Regrettable Habits of Obsession

It was the steroids. Dang it. I loved having energy. Now I’m back to my usual. I do understand my tiredness. I give my day job my all and try to have another day job too (that would be writing). It’s natural we get tired. The doc has given me a clean bill of health. Really.

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Meanwhile…I have joined Weight Watchers at work. Why? Well, have you seen the new Weight Watchers, with its emphasis on holistic health? You should. Essentially, I not only help out the folks at work who want to have our meeting go, I also get to learn to eat really well, which is something I work on anyway. So, if I don’t lose weight, I’m okay with that, but I’m also okay with jumpstarting my interest in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy oils. My old complaints against the program being primarily about low calories? Pretty much gone. It’s pretty cutting edge. And it’s about danged time.

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You have noticed, I think, some changes here at the Tamago. I’m not getting to this as much. Work is pretty full (another sign that we need a full time administrator). Also, I’ve been enjoying some real quality time with the spouse (and that’s more important than my real and/or imagined Internet fame). Finally, I’ve been laying down some serious verbage on the various writing projects. Which is as it should be.

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And, there’s the title of this entry. Part of the reason I write? I am a fan who engages in fannish behavior. I like becoming part of the experience of something. Sometimes, other people can produce a work so powerful, this can happen to me. Other times, I enjoy being part of the experience of my daydreams.

Recently, I have become obsessed with HBO’s series Rome.

Continue reading “Regrettable Habits of Obsession”

Your Dysfunctional Werewolf

When you read a lot, sometimes you can’t help but notice re-occurring themes. I don’t read much urban fantasy anymore, because it all began to sound the same after a certain point. I do have my Achilles’ Heel. I read Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series, and while I enjoy it, I won’t pretend that we’re talking about something serious and world changing. We’re talking quality mind candy. However, yes, I’ve seen a lot of tramp-stamped tough women, or fae on the fringes, or supernatural women looking for Mr. Goodbar, and it’s a hard sell getting me to try another one out. I’m not jaded. It’s just that writers have to try harder now, because I’ve seen so much.

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Kitty Norville is an early figure in urban fantasy. I had no desire to read about Kitty, but the piece of writing I had critiqued at the Vegas workshop in February had werewolves in it ( The Werehumans, Catherine’s adult then-novella/now-novel about growing up in Southern Iowa, kind of.), and several folks there held Carrie Vaughn’s books up as books that dealt realistically (well, as far as realism and werewolves connect) with werewolves.

And yes, they do.

Continue reading “Your Dysfunctional Werewolf”

Noise

Okay, so you know how I was sick? And I was on codeine and steroids and antibiotics? How I went from rendez-vous to rendez-vous in a kind of weird trance, with sleep in between about everything?

And then, how, when the codeine disappeared, how I was seized with an amount of energy I haven’t had for sometime? And how I began to really hit my exercise and be conscious and present for work and leisure? And actually have something to give at the end of my work day?

And yesterday, how when I finished my steroids, the only side effect seemed to be the need for great quantities of protein, which means I gained some weight, sure, but also means that I am still at that current, almost collegiate-life vitality that I have had for about a week? Oh, and I had a pulled pork sandwich from Jimmy Jack’s?

***

I am feeling uncannily good. Not overworked or put upon, not burdened or frustrated. I find myself looking at my writing and thinking, yes, I can make this what I want. I find myself enjoying life as I live it, back in check with both my mind, body, and dreams. I feel like I have enough sleep. For several years I have lived life with an undercurrent of weary, and that’s…just gone.

So, I probably still have drugs in my system. Puppy uppers or something. Other than the protein increase, which is common during my steroid ingestion of the past, I haven’t made any particular health changes, so I guess that’s got to be it.

I LIKE feeling like I’m not tired. And I’d hang out here and talk to you all some more about how I am woman, hear me roar, but I’ve got some writing to do today that I’m excited to get to. How cool is that?

Catherine

Nancy Kress: Dynamic Characters–How to Create Personalities that Keep Readers Captivated

I do have a couple of book reviews to catch up with you all on. One of the books that I wanted to share was this one for writers: Dynamic Characters–How to Create Personalities that Keep Readers Captivated.

I am in the process of applying for Taos Toolbox. Yup, I know the aps aren’t due until January 1st, but I am eligible for Professional Development funding via the college every couple of years, and that deadline is coming up shortly, so I have to see about whether I can get that funding, and then whether I get into the workshop, etc, etc. You’ve seen this drill before. It was called the Viable Paradise shuffle.

Many people I know from VP and from my Vegas workshop experience think well of Taos, and you know, I have yet to put myself in a position to be eaten by a bear, so it seemed a natural fit.

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Applying for Taos Toolbox puts one in a Nancy Kress, Walter Jon Williams kind of mood. As many of you following the blog remember, I loved Beggars in Spain. The other day at my local Half-Price Books someone had parted with Dynamic Characters, and so it became mine.

What I really like about the book are two things.

First, Kress is an engaging teacher, who explains what she’s about and what she feels character is about. The first part of the book is nuts and bolts, and pretty standard fare. What makes the book stand out is where she goes after she covers the externals and the internals. Kress lays out how character and plot interplay, and she takes the time out to show you how to troubleshoot problem areas where you might be finding plot weakness because of character. If a writer looks at a first draft, and then analyzes the book based on the last third of Kress’ book, plot holes can be patched. Blocking walls can be broken down. Plots can be problem-solved.

I’m not pretending you can take art and magic out of plot, but I am suggesting that this is a great book to go to if you’re looking to find some ways to get that magic running again when you’ve written yourself into a corner.

The second thing? Kress seems to understand how I write, because it sounds like we have a similar process. So I could see how I could plug what she does into the work that I produce. It was nice to see a direct overlay to one’s own work, a tight fit.

i would recommend Dynamic Characters. I will find it as useful as Writing the Breakout Novel, probably at an second draft kind of stage.

Next up: Kitty Norville? Really?

Catherine

Link Round Up

Today is a good day to let other people say wise things to you, since a couple did, and I should share that with you.

Seanan McGuire: Books and Poverty. Hard to say what poverty will look like in the future, but this is what poverty still looks like now. And I won’t get started on the digital gap in other countries. Books remain an important way to reach people.

Julia Rios gives you a good primer on the recent gay in YA situation. If you have interest in this topic, several strong web researchers are making it very possible for you to follow the argument.

Hope your Mondays are coming along swimmingly.

Catherine

Turning over Orson Scott Card on Hamlet’s Father

Today I am working from a satellite location rather than work, so I can get some quality time done on the proposal to revamp the ELA sequence. Ironic that I can’t get this done at the office, but the interruptions there are many.

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I’ve got just a few moments to comment on Orson Scott Card’s Hamlet’s Father, and I’m going to take it from a slightly different angle than most others are.

First of all, Richard Larsen provides links to the original Rain Taxi review and Subterranean letter. The Guardian comments on the issue. Publisher’s Weekly concisely summarizes in this way.

All of the material I’ve looked at regarding this book indicates that Card is trying to link homosexuality with pedophilia. More than enough has been covered on the Internet disputing that claim. If you’d like the science, check out Simon LaVay and his books. Ivanka Savic-Bergstrom also has a study you need to read.

Let me see…science versus assumption. Homosexuals are made because conservatives say so. Nope…gonna go with the science. It’s a logical test.

Are there homosexual pedophiles? Well, most likely, yes. But here’s some research that would help Mr. Card to inform his opinion that homosexuality leads to pedophila.

Dr. Gregory Harek has done extensive research on predominant social attitudes toward homosexuals and pedophilia. Recommended reading would be his article on Facts about Homosexuality and Pedophilia

Of particular import: Pedophilia is a label for people who are attracted to children. Homosexuality is a label for people who are attracted to same sex adults. Heterosexuality is a label for people who are attracted to opposite sex adults.

Sometimes these people act upon their attractions. When a pedophile does, he/she is labeled a molester or an abuser. This distinction is important.

Further, Harek goes on to list articles which show the discriminatory views of society regarding minority groups and sexuality, and to show that homosexuals are no more or less likely than heterosexuals to abuse children.

…the important point is that many child molesters cannot be meaningfully described as homosexuals, heterosexuals, or bisexuals (in the usual sense of those terms) because they are not really capable of a relationship with an adult man or woman. Instead of gender, their sexual attractions are based primarily on age. These individuals ā€“ who are often characterized as fixated ā€“ are attracted to children, not to men or women.

There you have it. Harek also spends some time debunking articles from conservative think tanks that attempt to link homosexuals to molestation.

***

The quality of an argument has to be considered, rather than its loudness. Just because you believe something does not mean it is true, even if you know it, you just know it deep down inside, praise Jesus. We call that discrimination. Only the willfully ignorant could ignore the plethora of data available in even a casual Internet search, let alone the serious amount available in academia.

On a more personal note, I resent that Mr. Card has tried to link some of the excellent gay people that I know with the actions of adults like my father. Poorly done, sir, poorly done.

Catherine

The Art of Indecision

Don’t throw away anything you ever write. Ever.

After a very reluctant start to my writing session today, I fell into the groove. I decided that some of the ideas of things I had used before in the original version of Substance were things that rang true to the characters. In some ways, I’ve been trying to make this rewrite too different from the original, and have been isolating myself from the bits of the characters I find the most rewarding.

This is not to say that the prose I wrote the first time is the best prose it can be. But the ideas are good and sound, and I find that I can use pieces of what I thought would have to be discarded.

Which just goes to show you that sometimes you can over think this writer thing.

***

So, in a sort of manic fever, I wonder if I can get the basic foundation of the book (Stephanus’ move to Mistraldol, Esme’s trial, Stephanus’ defection, Errol’s trial) laid out sooner than later. This would be an action focus.

Then I would probably do a villain action focus, and then solid character arcs. And then Maassketer it together, and then 10 percent solution it. Awesome. Direction.

In the end, this story seems to want to go together like lasagna, one layer at a time.

***

At any rate, don’t be afraid to revisit your old stuff. Sometimes your instincts are good.

Catherine