Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I found my lost plot!

Well, my little hairy, purple alien smoke alarm story went off the rails, and then I realized my bull riding story was no better. I shelved the smoke alarm story, but the bull riding story, I think, is fixed. I hacked off the last two thousand words. Now, to the writing. That's the easy--and fun--part. Like so many other stories that tried to do too much, one of the things it needed was character consolidation. For a short story, never try to do with five characters, what can be done with two. I made his love interest and the loved one of the...well, I can't tell you that part...one in the same person. Voila! Instead of him getting gored by a bull and having to stay in hospital, he's only got broken ribs. Instead of being a raving alcoholic that takes a while to see the light, the trajedy already built in to the story becomes his bottom, and he's sober! It's so hard to switch gears between short and long form. It helps when I'm only writing and reading one or the other.

Meantime, that nasty bug has bitten again. Volunteeritis. I find myself doing way more stuff than I should be, while trying to still write and find a job. I'm currently doing stuff for Redwood Writers, Broad Universe, and Denvention. And trying to squeeze in my requisite critiques for Other Worlds Writing Workshop and reviews for Mostly Fiction. Did I mention Glendi? It's a two-day Ethnic Food Fair that I coordinate for my church. We have over two hundred people working to feed and entertain over two thousand attendees. Obviously, something will have to give when I get a job.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tandem Reading and SF Reviews

Been doing some tandem reading these days. I finished one of the best books I've read in a while yesterday. And another good one today. And a review I wrote of another of my favorites just went up at Mostly Fiction today. Quite a literary day. If only I'd managed to get some writing done as well...

Yesterday I finished Louise Marley's The Maquisarde. Bravo! Marley knows how to produce well-rounded characters with inner conflicts and outer conflicts that transform them. A woman goes from famous musician to grieving widow, to a vengeful mess of a person who manages to function and help others to a humble servant doing penance to heroine. I'm in awe. Best of all? I get to meet her at SpoCon. :) Think her literary genius is contagious? I hope so!

I finished Tigerheart by Peter David today. I enjoyed it very much. If you like Princess Bride and Peter Pan, you'll love it. The narrator is quite a character. Look for the review soon at Mostly Fiction. In fact, go there now to read my review of The Key by Pauline B. Jones. It's a masterpiece. Jones is another author who can deliver rich characters that both change the world around them and are changed by it.

So, what am I reading now? Tandem reading again. Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn and Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 by PJ Haarsma. The latter is a YA I'm reading for review at Mostly Fiction. The former, I'm reading because, hey, he's the guest of honor at SpoCon and I haven't read anything by him yet.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Truly Different, Truly Remarkable Novel

I finished Port Eternity, the first novella in Alternate Realities by C J Cherryh. Wow! What a ride it was. Very impressive blend of identity crisis, caste struggle, and nostalgia with rich characters in a future where the cloned servants' mistress sails through the stars on a ship, the insides of which are decorated after her fancy for the Arthurian Legend that has survived that far into the future. But what happens when the programmed servants learn of the legendary people they were named for? What happens when the ship is marooned, and the servants and those served face danger together? Brilliant!!

I love it when a book can utterly surprise me with something so different. Practice Effect by David Brin was another of those. He takes physics and turns it on its head and makes it work. Tools get better with use, even changing their molecular structure. Beautiful mix of fantasy and sf.

What's yours? What novel surprised and delighted you? Do tell!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Great Resources for Published Authors

I hate to just link and run, usually, but this was such a terrific find that I had to share. Enter the Octopus is the blog of Matt Stagg's , who is a publicist for the arts.

I especially enjoyed this post: Long Live the New Flesh: the internet, tribalism and book publicity.

I found him when I was going through my backlog of some 30 "Science Fiction Book Review" google alerts.

Just a reminder and to any new readers, visit my site for book reviews and where to find a reviewer: Ann Wilkes' Science Fiction Reviews List.

Shall I give you one more? Can you take it? There was great stuff over at Contrary Brin. When he puts together one of his link lists is mostly fascinating stuff to do with science and science fiction. And if you haven't read his books, you're really missing out. He's one of my all time faves. Especially the Uplift War series and Practice Effect.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Contracts, Dates and Deadlines

Just signed the author agreement for "The Rosary" to appear in a new fate anthology. They haven't named it yet, but it's really happening. It's also appearing in the upcoming RWC anthology: Vintage Voices: Four Part Harmony. So, I get a "two-for". "The Rosary" is a memoir about finding my sister.

If you're in the area, I have two more appearances this month. I'll be emcee and a reader at RWC's Odd Month Reading, "Heatwave", in Sonoma at Barking Dog, by Sonoma Mission Inn at 2PM on the 26th. More details at the RWC site here. Next night is Finbar's in Petaluma for Poetry, Pints, and Prose at Finbar’s Irish Pub emceed by Michelle Baynes. My friend, and 2006 Poetry Slam champ, Juanita Martin will be the featured reader. Finbar Devine’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, 145 Kentucky St., Petaluma. Phone (707) 762-9807 or (707) 762-9800.

August brings SpoCon in Spokane, WA the first through third. I'll be reading Friday, on a panel and signing Saturday. Then it's back to CA for the next RWC meeting on August 3rd.

August also looms large with a personal writing deadline. I have to get that PBR (professional bull riding) story whipped into shape by August 31 for the contest deadline. I'm also developing an interactive thing for kids to present for free at libraries and a talk for high schoolers to take on the road to area schools in September. It's back to Toastmasters I go for help in developing and honing my presentation. I love to talk to groups. I'm a ham.

Great news for Awesome Lavratt fans! I've started a sequel! A standard-sized novel with more adventures of Horace Whistlestop. So many people expressed a desire for more, I didn't want to disappoint. ;) And I have such fun writing it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Blurb for Awesome Lavratt - Awesome!

Awesome Lavratt is a fun ride on a spaceship of fools. Great characters, wonderful humor. Can't wait to see Ann Wilkes' next venture into the outer galaxies of her imagination.

Shelley Singer, Shamus nominee and author of Blackjack (as Lee Singer)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Some Days Are Like That, You Know...When You Water Your Living Room...

What can go wrong does go wrong. Case in point: You're awakened from a sound sleep, which you only managed to enter at 1:30AM, at 3:30AM by your charming offspring who has locked himself out. Now you can't go back to sleep. You get up at 6AM remembering that it will be a hot day and you might as well go downstairs and shut the windows to keep the predawn chill in the house a little longer before the onslaught of the day's heat.

That's when things get really interesting. While you're reaching over the antique library chair to close the front window, you notice the back of the chair is wet. Congratulations, the maladjusted sprinkler that you already knew about watered the living room through the open windows you also knew about it, even as the noise of them helped keep you awake when they went off at four AM. The dots just didn't connect in your sleep-deprived brain.

You're almost done sopping up the water off the floor, the back of the huge stereo speaker that comes up to your waist, and the honeycomb blinds. There's just one more spot on the other side of the overstuffed leather chair, which was thankfully spared. That's when you bump into the chair which knocks the aforementioned speaker, complete with the one houseplant which has defied all your efforts to kill it by neglect, sideways, barely missing the stereo before it crashes to the laminate floor.

What good can come out of a day with such a beginning? You turn for solace to your writing. Oh good! Your writing buddies want to help you brainstorm a way out of the corner you've painted yourself into with your current story. God bless them. Really. You are truly happy to have friends like this. The fact that they both picked today to IM with you almost at the same time to agree with you that yeah, well, what's the point? I mean why him? Why should the reader care? and What's at stake? was a little hard to handle on the three hours of sleep. But all true. Back to the drawing board, or the keyboard, as the case may be.

What about the job hunting? How about a school job. That sounds great, right? Now you need three letters of recommendation in a week. You know who to ask. But they're busy, too. Will they have time? >sigh<

So, what about the side job? You have some clients lined up for web design. But you still haven't dealt with the broken Photoshop program. Turns out you're just outside the 90 day grace period for free tech support on the now "old" version. And how long has it been busted? That's how much you hate to make those calls. >sigh<

After a less than productive day, it's still too hot to eat at 7PM. You decide to get some of the reading you need to catch up on done. You wake up and it's dark. Oh, well. A bad day can only be followed by a bad evening. Why mourn its loss? There's always tomorrow...ugh!...and that tech support call. The new version of Photoshop you decided to get for just a "few" dollars more than the "pay per issue" tech support has the same issue. The support is now free. But you still have to make the call.

Well, let's just hope it's not still dark the next time you wake up...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Reading and Writing

I had a signing at a comic book store that was not well attended, but a reading at a pub that was. Was it the beer? More likely, it was the featured reader, Luke Warm Water. My reading of "Jolaneering", however, was well received.

I had someone contact me on MySpace the other day. Sure looked like my niece from Texas I haven't seen in years. It was! And she was reading my book and is a young writer herself. What a kick!

The job hunting is going, well, it's going... I did have an interview last week. Even found some part time jobs with benefits! Imagine that! Do you know how stupid I feel when the job requirements say "must have BA" or "must have AA". Shoulda, coulda, woulda. I can do a lot of those jobs with one hand tied behind my back, but they'll never let me try without that piece of paper. Hmmmm. Go to college!

My smoke alarm story is coming along. We actually had a little break from the smoke for a couple of days. It was back today, but not as bad as it's been. Truly CA has been burning! But I was talking about the story. I have the character development and the setting. No plot, no story. I have to decide what that smoke alarm really is, that's attracting all these strange people to my protag's door. It's alien. I can't do mind control device. I've already done that in the Lavratt. I'm toying with...no, I can't tell you...you'll have to wait.

The bull riding story (no, not space bulls, this is not a spec-fic piece) is regrouping. I kept trying to bring in elements from my novel even though the point was to take this character out to play with him in a different setting. It's back to the "batting it back and forth with my muse" stage. I still have some great bull riding scenes and character development, but everything else is subject to change. >sigh<

It's a lot easier than it used to be. Just starting out, I couldn't bare to delete a paragraph for fear I could never come up with that "good writing" again. Now, I can delete pages or even start completely from scratch again without too much pain.