Archive for June, 2013


Along with pretty much all of you, I have a Fourth of July four-day weekend this week.   And TG for that because I am SO tired and really need the days off.

Of course I have plans for the holiday.  First I’ll tell you my plans.  Then I’ll tell you what will really happen.

Plan:  Before the weekend starts, I’ll go to fencing where I’ll be the ice goddess of the blade, parrying my way to victory in bout after bout with the best guys in the place.

Reality:  While fencing I’ll get tense, make a few dumb moves and only win a few bouts with the not-so-good fencers.

Plan:  I will get my taxes done (I got an extension, as usual) and hand my paperwork over to my tax accountant, who’ll tell me I’ll get a couple thousand back this year.

Reality:  My tax accountant will say I’ll get a couple hundred back. Enough to pay him for doing my taxes.

Plan:  I will go to the Cherry Creek Art festival where I’ll fall in love with and purchase several paintings and sculptures.

Reality:  I will sigh in longing over several art pieces and buy an overpriced glass of lemonade.

Plan:  I’ll suddenly come up with a brilliant, super-cheap and fool-proof plan to promote my next novel into bestsellerdom.

Reality:  Okay, that one was just delusional.

Plan:  I’ll see some friends and have a great time and we’ll talk and eat too much and do really fun stuff.

Reality: I’ll see some friends and have a great time and we’ll talk and eat too much and do some really fun stuff.

See?  At least one of my plans will work out.

I hope all of you have a splendid, fun, and safe Fourth of July.  Got anything special planned?

And Old Kitty—I know you don’t celebrate the Fourth (being English and all that), but may you and Charlie and Gumtree have a great week.

Anachronisms

on June 24, 2013 in Misc 9 Comments »

I used to have a book about prostitution in Victorian England.  An illustration in it shows one streetwalker saying to another, “Why Fanny, when did you turn gay?”

Fanny was not “gay” the way we mean it today or just being happy.  “Gay” was street slang for a hooker.  And yes I know: “hooker” has its origins in the name of a Civil War general.

Here’s another one for you…

A minister complains to his flock about all the New Age ideas people are starting to follow.  Sounds like a scene from today or from the 1960′s at the earliest?

Try the 1860′s.  And “New Age” was capitalized just like today.  That means I can use this term in my book Charity MaCay and the Almighty Dollar, which is set in 1867-1868.

I gotta tell you, checking for anachronisms in your own manuscript is so exhausting, so royal pain annoying, so anal retentive BORING.  But hey, on the bright side I’m at the point with my manuscript that I’m pretty much just editing single words.

A lot of you writers must know just what I’m talking about.  If you deal at all with history you have to make sure that objects or ideas or even single words were around in the period you’re dealing with.  That includes science fiction writers scribbling time travel stories or paranormal or romance novelists telling tales of bloodsuckers in Regency England.

And you and I know why we have to get these freaking details absolutely right.  Not just because we want to be proud of our work, but because when we slip up relatives and other critics will point out our mistakes because, they swear, they’re just trying to be helpful.   (Yeah, right!)

So in our defense I’d like to point out that even bigshots can make mistakes.

In the movie Titanic a character makes a crack about “Masters of the Universe.”  That term wasn’t around in 1912, and so movie critics went out of their way to mention James Cameron’s boo-boo.

I caught an anachronism in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. Zelda Fitzgerald of 1920′s Paris said “lobotomized.”  But lobotomies had not yet been invented.  I still loved the movie, of course.

So what anachronisms or other detail problems have you noticed in books or movies or TV shows?  Ever had to run your manuscript by experts to vet for those pesky details?  Ever want to slit your wrists ’cause you’re so damn tired of looking up the origin of words?

Postscript:  My Mom is doing better this week.  I really appreciate all the kind words and thoughts I received from you all.

 

First off, I must apologize because I kinda need to blow off this blog post.

See, I just learned a few hours ago that my Mom’s heart is acting up again so she’s seeing the doctor first thing in the morning and will likely have to be on blood thinner again at the very least.  I’ve decided she’s going to be okay. In fact more than okay – she’ll be spectacularly healthy and well again.

But in the meantime, my concentration is shot.

So if you don’t mind, for the time being I need to think only happy thoughts and send out happy vibes.  So here are some pieces of good news, personal and otherwise.

  • My polishing of Charity MacCay is going well. In fact I spent too much time on it today and really should get out more and enjoy the summer.
  • A friend from work was part of the orchestra for a performance of Bach’s Passion of St. Matthew. I was in the audience on Saturday night and can report it was glorious (all three hours of it).
  • I got an oil change in my car and for once the mechanic didn’t find anything else wrong with my car.
  • My left hip and leg are almost completely back to normal (it’s taken SO LONG!) and now on most days I have no pain and am working out and stretching pretty freely. I’m getting back to being Layla.
  • I finished Hart’s (Confessions of a Watery Tart) wonderful new cozy mystery The Begonia Bride (published under her nom de plume Alyse Carlson) and can honestly report that it’s a delightful read.
  • The state utility company has announced that within a couple years Colorado will get 30% of its energy from wind power. It’s also building a new wind power plant not to be green but because this plant will generate energy that’s MUCH cheaper than the new natural gas plant.
  • The Black Forest area near Colorado Springs has been soaked with rain, and thanks to it and the fantastic firefighters the horribly destructive fires are pretty much out.

That’s about it for tonight. Do you have any good news of your own to share? Happy thoughts? Happy feet/feat?

As you know, I’m in the final editing stages of Charity MacCay.  I got some work done on it this weekend but not as much as I’d like because…

a) I had so much other work and stuff to do (does that sound familiar to all of us?), and

b) my concentration was kinda whacked because of drugs.

I couldn’t tell you exactly what drugs.  There was the little pink pill the dental assistant gave me, the shots in the mouth that my dentist said would hurt a little but really HURT LIKE HELL!  And then there was the second little pink pill I asked for and quickly swallowed like it was manna from heaven.  The assistant told me its name but I don’t remember it.

This was Thursday morning, and my brain doesn’t recall a whole lot else.  There was the painful check I wrote out to the dentist three hours later.  And I know there had to be the hour-long drive home with my friend at the wheel ’cause legally I couldn’t operate heavy machinery.  My friend swears that during the hour I was was fun and funny.  While it’s satisfying to know I can be entertaining even while stoned out of my gourd, it’s also unnerving not to remember a word I said.  I slept the rest of the day, couldn’t sleep at all Saturday night, and only now am I feeling completely normal.

You know what?  Tomorrow I’m going to review the chapters I edited this weekend because maybe I only THOUGHT I was functioning like a normal writer.  For all I know I was really a blithering twit.

See, I keep having flashbacks (pun intended) of high school and college when friends would get high or tipsy and write poems and stories that they thought were really good.  But if a sober person like you read them you’d think, What is this crap?

So maybe it’s good that I DIDN’T get much editing done the last couple days.  You all know how tough editing your own work can be, and you have to be sharp as a razor while doing it.  Well, only now are those happy little pink pills out of my system.  Or at least I hope they are ’cause I’m writing this blog.

Have any of you ever had some weird medicated moments, especially of the literary kind?

First off, Finished:

This afternoon I was stunned to realize I’ve got no more historical research to do for Charity MacCay and the Almighty Dollar.  I mean nada.  Zip.

 

See, the thing about writing an historical novel or just one that deals in some way with history (like The Compass Master) is that there are ALWAYS details to look up. ALWAYS facts to check.  ALWAYS another resource to read among the hundred other books I’ve already read.  So today I sat down at my computer feeling like maybe I’d get a couple sections fixed.  And I fixed them.  And then I checked my literary To Do list.  But…

There isn’t anything else To Do.   Seriously?  Ya mean from here on out it’s just reread the manuscript a few times to proof it and make any last changes?  I don’t believe it!

Maybe you’ve had the same experience.  You’ve had a manuscript around for so long that it seems you’ll never finish it and get it out there.  And then one day… WHAM! It’s practically done.  Charity should be in print by this autumn!  I can’t tell you how good that feels.

Of course, I still have to edit the sequel, Charity MacCay and Holy Relations, but I’m not gonna think about that tonight.

Second, Factoid:

As you know, I like to throw out facts I’ve come across that might come in handy for my fellow writers.  Here’s the latest…

Scientists have at long last discovered why salamanders can regrow limbs and regenerate parts of major organs.  (Lost your leg?  Just grow a new one!)  It seems that this “superhero-like” ability stems from immune cells called macrophages, which of course we mammals also have.  In fact, many animals may have a capability for tissue regeneration that has been turned off during evolution, but for whatever reason remained on for salamanders.

Now that scientists have pinpointed the macrophage involvement, they’re hoping to find a way to reactivate the process in humans, for example to heal damaged spinal cords or speed up recovery from diseases.  Later on, maybe they can regenerate limbs, which would be so wonderful.  The theory is that it might be possible to turn back on in us humans a natural genetic (or epigenetic?) ability.

Personally, I think this factoid could be the basis for everything from an X-Men type of story to a more serious literary novel.  It’s also just plain good news.

So that’s it for today.  Do any of you have some inspiring factoids?  How about novels that you think you’ll never ever get into print?