Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sherlock Holmes and ADD

I've been putting together a collection of posts on my own blog on my experience of ADD. I don't meet the hyperactive markers that one might typically think of.  I identify with the "excessive daydreaming" kind. The attention to the outside world deficit.  In me, that translated--some five decades later--as Psychic according to the local community college career center.  Imagine that!

I was watching the PBS special on the new Sherlock Holmes series with Mssrs. Cumberbatch and Moffat.  It traced the history of the character and his peculiarities. But it's not the historical Holmes that got my interest.  It is how he is being presented in the current production--how his attention flits from element to element as he puts the whole picture together. 

I got to wondering what that might have felt like as a kid. As a kid in the American school system that asks for right answers based on step-by-step movement through a series of programmed movements. At least that was it when I was growing up.  I just waited until everyone else got to the end of the steps before I joined in.  I'd most of the time got to their conclusions already. Put it together from other pieces having nothing to do with the current lesson.  Weird.  And I didn't get it right all the time, but I had fun getting there.

In another PBS special I discovered how much the story of Sherlock Holmes inspired modern forensics.  That means there are a lot of people who identified with him or thought that how he behaved was alright.  I mean their teachers. Yes, Holmes was logical and studied.  But how much of how he started out was the more daydreamy kind of behavior, taking in information and putting it in a new context? 

Anyone else have new insights into odd behavior?  This is spec fic.  Seeing the world through the eyes, the perceptions of those whose perceptions are considered faulty.   Sometimes they are called artists.   Do you know anyone who perceives the world so differently that you are encouraged to change your own perceptions?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fast Edits

At this moment, I’m going crazy participating in Savvy Author’s Editpalooza.  I picked an old draft from NaNoWriMo 2010. While not officially complete, there is enough material to finish it once I iron out the trouble spots. The problem is those spots after the first three chapters. It's  going to be painful to work through it in one month, but I’m willing to learn how to edit fast.

I haven’t touched the draft since that NaNo, so it opened my eyes to my three main problems:
  1.  A classic moment of pantsing. It started great, and then it went downhill after my main character left home. The original idea devolved quickly, and the scenes shifted  my original ideas. The plot left in the fifth chapter and never returned.
  2. I hate my characters.
  3. Somehow my novel turned into a fantasy romance novel instead of a high fantasy novel.

Unfortunately, approaching writing as a pantser can spell doom when you realize there isn’t much to work with. I wrote 71k, but how many good words are there? If I’m lucky, probably not more than 20k. I lost touch with the reality of the world I created. It’s painful to read and more painful knowing I wrote it. The first draft is meant to be this way, but I still didn’t want to believe it. Yet, I accept them to move forward.

Participating in Editpalooza isn’t going to allow me to think long and hard. The push to finish the next assignment is pressing against my forehead. Now they said, each assignment may take longer than others. I’m treating this event as a request from a real editor. If you want your book published on time, then you must meet the deadline. If I want a good 2nd draft, then I will work hard to complete it by the end of the event.

How about you? Do you think you can edit fast?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I'm avoiding the Snow Queen. She won't find me under the comforters.  Hehehehe!

Till next time,


Monday, January 20, 2014

Gorging on Urban Fantasy

In my last post I mentioned that cleansing can be a nice thing to focus on as part of making a fresh start in the new year. I was referring specifically to the plan for hubs and I to do a fruit and veggie cleanse some time in January, and I was very pleased with the healthy feeling that came from it. Now, some people will do this kind of cleanse for a week or more, and more power to them. I can't go without coffee for that long, LOL. So while it may not seem like a huge stretch, I think going two days eating nothing but fresh foods and water is a worthy accomplishment.

Of course, a little dietary cleansing isn't the only way to clear the cobwebs and get energized. Cleaning out all the junk and unused items around the house, emptying all the old folders and bookmarks on the computer you'll never look at again, or just organizing everything so it's not such a hot mess. I decided it was time to purge more books to make room for all the awesome new reading material I want this year, including getting rid of several ebooks on my Kindle (and I so wish we could donate those to the library too).

I couldn't help but notice that there are quite a few urban fantasy series that I started reading over the last few years but have not kept up with. It might be my short attention span, or my attraction to shiny new objects, but I tend to jump from one series to another only managing to read one or two books before moving on. I'm also super anal about reading any serial story in order, so there you go. Very occasionally I'll keep up with each new release, but not often. Which means I have a lot of catching up to do, so I'm planning a good old-fashioned gorging of some of the series I loved but didn't get the chance to continue. Here's my list so far -

The Walker Papers by C.E. Murphy - loved the first book (thanks for the recommendation Melanie!), but never went back to it

Horngate Witches by Diana Pharaoh Francis - I actually reviewed Bitter Night for the Witches and Witchcraft reading challenge last year

The Hollows by Kim Harrison - I know this one is really popular, and I made it 3 books into the series before I got distracted

Descendants by Jenna Black - again, only read the first one and really enjoyed it

Cal Leandros by Rob Thurman - I don't even know how many are in this series at this point, but I've only read the first two

Dresden Files by Jim Butcher - another long series that I can't wait to get back to

In addition to these (as if it weren't enough to keep me busy all year), I've got a few series I've been meaning to start and haven't yet - October Daye and Incryptid series by Seanan McGuire, Elemental Assassin by Jennifer Estep, and the Sabina Kane books by Jaye Wells.

Yep, I've got a long and glorious UF road ahead of me this year, but I always have room for more. Which urban fantasy series do you think I should add to my list? Do you have any favorites you desperately need to catch up with?


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why I Read Spec Fic

Some of the satisfaction I get from reading speculative fiction, the reason I put on a favorite book when I am feeling low, is practice.

Think of it. We read stories so that we can practice the consequences of our thoughts and feelings through the characters, without risk. In speculative fiction we get to practice getting through the murk, the barely nameable ilk and irk of our day. That energy-sucking co-worker. The weight of an upcoming storm. The creep of clutter.

Mainstream writing doesn't help me much. It doesn't help me name the ick. Not the way Jim Butcher does when Harry is being poisoned by vampire spit. Not the way Kristine Kathryn Rusch lets me identify with the pervasive dust of the moon, the constant threat of the bubble being breached, letting the breathlessness of living on a strange planet overwhelm. How does it feel living among aliens, trying to make sense of their rules?

None of this is obvious when I am reading or listening. Only when I ask the question, recall that this is what we want stories for, do I recognize the connections. This is also what our favorites are for. They take us into a world that some part of us recognizes, that encourages our hearts to listen more closely. This next year, 2014, I look forward to discovering more landscapes that feed my spirit, hold my heart, give me comfort when the world around me becomes just a bit more weird and whelming. 

What are you go-to stories, novels? Do you have a world that you would like a passport to? OK, just for a day, maybe. One that is more than just an escape?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New Year, New Beginnings

I always love writing each year about a fresh start and fresh beginning, but unfortunately by March (if that), my fresh start is stuck in the mud and I'm back to the place I was the year before whether it was for weight loss, working out or pursuing writing. This year, while I try to kick start my pursuit of publication, I have something new that I am pursuing and one that I can't fail at - a healthier lifestyle.

My two-year-old son has some nasty allergies that we discovered just before his first birthday, but him being so young we were able to just feed him "baby" food and my husband and I continued to eating all the foods that we loved. My son is allergic to wheat, oats (anything with gluten), eggs and dairy. This has been a real challenge for me to find things that don't taste like garbage to give to him because toddlers have a hard enough time eating when they don't have allergies.

I did a ton of research and checked out cookbook after cookbook trying to find some recipes that would be suitable. Finally, I found four really great books that allow him to eat pretty much everything from bread to cookies, cakes to ice cream and even a homemade nondairy cheese. This Christmas, I took on the challenge of cooking and baking dinner for my very picky inlaws. Thankfully everything turned out reasonably well.

To start 2014, I cleaned out my pantry and fridge of everything that isn't safe for my son to eat. If he can't have it, neither can we. There is no better feeling than when he can just pick at my breakfast, lunch and dinner plate. It's been a little rough at times, since I absolutely love cheese and chocolate. The dairyfree cheese has a different taste, but I'm adapting and chocolate...well, it's a love that I will never get over. I have learned to cook and bake. And although it takes a lot more time of preparation than popping in a pizza or chicken nuggets, I feel good because I know what I am feeding my little guy.

So changing my eating and my family's eating is my fresh start. I've also started the new year with another bundle of joy. My second little guy was born in late September and a family of four is more to adapt to than three.

My writing has taken a beating since baby #2 came, but it is so worth it. And although I am back to being that sleep deprived mother of a newborn, I wouldn't change it for the world. Now when I look at my little guys, I have a little more motivation to write and seek publication. I also make better use of my writing time because when the boys are napping at the same time (virtually never), I focus so hard on writing as that window doesn't stay open for very long.

I am thankful to be back at the Salon and back with the Scouts. I have a feeling that 2014 is going to be the best year yet! Happy New Year! And if you have any websites or cookbook recommendations for gluten, dairy and egg free recipes, please feel free to post!


Friday, January 10, 2014

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year

I originally posted this on my blog, but it fits well for the Salon theme for this week. So here it is:

It’s one of the most popular topics this time of the year: New Year’s Resolution. It arrived before we finished the ones from last year. It isn’t my favorite subject because of my track record, but the drive to win pushes me to make New Year’s resolutions. My resolutions don’t differ from most people. I want to lose weight with exercise and healthy foods. Most of you want to finish your first or tenth draft. But this year, my three resolutions are different, because if I can’t keep making the same ones. I never finished, so I will keep working on them and make new ones. 

1. It isn’t easy for me to speak of my flaws. I strive for perfection in everything I touch. I’m harsh on myself when it doesn’t meet my high standards. I can be just as harsh on someone. But I shouldn’t judge, because I can’t hold the same standards in others. Their wants and needs are different from mine. I can’t expect them to do the same as me. The world travels in a different way. I should honor that.

2. My second resolution stems from my first. I am harsh on myself and expect the best always. If the first time doesn’t come out perfect, then it isn’t right. Again, I need to step back and realize first tries are not perfect. I can’t write the perfect draft in 30 days. It can’t be unless you practice writing all your life and know the 30-day formula for publication. My mind needs to slow down and not expect perfection in the first round.

3. This year I want to be happy and enjoy what life has in-store for me. No matter what happens, if I’m not happy, then my dreams will never happen. My happiness spreads across to everything I touch. I’m an unstoppable force when I can’t beat myself down. Therefore, no one else can bring me down.

Now, I am ready to take on the New Year. Please leave your comments with your resolutions, or if you are not planning to make any. If you aren’t, let me know why. Until next time!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Today Is A Gift

January signals another glorious beginning, a gift to cherish or squander. It reminds me of Master Oogway, from Panda Kung Fu, quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why it’s called a present.”  
Yesterday is history. I find that statement cleansing with the washing away of 'whatever did or did not happen yesterday'.  I am thus renewed. From yesterday, I can glean from my mistakes and my triumphs to make a better today.  At least, that’s the plan. 

So, I started with goals, but this year I’m doing something different.  You know, the Einstein quote of doing something the same way will garner the same outcome.  Every. Flipping. Time.

Instead of making an endless list of things I want to accomplish, like I want to lose 10 pounds.  I’m writing goals with an end result in mind.  For example,  I am healthy and energetic.  I am eating healthy foods and having fun exercising.  The goals are written as an affirmation.  It’s not written as something to happen in the future, but is the state of being I am already in. Heh! Thinking positive here.  Don’t know how this will work, but I’m giving it a do.  Not trying, but doing as Yoda would recommend.

I’m also gathering up two glass jars and labeling one ‘happiness’ and the other ‘gratitude’ to sit on my kitchen counter. If I may dip back into yesterday for a moment, there were times I could have used looking at a jar filled with moments of happiness and the joy of that 'Yes' pumping action. I know, you know what I'm talking about. We easily forget the moments that bring a smile to our face, when something we don't want crowds our vision.  It would have helped to see and read scraps of paper filled with the good times to overcome the seemingly nonsense drowning me at the time. Besides, I believe the more I recognize the goodness in my life, more will be bestowed to me.  I got the idea for the jars from two writers, Elizabeth Gilbert and Terry Lynn Johnson.  Do check out their sites.
Well, this is my new beginning for 2014.  Do you have any new rituals or old ones to share?
Thanks for reading,
Posted on my website too. :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Try New Things in the New Year

I think everyone likes a new beginning, a fresh start. It's exciting and full of anticipation and possibilities. That's why writers have at least a dozen book beginnings sitting around collecting cyber dust. Not middles or endings, it's the brand new beginnings that we love so much.

Brand new years are great for the same reasons. Where I live in the south, January is when things really get wintry and waiting for snow becomes a real treat. Taking down the holiday decorations and storing them for the next year is an opportunity to shake things up around the house. Maybe it's time to replace those old curtains or start a photo wall project with all the new family pix you've taken.

I'm not a fan of resolutions. It's kind of a bummer to dwell on things you feel you should be doing but aren't. Top it off with added pressure to change, then call yourself a failure if you don't? No thanks. Don't get me wrong, goals are good, and there's nothing necessarily wrong with taking the time to plan for success. Cleansing is good too. Part of getting a fresh start sometimes requires flushing out the old to make room for the new, whether it be mind, body or WIPs. Hubster and I are even planning a fruit and veggie cleanse by month's end (more on that likely in my next post).

Rather than making resolutions, I prefer to think about all the new, fun things I want to try in the next year. Will I get to do them all? Maybe not, but at least I'll have some things to work for that provide more of that giddy anticipation and less of that dreaded fear of disappointment. So, here's a few of my New Things for the New Year -

Create an author website/blog
Learn to play that ukulele my dad passed down to me at Christmas
Take a cruise, or at least travel somewhere new
Re-decorate the guest bathroom
Write a few magazine articles
Plant a garden
Give quilting a try (Have you seen all the new, modern designs nowadays? Like knitting, quilting isn't just for your grandmother anymore)

Some of these are a done deal, and some.... well, we'll see how it goes. The important thing is that this list gets me excited and motivates me to push myself like no list of resolutions can. Sure, I've got some serious writing and career goals too, along with a couple of personal challenges I'm preparing for, but reminding myself of all the fun new things I'll be doing all year long is a great way to start things off.

So, what awesome stuff do you want to try this year? Give me your favorite New Things for the New Year, and best wishes in all your amazing endeavors :)


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014 and Welcome New Beginnings.

Happy New Year and welcome new beginnings. 
And of course, I am going to do the usual New Year thing, but not as resolutions. Or goals. Or planning of any kind. I learned something simple and exciting from the marvelous Martha Beck. Her suggestion/instruction/advice? How do you want to feel this time next year? No, really. 
I tried it for a bit during the murk of the last few months. I needed something else. I decided that I wanted to feel satisfied. How do I feel when I finish something? How do I feel when I have had fun with friends? How do I feel after a good day at work? Satisfied. That's exactly how I feel now. Satisfied. 

And that is how I want to feel at the end of 2014. Satisfied and excited. Excited? Because I have all the adventures that leave me feeling satisfied to look forward to.
I am excited by what I have achieved and where it is sending me. New authors discovered. New publishers, book reviewing achieved, a collection published. All the Salon Scouts have had an interesting year, of course. New genres explored. New ways to make the world a better place.  You can expect to see us approach blogging a little differently this year, putting more energy in to match the energy in our off-line lives.
So, this time next year... How do you want to feel? Expectant?  Comfortable?  Happy?  And, yeah, “weird” can be a good thing to feel.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year from all of us at the Speculative Salon!!

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