphany for me, and continued in many other works. While working on The Myth Hunters and its two sequels (the Veil trilogy), I opened myself to the idea that characters could sometimes grow so strong in the mind of the author that they seem to determine their own fate. It’s a natural instinct to want to rein in those characters—or the subconscious creative instincts that they represent—but the best part of writing, for me, is in allowing the story and the characters to break free from my own expectations. In The Myth Hunters, the character of Kitsune was not in my plot or outline at all. When I began to write about a mysterious presence shadowing the main characters through the woods, I had no idea who or what that presence might be…not until the moment she first makes herself known to them, which was, of course, the same moment that she made herself known to me. She wasn’t what I planned, but she was what I, and the story, needed.
Such moments of discovery are the very finest creative moments I have ever experienced. In my most recent Peter Octavian novel, Waking Nightmares, there are many such moments. A vampire named Charlotte arrived in my story much the same way that Kitsune did in that earlier work, as did references to the growing threat of a sinister creature named Cortez. Those were pleasant discoveries, but as in life, not all discoveries were pleasant. Characters I had expected to live—characters I had plans for, you understand—died. Others were irrevocably changed, including Octavian himself. Future volumes will be decidedly different because of these events—plot turns I didn’t see coming until they were upon me.
Anything can happen.
I’m not comparing real life to fiction, mind you. Nothing make-believe will ever make me feel what I felt when I received those two phone calls early last year. But if I can tap into those and other emotions and manage to remind you of your own moments of discovery—large and small, joyful and sorrowful—then maybe I can make you really feel something. That is a writer’s greatest reward.
I wish you a lifetime of discovery.
Readers, what creative moments have you discovered via something in your life? How did it change your work or you?
Comment below through Wednesday, August 17, 2011 for a chance to win a copy of Waking Nightmares!