Time Travel Novel? Maybe Not!

I was on Query Shark's blog (shades of Ms. Snark there, although the agent is somewhat gentler), looking at and commenting on some of the queries.

One was about a story wherein the characters go back in time to the launched/about to be launched/being built Titantic. It sounded fascinating, if a bit long (150K words!), and the title didn't grab me.


That got me thinking (always a scary thing) about my current WIP, Yesterday's Gone:
  • MC time travels back to 1942 from 1974
  • Time travel does not include a machine or some SF way of travelling
  • A Roman goddess sends the MC back in time
  • Although not a huge part of the story, the goddess does do, um, certain things on the sly
By "certain things on the sly," I mean magical-type things: She "talks" telepathically (when she feels like it), can come down to Earth in either her goddess form or in mortal (earthly) form, she can influence (or not) certain events, and she can play around with/rearrange the structure of buildings (or make it seem that way).


Because of a Wikipedia article on time travel, and another one on historical fantasy, I now think I should pitch my novel as historical fantasy.

What made me change my mind is this section about historical fantasy:
Historical fantasy is a subgenre of fanatsy, related to historical fiction. It includes stories set in a specified historical period but with some element of fantasy added to the world, such as magic or a mythical creature hidden in the cracks. Often the magic retreats from the world so as to allow history to continue unaltered[...]
Takes place in 1974New Jersey (eh, maybe not that part of it) and 1942 Los Angeles and San Francisco (definitely historical). Check.

Has a Roman goddess. Check.

Roman goddess can do magical stuff, but it's hidden (except to those in the know, of course). Check.


(Always wanted to do that...if anyone has seen The Three Stooges, and, specifically, a completely politically-incorrect short having to do with the Stooges crashing a WWII Nazi/Japanese spy ring...then you know what I'm getting at.)

Then again, maybe even the Stoogeaphiles don't have a clue. ::shrug::

Anyway, I don't think it can be a straight time travel novel because the time travel aspect isn't the central thing, isn't referred to again and again, doesn't have a machine that causes the time travel to happen.

It's a trope I've used to move the story along.

Plus I have the addition of the Roman goddess; she's snarky, which is not exactly typical of a god or a goddess. She can lay on the booming voice and other goddess-type crap when she feels she needs to, but she's more interested in following a certain character around because she finds the character's actions and reactions fascinating.

Which is the main reason why the Roman goddess grants the MC's plea for help in finding her birth mother.

Historical fantasy. Yup. That's what it's going to be from now on.

~Nancy Beck


Audible Launches New Imprint

This is something that sounds like a science fiction (SF) or fantasy fiction fan would gobble up.

The announcement of this launching also included what I found even more interesting than having access to certain SF and fantasy audio books: A monthly recommendation by Orson Scott Card.

Monthly Selections

Now, I'm no great fan of Orson Scott Card; I read the original Ender book and didn't care for it. That it soured me against his fiction (a personal thing, for sure) didn't mean it soured me from purchasing his excellent book on writing, Characters and Viewpoint.

But what has me intrigued is that not only is going to be talking about classic books, but also new books:
It's easy for great novels and novellas to get lost in the bookstore - not everything can get front-of-store display! Card said. That's what I'll be doing with OSC Selects - moving new and classic sci-fi and fantasy right to the front, so fans will have a better chance of noticing terrific stories performed by first-rate readers.
His first pick is a classic (which doesn't surprise me :-)) from Andre Norton, Star Born.

Guest Columns

The release also touts a monthly guest column with "a different prominent science fiction and fantasy writer." Ben Bova is first up.

Nice to See

It's nice to see SF and fantasy novels (and novellas!) coming to audio in a big way. I'm not sure if I'll partake of this right away, as my financial situation is a bit tenuous, but I'll try to keep track of it and see if it lives up to the PR.

Again, here's Audible's PR release about the new SF and fantasy imprint.

~Nancy Beck


Monday Morning Wrap Up: 4/26-4/27

Word Counts

I think my writing this weekend was the dreckiest yet:

4/25 - 127 words
4/26 - 135 words
4/27 - 138 words

See those last two days? I couldn't stand what I'd written on Saturday, so I deleted those crap words and came up with some, um, hopefully less sucky words (and notice I came up with an entire extra 3 words on Sunday - oh joy! [end sarcasm]).

Doesn't help when it's that time of the month, ya know? ;-)


Well, had a couple of friends over late in the day. They came over for pizza and to say hi to the doggies. We hadn't seen Chris and Fran in...jeez...since sometime last year. A fun and interesting time was had by all, and there were 4 slices of pizza left over, for scarfing down on Sunday.

Oh, and a couple of our friends got married on Saturday. (I think it was Saturday; maybe it was Sunday?) They invited a ton of relatives, so believe me, I didn't expect to be invited (besides, that's for them to decide, not me).

Congrats, Alison and Jim! Have fun in the Turks and Caicos! :-)

Our other friends were invited, and I'm sure they'll give us the scoop on how everything turned out. (Hopefully, hilarity ensued...)


Yesterday was slug day, as far as I was concerned. Didn't go out except to scour the backyard for doggie deposits (I've got a sinus headache today, so I don't really want to get all that gross right now, ya know?). Watched the 2nd day of the NFL Draft, which was kind of cool.

Giants picked up some good prospects, I think. A safety was the first one they picked, which is what I hoped they'd do. Then they picked up the other half of the secondary, selecting a cornerback.

They also picked up a couple of linebackers, a wide receiver, and, interestingly, a quarterback.

Having a good back up quarterback does come in handy; remember Jeff Hoestetler, who helped win the Giants' second Super Bowl (because Phil Simms was out with an injury)? Maybe the Powers That Be decided that the back ups to Eli aren't that good, or maybe they selected him as some sort of leverage (if they need another player at a certain position and the other team needs a quarterback...).

But who knows? I know the prognosticators said the Dolphins and Chiefs had good drafts, but I guess the thing is, will the players those teams selected actually make the team? And will they have an impact?

Let's face it...Gerry Reeves made good in his first year: I think all or almost all of the rookies he signed made the team - and almost all of them made an impact.

As rookies.

In the Super Bowl.

How awesome is that? Let's see what this group can do. :-) Maybe the magic will continue.

~Nancy Beck


Film Fun Friday #2

(image courtesy of The Internet Movie Database - http://www.imdb.com)

David Copperfield, M-G-M, 1935

Well, I had to bring up Dickens at some point, so why not now? :-)

David O. Selznick, best known for bringing Gone With the Wind (1939) to the big screen, went through a period in the middle 1930s where he brought some of the books he enjoyed when he was a lad to the screen.

This was his try at David Copperfield, and it was quite successful. I'll admit that I can't remember the last time I saw this film; it's not something that's run on the movie channels all the time. But with DOS at the producing helm, combined with M-G-M's moolah (and all-around expertise and sheen that was sometimes the envy of the other movie studios), it turned out quite well.

The cast is almost completely British (duh, right?); there was an ample "British colony" of actors in Hollywood at the time (might still be, for all I know).

So here's your trivia stuff for today:
  • Charles Laughton (the original Mutiny on the Bounty is probably what he's best known for) originally had the role of Micawber. After three or four days of work, Laughton gave up the part.
  • W. C. Fields took over the Micawber role. Yes, that W. C. Fields! Offbeat casting (to put it mildly), but it worked out well.
  • M-G-M budgeted the film at just under $1 million (a considerable sum in the 1930s, especially for a non-musical film), but the production costs ballooned to $1,069,225.
  • By the end of summer 1935, the picture had grossed $3.5 million in the U.S. alone.
  • David O. Selznick and George Cukor (they were friends, after all) took a trip to England to find the young version of David Copperfield. They saw more than 2,500 actors, testing about 100 of these.
  • They found their David not among the 100 tested; it was a sudden thing, wherein 10-year-old Freddie Bartholomew was submitted by his aunt. His parents weren't as enthusiastic about the idea of his becoming a movie actor...but as you can see in the picture in this post (Micawber and young Master Copperfield), Freddie won out.
Have a great weekend! :-)

~Nancy Beck


Word Count Buddies

Busy, busy, busy, but not busy enough to not write:

4/22 - 115 words
4/23 - 124 words

I'm in Chapter 10 now, and I'm at the point where events in the story are making a decided change (for the better, as far as I'm concerned. :-))

Doesn't make it easy, though. I decimated a lot of Tuesday's words, and yesterday's words...well, if I think they're dreck, they'll be history.

But I think it's time for me to move forward; I'll be doing at least one more look-see after this look-see (maybe two, who knows?). I've gotten stuck on stuff in the past, and I don't want a repeat of that.

~Nancy Beck


Critting - Holy Crap On a Stick, Batman!

(Photo courtesy of http://www.rainbowpatches.com)

When I go over to the Absolute Write boards, I occasionally crit stuff on the Share Your Work part of the board. (It's password protected, BTW.) And, occasionally, I get what are known as rep points, which are given out by people there for good answers or whatever.

I don't go out of my way to get these points, but it's nice to receive them here and there.

A 21st-Century Fairy Tale

I critted something last month and hadn't been back to that particular story because, well, I get cobwebs of the brain from time to time. Anyway, I thought the story was cute; it was a 21st-century fairy tale (I love fairy tales). Not only that, but the writer's first language wasn't English, and to me, kudos to him/her for trying something not in his/her native tongue!

I usually do line crits, because that's what I'm good at. (If someone states at the beginning of their post that they're not interested in line crits, then I either stay away from that story altogether or I try to give what they're looking for.) This person didn't have anything that indicated such a thing, so I gave my usual.

And My Usual Is...

I always start off a crit by stating that it's my opinion, and that I could be completely wrong in my perception. I also let the writer know that they can toss anything that sounds stupid or ridiculous, but that I hope I provide something that'll help them.

And it works both ways; if I see something that they're doing well, I hope to use that in my writing. The same thing goes if they're doing something that isn't working: Is this something I should be careful about in my writing? This, I feel, is a good way to get better as a writer, especially if you eventually want to be commercially published.

Imagine My Chagrin

Here we are about a little over a month later, and I find out that this person has been bad mouthing me and my crit.

A harmless little bunny like me?

He/she asks who the hell I am, who were/are my writing mentors, am I normal/do I read like a normal person (hmm...you got me on that one...I do consider myself a weirdo chick, whether it comes to reading, writing, or 'rithmetic) - and on and on.

It was nice to see others there coming to my defense, because, well, I try to inject humor in my crits, too, with a lot of it directed at myself. (I'm a glutton for punishment, heh. ;-)) In that way, the person being critted can amuse themselves at my expense; it's tough having your stuff critted.

Believe me, I know. I used to belong to one of the paid online crit groups, and some people there could be quite brutal. But most people there gave the good with the bad, and did it in such a way that it was respectful.

That's Where I Learned My Critting Style

The last thing I would ever, ever want to do is to tell someone that their writing isn't up to snuff; I don't want to be the person to burst their dream. (And I didn't think this person's writing was that bad; a bit of tweaking and reading up more on the English language, and I think he/she would've had a perfectly fun story.)

Hell, it's tough enough fleshing out ideas. I've got two ideas I've put into a couple of Word documents so I don't forget 'em. They're just not beyond the idea stage as yet.

And they might never be.

So when I signed up for that online crit group, I figured I'd learn two things:
  • I'd learn how to crit the correct way
  • I'd see if my writing had any sort of merit
That I also learned what worked and what didn't work in someone else's writing pointed me back to my own writing. So, the person being critted gets something out of it, but the person critting gets something out of it, too.

It's a great way to move your writing along - as long as you can stand to have your baby out there. That part of the equation is not easy, so I admire anyone who has the stones to do it.

Pardon moi, but methinks I owe some rep points to some peoples...

~Nancy Beck

Live! From New York

It's Satur...

Oops, wrong show.

And now

Direct to you

From the Internet



Starring...EE!! (Naturally.)


the Minions!! (Naturally.)

Follow the Link...

In appreciation for all he's done for the Minions (yup, that includes ME!), and for werewolf popes and weredingoes everywhere, I've set up a Google Page, just for this occasion!

Check it out here:

Happy Anniversary, EE and Minions! :-)

Oh...and head over to the special anniversary page. There'll be partying and chances to win gifts (well, you'll have to do some work to get any of those things!) and just an all-around fun time.

~Nancy Beck


Kudos to Signet For Doing the Right Thing

Remember that big flap over the Cassie Edwards' plagiarism a few months back? The Smart Bitches outed Ms. Edwards lifting whole paragraphs and using them as her own.

According to the Smart Bitches site, and to Publisher's Lunch (which I just received in my email box today:
Signet Drops Cassie Edwards Over Plagiarism Claims
Publisher Signet said on Friday in a statement that it had "conducted an extensive review of all its Cassie Edwards novels and due to irreconcilable editorial differences, Ms. Edwards and Signet have mutually agreed to part ways. Cassie Edwards novels will no longer be published with Signet Books. All rights to Ms. Edwards' previously published Signet books have reverted to the author."

The investigation was initiated after the Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books site posted numerous instances of passages they said were copied from historical works. At first Signet defended Edwards' work as protected by fair use, saying her "researched historical novels are precisely the kinds of original, creative works that this copyright policy promotes."

But Penguin Group star author Nora Roberts quickly joined the chorus of dissenters: "By my definition, copying another's work and passing it as your own equals plagiarism. As a writer, a reader and a victim of plagiarism, I feel very strongly on this issue. I'm not a lawyer, but I can't see it as fair use, or fair anything when one writer takes another's work."

On the Dear Author blog, Roberts expresses new hope that Edwards' other publishers will also take action: "As for the other publishers, the optimist on my right shoulder hopes they also take the matter seriously and respond accordingly. The cynic on my left isn't holding her breath."
To which I say: Good for them! Signet investigated, didn't like what they saw, and, I feel, acted appropriately. Whatever you think of Ms. Edwards' writing, plagiarism is always wrong - ALWAYS. Don't want to use your own words? Then cite/attribute the line or paragraph you use.

Easy to do.

So a hearty congrats to Signet for getting it right.

~Nancy Beck

Monday Morning Wrap Up: 4/19-4/20

Yup, back to "morning" in the title because, damn, I'm actually posting this in the AM, lol! ;-)

Word Count

Here's my word count for the past three days, and my pithy and not-so-pithy comments.

4/18 - 100 words. Woke up with sinusitus on Friday, and it bugged me for most of the day.
4/19 - 122 words. Oofah, got these words in soon after breakfast. :-)
4/20 - 115 words. Something about Friday's words bugged me, so I went back and ripped most of them out.


Not mine - yet. ;-) Hubby's birthday was yesterday, so I cooked up some stuff for him as his birthday gift. The blueberry muffins were good, but the oatmeal cookies - not so good. :-( In fact, I thought they sucked lemons. (The lemons would've tasted better.) I think I used too many oats in the recipe; but, then again, they were in a recipe right on the oatmeal box, so... (Well, I have to blame somebody, don't I? ;-)) Anyway, I dumped them all in the garbage, although I did keep the dough; the dough has enough sweetness (still too much in the oats department, though), but that sweetness didn't transfer enough of itself to the baked cookies.

Oh well. I'll try it again sometime soon, decreasing the oats by a whopping amount, maybe even increasing the brown sugar a bit.

Interesting Sidelines

Hubby was born on a cusp day (April 20/21); I was born on a cusp day (June 20/21; I was born on the 21st, the first day of summer). Our birthdays are two months apart, almost to the day (I be the younger one, obviously ;-)). And, we were born in the same year (1962).

Well, I think it's cool. :-)

~Nancy Beck


Film Fun Friday #1

(photo courtesy of the Internet Movie Database)

I'm launching what I hope will be a new feature. It's something I've been thinking about for a while now, considering I'm such a nut case when it comes to U.S. films of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.

It's Just Trivia, Folks

This is all done with fun in mind, because I've read tons and tons of trivia on these old Hollywood movies. I mean, I've got the movie books to prove it! (Just got the last one on Columbia Pictures off of eBay the other day, heh.)

Gone With the Wind - The Book

A lot of people probably don't know the sensation this book caused when it was released in 1936. It went on to several print runs, and this from a woman who was hesitant to have the book published in the first place!

I read in a bio of Margaret Mitchell that she had stacks of Gone With the Wind (GWTW) all over her apartment, and that she had to scramble to find all the pieces when she finally did decide to send it to a publisher.

Gone With the Wind - The Movie

There's a lot of trivia surrounding the movie version of the book; I've seen the movie several times (no, not when it first came out in 1939; how old do you think I am? ;-)), and it's just so lovely to look at. The performances of what's basically a soap opera are first rate, as is the musical score by Max Steiner.

It won a ton of OscarsTM, including one for Vivien Leigh.

Where's the Trivia?

It's just below, Grasshopper. :-) This is what I hope is some stuff that isn't widely known (except maybe by other movie nuts like me).
  • Vivien Leigh's agent was Myron Selznick, brother of David O. Selznick, the producer of GWTW. David had narrowed the list as to who would play Scarlett to two actresses (one of whom was Paulette Goddard), but Myron brought Vivien along to the first scene to be shot and declared to his brother that he'd found Scarlett.
  • The first scene to be shot was the burning of Atlanta, where Rhett puts a cloak or something over the horse's eyes and leads the horse through. First, none of the principle actors or actresses are in that scene; they're all stunt doubles (I believe Yakima Canutt, who came to fame with John Wayne, doubled as the Rhett character). Second, there were some old sets being burned in that scene - including the huge wall from King Kong (obviously, the original version of that movie). The wall had been sitting there for six years, so Selznick thought it was high time to get rid of it. And what better way than to combine it with a shot for use in another movie?
  • Speaking of King Kong, David O. Selznick headed up RKO at the time King Kong went into production. He filched money from other productions once he saw the dailies; his instinct told him this was something worth spending money on.
  • George Cukor was originally pencilled in as the director of GWTW. A friend of Selznick's, he was well known for especially helping actresses give good performances. He was subsequently fired by Selznick because he was moving too slowly; Selznick eventually decided that two directors were needed, one for the main story, the other for second unit stuff (outdoor scenes, that sort of thing). Victor Fleming was brought on board, even though he'd just worked like a bandit on The Wizard of Oz. He had a nervous breakdown at one point; Selznick brought in another director for a few days while Fleming recovered.
  • Interestingly, Cukor was originally brought in as the director of The Wizard of Oz. His main contribution to that film - and it was a biggie - was to get rid of Judy Garland's "doll face" make-up and blonde wig. It was thought that the reason for Garland's get up was because Louis B. Mayer's (head of M-G-M at the time) obsession with signing Shirley Temple; Cukor thought the story suggested a more homespun, down-to-earth look. And, of course, he was right. :-)
And that's your trivia for today. Tune in next week - and have a good weekend! :-)

~Nancy Beck


J. K. Rowling

From yesterday's Publisher's Lunch:
Judge Tells Potter Parties to Settle the Case
After the second day of testimony in the Harry Potter trial, Judge Robert Patterson, Jr. urged the parties to settle, expressing concern that the case is "more lawyer-driven than it is client-driven."

Patterson said, "The fair-use people are on one side, and a large company is on the other side...The parties ought to see if there's not a way to work this out, because there are strong issues in this case and it could come out one way or the other. The fair-use doctrine is not clear." He added, "Maybe it's too late. Maybe we've gone too far down the road. But a settlement is better than a lawsuit."

Scholastic's Suzanne Murphy testified as an expert witness for Rowling, while former Random House executive Bruce Harris was the expert witness for the defense. Harris testified "that he believed there was little chance that Mr. Vander Ark's lexicon -- which, he said, might warrant a first-run printing of about 1,500 copies -- would harm Ms. Rowling's market."

Meanwhile, author of the Lexicon Steven Jan Vander Ark cried on the stand. As the Times puts it, "It was an emotional culmination to three hours of testimony in which Mr. Vander Ark gushed over Ms. Rowling and her work like the devoted fan that he claimed to be, and disarmingly preceded almost every answer to a question with an 'Um.'"

Rowling's reaction to his testimony by e-mail: "A fan's affectionate enthusiasm should not obscure acts of plagiarism."
Did This Really Have to Be Done?

Hmm. Don't know what to make of this. I abhor plagiarism, as any good, decent writer should. But couldn't Ms. Rowling have instructed her lawyers to enter into some sort of a joint venture with Mr. Vander Ark? Why drag the dude through the court system?

If you think the publishing industry moves at a glacial pace, you haven't dealt with the justice system (in the U.S., anyway). It's Ice Age glacial (and I ain't talking about the fine and funny animated movie).

Personally, I think this is what should've been done in this case. Ms. Rowling gets a little something, the fan (who, it sounds like to me, put in a lot of effort/time/love into this project) gets a little something, and the lawyers get a little something.

~Nancy Beck


Complicate Your Main Character's Life

I am so psyched about my WIP!

I finished up Chapter 8 yesterday, although I went at it originally thinking that I'd have to cut and paste stuff from another chapter (Chapter 13).

Thank goodness for inspiration!

Instead, I created another scene which dovetails nicely (although a thing or two might be cut in the next revision) into the First Major Problem for the MC.

What I First Envisioned

This idea didn't occur to me in the first draft. (Hell, no.) And I knew that something was missing; there just wasn't enough justification for the MC (Rita) to hang around. I mean, if she found her birth mother right off, why would she need to?


So I need to come up with some complications, some things that get in Rita's way.

First, I decided there was no way she was going to know that this other woman positively was her birth mother; she'd have to do some sniffing around for proof.

Second, I thought about the goddess (a real wise ass, heh) who brought her back in time: She could easily have pointed out Rita's birth mother. But what kind of complication is that? Since she's a minor goddess, she'd have some limitations (there's another one, but that's for later in the story). One is that she can scent out the birth mother like a bloodhound but she can't pinpoint the woman.

Why? Because the Head God or Head Goddess made it that way. (Sounds like a cop-out, but I don't think it is.) Besides, the goddess likes the idea of human beings having to do some work; like your own mom did when she said to clean your room or finish your homework before hanging with your BFF. ;-)

Third, something has to happen to the birth mother to take her away from Rita. This is where the dovetailing I mentioned above comes in. This leads to other complications, which now forces Rita to stay and sweat it out.

And, boy, the major complication that happens afterwards is a real doozy.

What Helped Me

Besides my own whacked imagination ;-), Donald Maas', Writing the Breakout Novel, helped me immensely, especially coming up with the First Major Complication.

Just recently, while I was in the shower, I had another inspiration; this follows on from the First Major Complication, and it's going to go into the middle of the book. It's a major plot point that propels the action forward, plus it makes sense considering World War II is going on and hysteria has set in (the West Coast was a hot bed of hysteria, especially in the early days of the war).

In Summary

Want to propel your story forward? Think of things that will complicate your MC's life. It can be a physical thing - how to get across the Atlantic Ocean to her beloved when she has no money - or it can be a mental thing - she hasn't been taught to read so she can't improve her life.

Whatever it is, throw as many complications in front of your MC as you possibly can as long as they make sense within the story (or else you'll have a lot of 'splainin' to do - and a lot of readers might not want to stick around for such a 'splainin').

And if you're stuck for ideas, I can heartily recommend Writing the Breakout Novel. Although it's written more for the midlist author, I found it a great resource for my own writing - and I'm not a midlist author. :-)

Good writing!

~Nancy Beck

Finish the Sentence #7

This one is another I haven't yet read. It's gotten mixed reviews on Amazon, but who the hell really knows whether it's good or bad? (I have one or two other outlets to clue me in as to whether or not I'll like a particular book, but it's the lazy-ass way to just click over on Amazon. ;-))

The book is Green Rider, by Kristen Britain. From what I can gather, this is set in a stereotypical medieval-type world. From the back flap:
On her long journey home from school after a fight which will surely lead to her expulsion, Karigan G'ladheon ponders her future as she trudges through the immense forest called Green Cloak.
Lookie, lookie, we even an apostrophed name - will wonders never cease! ;-) However, as I haven't read the book, I won't pass judgement. Yet. ::cue for evil, manaical laughter::

So we have Karigan going through the forest (I'm guessing she's a teenager, as it references school in the back flap), and she senses some sort of ferocious animal headed her way:
She hadn't a weapon with which to fend off the beast, and she couldn't run either; - pg. 7, Green Rider, Kristen Britain
What happens? Does she try to move behind a tree or a boulder or something? Does the beast suddenly show itself before she has further time to think? If it does, what does the beast look like? Let your imagination flow; it doesn't have to be like any animal on Earth.

Good luck!

~Nancy Beck


Monday Wrap Up: 4/12-4/13

Yeah, I dropped the "morning" part of the wrap up, because it seems lately that posting this in the morning has been tough to do. :-)

More Writing!

Yahoo, did some more writing over the weekend:

Friday, 4/11 - 112 words
Saturday, 4/12 - 183 words
Sunday, 4/13 - 225 words

More slash and burn, and I'm currently whacking a lotta stuff right now. :-) I'm saving some of what I've written, because you never know when it might come in handy.

Short Story

I started on this on Friday, but I still haven't thought it all the way through. I have a good idea of what it's going to be about, but I have come up with character names, etc...and I'm still unsure where to start the damn thing.

So I've set this aside for the moment, until the rumblings and ramblings in my brain come up with a decent idea as to which direction I should take it. (Boy, that's really mysterious, huh? ;-) I mean, I have a basic idea, but I'm not at the point where I think it'll be a story.)

Hubby's Job

Well, he's found a job, not doing anything too complicated, but it's a start. He'll be making over minimum wage (which is higher in New Jersey, since New Jersey is such a freakin' expensive state to live in), so that'll be a good thing. :-) As he hasn't worked in quite some time, it'll be nice to see the bank account inching upwards each month.

Anything Else?

It was quiet this weekend. We went out to Friendly's on Saturday (hubby has quite a sweet tooth now), lazed around yesterday (except for my writing, that is).

Good writing, everybody! :-)

~Nancy Beck


Word Count Buddies

Did some later-night writing again yesterday (4/10):

108 words

Not a hell of a lot of words, but they're all new, as I have to transition from my original (sucky) scene idea to a better (less sucky) idea.

The only "problem" is deciding which way to go with it. :-) Ah, decisions, decisions. But it's cool; I mean, it's nice to actually have complete control over something, isn't it?

Mwahaha!! (That's supposed to be an wicked laugh, BTW. ;-))

Anyhoo, I also have an idea for a short story, based, believe it or not, on a Style network show I became addicted to earlier this year (and am STILL addicted to, lol).

I'm not sure if it'll get to the sending-out stage, but you never know. :-) And it'd be nice to have another pub credit to my name (my one-and-only credit is from a few years ago).

We'll see how it goes! Good writing, everybody!

~Nancy Beck


Gaming the Amazon Review System

As a writer and a reader, I find authors who "game" the Amazon review system to be terribly dishonest.

Everyone Is Not Going to Like Your Story

There's a discussion over on the Dear Author blog about yet another romance epublisher having problems (Highland Press). At the end of that particular post, Jane says:
As a reader, I am far more disturbed about the last item which appears that MacGillivray is using her position to game the Amazon review system. I’m sure that there are dozens of authors who would like negative reviews to be removed. Other fans and authors find this practice disturbing as well.

When you or I write a book, it's expected that not everyone is going to fall in love with it (at least, not as much as the writer has). This follows through from agent to publisher. It's just something an author has to live with: Some people are going to love your book, some are going to be lukewarm about it, others are going to hate it.

To do this writing thing, you have to have a thick skin, or you'll end up in therapy for quite some time.

Bad Reviews Removed

So a romance author/illustrator has her groupies (or whatever you wish to call them) go around on Amazon "reporting abuse" on all the negative reviews on her books.

Shame on her.

Look, I understand wanting to get paid. I understand you have bills to pay, mortgages and whatnot. Believe me, I've got oodles of friggin' credit card debt.

But negative reviews = not getting paid? Didja ever consider that maybe your published book might - just might - be a craptacular book to a certain portion of the reading public?

I'm sorry, but having minions abuse the system is just low.

Live with the bad reviews. LIVE WITH THE DAMNED BAD REVIEWS!

Bestselling authors have to deal with it, so why can't you?

In Summary
  • Gain a thick skin.
  • Write another book.
  • Stop having other people - and stop yourself! - from removing bad reviews.
  • Write another book
'nough said? Thanks to Jane at Dear Author for the interesting post.

~Nancy Beck


Hilarity Ensues

Word Count

Time to flog me, word count buddies. :-( Yesterday, April 7, I did no writing on my WIP. Between going nuts with various stuff at work (that's what happens when the company you work for is bought out by another company), I've also been working on updating and un-boring my blog.

Which brings me to...

Un-boring My Blog

I'll admit it: I have fun tweaking tech stuff. No, really, I do. :-) I've been happily (and sometimes frustratingly) setting up test blogs to see what colors work, fonts, adding another sidebar, yadda yadda yadda. I've been perusing the Blogger Buster blog for all kinds of fantastic tips and tricks for Blogger. Amanda, the owner, has also offered a free e-book to help with some of this stuff (it's an ebook that encapsulates all of her template tutorials).

If that's your thang, then check out Blogger Buster.

If not...well, I'll grant you the right to let your eyes glaze over all of this. ;-)

~Nancy Beck


Finish the Sentence #6

An Exercept From One of My Faves

Today, I've selected something from one of my favorite novels, Winter's Orphans, by Elaine Corvidae. If fantasy is your thing and you like an historical touch to your fantasy, this might be just right for you; the feel of Victorian England - and all the horrors of the Industrial Age - are presented very well in this story.

And what a story it is.

The Seelie Court holds power in the city of Niune. As the Seelie Court (the seelie fae) are sworn to the forces of light, they feel it is their duty to destroy any who bear the taint of unseelie fae blood.

In the first scene of the novel, we're in Mina Cole's shoes. Mina, a factory slave, is at her loom, when another slave (another woman) is going to lose a limb - or her life - because she's gotten dragged into the machinery.

Then Mina lets loose some magic, something she has no control over, something that frightens her to her bones. Something snaps on the machine, and the other woman is free.

But someone in another part of town notices Mina's magic - and this is the sentence you'll have to complete:
Duncan's hands jerked sharply when the wave hit him...p. 6, Winter's Orphans, Elaine Corvidae
And...then what? Although the wave is magical, maybe in your brain it's an ocean wave...or something else that's unknown to humans.

Here's My Try...

Duncan's hands jerked sharply when the wave hit him, and he toppled onto the street. There was a squeal of brakes, but he couldn't close his eyes as he watched, gasping, as a car hurtled toward him.

The car stopped inches from his face.

The driver came around and helped him up, asking Duncan if he were okay. Duncan brushed him off, stepped back onto the sidewalk, shuddering.

Whether the shakes were from almost getting his head squashed or the powerful wave of magic, Duncan didn't know. But he did know he'd have to find out who possessed such power.

And he needed to get that person before the Seelie Court did.

Read the Book!

Really, it's a fantastic book. You can get it at the Mundania Press site. (And I really MUST pick up the second book. :-))

~Nancy Beck


Monday Morning Wrap Up: 4/5-4/6

This pic of Madeline Kahn as Lili Von Schtupp is perfect for me this morning: I'm Tired.

That's what she was singing in her hysterically funny send up of Marlene Dietrich (complete with Elmer Fudd voice ;-))...and that's how I'm feeling this particular A.M.

I'll blame it on hubby because I've got to blame somebody for it, right? ;-) He was snoring last night, so there's that...

Nothing Much Doin' Over the Weekend

Went to the watering hole, with a lot of people saying, "How are you?" to hubby (those there know the reasons :-)). That was Saturday. Yesterday, Sunday, was another of those shoulder shrugging days. I did ask one of hubby's brothers to come over and get rid of the old tree logs in the back (from the day almost 2 years ago when a thick tree branch come down on hubby's car; just missed my car).

He did, getting to the house about 9:30 (when I was coloring my hair, lol). Now, the town is having a brush clearing week, so I was thinking he and hubby could chop up those logs...but as it turned out, what the town wanted (diameters of 3 inches or less) would've taken waaay too long. It worked, though, because bro-in-law has a chiminea and needed seasoned wood for it.

He said it usually takes a year for that to happen. And this was plenty well seasoned. :-) His wife called later in the day to say he was already using it, so this was a win-win situation for us!

Word Counts

Okay, I didn't manage to upload my totals for 4/4-4/6, so here they are:

4/4 - 123 words
4/5 - 100 words
4/6 - 157 words

Yeah, yesterday was a good day for the story, although I feel at the moment that a lot of what I've written lately is going to be revised yet again (or deleted outright). I'm grinding my wheels a little bit, simply because my endo has been acting up lately; the pain usually gives me brain farts, and Friday and Saturday were definitely those types of writing days.

Not a big deal, though. :-) This is really helping me move forward, because I've always managed to get stuck on the endless revisions bandwagon. And although I'll be going to be hopping on that again - I dread the middle of this story, because most or all of it is going out the window - I do feel that this time around I'll actually finish the dang thing and send it out to agents.

All I'll have to worry about is the stupid query letter. Gee, I'm really looking forward to that (not).

Holding my feet to the fire isn't toasting them that badly...especially as it's compelling me to keep moving forward!

~Nancy Beck


HarperCollins: No Advances, No Returns

I saw a post at Kristin Nelson's blog that made me somewhat nervous.

The article was published in The Wall St. Journal today.

Number 1 - No Author Advances

I read an opinion on another blog wherein the blog writer wondered how long it would be before writers would freak out at this prospect.

Not long.

The problem, as I see it, isn't necessarily not receiving advances; for most first-time writers, the advance won't pay one month's rent or mortgage payment.

No, the problem is that the unit will share its profit with writers.

Hunh? And what if there is no profit? The writer, who has spent months, sometimes years, writing a particular story...is stiffed. At least if he has some sort of advance - even if it's $1,000 - the writer has had some kind of payment for her hard work.

To PublishAmerica people: Commercial publishers pay a token amount as an advance, but it's well above the paltry, insulting $1 PA throws your way.

I'm sorry, but I don't like this part of the idea. More details will be needed.

Number 2 - No Returns

This is something I think a lot of publishers would rejoice at; from what I've read so far, bookstores probably wouldn't go for it.

I'm thinking that this HC imprint is going to print fewer copies of books, thereby letting bookstores have just enough on hand. Bookstores can then cut prices on the copies they have left; at least they'd still squeeze some money out of it.

But could it be that bookstores are so used to returns (plus, what is it now, 50-60% discounts?) that they'd balk at the no returns bit?

My take is, no returns might work to everyone's satisfaction. Again, more info is needed before anyone can pronounce judgement.

Number 3 - No Paying For Special Placement

According to something I've read (and this person sounded like he knew his stuff), placement is used all over the place. Product placement in movies - yup, seen it. I've seen product placement in books, too (one in particular made me want to pull out my hair; it was one of the reasons why I put down that book and never went back to it).

I worked for a company that had special software - this was back in the mid-1980s - wherein the company's manufactured products could electronically be placed according to how a particular store's shelving was laid out.

So I guess you have to pay to play. (And if you live in New Jersey...you know exactly what I'm talking about. ;-))

I'm up in the air about this one, although my initial thought is: How silly. I will say, though, that I'd forgotten the current book I'm reading had come out the day I was actually in the local Borders; if I hadn't seen it facing out, I wouldn't have bought it.

But I would have bought it at a later date, because I've really enjoyed the author's books. :-)

In Summary

Details are sketchy, so it's really hard to have anything other than knee-jerk reactions. Hopefully, HC will come out with more information so authors and agents can make better decisions.

~Nancy Beck


Word Count

Well, I've actually written and rewritten a bit in my WIP:

4/1 - 100 words
4/2 - 135 words

The 4/1 word count was done very late in the day; and, in fact, the stuff I'd written the day before I felt was drek, so most of that was cut (thank goodness). Yesterday's words were pretty good.

Today's? I actually remembered to throw in the word count on the official site:

320 words

Yay me! And yay to me for remembering! (Although, truthfully, I was up and out of the house super late on 4/1--into the wee hours of 4/2--and spent a nice vacation day with hubby yesterday. :-)

Just a shout out to Liz B. for setting up the site: I don't think I would've kept at it for this long without the site. No, really. :-) This may just be the lit match under my butt that I needed.

I'll post about the site either tomorrow or Monday, depending on how I feel.

Keep writing, gentle peoples! :-)

~Nancy Beck


Finish the Sentence #5

I've been on a Connie Willis kick lately, so I thought it was time to offer up someone else's words.

This sentence comes from Patricia Bray's, Devlin's Luck (another which I haven't yet read). Think typical medieval-type fantasy world; Devlin Stonehand has come to the capital of Kingsholm:
He had not eaten in two days, and now he had a choice... pg. 2, Devlin's Luck, by Patricia Bray
So...what's Devlin's choice, hmm? As this book starts out, there's some sort of festival going on, and Devlin is an outsider - he doesn't feel part of the festivities, no one has asked him to join in, no one has asked if he needs a room, etc.

What can you come up with? Unfortunately, I don't have much time today to write out something, since I have to make tons of copies of a report, bind them together, and send them out. ::wah, wah, wah:: Yeah, I know: Get out the violin! ;-)

~Nancy Beck