Saturday, April 03, 2010

This blog has moved

This blog is now located at
You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here.

For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Garmann Sequel

The Excelsior File reviews Garmann's Street, the further adventures of the wild and wacky kid from Garmann's Summer.


Guess Who Just Had The Best Workday This Year?

Last week I began revising the 365 Story Project (again), this time into a traditional novel using only one of the story lines from the original material. This week I set up a spreadsheet to keep track of various parts of the job. I used a spreadsheet while I was working on my last book, and while that still hasn't sold, I do think a spreadsheet gives me more control of the on-going work. And it allows me to keep track of word count, which is nice in terms of daily goal setting.

Today I reworked (sometimes generating new material) one thousand, two hundred and forty-seven words! Yes, I know there are writers who wouldn't fire up their word processors for that, but I am not one of them. In addition, I made a submission, which involved doing a little market research. And I continued with some research for another project I want to get started on soon. This means, I'm sort of working on two projects at once, which is a new experience for me. I'm rather liking it.

Now that I've got the spread sheet going and am working a big three days a week, I can go back to giving you training reports, which I had to give up last August. Excited, aren't you? My computer guy found the training reports mind-numbing, which I will remember the next time he gets going on the kind of mind-numbing thing only a computer guy can go on about.

What's the point of doing training reports here? It allows me to use the blog as a sort of writer work buddy. Some writers report to their writer buddies each day, which makes them work harder so they'll have something to report. Why training report instead of work report? I like the whole idea of training. Working, not so much.

Labels: ,

If You Have A Lot Of Time... might want to decipher the ISBN on the book you're reading. Or you might want to work on a cure for cancer instead.

Sort of related--I was just reading today that evidence from mummy autopsies suggests that cancer was pretty much unknown among ancient Egyptians. Their secret may be that they didn't live long enough to develop it.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

But I Did Like It

I used the above title because I can recall years ago reading long, long reviews that went on for a column and a half before the reviewer began to say anything about the book. Ah, those were the good old days, when newsprint was cheap and a reviewer could drone on and on, showing the world how clever she was.

Anyway, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld--To cut to the chase, it's set in an alternative, steampunk just barely pre-WWI world in which the German-type folks, or Clankers, are into machines like no machines the German-type folks of that real era ever knew,and the British-type folks, known as Darwinists, are into "fabricated animals" that do all kinds of things for them, including serving as dirigibles. (Fabricating animals to function as machines seems like a great deal of work to me, but then science was never my strong suit. I am, in fact, still waiting to find my strong suit.)

The New York Times, where I used to read a lot of those long-winded reviews I was talking about earlier, carried a review for Leviathan in which the reviewer said there was "something a little mechanical (or bioengineered?)" about the two main characters. I would go further and say there was something a little mechanical about the whole book. You've got one storyline about Aleck, the classic royal refugee on the run with loyal retainers. You've got Deryn the classic girl disguised as a boy so she can follow her bliss in a line of work not open to women in the Victorian era. Deryn's bliss is flying on those fabricated beasties the Darwinists use to get around on, much as Matt in Airborn (another steampunk novel) is into gadding about on dirigibles. You've got a character here, Dr. Barlow, who reminded me of Europe in Monster Blood Tattoo. In fact, you have illustrations in this book that reminded me of those in Monster Blood Tattoo.

The book seemed to be manufactured of parts that would be recognizable to someone who had done much reading. It's well done, nonetheless. And less experienced readers won't have read a lot of books about girls going undercover as boys and royalty having to run for their lives. Leviathan won't sound as familiar to them. And I did like it--until I got twenty or thirty pages from the end, when I realized that this story wasn't going to be wrapped up in this volume and that I was reading a hardcore serial. Then I began to feel a little testy.

Scott Westerfeld has redone his website with a Leviathan theme. I thought the Leviathan trailer looked as if it was made by the same folks who did the trailer for Monster Blood Tattoo. Leviathan's had a neat ending, though. "Do you oil your war machines or do you feed them?"

And since steampunk deals with technology, this seems like a good time to refer you to Science Fiction and the Frame of Technology by Paul Woodlin, which I found a while back through Cynsations.

Plot Project: I almost forgot about the plotting project, in which I'm supposed to determine whether or not a plot was generated by a character wanting something and the author creating obstacles to the character getting it. Well, one thing I'm learning from thinking about the plots of the books I read is that you can't read authors' minds. You can only guess how a plot came about. I'm also becoming less and less entranced with the "find out what your character wants and then keep her from getting it" plot plan. If you go to Holly Lisle's Create Your Professional Plot Outline (thank you Procrastinating Writers), you'll see that she says you can develop a plot starting from a number of points, including world building. My guess is that even if a book like Leviathan began with its two traditional characters who can take off from traditional jumping off points--prince escaping, girl disguising herself as boy in order to gain entry into a male world--because it is steampunk, the world building would be crucial to plot development. It seems as if a lot of world building would have to come before the writer could do much with the plot. But that's just speculation.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Don't Cross Me

Cinema's Greatest Writer Villains.

Alpha female...writer villain. I'll settle for either one.

Grammar Monkeys And The Subjunctive Mood

Grammar Monkeys is a blog that's brand-spanking new to me, and it's exactly what I was talking about when I posted about changing the blogs you follow in order to bring some spark into your own.

You're probably thinking, But, Gail, seriously, how can a grammar blog inspire a post for your own blog? Oh, easily, easily, dear ones.

Note this Grammar Monkey post on the subjunctive. Now, my grasp of the subjunctive is very weak. However, I feel warmly toward it because it always makes me think of my father-in-law. When I first met him, his son, my boyfriend, warned me that his father, a civil engineering professor and textbook author, was going to ask me about the subjunctive. "He knows you're an English major, and he's always asking people about the subjunctive, anyway. Be ready."

My response was, What the Hell? Be ready for what?

Well, sure enough, soon after meeting, my future father-in-law did bring up the subjunctive. "It is my favorite mood," he said.

I've never known anyone else with a favorite mood. Actually, except for an editor at Putnam, I doubt anyone else I've known knew what a mood was.

So, there you have it, a blog post inspired by a grammar blog. Go forth and look for those new blogs!

Thanks to Blog of a Bookslut for the link.

UPDATE: Oops. I've told the subjunctive story here before. About four and a half years ago. Well, this just proves my original point, that if you've blogged long enough, you'll have read it all and blogged about it all.


Keeping The Magic In Blogging

Original Content's eighth anniversary was the beginning of this month, and instead of doing an anniversary post, I blogged about Sally. Social networking masters would point out that I missed a golden opportunity to generate some traffic at my blog with some book giveaways, maybe a blog tour, something. Anything.

My only excuse is that when anyone has experienced a great many anniversaries of any type, it's hard to get up a lot of energy for another one. Or sometimes even notice. (Though if Civil Guy sees this, be warned--we're getting out of town the weekend of July 23rd. At least, I am.)

I wouldn't have even noticed the eighth anniversary at all, but Greg Pincus did a post at The Happy Accident on what he described as The Blahgs--"the feeling you get when you lack the desire to keep on blogging." I've been hearing about this for a while now. It's not unusual to read of bloggers needing to take a break, needing to redefine why they're blogging in order to go on. I wanted to respond to Greg's post, the reponse involved figuring out how long I've been doing this, and there you go.

Meandering along here, I think a big part of litblogging is responding to material on the Internet--other blogs, literary columns, etc. I follow--superfically--a great many blogs, and something I've been noticing happening is that I often have days when I've waded through as much as I can without feeling a lot of excitment about anything I've seen. I've been doing this for eight years (See? This is the point where I checked to see how long O.C. has been around and learned I'd missed an anniversary), and what I think has happened is that I'm beginning to feel as if I've read it all before. Certainly, I have read a lot of it before. I have responded to a lot of it before. Yes, I can never read too much about Shirley Jackson and will probably always have a response. But another book controversy...another so-called celebrity author...another vampire story...another barking award...another list of some kind...I think anyone can see that if bloggers have been around long enough, they may very well get to the point that they just don't have anything more to say on a wide variety of subjects.

Now, I actually do have a bit of an assist for this problem--start reading different blogs. Because I'm a writer and not a pure lit blogger, I have some different interests I can call upon. In addition to kidlit blogs, I follow some author blogs, some writing blogs, and right now I'm following some editor and agent blogs. So I do get exposed to a little more variety of thought than someone who follows only one kind of blog. I've also had to drop some blogs over the years, usually because I felt the material covered was covered in other blogs, sometimes in many other blogs. You can't keep taking on more and more blogs because of that thing about time--within an individual life, anyway--being finite. You have to cull the pack every now and then.

So I would like to suggest that change may be what it takes to keep a blog going.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Margo Lanagan. Short Stories. Margo Lanagan And Short Stories.

Margo Lanagan did a guest post at Cynsations relating to writing short stories. And writing Tender Morsels. She did a blog tour last week, which I hope to read this week.

Labels: ,

My Own Nominees For YA Books With Adult Appeal

Earlier this month, The Spectacle did a post on YA books with special appeal to adult readers. When I say "earlier this month," I mean much earlier this month. Since I didn't see the post until yesterday, I felt I was way too late to add my two cents. So I decided to do it here.

YA books I think would be good reading choices for so-called grown-ups:

The Night Road

Tender Morsels


Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation

How the Hangman Lost His Heart

Ptolemy's Gate

What I Saw and How I Lied

Criss Cross

Other titles readers would like to nominate?