Archive for November, 2009

Woops

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Been a while since the last post, so here’s what I’ve been doing since then:

  1. Biting my nails, as I’ll be biting my nails for a couple of months while I wait to hear back about The BookTM;
  2. Painting the basement, with only the bedroom and the corridor to take care of;
  3. Finishing the book that I was reading, the one that I had problems with, that I struggled to finish because there were even more problems with it toward the end;
  4. Working, as I tend to do at the day job, trying to catch up on the analytical requests that had to be put aside while I completed a rather large project;
  5. Critiquing a manuscript for a friend, and I’ll point you toward it when it hits the shelves (hopefully in the near future, because it’s a really good read);
  6. Plotting out Biohazards, which now has an actual title rather than a working title, and I’m rather pleased with myself about it;
  7. Writing twelve pages worth of an idea just so that I could get it out of my system, since it’s not what I want to be working on right now.

Now that my break time is (almost) at an end, I’m reviewing what I’d written so far for Biohazards (and, yes, editing as I go, because I can’t help it) to refresh my memory. Starting Monday, I’ll start working on it again at a rate of 1000 words per day. As much as I’d love to see it done by Christmas, I’m giving myself until the end of January to complete.

For now, I’ll give up a snippet…

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See no evil, read no evil

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Hold onto your hats. I’m reading a book.

Not just any book, either. I’m reading a much-lauded debut novel that received sparkly shiny reviews from several sources.

I thought that I would’ve learned my lesson a while back, but I seem to be a giant sucker for buying books because the back cover blurb looked interesting, the book had a cool premise, and because people were pimping it all over the place (that I was looking).

Plus, there’s also the fact that it was a debut novel, and if nothing else, I will support debut authors (with the caveat that I have to want to read it).

Boy.

I shouldn’t have. I’m not even a sixth of the way into the book, and I’m having trouble. Don’t get me wrong. The author can write. His descriptions are fantastic, there’s a nice plot device in there, but there are things I have trouble with.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m being overly critical because, well, I went through the rewrite of The BookTM with a machete, then once more with a scalpel sharp enough to split molecule. Or maybe I’m paying more attention to the sort of mistakes that have been pointed out to me by beta readers, crit partners, and in feedback from People Who Know What They’re Doing.

But gosh, darn, if this book didn’t hit a lot of sore points with me.

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And she’s gone…

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

OH SHIT.

This is where I have the What Have I Done panic attack and cross the heck out of my fingers.

And wait.

In Remembrance

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– John McCrae

Reply to Flanders Fields

Oh! sleep in peace where poppies grow;
The torch your falling hands let go
Was caught by us, again held high,
A beacon light in Flanders sky
That dims the stars to those below.
You are our dead, you held the foe,
And ere the poppies cease to blow,
We’ll prove our faith in you who lie
In Flanders Fields.
Oh! rest in peace, we quickly go
To you who bravely died, and know
In other fields was heard the cry,
For freedom’s cause, of you who lie,
So still asleep where poppies grow,
In Flanders Fields.

As in rumbling sound, to and fro,
The lightning flashes, sky aglow,
The mighty hosts appear, and high
Above the din of battle cry,
Scarce heard amidst the guns below,
Are fearless hearts who fight the foe,
And guard the place where poppies grow.
Oh! sleep in peace, all you who lie
In Flanders Fields.

And still the poppies gently blow,
Between the crosses, row on row.
The larks, still bravely soaring high,
Are singing now their lullaby
To you who sleep where poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

– John Mitchell

Check Your Meaning

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

By “check your meaning”, I’m thinking about making sure what I’ve said and written is really what I mean.

But this is important in writing as it is in everything else, including advertising, marketing and making announcements.  Case in point:

On the wall at the gym yesterday morning, there was a posting announcing, “IT’S A BABY!” to congratulate one of the staff members.

I remember thinking, “Gee, I sure hope so!”

It would suck if it turned out to be something else.  Like, oh, an 8-pound kidney stone.  Or a bowling ball.  Or a giant glob of the chewing gum your mom always nagged you not to swallow when you were done with it.

I’m not the only one who got a good chuckle out of the sign.  As of this morning, though, the sign this morning now says: “IT’S A BOY!”

Not as funny, but at least the meaning is clear.

Believability in writing

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

So I’m sitting here on a vacation day, watching the renovation guys driving my dogs nuts by coming in and going out every few minutes to cut tiles for the basement, procrastinating on finishing the edits/revision on the very last chapter of The BookTM by flipping through the satellite channels and landing smack dab in the middle of a movie.

The program guide information on the movie listed one of my favourite (bad) actors, not that he’s necessarily a bad actor, but that he doesn’t seem to have much luck getting good movies, so I figured, what the hey! Procrastination!

I landed into the movie right in the middle of an action scene. The main character, a cop, arrives at a seedy apartment door, gun in hand. The lighting’s good. The cop’s beaten up and gritty. You know there’s a fight coming up.

Then the cop does the inexplicable.

He puts his gun in his holster. What the hell for? He’s entering a bad guy’s territory, and he puts away his gun??

He kicks the door in. Could’ve just knocked. In fact, should’ve just knocked, to get the guy away from his weapons.

He moves across the room quicksilver fast and knocks the gun out of the hand of the guy sitting on the couch with a popcorn bowl in his lap. Not even a vampire on speed is that fast. And why was the guy eating popcorn when his TV was off?

They scuffle. They fight. In the middle of this scuffle, the guy who lives there pulls out no less than three different guns and they all get knocked away. This is ridiculous only if you compare the size of the cop — big — with the size of the guy in the apartment — small. Also, he keeps loaded guns between the pillows of his couch, behind the record player, and in a bowl of fruit. Who does that? That’s like getting your butt shot off if you sit down on the couch, your finger blown to bits if you change the record, or eating a bullet instead of a banana.

Someone on the fire escape shoots the guy in the head. He means to shoot the cop, but misses at point blank range. POINT BLANK RANGE. WHO MISSES AT POINT BLANK RANGE?

The cop doesn’t check to see if the guy who lives at the apartment, his snitch, is alive. Drops him like a load of bricks and takes off after the guy on the fire escape. Wouldn’t it make at least sense if the cop showed some concern for the guy who was shot? I don’t know, checked for a pulse? Called in for backup? An ambulance? He didn’t, not once.

Who somehow is already at the bottom of the fire escape before the cop makes it out the window, and it’s a four-flight difference. Who gets into his unmarked van (why is it always an unmarked van?) and turns the key in the engine. Again the super speed.

The van doesn’t start. The engine grinds. And grinds. Oh, gee. If I was a bad guy, I’d want to have a getaway vehicle that, you know, worked.

It finally roars to life just as the hero, our cop, reaches the handle on the driver’s side. The bad guy, the assassin, drives off. Aww, if only he’d had his wheaties that morning, the cop could’ve caught up.

Oh no. What is the cop to do?

About ten feet away there’s a classic steel body Chrystler, pristine leather seats, light brown soft-top. The driver’s side door is wide open. The engine is running. There’s no one around. **HEADDESK** Oh, come on! You can’t tell me the director/producer/writer couldn’t come up with something better than that!

With that series of unlikely coincidences, you’d expect that our hero, the cop, would jump into the car, roar down the alley, swerve into traffic, spot the unmarked van out of a whole slew of unmarked vans, and run down the assassin.

Not so. He’s nowhere to be found. I feel cheated now.

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