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Showing posts from August, 2007

Yellow Roses rollin' down the river

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14,685 / 90,000
(16.3%)

By the way, going back and reading your own published work is NOT recommended. You will see all the places the publisher took out perfectly good commas and that place where you used the same descriptive phrase twice in the same paragraph, and there's nothing whatsoever to be done about it.

Research Today:

• When shooting a major structure fire at night, you would still use a flash if you had firefighters in the foreground. Otherwise, they would not be clearly visible. The real key is the camera - some cameras can autofocus at night with varying light sources and some can't. It's a crapshoot.
• Diptheria was a very gross disease, and definitely still around in the early 20th century.
• A disturbing side trip that ended with the Wikipedia entry on the penis of the Mad Monk Rasputin, and I wish I could scrub THAT from my brain.

Monthly Day Off

Once a month, I work on a weekend. We all gotta do it, on a circulating schedule decreed by our masters at the newspaper. On a week that you work a Saturday or Sunday, you get a weekday off to compensate.

So once a month, I get a single day off work, with no kid. He's at school, and the paper just has to manage without me. It's my mental health day, or so I always think of it. Of course, it's crammed full of Stuff To Do, so it's not exactly restful. Sometimes I think of it as my Other Life Day, in which I get a brief look at what my life would be like as a full-time freelance writer instead of a full-time reporter/full-time mom/half-time writer/full-time juggler. Juggling in a house of cards, that's my favorite analogy.

It goes roughly like today:

7 a.m. Alarm goes off. Smack it into submission.
7:20 a.m. Haul ass out of bed and kick child into motion.
7:30 a.m. Shower.
8 a.m. Yell at child for not being ready.
8:25 a.m. Take child to bus stop. (So far, same as a normal …

Yellow Roses report

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8,043 / 90,000
(8.9%)

Seems like I'm rolling, right? Heh. This is the EASY part. I haven't gotten to the WHOLE NEW FREAKIN' CHAPTER yet.

Tonight's Research:

RVs: Medium-sized RV show in St. Louis next month. Planning to attend so I can poke around a big residential-size RV without being expected to buy one.
Asphalt: consulted old stories on REAL asphalt plant that caught fire twice in one year. I don't know if I'll stick with this technology. Can they sue me? Any other kind of factory that's prone to ginormous fires?
Don't want to choose a denomination for Rev. Quinn's church, but I may have to. "Trinity" just isn't enough. Should I insult the Lutherans or the Presbyterians?

Yellow Roses, final draft

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4,182 / 90,000
(4.6%)

At least, that's the theory.

This is the easy part. I've reimagined the beginning so many times that the rewrite is mostly language. The only flaw I've already run into is the fact that Cat Suarez lives in an RV and I've never been inside one. It's time to rectify that. How to get a tour of an RV without misleading the salesman into thinking I'm buying one? That's harder.

I am determined to work steadily on this book, at least 2,000 words a night, until it is done. Finis. THE END. If there's something my career woes have taught me, it's that I don't write enough. The length of time between releases is unacceptable.

More work, and faster. Not to mention I'm dying for YELLOW ROSES to make it into print. I can only hope the readers love it as much as I do. You can't get much more painfully angst-ridden than this book. (Well, except POLARIS, but that's another story. Heh.)

Today's Research Included:
• Catalina is a sa…

Random Ghost Fact: The Mississippi Queens

In 1872, the massive Iron Mountain sternwheeler left New Orleans with an entire flotilla of barges and 55 crew and passengers. It was last seen turning a bend in the river. The barges were found floating on the water by the steamer Iroquois Chief, following not far behind. The tow rope had been cut, not broken.

But the boat was far too large to simply sink. The water was too shallow to hide the Iron Mountain's massive bulk. But no wreckage has ever been found.

In 1873, the Mississippi Queen riverboat left Memphis on April 17. That's the last anyone heard from it. The steamboat and all its passengers were never seen or heard from again.

Pirates? Possible - there were many river pirates working the water then. But how do you make an entire steamboat disappear in a matter of hours? This is not the Bermuda Triangle we're talking about, with unknown depths to hide its secrets. This is the Mississippi River, artery of the country, but there are lakes deeper than this waterway.

Many …

Eternal Roses

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I intentionally freaked myself out tonight.

My son had a HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2 party at the YMCA tonight. Five uninterrupted child-free hours, which any parent (particularly a single parent) will tell you is worth its weight in gold-pressed latinum. While I was tempted to a) be social or b) spoil myself, I knew the only way I was ever going to move forward with the YELLOW ROSES project was to take advantage of this time. The next step required a marathon session.

So the binder, the notebook, two reference books I haven't finished and my index cards took over a corner table at Sacred Grounds, my favorite coffeeshop. How funny is it that as I walked up to the counter, the barista said, "Cheese quesadilla, no salsa, extra sour cream, right?" I'm getting predictable in my old age.

Stoked on unlimited caffeine, I finished THE GHOST HUNTER'S HANDBOOK and set to the real task: outlining. Each scene in the first draft got an index card with summary. Then I laid them out on…

Big Times in Writers' Lives

I tell you, sometimes it really pays to read the blogs before sleep comes.

This past weekend, the marvelous force of nature known as Sara M. Harvey was finishing a panel at Pi-Con when her fella hopped up to the dais, fell to one knee and popped the question before the world. Naturally, the squees have been echoing among those of us who know Sara, a terrific friend and wonderful writer whom my son has dubbed The Glitter Lady because of her habit of wearing sparkly makeup.

And as I clicked off of the pictures of Sara's beautiful engagement ring, I dropped by Brian Keene's blog for a quick read before sleep.

Well well well. Though I'm quite sure he doesn't read me, congratulations, Brian. Seems the Zombie King himself is going to be a father at the age of 40. Let's all start taking bets on how many stuffed Cthulus and "Horrified B-Movie Victims" will grace the baby shower.

(This is a roundabout way of saying you'd better catch Brian at his signing this Satu…

I-Con Report

Back from I-Con, my first experience with the Springfield, Ill. con and I can report the natives are friendly. While I must honestly say I didn't sell all that well, the people made the trip definitely worth my while.

Many thanks to John Beachem, E.E. Knight, Shane Moore, Glen Cook and Charles Embrey Jr., authors and gentlemen whose presence made the slow sales somewhat more bearable. Muchas gracias to guest coordinator Shane Beningfield, who ran his feet off taking care of us, and extra thanks to Shane Moore, who recruited the authors and coordinated between us and I-Con and Borders.

And a thousand thanks to my wonderful assistant, Katie. As regular con flunky, she is willing to strap herself into a corset and hawk my books with cleavage and savvy. She brought her son, which gave my boy someone to play with, and their presence made the trip seem less like work and more like a mini-vacation.

I do wish that we'd sold more books at the signing, as the number of books ordered outpac…

Ghost Hunters on TV

Research into ghost lore of the midwest continues, and it's FUN. I'll get back to providing you with Random Ghost Facts later.

But last night, just for laughs, I watched GHOST HUNTERS on the Sci Fi Channel. And with all due respect, it was awful.

They investigated two sites: a lighthouse and a museum/old house. We watched the team go through each location loaded down with technical equipment that was never really explained. Ooh, a plasma injector with a Heisenberg compensator!

They also didn't find any ghosts. Or evidence of ghosts, other than a slight cold spot in a 100-year-old lighthouse. Hmm, ya think? Okayfine, I wasn't really expecting disembodied spirits, but some discussion of what they were looking for, a dissection of the history of the location... we got about thirty seconds of background in the midst of fifteen minutes of "We're really looking forward to this" nonsense.

But worst of all... it sank endlessly into personal Drahmah between the ghost…

Random Ghost Fact: The Prison of Alton

The Alton Prison was built in 1833 as one of the worst designs in history. It was a stone building in the middle of a marsh. The cells were so brilliantly designed that a prisoner could effectively block the inward-opening cell door by lowering his bunk. A prisoner once famously held off the guards for days this way, holding a guard hostage inside the cell.

The prison was closed in 1860, but the need for POW space during the Civil War reopened it a year later. Nearly 12,000 Confederate prisoners would pass through its gates, and many of them would die, usually of yellow fever, pneumonia and dysentery. The number of dead prisoners was so high that they were trucked out to an island in the middle of the Mississippi because the local residents wouldn't allow diseased bodies to be buried near town. The island, of course, is said to be haunted, though most believe it to now be underwater.

In lighter days, the bodies would be carted up the bluffs to be buried. Keep in mind that only subs…

Random Ghost Fact: The Bloody Bucket

This weekend, while hanging out with my new family members, I had the good fortune (?) to pass the juvenile detention facility for our little corner of Illinois.

This small stone building is the focal point of several government-issue outbuildings, in the middle of a nicely-cleared glen along Route 100. There is no front gate, but there are hilarious signs warning us DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS. Darn rascals.

But the miscreant kids of Illinois are, in fact, on one of the more historically significant areas of ghost history. Once upon a time, Grafton (population 650 or so) had 26 saloons frequented by miners, quarrymen and pirates. Yes, real pirates working the rivers, and none of them looked anything like Jack Sparrow.

The River House, which would eventually become a juvenile prison, was the most famous of these saloons. Deals were made, brawls were fought, men were buried (or not) in the woods behind them. Once, supposedly, a trio arrived with a herd of horses to make a deal. They didn&#…