Friday, July 19, 2013

"... we begin to see images"

“We read five words on the first page of a really good novel and we begin to forget that we are reading printed words on a page; we begin to see images.” - John Gardner

I like to write beautifully. My daydream of my skills (as opposed to the reality of my skills) is that my writing is so beautiful that people will quote passages as if they are poems.

And then I want to write seamlessly. I want to write like John Gardner describes. I want you to forget you are reading and just be in the story as it goes by.

The second wish is whispered into my ear by my better angel. I do love to read beautiful writing--turns of phrases that catch my breath, descriptions that raise goosebumps--but, frankly, if the story is good I don't like to be reminded that I'm reading. I don't want to hear from the author. I don't want the author sticking her nose into my good time. I don't want her interrupting my adventure, my romance or my mystery.

So when I write I just try to shut up and play my guitar (with apologies to Frank Zappa). I work hard not to interrupt my reader in what I hope is the midst of a good time by not calling attention to the writing itself.

Darn it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Of Gears, Steam and Corset Girls

The book I'm writing right now (just over 31K words, which means about half way) is basically steampunk. It's set in 1899, but it's not your great-great-grandmother's 1899.

It's taken me six months to get this far on the book which in my life is just short of "forever." I haven't taken this long to write a book in years. The thing is, I want to get it right.

The main character is Miriam Walker. She had a husband and children not too long ago. But her husband Oliver was killed in a factory accident and that made her a widow. Then her two daughters died of scarlet fever, leaving only her son, Ben.

Then the monsters got Ben. He was found in an alley, torn to shreds and something had eaten his entrails. Now Miriam spends her solitary life destroying monsters. Hunting them, killing them and beheading them.

And like any good hero, she gathers companions along the way.

[Below is an excerpt, remember this is a work in progress, so it might change!]

“You are going to kill them in cold blood,” Monroe said.

“Those monsters killed Penny, Mr. Bernier and countless others. Yes, the temperature of my blood is quite cool,” Miriam replied.

Monroe's look of astonishment had turned into an expression she couldn't quite read in the dim street lamp light.

“You are a seamstress,” he said with a touch of wonder in his voice.

“Yes, I am.”

“Yet you pursue and kill these things like a man.”

“Nonsense! I pursue and kill them like a woman. It is like any work I turn my hand to. They are filth and I …”

“You clean them up.”

“Yes.” She shivered. The night was cold. She would need to keep moving or get indoors. She wasn't willing to take the latter option just yet.

“Now you must leave me to it,” she said.


“I must leave you to your chores? Well, it is my turn to say ‘nonsense’” I will not leave you to it. I will help you.”

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Next time, I'll explain what corset girls are!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Many Worlds

One of the (very few) advantages of being an unknown writer is that you can write in any genre you care to. There's no publisher or fan telling you "You're a mystery writer! What are you doing writing fantasy?!?!"

So I write fantasy and mystery and even non-fiction. I've written a couple of romances. I write whatever strikes my fancy.

I like to live in many worlds. Hence the name of the blog.

So if you, Dear Reader, prefer mysteries and don't "get" fantasy dragons, I will still love you if you only read my mysteries. I love mysteries. I've read every single thing Rex Stout ever wrote and the same for Agatha Christie.

And if you think mysteries are boooorrrriiiinnnnggg, skip over them with my blessing. I love writing fantasy too. I've seen every episode of Doctor Who and I've read Lord of the Rings 18 times so, yeah, I "get" the fantasy thing. I love going to strange worlds where anything can happen.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

On the Nature of Dragons

European dragons are supposed to be like fire-breathing, winged dinosaurs or lizards or something. Asian dragons don't have wings and are a little more like four-legged flying snakes (or something). European dragons feed on the flesh of virgins, lose battles with brave knights and burn down villages if provoked. Asian dragons are a symbol of power and good fortune. They are usually depicted with a huge grin.

If somebody compares you to a European dragon, smack them in the mouth because you are being insulted. If they compare you to an Asian dragon, give them a wet kiss and say it was from me.

Then there are my dragons. They are Asian (and therefore among the good guys). They can change into any shape - human, animal, inanimate object. They can fly without wings. Asian dragons fly for the same reason I write: because they want to and nobody can stop them.

Dragons are virtually immortal, therefore they have had time to make a lot of mistakes and learn from them. Or not. They aren't different from humans in that respect. And like most humans they can be petty, cruel, destructive, angry, kind, thoughtful, caring and loving. Sometimes all on the same day. My dragons think burning down villages is SO last millennium. Mostly. They aren't saints or gods even if they can do some pretty god-like stuff.

What all dragons are good at is SEEING. When they look at something they see it with an intensity that is hard to imagine or describe. They can especially see through you. They know if you are good. They know if you are bad (much like Santa in that respect). That means you can't lie to them. Most of you think you might be an exception to that rule. All of you are wrong.

Now, like I said, dragons aren't saints. They can and do lie to each other. They do deceive each other. And if they can fool each other, trust me, they can fool you. That old lady sitting over there reading Fifty Shades of Prune? Dragon or old lady? How about the bus driver you saw this morning. The one with the fat belly and the “I’m going to have a stroke by nightfall” complexion? Could he be a dragon? What about the chair you’re sitting on? What you think is nauga may be dragon hide. You may never know.

If you see a dragon you are lucky. If they speak to you, you are blessed with a charmed life. When they decide to take a personal interest in your improvement as a human being, you’re gonna love it ... not.