Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I'm a Geek

Desperate for content, I'm writing a "free read" for my website. I'd originally envisioned a short story of 9k-12k words. And, knowing me, I'd figured it would come in just south of 15K. Today I hit 14,900 and I still have a chapter (or two) to go. I've officially upgraded the thing from a "free read" to a "free eBook". Kinda like the Free ebook challenge PBW did last year. I wonder if she'll do it again this year?

Anywhoo, being the complete and utter geek that I am, I decided to spend my daily recommended allotment of procrastination making a cover for my eBook in progress. So here it is. I even paid for the images I used, all nice and royalty-free legal ($1 each!).

I'm kinda iffy about the teaser text, which currently reads: She paid the price of magic to escape the curse of love. A bit melodramatic, but so is the story, what with the finger-chopping, and all (what can I say? I've seen one too many yakuza movies.).

So, what do ya think?


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Shamless Photo Opportunity

The weekend before last, I was working on my tan. Now, I'm staring out at rain. Rain! In September! Usually things are on fire right about now. I can't complain, though. We need the rain. But I can look back on...the way we were.

Actually, I'm just looking for an opportunity to post a few pictures I took this summer.

Here be Dragons
My husband and I were driving through Chinatown a couple of weeks ago and we passed this dragon troupe finishing up their day. The troupe was spread out over a whole block. The second picture is the stragglers at the rear. They looked a little tired, and I can't blame them. It was hot!

Despite the heat, it was a beautiful day to be in downtown. The air was very clear and the sky seemed as high and wide as my imagination would allow.

I like to joke about the smog, but the sad fact is, in the summer it often hangs around and gives everything a dingy brown cast.
I'm sure that smog is doing something awful to my lungs, but the good days remind me why I couldn't live anywhere else.

Every time I look at this picture (left), I'm amazed it was taken in Downtown LA during late summer--and I took it!

Shoutout to Kate who reminded me that I'd best get blogging. I was unexpectedly out of town this week and busy, busy, busy. But that's no reason to neglect the blog.

I've also been spending my downtime (Travel is great for downtime. Thanks, TSA!) writing a freebie story for my website which the lovely and talented Dionne Galace (a.k.a. Bam, who Swears It's Not Chick Porn) will debut on her site (thanks!).

But here's the problem with doing the author website thing: I have to walk my talk. I love it when an author includes one or two short stories on their web site amongst the usual excerpts and multi-paragraph teasers. Which means, I need to write a complete story for my site.

Write Now
I started up last weekend, and I'm 11,500 words into a 12k to 15k story called "Ember". Problem is, the damned thing's running long. I always start off worried about making my word count, and end up running over it. So I'm editing. I firmly believe you should "Kill Your Darlings" but they're so hard to kill when you only wrote them a day or two ago.

I think I need to find a writing/critique group.

In addition to the writing, I'm reading Wings to the Kingdom by Cherie Priest, who Kate linked to a few days back (see what you did?). I finished the previous book, Four and Twenty Blackbirds before I even got back to town. I was kicking myself for only packing the first one. At the time, I thought I wouldn't even have time to finish Blackbirds, but I forgot that a good book makes you make time for it--usually at the expense of sleep.

This just occurred to me: Rainy weekends are perfect for reading and writing. I think I like the rain, now.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Go to Your Happy Place

I love being a California kid. Granted, the waters pictured are the pristine currents of Malibu, and not the seedy shores of Venice where, as a child, I whiled away many an afternoon, sun-browned and bored off my gourd asking "Please can we go home now?"

In the summer, when Venice and the former People's Republic of Santa Monica were overrun with tourists, I would stare at those plump, ruddy Midwesterners, and sun-shaded, be-visored Japanese tour groups and wonder why in the world people would want to spend their summer vacations here.

People from other places think that summer is the best time to go to the beach. And, sure, it ain't bad. But every California kid knows that the best, Best, BEST time to go to the beach is a hot day in September. The tourists have all gone home, the sun is hot, the breeze is cool, and the water is ice cold.

On a hot day in September, you can have the beach all to yourself. The view for which rich folks pay millions (over and over again--those houses tend to wash away) can be yours for the price of the gas it takes to get there.

Those ugly toes in the picture are mine. And so, for a few hours, was that lovely stretch of beach.

I wonder what the weather will be like this weekend?


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A place where nobody dared to go / the love that we came to know / They call it Xanadu ...

Like the movie (or the Broadway musical) taught us, everybody loves a muse. And if everybody loves a muse, how does everybody feel about five muses? Pretty damn good (love is a geometric progression, yaknow?). So check this out: five scorching hot writers (including my partners in crime for Samhain Publishing's forthcoming Strangers in the Night anthology, the lovely and talented Bonnie Dee and Veronica Wilde) have formed up a blog called Erotic Muses, and they're having a contest to celebrate.

Each writer will give a copy of one of her eBooks to the winner. That's five free eBooks, y'all. Here's what you can do to enter:

  1. Click the link.
  2. Read this week's entries.
  3. Answer questions about the entries.
Good luck!


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What Can HD Do for You?

It had to happen sooner or later--my darling hubby, who is both an electronics geek and a frugal buyer, finally found an HDTV that met his exacting tech standards and skinflint budgeting requirements. I was happy for him, but I didn't think having a brand new 52" HDTV would change my life much. Boy, was I wrong.

HDTV is the biggest boost my self-esteem has had since that summer when I was 19 and I got approached by three casting scouts in the same week (a week later, I found that two just wanted to pick up on me, but until then, I was floating.) .

Here's the thing: Everyone looks bad in HD. Everyone.

Well, not bad, per se, but real. Average. Not so different from you or me. Brad Pitt has a rough road map of little lines on his face--not the greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, but definitely a small city with a complex transportation infrastructure and a pothole problem. Cate Blanchette has freckles and little lines (that only make me love her more). And the cast of Lost? They really do look like they've been trapped on a desert island with no sunblock. Or, at the very least, they look their ages.

Thanks to HD, I have seen wrinkles, freckles, under-eye bags, stray hairs, secret moles, scars, thick make-up and camouflaged break-outs on people who previously looked flawless. Now, when I look in the mirror, I don't feel so bad about the little lines I notice starting in my forehead and around my eyes, the fading scars from the "teenage" acne I didn't outgrow until after college, or the smattering of stationary moles/freckles across my cheeks. People who are professionally good-looking have all those flaws and more.

Modern technology has well and truly revealed the Hollywood glamor machine for the fragile facade it is. Thanks, HD!


Friday, September 7, 2007

I DO Has Internets!

Whew! My new and improved web page has arrived. I spent my free time today making graphics and slapping together pages. All in all, I think it ain't bad for a day's work.

I went with a film noir / pulp novel theme, because that's what I'm interested in, lately. I reserve the right to change my mind.

Go check it out!


Thursday, September 6, 2007

I Can Has Internets?

My editor (God, that's so fun to write!) wrote today with a bazillion attachments and groups and such, including instructions on how to write my Samhain Publishing author bio (squee!). No surprises there, but I listed my website, which, currently, is, well, just an address with this picture.

Like it? I drew it myself to commemorate The Cutest Haircut Ever. When my husband saw the cut, he said, "You look like an anime character." Which I, loving anime the way I do, took as a compliment. And inspiration.

Only problem is, the Cutest Haircut Ever was hell to maintain. As much as I like to picture myself as the sort of woman who will straighten/style her hair and apply makeup every day, I just ain't her. So I'm curly again. I ran to the hairdresser waving the goth-flapper spread from American Vogue's 8 lb. September's issue over my head like a battle flag and Oswaldo turned me into a less frizzy, biracial, supertall Clara Bow. My neck looks twelve miles long. I should draw a new picture.

But all that's beside the point. The point is...What was the point? Oh, yeah: I Have To Get My Web Page in Shape!!! Don't know why I haven't already, except, you know, a glaring lack of content. But I has web chops (used to do the design thing during college, back in the era. But didn't everyone?) and a copy of PhotoShop, and I knows how to use 'em.

The only thing standing between me and a semi-decent web home complete and utter lack of inspiration. I'm still super-keen on my girly-girl blog graphic (the flower, BTW, is Foxglove, so it's not too saccharine) but I feel like my web presence needs to be about something.

So I started asking myself:

  1. What's your style as a Romance writer? Um. Villains are people, too?
  2. What themes do your current stories and WIPs have in common?
    Sex! Violence! Explosions! Sly references to classic Hollywood films. Everything and the kitchen sink!
It wasn't until much later, when I was extolling the virtues of John Woo's Hard Boiled to my HK Cinema-deprived little sis ("...and then, after the villain sets the hospital on fire and his henchmen shoot people in wheelchairs, Hot-Young-Chow-Yun-Fat has to save the babies. And then the baby pees on him!") that I realized where I'd snatched my winking "everything and the kitchen sink" aesthetic from.

Cue the angels singing...Ahhh-ahhh-AHHHH
I want to be the John Woo of Romance Novels!
What the fuck-all this has to do with a web page, I don't know. But I'll figure something out.

Also, have I mentioned? I'm drunk. Tipsy. Glass and a half of white wine with dinner. I'm a cheap date, not an alkie. Really.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Accent Confusion

I've been thinking about accents. Namely, how to write characters that have them. Writers usually indicate a character's accent in the following ways.

  1. Phonetic Approximation
    When authors reproduce the sound of accented words, which leads to French characters saying things like, zee instead of "the" and Scottish characters mispronouncing every word that isn't a Scottishism like "Och!" "Lassie," or "ken".
  2. Foreign Phrases
    Authors often sprinkle a character's words with non-English phrases. For example, French characters will say things like, "Mon Dieu! He is a spy. We must inform Le Resistance!" And Russian characters will say "Das Vidanya ." when they leave.
But here's the thing. I know or have known people whose first languages are Spanish, French, Hatian Patois, Russian, Georgian, Czech, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese. None of these people sprinkle their English-language speech with words from their native language. If anything, it's the other way around, as I often hear English phrases mixed into their conversations with family and same-language friends.

Aside from the phonetic differences in pronunciation, In my experience the thing that distinguishes a non-native English speaker is sentence construction, and, sometimes, gendered pronouns. For example, a native Spanish-speaker might say, "I dreamt with..." instead of "I dreamt of..." because "Dreamt with" is a direct translation of the Spanish construction, "SoƱar con...".

I much prefer to use word choice and sentence construction when portraying an accent, but the problem is, the reader may be unfamiliar with these cues. Which I guess is why so many authors use phonetic approximation or foreign phrases. What to do?