Happy Easter – Blog Updates – A Decision

Happy Easter, everyone, no matter your religious affiliation. It’s kind of cloudy and rainy here, and it looks like it will stay that way all day. We’ll make the best of it anyway. The temperature is looking to be a glorious 70 degrees.

~*~

As part of my website update, I have updated my Policy page and started tagging old posts. Boy, was I a messy tagger. I spent hours deleting useless tags and retagging old posts. Then, I was almost finished when I decided that I really ought to to study up on the practice of tagging. It was then that I discovered that I’m doing it all wrong. Apparently, I’m supposed to categorize and tag. I’m tired just thinking about it. I guess I’ll have to do without categorized tags, and I’ll just stick to plain old tags.

As for writing, I keep plugging away at my manuscript, cutting almost as much as I’m adding so I am now up to 84,000 words. I am almost through these difficult “big reveal” scenes, though. I’m having to rearrange a few things so they still make sense, and I should have it all straightened out soon.

~*~

I have made a decision to leave RWA, and will be letting my membership expire in May. The reason for this is simple, and has nothing to do with the organization: I can no longer say that I write romance. As a genre, it was never the greatest fit for me, but The Sevenfold Spell and The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf had enough romantic elements to satisfy the requirements and justify the expense.

Every year when you renew your RWA, you must reaffirm your claim that you are a writer who is actively pursuing a career as a romance novelist. Although East of Yesterday has romantic elements, I would classify it as a historical novel with science fiction elements. And although Magic by Starlight has a romantic storyline, it is more fantasy than romance–with about as much romance to satisfy fantasy readers, but not nearly enough to satisfy romance readers.

(BTW, RWA does welcome “romantic elements” authors, but I think my quirky brand of writing would be a better fit elsewhere.)

If I were to take up a romance novel again–and I do have some ideas–I will consider rejoining the organization. But until then, I will have time to explore other organizations like Broad Universe, and/or see if there is something else out there that I have not discovered yet.

A Science Fiction Historical?

So for the last six weeks or so, I have been writing and rewriting the “big reveal” scene in East of Yesterday, trying to nail down the basics of time travel.

(Yeah, so the book is almost done, and I still had not figured out the rules of time travel. But in many ways, the story shaped the rules.)

I wrote an exhaustive scene that walked through all the whys and wherefores. Even as I was getting through it, I knew it was a bit much to expect the reader to absorb, but I kept going because I knew I could always cut. I finished it up, went to the point at the end of the story where I left off, and realized that what I just wrote would not work with what I already had. Did I want to change the story? No. It is all plotted, and I like it, and it works, story-wise.

So I threw out the Big Reveal scene (3000 words) and wrote a much shorter scene that left most everything in the dark, and gave a few kernels of info to the reader, and let my story stand. And I was happy. This was much better. I thought I was done.

But. Then.

On the way to work the other day (I probably better never give up the idea of going to work, because these epiphanies during morning or evening drives have happened more often than I can recall), I had a marvelous idea. It was one of those “Aaaah. Now that works!” moments.

So I wrote it all into my wiki today. And I realized that this is no longer fantasy-based time-travel. It’s science fiction. Everything I base it on comes from science–except just a couple things.

One fantasy element–a mental power–is about as fantasy-like as a Vulcan mind-meld. It is certainly not as fantastic as the Force. And not as powerful as the dragon time-jumps in Dragonriders of Pern.

The other fantasy element is the supposed temporal qualities of silver. I used silver because (1) the pure silver content in sterling silver jewelry is quite high and (2) because silver does have a legendary history as an esoteric metal, which I used slightly.

The scientific elements that I had to research came from the Periodic Table of the Elements, the stellar history of planetary ores, alloys vs. pure elemental metals, the Chronoception sense, also known as our perception of the passage of time, and (lightly) time as a fourth dimension.

So two fantasy elements vs. five science elements.

I’m still calling it a time travel historical, but I feel happier about this because I always thought of time travel as a geeky science fiction thing, and now the story comes closer to what I intended.

So, now to rewrite that scene for the fourth time. And then to get on with the ending.

A Failed Experiment. A New Start.

Well, that didn’t work for me.

A while back, I put forward a proposal to convert this blog into some sort of shared memory blog. I worked to develop the idea, and I even wrote two blog posts.

That’s right. Two whole posts. Since December.

Woohoo. Big whoop. I guess that idea didn’t even take off with me.

So, that’s out.

Therefore, I’m bringing back a format that works for me: book talk, book reviews, author guests and writer talk. And I’ll work in my two shared memory posts as occasional retro posts, which I have been known to do from time to time.

Since I want this blog to be distinct from the rest of my site, I should give it a name. I don’t focus on debuts anymore, so anything goes. Here’s some possibilities:

  • The Broken Bookspine – way back when, in 1996, during the early, early days of the Internet, I wrote a few pages about my favorite books. It wasn’t a blog, because I was using straight HTML and blogs weren’t thought of back then. It did have a tiny following, and someone asked permission to reprint part of one of my “posts”, where it still persists here. But the original site existed before the Wayback Machine started caching pages, so it is gone forever.
  • Tia’s Bookshelf – Simple and direct.
  • Elsewhen BookTalk – Takes off on the anywhere but here, anywhen but now thing, plus I’ve been using Elsewhen as my location in Twitter. Also, “reviews” isn’t in the name to prevent an expectation of a significant number of book reviews.

I think I like the last one. How about you?

It’ll take me a couple of weeks to get this going. I’m going to start by arranging for some author guests. I will narrow down the genres from what I used to cover to my most fav genres, which are:

  • Fantasy
  • Science Fiction
  • Historical

I am deliberately keeping these broad. There will be certain subgenres I will gravitate toward. Although I occasionally enjoy mystery, romance and Christian, those genres will not be the focus of this blog. Narrow worked best for me, and narrow is what I am going back to.

Before I get started, I’ll also clean up my post tags so I can use them usefully. Right now, they are a mess. And it will be a big job cleaning them up. I may also import in my Fantasy Debut posts, but that will be a Phase II task, postlaunch. Very post.

Wish me luck. I know I’ve run a lot of ideas by you guys, only to get busy and let them fall by the wayside. I’ll try to not let it happen again. Thanks for sticking with me!

A Needed Break

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I didn’t post last week because I took a staycation and took care of some health issues. Other than a brief trip to visit my mother for 2 nights, I hardly budged outside of my house. I did some serious R&R, as we called it in the military. I played low-stress games like Freecell and Solitaire until I was winning almost every game. I loaded music on my computer and synced them up with my iDevices. I only wrote about a thousand words. I browsed lots of news sites (you may not realize it, but I am quite a news junkie).

I also got my blood pressure managed. Additional dietary choices are now open to me, so I will once again eliminate dairy from my diet. I went the entire month of January without milk, and my intestinal issues and rib pain went away. Unfortunately, my blood pressure also went up because my breakfast without milk has a lot more sodium than plain cereal with milk. Now that I can eliminate dairy again, I am hoping this rib pain will go away again. It kept me up last night for about an hour.

So it was a good week. I don’t want it to end, quite frankly, but that’s why they call it vacation. My husband wants me to schedule another week already. July is looking good.

I decided not to move my website. I am currently using a premium WordPress account, and after reflecting that I have spent zero time worrying about my website over the last year, I decided to stay put. The managed WordPress accounts are too expensive and don’t get me anything that I don’t have here, plus I have been accumulating a few handfuls of WordPress followers (hey guys!) I don’t want to cut them off by moving.

I may, however, redo my theme, and maybe procure a premium theme … if I can find one that is worth the cash.

Financial Tip!

This is my first financial tip ever. But we got our first American Express card and it is really helping our finances. We put all our charges on the AmEx card and pay it off at the end of the month. Nothing else is going on our regular credit card, allowing us to pay it off faster. Plus we are getting lots of AmEx points.

An important note about AmEx cards–they are designed to pay off at the end of the month. So be careful to only use it for planned expenses, like grocery, gas, and small credit card purchases. You do NOT want to be in a position where you are unable to pay off the card at the end of the month. AmEx is designed to be a charge card, not a credit card, and there is a distinct difference.

It is going to totally be worth the 200 dollars to renew at the end of the year.

Writing Update

Chicory, Anne Elizabeth and I were having quite a discussion on epic fantasy and warrior woman tropes in the Back From Hiatus post. They got me to reveal some of the ideas I have been playing with (ahem–paladin story–cough), and we have just been having a good ole time. While my first priority has got to be finishing East of Yesterday, I am finding it difficult to resist working on my paladin story!

Anne Elizabeth recommended I try reading David Weber’s War God series, and I probably will, but it seems to be kind of a spoof of a paladin story. Has anyone ever read any good paladin stories, other than the quintessential Deed of Paksenarrion?

Site Showcase: Tropes Galore. And then some more tropes.

I found the best writing site ever.

I don’t say that lightly. Have you ever read anything like that here before? Probably not.

This is one of those “how the hell did I not stumble across this site years ago?” sites. And I have only run across one site like that ever. This one.

How useful is this site? I have been browsing it nightly for two weeks.

Two weeks.

This site bills itself as “catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction.” And they’re not bragging. It’s been so useful that I joined the site. I don’t think I joined a site since I joined AbsoluteWrite about six or seven years ago. (At least, I have not joined any sites that I stuck with.)

So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to this awesome site:

tvtropestvtropes.org, to be exact.

Yes, it is a very unlikely name. It is so much more than TV Tropes. It’s a collection of tropes found in every imaginable type of fiction. If the trope has been used in fiction, on tv, in film, in comic books, in RPG games, in wrestling, and even in advertising, it will be here. Described in glorious, wiki-comprehensive detail. And often funny, too.

What can you use it for? Well, I vetted the site by reading all the articles on time travel. I had never seen my particular ideas for time travel in fiction or at the movies before, so I started looking for them. Three or four nights later, I was satisfied that my time travel ideas are pretty damned original.

Some of my ideas do come close to the tropes, such as the Stable Time Loop. Except my characters did not cause their own trouble in the past. Someone else did. And I admit to using a dash of Applied Phlebotinum. I try to keep the fantasy elements understated. My characters do not fit any of the character tropes I have seen so far, but Brad is a bit of a Jerk Ass–not  totally. He does grow as a character.

I found a trope from my warrior woman trunk novel–the Amazonian Beauty. Except Abriel wasn’t much of a beauty (she was charismatic instead). Other than that, this trope is pretty much dead-on.

Hmm. Maybe that’s why it’s a trunk novel.

Talia is kind of like the Hooker with the Heart of Gold, except she was never actually a hooker. She was just … easy.

I can’t find any tropes for Gretchen, or for Mike and Adele from East of Yesterday. Some of my side characters are tropish, however, so I need to work on those.

Some of my favorite books have extensive write-ups, such as The Deed of Paksenarrion and Dragonlance.

So why don’t you head over there, check out your favorite tropes, and report back on what you found? You could look me up while you are there; my handle is lostintime. (At the moment, I have done nothing with this handle except create it.)

Of course, if you’re like me, you may get lost in that site and I may never see you again.

Back from Hiatus

I am almost done with my contest judging and I am now writing again. At work, things are quiet as we wait to see if there is going to be another layoff with this expected reorg. So I will attempt to resume my twice-weekly posting schedule, one personal (like this one) and one something-else.

I’ll be taking a staycation soon, and during it I need to determine whether I keep this site where it is or move it to another host. Right now, this site is hosted on WordPress.com, which is good, but does not have the flexibility of a self-hosted site. However, flexibility = time commitment, and I’m not sure if I need another of those. This site may have to remain good enough for now.

East of Yesterday is up to 82,000 words. I’ve been retrofitting the first 100 pages before I launch into the ending.

I have also been thinking again about Magic by Starlight. Once I finish EOY, maybe I can finish up MBS and have two books to market.

And I have been thinking epic fantasy again. I have always wanted to write one, and I have a new idea. I am still in the early idea stage, but I did start a wiki for it yesterday.

I have not been reading many books that I can review lately because I think I ought to remain discreet about my contest judging, but I still get review copies from time to time and some of them look amazing, so I may have some book reviews soon. (I still don’t take review copies–these are unsolicited books from publicists who have my address.)

I discovered a very cool website that I’ll be posting about on Wednesday.

Do any of you use Office 13? I am able to get it inexpensively through work, but I don’t want it if it is too tightly-coupled with their online services. I may jump ship and use OpenOffice because they appear to have vastly improved their Navigator functionality. Any word processor I use must have some sort of document navigation tool, which is what has kept me with MS Word all this time.

The Black Hole that is My Life

And so I pop my head out of oblivion to say hello to you, dear readers.

I am afraid I am over-committed and will remain that way until March. I am now judging books for a writing contest, and I had no idea how many books would be involved. I had to send two books back due to a conflict of interest (I know a lot of authors), but that still leaves six books to read in five weeks. That is quite a bit more time than I usually have allocated for reading.

But I made this commitment and I am determined to keep it. I have finished three books, and am halfway through a fourth.

I did manage to squeeze in an afternoon of writing, during which I undid some changes that I started in December, which had driven me straight into plot inconsistencies and unworkable quandaries. But I didn’t want to undo without a clear direction, so once I thought of my solution, I got a surprising amount of work done.

But other than that, East of Yesterday is languishing until I finish reading these books.

I also had some great ideas for improving my character’s dark secret in Magic By Starlight, but I have no time to work on that right now, so I jotted down some notes in the notebook that I carry with me everywhere, and there they shall keep.

(Just heard some familiar-sounding theme music; sounds like my hubby is playing a Games of Thrones episode. Like I really need that kind of distraction.)

Life has been so busy that I let a bill go past due. Ack. I never let that happen. The bill is in my purse so I can take care of it first thing Monday.

I am also having to squeeze some time in for exercise because my blood pressure is creeping up again. I have cut so much salt out of my diet that I really can’t blame sodium anymore, but I do know that I have gotten very idle during this uncharacteristically cold Florida winter. I can feel it. So I broke out the Wii Fit and did 30 minutes of cardio. I’ll somehow need to shoehorn that in every day because for me, cardio is medically necessary.

Sometime in the next month I need to either move to another web host or renew my WordPress Premium account for another year. I have missed having a self-hosted site, but I will not go to some fly-by-night company that has no hacking protection. I think I found a good host, but I will need to take a day off in order to do the move. I may time that with the day I do my taxes.

And wow–that’s everything that I’ve been up to. I wish I could write about  some of these books that I am judging, but I really can’t, so I won’t.

What’s up with you?