Monday, October 31, 2005

Busy Day

I almost forgot to post beacuse I wasn't home most of the day. And when I was home, my husband and son were playing Civ IV. I need my own computer. So does Paul. The battle is--when he gets a job again, do we buy a notebook I can take with me to write elsewhere? Or does he indulge his current desire to build another computer? If he does the latter, where will we put it and who gets it? Well, that's a decision for farther down the road, when that job offer actually comes.

I'm really enjoying Ladyesong, as I suspected I would. It's the most challenging music group I've ever sung in. I love challenges. If you're not challenged, you don't get better. I think I'm going to get better.

I'm in FM chat, cheering on those who are starting NaNoWriMo at midnight, whatever their local time zone is. The Central Time Zone folks just started. I'm on the west coast, so my contingent won't be starting for another 2 hours. Well, 1 hour and 48 minutes, to be exact. But I'm not doing NaNo this year. I successfully completed 52K in 2003. I've been planning to post about NaNo, but haven't had the time to write the post. So, tomorrow.

And Happy Halloween!! No spooks, goblins, princesses, or action figures in my neighborhood. We're going to end up eating the candy ourselves. Tough job, but someone's gotta do it.

See you then.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Civ IV

Chris bought Civ IV. Until he can afford to upgrade, he's playing it on my computer. This version looks good. I just may have to try it and see if they've come up with one I think is fun. Up 'til now, with Civ I-III, it's not my type of game, even though I've enjoyed other simulation games. Short post today. I must give up my computer to the other Civ fanatic. It's about the only game Paul plays.

Have a great weekend. See you on Monday!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Recently Published Books

Yesterday two books came out that you should check out. One, Threads of Malice by Tamara Siler Jones, I recommended recently. It's available now. Go, buy it.

The other I haven't read yet. It's on my "to buy" list. I haven't seen it in the local stores yet, though, and I don't have a big enough order to get free shipping, so I'm not buying it online.

It's an anthology. My friend, C.E. Murphy, wrote Banshee Cries one of three novellas for the book, titled Winter Moon. The other two novellas are Moontide by Mercedes Lackey and The Heart of the Moon by Tanith Lee. Banshee Cries features Catie's main character from Urban Shaman, Jo Walker. That's enough of a recommendation for me, because I really like Jo and enjoyed Urban Shaman. I'm looking forward to the sequel.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It's Official and Something Fun


Last night was my final audition night for Ladyesong. I'm officially in and I love it. My singing is going to get much better, too, because Mel is always giving us vocal technique tips and reminders. The hardest thing for me is singing in German because I have so little experience with the language. I'm getting it into my ear and some practice should cement it into my brain.

Something Fun

I haven't posted a silly thing for a while. Since Ladyesong is something I do for fun, it seems appropriate to do another fun thing today, too.

A while back, my friend, Bob, posted a fun thing about Funky Hair Color on his live journal. Here's how mine turned out:

Your Hair Should Be Purple

Intense, thoughtful, and unconventional.
You're always philosophizing and inspiring others with your insights.

I laughed when I saw this one because purple is my absolute favorite color. And I do philosophize a lot. I don't know about "inspiring others with my insights". They seem to drive a lot of people nuts, rather than inspiring them. They go,"Do you have to analyze EVERYTHING?" Well, yeah. Otherwise, how will I write about it?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Double Shot

Double Shot by Diane Mott Davidson is one of the books on my list to write a recommendation of. The back blurb says:

Caterer supreme Goldy Schulz has more on her plate than she can handle. Her ultra-charming, ultra-wealthy, and seriously psychopathic ex-husband, Dr. John Richard Korman (aka "the Jerk"), is free now that the governor of Colorado has commuted his prison sentence. And someone--the Jerk, perhaps--has taken great pains to sabotage Goldy's latest culinary endeavor, a post-funeral reception for a friend at a local lodge.

But even more than the anonymous threats, rumors, and violence that have lately been directed Goldy's way, it's her discovery of a fresh corpse that really spoils the stew--a murder that could tear her family to pieces, a murder that virtually everyone believes Goldy committed.

True, she's been efficiently framed, but at least she's still breathing, which may not be the case for long, if she doesn't track down a killer who's cooked up a very nasty repast for Goldy and the people she loves.

This is the 13th in the series starring Goldy the caterer. I've been an avid reader since the first book, Catering to Nobody. One of the most difficult things for a series writer to do is to keep it fresh. Too many writers make the mistake of trying to "catch the reader up" with everything in the series, a mistake Ms. Davidson, thankfully, doesn't make. Coming back to each book is like revisiting old friends and catching up on what's happening in their lives. We get the new stuff, not a rehash of the stuff we learned in our last visit. Add a good mystery to the mix of interesting characters, with interesting lives and you have me hooked.

As an additional bonus, recipes from the catering jobs that get wrecked by murder are included. I'm glad they decided to put the recipes in a block at the end, rather than scattering them through the book, as they have in the past. Then the recipes are easier to try out and they don't disrupt my immersion in the story.

You don't have to read the whole series to enjoy this book. I like it that she writes that way. But I recommend that you do read the whole series because it's delightful.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Distracted This Week

I just noticed I didn't post yesterday. I've been distracted this week by things happening around here. It looks like the job's a no go. That's the way it happens, sometimes.

Please keep the people in the way of Hurricane Wilma in your thoughts and prayers. I know a bunch of folks who live in Florida or who have friends or family there.

A "homework" assignment
Way back in September, Carter Nipper, posted a homework assignment which interested me, but I haven't had time to write before today.

Here's his assignment:
  • Do you post your first draft or edit?
  • Why?
  • How much time do you spend thinking about and preparing a post before it goes online?
  • Anything else you'd like to add?
  1. I always edit.
  2. I don't think in an orderly manner. If I posted my unedited first draft, you'd all be wondering what in the heck I'm talking about because I write in a mixed-up order. Now, I'm not saying I'm always clear when I'm done editing, but at least you get a reasonable shot at understanding me. I'm also a lousy typist. It's a paradox. I'm a great speller, but I hit the wrong keys. If I didn't fix it, you'd think a first-grader could spell better than I do. And, I'm a writer. Saying what I mean as clearly as I know how to say it and writing clean are important to me. I don't lower my standards because it's "just a blog post".
  3. It depends on the post. I don't think a lot about the fun quizzes and silly stuff. They're fillers for days when I'm extra busy or am working on an essay to post another day. I spend a little more time on the recipes because they require formatting. And I hope to teach a little about cooking to people who maybe haven't cooked much from scratch, so I spend time making the instructions clear and adding helpful notes. I spend a lot of time on essays and recommendations and such. It takes me a while to hone in on what I want to say, same as it does in my fiction. I change the order of things and cut the rambles that are really interesting, but not pertinent to that essay. Some of them become topics for other essays.
  4. I'm really enjoying blogging. I was afraid one of two things would happen if I started a blog. One--I'd blog so much I'd neglect my novel. Or, two, I'd run out of things to blog about. Neither has happened so far. I limit myself to one post a day, which keeps number one under control. I pay attention to things going on around me, which gives me things to write about, so number two hasn't been an issue, either. I plan to keep doing this until it's not fun anymore. I hope whoever's reading it enjoys it, but that's a bonus. I like that people are reading my blog, but getting a bazillion readers isn't my reason for writing it, nor is it a particular goal of mine. I want that audience for my books. (grin)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Paul got a phone call tonight for an interview tomorrow. Fingers crossed, prayers said. Please send good vibes. Details will come if he gets the job.

The season's changing. I'm rethinking what we'll be having for dinner as we approach colder days and darker evenings. The grill will have to be put away for the winter soon. Soup comes to mind as something I like to make. So, here's my Mix-and-Match soup recipe.

Mix-and Match Soup

Makes about 5 quarts.


1 large can low-salt, no-fat chicken broth
3 small cans beef broth or vegetable broth
6 cups homemade stock

4 oz. orzo pasta, cooked
1 cup rice, cooked
2 cups potatoes, diced into about a half-inch dice

1 can cooked beans
2 cups cooked dried beans

1 package frozen vegetables
3-4 cups fresh vegetables

(optional) 1-2 cups chopped cooked chicken, beef, pork, ham

Salt and pepper, to taste

Any spices, herbs, seasonings that appeal to you


Put everything in the pot except the cooked pasta or rice and any fresh herbs you might be using. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are cooked. Add the pasta or rice and fresh herbs just before serving.


1. This is the simplest soup you'll ever make. Just combine the ingredients in any way that pleases you.

2. I often use themes. If I've got Italian green beans, I'll throw in a can of diced tomatoes. For seasoning, I'll use basil, oregano, nutmeg and maybe marjoram. If I've got a southwestern veggie blend, I'll put in chili powder, oregano, cumin and cilantro. Look at other recipes you like and see if you can adapt the seasoning to your taste.

3. You can substitute any small pasta for the orzo. Alphabet pasta is a hit with kids. And, if you have kids, you can leave out things they don't like.

4. If you don't want 5 quarts of soup hanging around, make less. The amount of each ingredient is not crucial to this recipe. That's why it's a good one to use to experiment with.

5. If you have an immersion blender, you can use it to make the soup thicker by blending it slightly. The beans or potatoes will thicken it a bit.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

How the Writing's Going

Getting Time to Write

Today Paul had a mandatory meeting at the unemployment office. I had him drop me, a printout of chapter 2, and my journal at one of the local coffee shops. I got words. A little over 4 pages worth. I'll be cutting a whole section of the chapter and replacing it with these much better words. Yay, me!!

So, it looks like I have another time when I can get writing done--anytime I can get away from my mom's house and work elsewhere. It would be easier if I had a notebook computer so I can have my files handy. Paul said when he finds work, I can buy one, if we're not out of money, or save for one if we're starting from scratch. Yay, Paul! He has another meeting on Friday afternoon and I'm planning another writing session then. I hope to be able to get out at least one more time between now and then.

My attempt to rediscover my night owl tendencies is going slow. It takes time to change your internal clock, so I'm being patient with myself about that. It's especially hard because I've been too busy to take a nap, so I start to fall asleep by ten pm. Maybe I'll try staying awake ten minutes longer a night, adding ten minutes every week or so. It seems like it would be easier to get used to a change like that gradually. But Daylight Savings Time is coming to an end. I can use that time change to my advantage by going to bed the same time I do now, but the clock will say eleven and I'll have an extra hour to write.

Sharing My Progress

Just in case anyone is paying attention to the progress of my WIP, I wanted to explain about my progress bar. I put the progress bar on the blog because it stares at me. It makes me think about the story and what words I want recorded on it. And it nudges me to work on the story, not the blog. But I don't change it very often. There are two reasons for that.

One reason is that I do some editing and revising as I go. Sometimes that results in a lower word count than when I started. I just leave it the same when that happens because I know I'll be making up the difference as I get more of the draft written. I tend to write lean and add.

The other reason is that I do most of my draft writing by hand. Until I type it into the computer and look at the count in Word, I have no idea how many words to add. I handwrite about 250 words per page, if the draft is clean. But usually my drafts are messy. Lots of crossed out words. Circles with numbers in them to indicate that the passage with that number goes in that spot, not in the spot where I originally wrote it. Arrows indicating I should reverse two paragraphs. That mess alters the word count. I learned that I have to type in my handwritten draft before I write the next section. That's when I check the word count and update the progress bar if it's bigger.

And How It's Going

At the moment, chapter one is as good as it's going to get until the whole book's done. Chapter two is much closer to being done. I'm going to have to revise part of the end of the chapter because changes have repercussions. One of the changes I made makes it impossible for something I wrote earlier to happen the way I wrote it. It's not a major change, though. Chapter three is barely started. I may need a session with Inspiration before I can finish it, just to make sure I don't leave out important details.

And that's how the writing's going today.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Tag # One:

Tammy and Jean both tagged me for this one a while back and I haven't gotten it done due to shamelessly promoting Tammy and Sheila's new books.

Here's the meme:
1. Delve into your blog archive.

2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. Ponder it for meaning, subtext or hidden agendas…

5. Tag five people to do the same.

I've had this blog long enough to have done 23 posts. So, here's my 23rd post, fifth sentence:
And that's all I'm saying about the story.
This sentence was from my recommendation of Afterburn by S. L. Viehl. The book is a stand-alone novel in her Star Doc universe and I still recommend it.

The sentence itself refers to my absolute hatred of spoilers. I like to come to a story completely fresh, knowing nothing about it. You see, when people tell me what happens, or read me bits they liked, or talk about characters, my somewhat photographic memory won't let go of it. Then I can't immerse myself as deeply in the story as I usually do because part of my brain is "waiting" for the stuff I've been told about a story. I think back cover blurbs are a necessary evil because I need at least a modicum of knowledge or I won't know if I'm interested enough to give a story a shot. I prefer to get a TV Guide-style one-liner from a friend when I'm deciding about movies because the trailers always give away way too much. This sentence refers to my preference to try to avoid doing that to anyone else and to why my entertainment recommendations don't include a lot of details about the story.

Five people to tag:

This meme went around the circle of blogs I read and almost everyone I thought of has been tagged for it already. So, instead of naming specific people, I'll toss it out to anyone who reads my blog, but hasn't been tagged for this meme yet. It's an interesting one. Feel free to let me know in the comments if you take up the challenge, with a link to the entry. I'd love to read them.

Tag #2

Andi, on her personal blog, tagged me for Holly's meme. Here's how it goes:

Search your blog for the word “joy” used in the context of “happiness.” If you cannot find the word in your weblog, you may use any of the select list of synonyms below.

joy — amusement, bliss, cheer, comfort, delectation, delight, ecstasy, elation, exaltation, exultation, exulting, felicity, gaiety, gladness, glee, good humor, gratification, happiness, hilarity, humor, jubilance, liveliness, merriment, mirth, pleasure, rapture, regalement, rejoicing, revelry, satisfaction, wonder

If you’ve found the word and it was not used facetiously or sarcastically, good for you. All you need to do is link to your earlier entry, and write a few words about that joyous moment. If, however, you have no joy (whole words only) in your weblog, you must dig deep in your soul and find something wonderful in your life right now. One little thing that fills you with warmth, that bubbles you over with quiet happiness, or tickles you with its good-hearted hilarity, or makes you glad you just took a breath, and are getting ready to take another. It doesn’t have to be anything big. A smile someone gave you; your cat on your shoulder; the way the light angles through your window and casts rainbows on your floor. All it has to be is something genuine, something real, something that matters to you.

Because we all need joy in our lives, and need to take the time — from time to time — to recognize it. And sometimes, we need to pass it on.

Even if we’re a big pain in the ass when we do.

When you’ve dealt with your own joy, pass the quest on to five other bloggers.
I'm an optimistic person, for the most part, and was surprised to find that I didn't have very many posts with those words. "Joy" showed up once, in my recommendation of Serenity, talking about the range of emotions in the film. I glanced through my blog. I came to the conclusion that Holly and I use different words. I use "cool" and "jazzed" and plain old "happy". I also write positive things without ever using a word naming the emotion.

My first recipe was a chicken recipe you could take on a picnic. I said, "Mangia!", which is the Italian word for "eat". Implicit in it is happiness--good food, fun people, a good time. A lot of my posts are silly fun, which always boost my mood. I share them to give other people a little mood boost, too. Or I talk about enjoyable things in my life like playing chess with my son, seeing films or reading books I like--everyday good things. But I don't use Holly's list of words to talk about them, so they didn't pop up in my search.

I chose this post--maybe because I'm still so jazzed about it or maybe because it's Monday and I have rehearsal tonight. My most joyous blog entry. You'll understand why when you read it. Ladyesong.


Kellie--who may not see this for a while, if at all. She's busy with Drew, who was born on October 4, 2005. Congratulations, again, Kellie and Mark!

I'm not sure all of these folks read my blog, but I know they haven't been tagged by someone else yet. And I know people who know them read my blog. Maybe they'll pass the word along. I think spreading joy is a worthy endeavor, in this time when all too many people seem to do nothing but whine and complain.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Private Demon--Part 2

From the back cover:

Night after night, Thierry slips into Jema's dreams, fulfilling her deepest, darkest desires. In the arms of her private demon lover, Jema finds that her fantasy is becoming more important to her than anything in reality. But Thierry's sensual visits have placed her in the crossfire between two ancient enemies: a religious order known as the Brethren and a cadre of immortals known as the Darkyn....

Private Demon by Lynn Viehl is the sequel to If Angels Burn, which I reviewed back at the end of August. Although you don't have to read If Angels Burn to follow the story in Private Demon, I recommend that you do so. The stories do connect and the experience will be richer if you read both.

In a recommendation, it's common to discuss the characters, the plot, the setting, the theme, all the different parts of a novel. But Sheila's books are so complex and the parts so entwined with each other that I find it difficult to pull out pieces and dissect them. She's created a dark, but compelling world that I want to keep visiting. She's created an ongoing character ensemble that I want to learn more about. And she makes you think. Yes, it's romance, but it's more than just two people getting an HEA ending. I don't think Sheila knows how to write "fluff". In the interest of not revealing too much about the story, since I absolutely hate spoilers, I'll let you discover the richness of Sheila's work by reading her books for yourself.

I know that after the next book, Dark Need, comes out, I'm going to revisit all of the Darkyn books and read them again, in order. That's not something I do often because my TBR shelves are so full that I don't have as much time to reread books as I have books I want to reread. But these, I will. And I can anticipate repeating myself after Dark Need comes out next June.

Oh--I'm leaving this up top the rest of the week. See you with a new post on Monday.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Something cool happened to me yesterday. Something I never thought could happen, not in a bazillion years.

I've been singing my whole life. I've always loved to sing. I tried out for choir in the 4th grade. I didn't get in until the 6th grade, when the teacher let everyone in who wanted to sing. I sang in the kids' choir when a friend invited me to her church. I sang in every choir in ever church I ever attended. I sang in the choir in junior high school. I sang in high school for a year. I sang in choir in college. I met my husband in a community choir I'd joined. All of the choirs I've sung in have been, "you show up, you're in." I've never been accepted in any choir that required a serious audition or required you to be able to sight sing or have a super trained voice.

I've taken voice classes and some private lessons. But I've never quite gotten over the critique and grade I had in a class in college where the teacher essentially said I was tone deaf and should stop singing. I cried. I ignored his advice. I got different teachers and listened carefully to the tips my choir directors gave us. I didn't want to be an opera singer. I just wanted to have a nice, warm tone and know that the notes I sang were the right ones. It would be nice to feel comfortable doing a solo, once in a while, too. Eventually, I learned that the teacher who said I was tone deaf was wrong. There were some technique errors I was making. Once someone who knew more than he did pointed out the problems and I practiced singing correctly, I started singing on key.

Over the years I got used to Paul, with his somewhat rare high tenor voice, getting invited to sing all sorts of places. He dragged me along whenever he could by simply telling them, "My wife sings, too." They often got the hint and realized they get me, if they want him. I also got used to people telling Paul what a wonderful voice he had, ignoring me completely. He does have a wonderful voice. Mine's a solid, "blends in with the crowd" choir voice. And I'd pretty much resigned myself to singing in community and church choirs. I figured I'd never get the chance to do a lot of the really good, hard choral repertoire.

A couple of weeks ago Paul and I went to a concert Ladyesong held in our church. I was impressed and I loved their songs. I wanted to be up there singing. But these women are really good. I didn't think I was anywhere near their league. Yesterday, their conductor invited me, the lady who'd once been told to stop singing, to sing in the group. If you're local to the Bay Area, check out their website for the performance schedule. I'm so jazzed. My first rehearsal is tonight.

The moral of the story--practice and persistence does pay off. You might need a modicum of talent. You might not reach the pinnacle of whatever you want to do. You might have to wait 30 years for the payoff. But if you love doing something, don't give up.

That goes for all you writers who worry you'll never get published, too. Remember--Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65 when the first Little House book was published. I read that Tony Hillerman was in his 70s. Helen Hoover Santmeyer was 96 when . . .And the Ladies of the Club was published. If they can do it, so can you, or I, if we don't get too impatient and give up too soon.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Last of the "You Know You're From . . ." Memes

I'm still reading Private Demon, so no recommendation on that yet. I spent way too much time doing errands, the bane of my existence. And tomorrow's grocery shopping day. (sigh) Anyway, here's the Silicon Valley meme, the fourth in my series of California memes that apply to where I've lived.

Silicon Valley--If you go back and look at the other three memes, you'll see that as the area covered by the meme got closer to the exact place where I live, the number of bolded entries increased. I have almost all of these bolded because in some way or other, they do apply or impact my life.

You Know You're From the Silicon Valley When...

Your combined household income is $140,000 and you can't afford shoes for the kids. (I wish my income were this, but the idea fits my life.)

You think anything slower than DSL is barbaric, but can't get it in your neighborhood. (This is true. I'd much rather have DSL than cable, but my choices are cable or dialup, and NO ONE uses dialup in Silicon Valley.)

You know what DSL stands for

You and your spouse almost come to blows deciding to hit Peet's or Starbucks
(Actually, we do both, but I prefer Peet's. I don't think he cares as much.)
You think that American food includes sushi, naan, pho, pesto and pad thai

You met your neighbors once

When asked about your commute you answer in time, not distance (Or did when we were actually working.)

Even though you work 80 hours per week on a computer, for relaxation you read your email and peruse eBay (I suspect this was written before the advent of blogs. Most people I know read blogs, not peruse eBay.)

You have worked at the same job for a year and people call you an 'old-timer'

The T-shirts you value most were for products that never made it to market

You can name four different programming languages and you are not a programmer

You remember the names of the three closest cheap sushi joints, the location of all the Fry's in the area and which companies your friends work for that are going public in the next year, but don't know the name of the mayor

Standing in line at Starbucks you wonder why the employees don't call a head hunter

You work 6 miles from your home and spend two hours a day commuting and $40 a week on gas
(Or did when we were working. The gas bill would be higher now, of course.)

Winter is when your lawn grows too fast and summer is when it dies

The median price of a house is $500,000...for 1200 sq. ft. with no yard because it's a town house (This is behind the times, too. The median price for a house has now passed $700,000. I have no idea who these people are that can afford that kind of money for a house. It certainly isn't me. lol)

You live on some of the richest farm land in the world but most of what you eat comes from South America on a boat (Or the Central Valley or maybe over in Santa Cruz/Watsonville, where they actually still growe stuff other than Silicon Chips.)

Your best friend lives across town but you hardly ever see each other because after your commute you're too pooped to spend another hour driving to their home

You have a master's degree in engineering but half the people in your department either didn't go to college or have history degrees, except if you have a master's from Stanford, in which case everyone in your department has a master's degree from Stanford
(No degrees, but I so get this joke.)

You cringe when you see people in suits at your office, wondering if someone in management will make you stop wearing bunny slippers (Actually, the bosses only wear suits if they're meeting with venture capitalists to get more money before the IPO.)

You plan your vacation so that you don't have to drive back from the airport in commute hours

You don't go to sporting events unless you are given tickets by your employer

You could sell your home and live like a king in 99% of the rest of the world, but don't because it would be difficult to move back.
(If I had a home, this would be true.)

You have at least three computers at home. (We would, if we could afford another one. The real joke is that computer folks here have more spare parts than the car nuts. Most people I know could build a computer out of their spare parts, if the parts were actually compatible with each other and all of them worked.)

You own at least one domain on the Internet, probably several. (Not yet, but wait until we have real income again.)

You think it's normal to see chip-design software or relational databases advertised on freeway billboards.

You know that California isn't just one big beach.

You know that not everyone in California surfs.

You know there's lots of skiing in California.

You know your rotating outage block number at home and at work, and listen for them whenever there are rolling blackouts. (I did when Enron and their ilk were ripping off Californians and we had rolling blackouts.)

If someone refers to "SunnytogaDeAnzavale Road", you laugh and know what they're talking about.
(If they call it "Highway 9", you know they were around in the 60s.)
You take your out-of-town friends to see the techie gadgets at Fry's. But you don't let them buy anything.

You know how to recognize re-sealed returned electronics at Fry's.
(Doesn't everyone?)
You don't ask the staff any questions at Fry's. You know they hire idiots and pass the savings on to you.

You watch dot-com boomers go back to the states they came from, and the traffic gets better by the month. But you are home so you're not moving.

You own a Sport Utility Vehicle and have never taken it off-road. You wouldn't know what to do if you tried. Same with all your friends.

You don't know how to drive in snow. You're a road hazard when you visit the mountains.

You think the horn and middle finger are essential driving tools.

You think bicycles don't belong on the road.

You think any car ahead of you doesn't belong on the road.

Your out-of-state friends are impressed at how much money you make... until you tell them how much you pay for housing.

You know that a "fixer-upper" home could cost a half-million dollars.

You do a "California stop" at stop signs. And you think it's only Californians who call them that.

You aren't bothered much by earthquakes because you're ready for them. But the thought of tornadoes and hurricanes terrifies you.

You clearly remember where you were when the Loma Prieta quake hit.

You know several funny stories about swimming pools in the quake.

You can't recognize a thunderstorm without seeing lightning first.

You cringe when a Southern Californian refers to highways like "the 101". It's just "101". No "the".

You call low clouds "fog" even if they're hundreds of feet off the ground.

At least once you have gone to San Francisco for the day wearing shorts and a t-shirt because it was a warm clear day in San Jose. And you froze your little *@#!% off in the fog, drizzle and wind. (Actually, I usually bring the SJ warmth with me when I go to the City, as the natives call it. It's a talent of mine, but I expect that someday, it won't work.)

You say you're from Silicon Valley because no one knows where San Jose is.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Silicon Valley.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Private Demon

Private Demon is out. Lynn (PBW) is one of my favorite writers, so I want to recommend it based on reading half of it and not wanting to have to put it down. More later.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Serenity & Kissing Monsters

Go. See. This. Movie.

If you haven't seen the Firefly series that sort of ran on Fox, it won't matter. You'll be able to follow it with no problem. If you have seen the series, you'll be awed. No one and nothing is safe in Joss Whedon's world. Does it seem like there's a theme in my recent recommendations? It's something I keep noticing in the stories that move me to recommend them.

"Kissing the monster" is what my friends June and Andi call it. The author goes to her darkest places. She doesn't wimp out or pull back to protect characters she's come to love. She goes wherever the story leads, no matter how painful. She writes characters who have monsters to kiss, then makes them kiss those monsters, even if they die or face fates worse than death.

But kissing the monster isn't about "torturing your characters." A lot of writers I've talked with seem to take great delight in torturing their characters. Being mean. Making their lives miserable. But when you ask them why, you get a blank stare. Then they mumble something about conflict and making it interesting. The problem is that random character torture makes me angry with the writer. I don't want to watch senseless angst and gratuitous violence. I want to see strong motivation behind the characters not walking away from the fire the writer is putting them through. The more torture, the higher the stakes need to be. The reason it's a monster you're kissing is because it matters. If it didn't matter, it wouldn't hurt. It wouldn't be hard. We wouldn't care.

Joss Whedon knows how to kiss monsters. Five minutes into this film my green-eyed monster shows up and nudges me. I want to write that well. I know how hard it is to do that. It tears you up inside. Nonetheless, it's one of my aims as a writer--to write that honestly about the choices people make and the consequences of those choices. Kiss my monsters the way my favorite storytellers kiss theirs.

In Serenity there's a lot of monster-kissing. People face their biggest fears, their most dreaded scenarios, their darkest places. It's a roller-coaster ride, full of the special effects you expect in a science fiction film. If you've seen Firefly, you know there's physical danger. But this film has more. There's an emotional roller-coaster ride, too. The characters are in the kind of adrenaline-driven stress that brings out the deepest emotions in a person, and Whedon shows it all. This movie isn't about sweetness and light where everything is perfect in the end. There's both sorrow and joy here.

is an emotional roller coaster for the audience, too. You know the danger is real because you know Whedon doesn't protect his characters. Some of them will end up hurting. They get beat up, tossed around, and dead. Others end up hurting psychologically. People they love may be hurt or killed or betrayed. Nothing is off the table and we sit on the edge of our seats, hoping this or that thing won't happen. If it's a film or story cliche, it won't. He twists things around so you cannot predict exactly how anything will turn out. If you like being twisted inside out and upside down, you'll love this film.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Quick Post

It's really late and I'm really tired. So, today, I'm doing a short fun thing.

What color are you meme? I think I found this link first on Jean's blog.

you are aqua

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is very high - you are all about getting things done. The world may think you work too hard but you have a lot to show for it, and it keeps you going. You shouldn't be afraid to lead people, because if you're doing it, it'll be done right.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
the html color quiz

Monday, October 03, 2005

A Writer's Responsibility--Part Two

In the comments for my post about a writer's responsibility, Patriot said...

What if the reader is child or an adult with diminished mental capacity? What is the author's responsibility then? My whole point was Tech's poem was a powerful statement for paganism, yet he says he doesn't hold that belief and isn't responsible for anyone choosing to be a pagan after reading it. May be he's not responsible for their choice, but he is responsible for creating the right mood for that choice to be chosen. That's all I'm saying.

I doubt Patriot and I will ever totally agree. But he hit on one of my pet peeves--dragging in children and adults with diminished mental capacity to bolster a specious argument and I don't want to let it slide. His questions, "What if the reader is a child or an adult with diminished mental capacity? What is the author's responsibility then?" fall apart on logical grounds. Children and people of diminished mental capacity act as a "Red Herring", bringing in irrelevant material. The reason it's irrelevant material is that he's not postulating that "authors have a different responsibility to children and people with diminished mental capacity than they do to everyone else" or that "writers must only write to that part of the population to make sure they're protected." He's postulating that an author is responsible for the possibility that someone reading his words might choose to believe something the author doesn't believe, which has nothing whatsoever to do with "children and people of mentally diminished capacity." That's particularly true when you consider that people in those two groups are unlikely to read Tech's blog. It requires a certain amount of maturity, literacy, computer literacy, and intelligence to find, read, and parse the poem. I suspect a child or person of diminished mental capacity would need a parent or caretaker to explain what the poem's about, if he were to manage to read it.

As for his being responsible for creating the right mood for that choice, well, that's irrelevant, too. I doubt you can find one single person who chose to become pagan just because he read Tech's poem. There's not enough information in the poem to allow a person to figure out which pagan religion he might want to follow, let alone choose to become one. From reading all of the comments Patriot made, I suspect that the writer's responsibility argument is an attempt to take the specific idea that anyone who is a Christian has a responsibility not to do anything that in the slightest way might promote something that's not Christian, according to his view of what's Christian and what's not, and turn it into a more general argument that he thinks other people might be more willing to agree with. I don't suppose it occurred to him that there are many Christians who believe that their responsibility is to live their lives, as best they can, according to Christ's example and that's it. I've met many who don't believe it's their responsibility to tell me what to believe or how to live my life and who are of the opinion that my beliefs are between me and God. And it's entirely possible that Tech is one of those, which is why he's able to understand the viewpoint of his friend and write such a moving poem.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Posting May be Erratic

I've been having issues with my connection the past couple of days, which is why I didn't post yesterday, as I usually do on the weekdays. It seems to be back to normal today, so assuming that holds true, I'll get back to my regular posts on Monday. Otherwise, check and I'll be posting when I have a decent connection.