Friday, December 27, 2013

Year-End List (Yeah, It's a Little Early)

For my 2012 summary I presented a list of the best novels I had read that year (I also included my youngest son's choices).

For 2013, I'm not going to do that. Why?

Queue the ominous music. I read very little fiction in 2013*, but I have a good reason: I spent the time I would be reading novels working on my own. You see, I believe that if I allow other writers' voices/stories/plot points/nifty ideas into my head it will taint what little creative mojo I have. This theory is based on past experience and has cratered my stories before.

I did, however, read a lot of non-fiction both for research and enjoyment. For whatever reason, non-fic does not have the same muse-cancelling effect on me.

Just because I read very little fiction in 2013 does not mean I stopped buying novels. I fear I have an addiction when it comes to that. My bookshelf groans from the weight of unread novels (many of which I acquired at WorldCon). Just yesterday, I bought two more simply because I received a B&N gift card for Christmas and it burned my pocket to be spent (I always use gift cards fast so I don't forget about them).

Since I'm not compiling a list of books I enjoyed in 2013 I'll offer a different type of summary in descending order:
  • Forty-seven: the number of times I attended the DFW Writers' Workshop. (I'm a firm believer in the power of critique groups, so I go as frequently as I can, but my day job gets in the way sometimes.)
  • Sixteen: the number of rejections I received (Hey, you can't sell if you don't submit).
  • Seven: the number of days a week that I commit to writing. My goal is words on the page each day, but editing is also counted as productive time.
  • Three: the number of people I personally know who secured agent representation.
  • Three: a three-book deal for a friend who has already written six novels in the same romantic suspense series.
  • Two: the number of acceptances I received (both for short stories).
  • Two: the number of SF&F conventions I attended (WorldCon & FenCon).
  • One: friend whose debut novel was traditionally published.
  • One: friend who sold her first novel.
  • Infinite: the fun I've had world-building my medieval steampunk novel (I had no idea that drawing maps could be so time consuming and enjoyable).
All in all, 2013 was an okay year for me. I'd be interested to know how it turned out for others.

*My son discovered video games in 2013 and also read very little fiction. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Proof that Fact IS Stranger than Fiction

A friend of mine, S. Boyd Taylor (Sam), just signed with mega SF&F literary agent Jennifer Jackson. Knowing a bit of Sam's journey, I'm elated for him. What happened next in the story proves that fate has more plot twists up her sleeve than any author on the planet.

I'm just happy Sam and his family are all safe. My best wishes go out to them. Ms. Jackson signed a great writer.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bah Humbug Decorates for Christmas

I am one of those people who do not like the holidays. The period from Thanksgiving to New Year's is my least favorite time of the year.

Why? so many people ask me. It's a wonderfully festive season, they say.  

You can't see if very well in this pic,
but hand-crocheted ornaments com-
pose the wreath. My sister made it.
Yeah, right. It's:
  • Stressful (I won't even quote the alcohol / suicide / depression rates)
  • Expensive (Lucy from Peanuts got it right. Christmas is run by some big East Coast syndicate)
  • Fattening (cookies and cakes and punch and food, food, food to paraphrase the Grinch)
  • Miserable (have you ever noticed how may 'sad' holiday specials there are?)
  • Deadly (the kill count on Black Friday grows every year)
I even know where my disdain for the holidays comes from. The 4.5 years I worked at Wal-Mart. Anyone would be crazy to still be in a festive mood after spending a holiday season or two in that madhouse. To this day, I avoid all retail stores as much as possible from the day after Thanksgiving through a week or so after January 1.

Now, I haven't always been this way. When my boys were little I made an effort to erect a tree each year and to have an abundance of presents beneath it.

I know the pic is blurry and a bit
crooked, but the destruction wrought
by my felines is clearly visible. 
About the time my sons became teenagers, decorating for the holidays stopped being important. I donated my tree, lights and ornaments to charity. The only ornaments I kept were the ones my sister had hand crocheted for my kids. A few years back, she turned them into a wreath that I occasionally hang over the fireplace; however, I haven't in a long time.

This year, I got a wild hair and dug the wreath out of storage. It looked pretty ... for about an hour. Then, the cats discovered it and attacked! I have no idea what attracted them. I had made sure none of the garland dangled from the mantel, or any of the colored lights flashed. Still, my felines honed in. The wreath and garland had to die. In a way, it was very symbolic of my feelings about this time of year. 

My sister calls me Scrooge, but I do not care. She loves the holidays and can have them. As for me, I just bide my time until I can rip the December page from my calendar and start anew.

Anyone else dislike the holidays?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Did Mankind Evolve from Pigs/Monkeys?

There's a new theory that humanity resulted from a male pig and a female chimpanzee having sexual intercourse. (I was oh-so-tempted to offer a long list of nasty euphemisms, or crude jokes, but restrained myself.)

I know this image is a little horrific, but it was the best
I found that visually summarized the pig/monkey theory.
You can read it for yourself here, and here, and here. I'm offering different versions of the same story, because if you're like me you're flabbergasted by the notion that we've possibly BEEN EATING OUR RELATIVES FOR CENTURIES! (The pigs. Not the chimps, although I know there are some cultures that do consume chimpanzee meat.)

Could this be why mankind is so royally screwed up? To hell with inbreeding, we've been ineating our way to disease, genetic disorders, etc. - all because bacon (our possible kinfolk) tastes so darned good.

I'll never look at a pork chop the same way again. Please tell me this theory troubles someone else, too.