Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dark Side of the Moon

No, not the Pink Floyd Album. Though . . . if that is the first thing that came to your mind, you're cool in my book.

Today is what we moon-keen folks would term the 'new moon', meaning that the moon is back at the beginning of its cycle (of course 'beginning' is relative, since it depends on when you start counting, but go with me here). It's perfectly aligned between the earth and the sun at the moment, therefore all the sunlight hitting it is, well, reflecting back at the sun and skipping us. So we are looking at the 'dark' side of it. If you were to step outside and look for it, you would find *maybe* a tiny sliver, most likely a spooky sort of ringy silhouette. I love the New Moon. I think most people don't even realize it's happening, but I always feel the moon, even if I don't see it.

The new moon is supposed to be a time of reflection. A rest from the business of life to pause, take a breath, and plan. Maybe to study up or prepare for something. It's a time to break bad cycles and begin new, better ones.

Hence why tonight, I decided to go and post all the things I had *intended* to blog this month so far. I know . . . it's cheating. But I figure the blogger folks wouldn't have given us the backpost feature if it weren't intended for procrastinators like me. Right?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Back Post # 1 - Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Song of the Moment: Just Dance - Lady GaGa

Today is my dad's birthday. I called him and said, "Happy Birthday - I got you a new president." He said that was the best present he's ever gotten. *g*

I could go on a boring 'yeah, yeah, yeah' rant about everything about the last eight years that has sucked. Or I could write you something inspiring about how this day is the first in a long time that gives me hope, gives me some faith in my generation, and makes me proud to be an American.

But I won't. Instead, I want shine the spotlight on our country's unflappable ability to turn any event into an excuse to sell more useless stuff in the effort to cross-promote, because - hey! - this is America! The nation that brought you Super Bowl commercials, black-Friday, and cereal box toys. For Obama's first day in office, you won't want to miss your opportunity to get a book, cup, Chia pet, or commemorative plate to mark this day in history.

And don't forget . . .

Your official inauguration day Starbux cup insulator. It comes in a stylish, eco-friendly craft brown, with vibrant red and blue print, and boasts a moving quote from FDR, "The only thing to fear is fear itself . . ." to lift up your spirits as your triple skinny americana saturates your bloodstream.

I'm going to sell it on eBay, or whatever its equivalent is, in 50 years. After all, this is America, and though there may be change on the horizon, one thing you can always count on is ample opportunity to make a quick buck off of a faithfully practicing consumer. Heh.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Back Post # 2 - Critiquery

Song of the Moment: Love Lockdown – Kanye West

Depending on what order you’re reading this in, you may or may not know that I have had a prayer answered in the form of my new critique partner. I haven’t been this ecstatically, frenetically involved in my current work in progress since I outlined it over New Year’s weekend 2007. Since then, I’ve been distracted by submission calls, diverted into a totally unrelated novel, and managed to bury myself in excuses to let the very first ‘book of my heart’ slide by the wayside. No longer!

I’ve set a very optimistic goal to have this one ready to start querying in Mid-to-end-February. And if it doesn’t happen, it will be entirely my own fault. Working with my new crit-partner, I’ve discovered what needs to be done, and plotted my course. Now we’re on to the execution. And, for the time being, I’m juiced! So, let this serve as excuse number one for why I haven’t tackled my goal to blog more this year.

And I know what you’re thinking . . .

See. Nothing slips by me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Back Post # 3 - The Iron Hunt Review

From the back cover:

Silver smoke winds around my torso, peeling away from my ribs and back, stealing the dark mist covering my hands and lower extremities…tattoos dissolving into demon flesh, coalescing into small dark bodies. My boys. The only friends I have in this world. Demons.

I am a demon hunter. I am a demon. I am Hunter Kiss.

By day, her tattoos are her armor. By night, they unwind from her body to take on forms of their own. Demons of the flesh, turned into flesh. This is the only family demon hunter Maxine Kiss has ever known. The only way to live—and the very way she’ll die. For one day, her demons will abandon her for her daughter to assure their own survival—leaving Maxine helpless against her enemies

But such is the way of Earth’s last protector—the only one standing between humanity and the demons breaking out from behind the prison veils. It is a life lacking in love, reveling in death, until one moment—and one man—changes everything...

Well, it's been quite some time since I read this one, so bear with me. Initially, the premise put forth in that first little blip was enough to snag me. And then, of course - hello? - cover awesomeness. Tattoos that become demons . . . sweet. Then there was the fact that I read Ms. Liu's novella 'Minotaur in Stone' in the Hotter Than Hell anthology and was severely impressed. And I'm hard to impress. So, on to the Iron Hunt.

Unlike a few other reviewers I've read, I haven't read the Dirk and Steel series, so I didn't really have any expectations other than for the writing to stand out as it did in the anthology. From that aspect, Ms. Liu does not disappoint. What can I say? I'm a sucker for good writing and she is simply masterful with prose in a way that galls me to the bone with envy. I simply get lost in her words, her imaginative metaphors and the way she can evoke images and emotions like she's plucking heart strings if you let her. This was one of those rare books where I did not skip a word - not a single one, because I had never, ever read anything like it. An example of what I'm talking about, from page 70:
The demon tilted his head, just so, and his body twisted, flowing like the skim of a shark through water. He danced when he moved; on the city street, wrapped in shadows: a kiss on the eyes, a devil's ballet, and only his feet moved, only his cloak had arms; and his hair, rising and flowing as though lost in a storm. I heard thunder, and when his toes sliced spirals in the concrete, I listened to the wind bury winter; and when I tasted his grace, his grace had no name; only, night became something else in his presence, as though darkness had a soul, here, swaying to heartbeats roaring.
Add to this hypnotic prose a story rooted in deep ancient myth, with references that - I'll admit - made me feel under-educated, but left me no less captivated, as well as a crew of characters that were refreshingly UNIQUE and I was a gonner for the day and a half it took me to devour it.

As far as the story goes, it followed no conventions, and that in and of itself is what I value. Much of that is due to the characters. Maxine is a reluctant but tough hero, determined to get some happiness of her gritty life, which she already pretty much knows is scrapped. Her journey takes her into the past (literally) and into other dimensions, where she hits rock-bottom (again, literally) and finds out what she's really made of. Her boyfriend Grant is softspoken and gentle, with a fascinating gift, able to charm those unfortunate souls being fed upon by demon parasites and in some cases even rehabilitate them by playing his pipe. And the boys . . . well, let me just say that I wish I had some of my own. Even though they barely spoke, they were ever-present, and well-loved by the time the story was through. Even Maxine's mother and grandmother managed to capture my attention and curiosity, simply through memories. Not to mention a demon with blades for feet, who you're not sure is good or bad, but he makes the hair on your arm stand up either way; and an intriguing, reluctant immortal protector (with a backstory I simply must find out more about) who makes his first appearance by pushing Maxine in front of a bus. (I know - you'll just have read it to get what I'm saying.)

In the end, it was time and money well-spent. I admire Ms. Lui's ability as a writer and storyteller greatly, and I'll definitely be reading this one again, reading the sequel, and checking out her other books. Four bleeding hearts.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Back Post # 4 - Srsly #1

So when I was brainstorming for ways to try to keep my blog fresher, I thought I would try to limit myself to rants, because, really - who likes a whiner? But I'm not always a bowl of sunshine, and I figured at least once a week, I would allow myself a bitch post where I could regale some tiny snippet of my life that irked me. And I would name this series of posts exactly what I was thinking during that little snippet: Srsly. (Okay, in some cases it might be: Srsly?, but you get the point.)

Without further ado, here's #1:I work a full time job in downtown Seattle, but two days a week, I hop on a bus in the middle of the day and go to the UW campus at the North end of Lake Washington for class. Now, I'm not complaining. Not by a long shot. This is one of the highlights of my week. I get to break up the day, listen to my iPod on the way, and it's one of the few times a week I take myself out to lunch, because, well . . . the rest of the week I'm glued to my chair and computer screen.

So, there I am, sitting in tunnel, enjoying my custom-stuffed Chipotle burrito, foot-tapping to Pork and Beans and in my own little private 'world away from work'.

Now, when someone is wearing headphones, and making quite an effort not to pay attention to what's going on around them, you'd assume people would leave them alone, right? Apparently this rule does not apply in bus tunnels. Or to crazy people. I hate, repeat HATE, when people make you take your headphones off so they can ask you some inane question. But it happens. Every. Time.

This guy walks up and starts talking at me. And he's a bum. Seattle bum, mind you - wearing a newish Columbia Sportswear jacket and carrying a Venti from Starbux - but a bum none the less. He's dirty, he smells bad, and the bottom half of his considerable and hairy gut is hanging out from the underside of his shirt.

And he's talking at me.

I could ignore him, but for some reason, I just don't have it in me to be *that* rude. So I take out one headphone, and he says, "Can I have that to eat?"

I take out the other headphone and finish chewing before I sputter, "What?"

"Can I have that to eat?" he says again, smacking his lips.

I look down at the burrito in hand, suddenly less appetizing than it was before. But still, it's mine. I've gnawed on it. It has my cooties on it. And this fat, latte-carrying bum is asking for it right out of my hand? It's not like I was about to throw it away!

"Uh . . . I'm eating it," I say. I mean, c'mon - the guy didn't look hungry.

"I hate it when the forks and spoons are mixed," he says conversationally and sits down beside me. The smell, at this point, does in the rest of my appetite. The bus pulls up.

I surrendered the burrito, and hopped onto my getaway, thinking, "I wonder what he would do with a spork?" And watching the fat, happy bum nosh on my lunch, with his probably pilfered latte in the other hand. Whether he was really that crazy or not, I have to admit, his technique worked. I mean, who can say no to that?


Monday, January 5, 2009

What Font Are You?

Just some internet silliness. You can take the quiz here. What font are you?

Sad, but so true.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Well, it's that time again . . . the time when we reflect on what we've accomplished over the past 365 days and lay down some of our plans for the future. I'm all about accountability, so I'll share mine here, and take a page out of Thomma Lyn's book. Another good post on setting goals for the year can be found here (thanks Debbie!).

Also, if you're interested, I wrote an essay this year titled Building a Goal Pyramid. Which you may or may not find useful. No guarantees, no refunds. =P

Rather than list all the tiny steps I took this year in the general direction of my goals, I'll just list the five most valuable things I discovered and/or did, then move on to goals for 2009.

In 2008:

1. I wrote 1.9 novels, 3 novellas, 2 shorts and a mishmash of flash
for a total of a whopping 250K words. That's half of what I wrote in 2007,
but I think my quality (and the amount of sleep I got) increased

2. I met an amazing number of people who are just as obsessed with this
*cough*hobby*cough* as I am. I've been inspired, consoled, and had a whole
lotta fun. I feel so much less alone than I did at the start of all of

3. I ventured into the publishing world, queried, and entered contests
- some with positive results. I also earned (yes EARNED) my first few
rejections and learned that with practice (and lots of chocolate), getting back
on the horse after those devastating form letters *does* get easier.

4. I have amassed a huge amount of knowledge and resources on the craft
of writing, and on the publishing industry. There are still a great many
mysteries yet to be uncovered, but at least now I know what I'm aiming
for. Much better than diving in blind!

5. I achieved a level of balance I'm comfortable with between my
personal life, and my writing life. This was much harder than it
sounds. Srsly.

Now! . . . On to 2009. Armed with all the tools, weapons and knowledge I so greedily gathered this past year, I plan to:

1. Become more active in the writing organizations I belong to: attend
local meetings, network, enter contests, and *hopefully* go to my first writer's

2. Break 100 blog posts, including: > 20 book reviews;
> 10 essays; and > 10 flash/short reads.

3. Re-design my website and blog(s) and centralize them in one

4. Submit/query my first novel to at least 10 other spots. (Spots
meaning contests, agents, editors, etc.)

5. Submit my second novel to at least 10 spots.

6. Write 2 more novels. (I have about 5 ideas on the backburner,
and as soon as I finish revisions on novel #2, I will pick one. More info,
and inevitable whining, will follow along soon.)

7. Perpetuate the balance I've found between work, school, real life,
and writing.

8. Find the perfect critique partner. I know you're out
there somewhere . . . I'm waiting for you! (Ad placement to follow.)

Well, there ya go. It's not a concrete goal, but I hope to be more present in the blogosphere too. I wish everyone a fantabulous year . . . on your marks, get set, GO!