Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Fun! Now With More Goats!

First off, a shout out of thanks to Stephanie at Hatshepsut for awarding me the fabulous Circle of Friends award! She has been a fantastic friend, and I am very excited to be in the Query Wars with her!

I'd like to extend this award to my new friend Trinza over at Tall Tales, who has been putting together some great posts on writing and the process lately. He's got some great common sense rules for keeping yourself writing, and for those of you who enjoyed the There is no greater weapon than courage quote from Sigurd, I think you'll find Trinza's post speaking to you!

I wasn't really sure what I was going to write about today but then it occurred to me that I hadn't yet discussed one of my most favorite moments of revision while working on GENERATIONS.

That's right, my friends! Today we're talking about Thor's magic goats!

You see, when I first wrote my book, I left Thor's goats out. Because let's face it, a thunder god being pulled in a goat drawn chariot is a pretty ludicrous idea. It's laughable. There isn't anything godly or noble about it. I wanted Thor to be treated seriously, not comically, and how do you introduce magic goats in a serious manner? Believe me, it's not easy. Especially not when it made me giggle just to think about it.

But the more I wrote, and the more involved in Thor's character I got, the more I realized Thor needed to have his goats. It didn't matter how funny I thought it was, or how ridiculous it seemed, these goats are part of Thor's character. Tanngrisni and Tanngnost are Thor's companions, and this is one of the things that makes Thor unique and understandable as a god. Thor associates, not with some more noble horse, fabulous cat, feral wolf, creepy raven, or golden boar, but with the same animals that the Vikings and Norsemen depended on for a living-- the regular livestock. The ignoble goat. The goats were one more part of what made Thor approachable, one more point to reinforce the fact that he was The Every-man's God.

So during this last and final revision, I gave Thor his goats back. And weaving them back into this story gave him a way to reach out to another character, and ultimately find information that he needed. Adding goats into my manuscript was hands down the best decision I made during this final revision, and I think Thor's a little bit happier for it, too.

If you're interested, there are quite a few animals mentioned in Norse mythology. Odin has Sleipnir the eight-legged horse (and child of Loki). Freyja has a boar named Hildisvíni, and her chariot is drawn by cats--which still strikes me as more frightening than goats. And Freyr rides another boar named Gullinbursti, with golden bristles, which is a product of dwarven craftsmanship. Oddly, Freyja's cats are not, to my knowledge, named, though most of the other companion/familiars/livestock of the gods tend to be. Odin's ravens are named, Huginn and Muninn, and even Freyja's necklace has a name.

I really don't do enough posts about Norse stuff!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Saga Of The Volsungs

The last couple of days I've spent rereading The Saga of the Volsungs, translated by Jesse L. Byock. It's an edition I picked up for my class on Tolkien in college way back in 2003. I've really enjoyed reading it-- a lot more this time than the first! There's something about reading for oneself, rather than for an assignment that makes the experience much more educational.

I thought today I'd share some words of wisdom, gleaned from the Saga. Brynhild especially has some very interesting things to say when considered in a more modern context. There's a whole chapter devoted to her wise counsel to Sigurd, in fact.

Some of my favorites:

Don't pick fights with mobs.
Don't lose sleep over random women met at parties, and certainly don't have affairs with strange women.
Definitely don't argue with drunks! At best it's futile, and at worst it's deadly.
Don't make promises you can't keep, or that you have no intention of keeping.
Don't provoke your in-laws, if at all possible stay on their good side.
You can't trust any man if you're responsible for the death of his family.
 And finally:
Never trust a woman to keep her promises.
I'm honestly not sure if I should be offended by that one or not. Most of Brynhild's advice seems to involve women at feasts, however, and I don't think any person, woman or man, should be taken at their word while under the influence. Brynhild herself is certainly an honorable woman and very straightforward in her dealings with Sigurd.

Sigurd's wisdom is less applicable--at least as far as I've read. He doesn't really engage in a lot of conversation, though he seems blown away by the advice he receives from Brynhild, as mentioned above. But there's one line that stuck out, especially.

Sigurd says:
No weapon is greater than courage.
All of this is paraphrased, of course. The language used in the Saga is very formal, even after translation. But the sentiments are there!

When I read any legend, any myth, I can't help but consider what might be the best way to make these stories accessible to people today. I guess I just like the challenge. For those of  you familiar with the Saga of the Volsungs, what do you think is the best modern analogue for Sigurd? Frat boy at an Ivy league university? (He was raised in a court of kings, given every advantage in life before he made his way into the world.) Or, would Sigurd be an athlete? Perhaps a rugby player? What do you think the modern equivalent to dragon slaying is?

Welcome to all the new followers, and thanks to everyone who stopped by to visit and read my Helen excerpt for the Whoops!blogfest!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kind of Last Minute--Whoops! Blogfest Alert.

I have been reminded that the Whoops! Blogfest is coming TOMORROW, brought to us by Laurel. Now for myself, I'm not entirely certain what, if any, whoops moments I have to share, so I haven't signed up yet-- but I'm going to think long and hard today and hopefully come up with something!

In the meantime, you should all go check it out and see if you've got some good Whoops! stuff to share!

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's About The Question, Not The Answer.

I've been trying to figure out translation for my Norse players for a while. In the historical portions of my book, I thought it would be nice to flavor it with some early Icelandic (for my purposes it will serve me just as well as Old Norse would). Anyway-- I realized today I've been asking the wrong questions. (And this is hilarious to me.) I kept searching for English to Icelandic translation sites-- of which there are precious, precious few. But what I should have been searching for was English to Old Norse.

A quick google search for "Old Norse dictionary" produces three different sources for my translation needs! Even a downloadable pdf with searchable text and special coding to allow for the easy search of characters that we don't use in English, like the þ and the ð without having to copy and paste them out of a wordpad cheat sheet or memorize the ctrl-alt shortcuts. (I happen to have a wordpad cheat sheet only because I am in the process of learning Icelandic--very slowly.)

The oddity is, trying to find a decent English-Icelandic dictionary is next to impossible, and it's a living language. But Old Norse? No sweat! This seems like an example of exactly what that linguist was talking about in the article I read a while back discussing endangered languages.

Computers are smart, but you still have to know what question to ask in order for them to find the answer you need. The only problem now is trying to find out how to make singulars plural-- which is definitely not something the Old Norse dictionaries I've found address. Every time I add an "s," it decides the word doesn't exist at all. It might be time to try and find an Old Norse specialist in Academia, and shoot them an email unless I can find an Icelandic substitute.

In other non-Norse news-- I have joined the ranks of the twitterverse. You can find me over yonder at:

I'm also engaging in a bit of rebranding, as you'll see on Twitter. I figure it's time to let the story speak for itself.

In other non-book news: The movie Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief? Guys, I have to say-- one of the things I really admire about Rick Riordan's books is how he updates the old myths and brings them into the modern world in accessible ways (I'm just starting book four today!). I'm sad to say that the powers-that-be responsible for this film did not take advantage of that excellence, and chose instead to strip all the modern updates back out again. I wouldn't have minded the liberties they took with the plot and the characters and the relationships themselves if they had just kept that one element which made these books awesome.

P.S. I'm so disappointed that I'm missing all this Olympics coverage-- the digital revolution left me without NBC because the rabbit ears don't pick it up anymore. Online coverage is NOT the same. Those of you with television coverage, watch some for me!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Revision Notes XI

I'm kind of compulsively tweaking my Query. Just when I thought I had knocked it out of the park, a new way to phrase my opening comes to mind...

At least my Synopsis is under control.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

For My Next Trick!

For the first time in five years, I sat down and wrote a poem. And I didn't even feel the slightest bit silly while doing it.

I've spent a significant amount of time since finishing my revision of GENERATIONS researching agents when I should have been polishing my synopsis. (I just took a break mid-blogpost to go work on it--talk about distractable.) I still have a ton of blogs to visit from Sunday's Love At First Sight blogfest, too! I'm determined to get there though! These blogfests are one of my favorite parts of being a blogger!

I want to thank everyone who stopped by here and commented on my COST OF LIVING excerpt! I do want to get back to Thairon someday, and take another shot at revising and bringing the manuscript up to par with my current writing, but it isn't a priority-- yet.

Now I'm curious, though! How many of you, my fine readers, have a character you ADORE that you've placed on the shelf in exchange for something greater?  Will you ever dust them off again? Do you find them pestering you in the middle of the night to give them another chance? Share a little bit about one of the characters that you had to give up-- or at least shove into the back of your mind for a while-- in the comments! I can't believe I'm alone :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love at First Sight Blogfest!

Hosted by Courtney Reese, today is the Love At First Sight Blogfest! In honor of Valentine's day, of course! Follow the link over yonder to see the full list of participants, and enjoy yourselves!

This excerpt is from my novel Cost of Living, about everyone's favorite playboy billionaire CEO, Thairon Casid. It's been shelved, and honestly it is not up to par with my current stuff-- but I am absolutely in love with Mr. Casid. This scene isn't, strictly speaking, love at first sight, I guess.But it takes place following Thairon and Setta's first kiss, which was very publicly done on the red carpet, to keep her from having a panic attack. Maybe it's more like the realization of the complications of love at first sight?

It's important to note that Setta is the reincarnation of Thairon's college girlfriend, Gwen, who died in a car crash the night he had intended to propose. Now he's stumbled across Setta twenty years later-- there's a big age gap between them, and Setta has been resisting their involvement. Needless to say, their first kiss was not her idea.

“Do you think they broadcast our kiss?” Setta asked.

Thairon chuckled, tucking her head beneath his chin. “I would be surprised if they didn’t. I’m sorry, Setta. I didn’t mean to make it so public. I suppose, at least it will be unforgettable.” It would probably haunt them both until their dying day. He would have to ask Marcus if he could secure a copy of the footage, whoever had it. Someone must.

“It would’ve been unforgettable, anyway.” She pulled back and looked up at him. “You were serious about staying away from the internet and the news tomorrow, weren’t you?”

“Dead serious.” He could kiss her again, he thought, staring at her lips. Right now. Help her out of her dress. He would love to help her out of that dress. Her skin was so soft. He marveled at it.

She raised a hand to his face and he turned his head to kiss her palm. Somehow, he didn’t think that seducing her was the appropriate response at the moment. That wasn’t the kind of comfort she needed.

“You did it to me before, too.”

He stared down at her, with no idea of what she was talking about.

“Kissed me in front of an audience. In the dorm, when I was Gwen. You walked me to my room after our first date, and then in front of a dozen other girls, you kissed me.”

He smiled at the memory. She had been so soft and warm and beautiful, then too. Standing in front of her door, with one hand on the knob, and about to slip right through his fingers and disappear. And he hadn’t been able to stop himself from pulling her back when she tried to turn away. Thinking about it wasn’t helping him control himself now, either.

He forced himself to look into her eyes, instead of staring at her mouth. “I couldn’t let you go.”

“I guess nothing’s really changed, then.” But she didn’t smile, and she dropped her hand.

He let go of her and stepped back. To prove a point. To show her that he could. But her hand caught his as it trailed down her arm and she brought it to her face, pressing it to her cheek. Her other hand gripped the front of his dress shirt, pulling him back. He was all too willing to let her, and when she stood on her toes to press her lips against his, he met with the sudden realization that this last week had been just as agonizing for her as it had been for him.

He kissed her until she went limp and he was holding her up more than she was standing on her own, stopping only to let them both breathe.

She clung to him, her face hidden in the curve of his shoulder, and he stroked her hair, and her back, watching their reflection in the mirror. He had to get her out of that dress before they kissed again, or else he was going to rip it from her body in pieces. “Marry me, Setta.”

She made a noise that was almost a laugh and looked up at him again. “I can’t, Thairon. Do any of this. Not yet.”

How had he forgotten? What the hell was he thinking? “No, of course.” Not yet wasn’t no. And maybe it was just the physical intimacy that frightened her, not the idea of marrying him. He hadn’t even considered what the implications were. All that emotion. All that emotion funneled right into her, on top of her own. He let her go and stepped back. “Take as long as you need.”

She dropped her eyes to the floor. “I’m sorry.”

“You should get out of that dress. I’ll have Marcus send it to be dry-cleaned.” He didn’t know what else to say. But if he didn’t say something, he was going to start kissing her again, and he wasn’t sure that either one of them would have the presence of mind to stop. He knew he wouldn’t. He didn’t want her to stop him, either. To salve his pride. And then what? She’d suffered enough already tonight, and things were only going to get more complicated tomorrow. “Get some sleep, Setta.”

He left the room before he lost his self control. A swim would help. He'd work off some of the energy he would much rather expend on her person, until he was too tired to imagine what he wanted to do with her.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Revision Notes X


Revision Notes IX

I just cut a scene I loved.

Now I must fill the place in my heart where it was with a new scene, and hope that my book will forgive me for cruelly excising so many words.

Only Five Chapters Left.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Revision Notes VIII (Friday Edition)

Yes, that's right, there will be no exciting post about science, mythology, or history today. Because I still have ten chapters to go (though I am feeling very confident about the new ending that I put together today to procrastinate on Chapter 31).

Today I will be revising revising revising, and tomorrow I will be revising some more. And hopefully, I will work hard enough to finish before the weekend is over!

And when I'm done, I'm going to treat myself to some Percy Jackson, and let my brain decompress. 40 single spaced pages to go!

Best of Luck to everyone in process!

One Three Four Chapters Down, Six to Go!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Revision Notes VII

Five Six Eight Nine Twelve chapters down! (2/11/10) Hopefully I can get through another three or four today, but these need a lot of work, so we'll see how it goes.

Back to work!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Numbers as Promised!

Image created by using

The other day, I ran a word count check on "eyes," which seems to consistently be the most overused word in all of my manuscripts to date. The result? 457 eyes.

To put this in perspective, let me offer you some other numbers.

My book is 99,616 words and 335 double spaced pages (Times New Roman, 12pt Font).

This means there are, on average, 1.4 pairs of eyes per page in my manuscript. The word "eyes" makes up about .04% of my novel. That's less than half a percent, and when I look at it like that, I feel a little bit better.

Still! I felt it would be prudent to take out some of those extra eyeballs, so as I continued my revisions, I started replacing them as I came upon them in the text. I'm happy to report that I brought the number down to 433-- and I'm not quite half way through the book. Obviously there will need to be a second cutting, later, but I'll take what I can get.

The word just above eyes in frequency is "The" with a capital T (483), and "but" has tied eyes for usage. I was surprised there wasn't more "but" until I realized that there's an additional tally of 290 uses of the word "But." Maybe I should be more concerned about B(b)ut.

In contrast, I use the names of my primary characters Eve (388), Adam (296), Thor (259), Reu (209), and Garrit (195) far less.

In case you're wondering, the word "back" comes in at 374, with "could," "them," and "me," buffering it against Eve. There will be some search and replace in the future for "back."

The top scoring word? "the" lowercase, with over 4000 uses. 4% of my manuscript.

Yowza. Those articles really take up a lot of word count real estate.

Some other words of note:

By the way, if you don't see me around the blogosphere in the next couple of days, it's because I've banned myself from the internet to finish revising 24 chapters in less than a week. If major progress does not get made, I may have to skip my Friday blogpost--so savor the statistics! And also, feel free to check out your own! What's your "eyes" equivalent?

For the Insatiable, Most Common Words from "the" to "The" in The Book of Generations:

Monday, February 08, 2010

Woo! 50!

A big shout out to my fiftieth follower! I'm glad to have all 50 of you at my back and gratified that you were all interested enough to keep reading posts after stumbling across me!

Tomorrow, in honor of the statistical importance (or lack thereof) I shall discuss... More Numbers.

I leave you in anticipation, I'm sure.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Miscellaneous Items and Linkage

I know we're all on the edge of our seat with excitement about the new ketchup packets coming to us from Heinz-- dunk OR squirt!-- so I'll keep it short today!

I don't really have a theme for this post, partly because I'm killing myself on revisions which is making me lazy about the blog. My attention span is short, so some bullets!

1) I wrote a review of Marvel's Thor, volumes 1 and 2 for GeekaChicas. You've probably heard me rave about it here, already, but I really think that J. Michael Straczynski's Thor, volume 1, was one of the best comic book trades I've read in.. Well, Ever. For more info on why, check out the review! (Some of you who have been around for a while may recognize parts--I ranted about Volume 2 over here a bit.)

2) I also recently laid out a post on Dual-Fatherhood and Jesus for GeekaChicas, an expansion of a post I wrote back in October or November for this blog. You can blame Theseus for that one. If you're offended by the idea that mythologies and religions all feed into one another, and Christianity is not an exception to that rule, you might want to skip it! Otherwise, give it a click and explore the variations on the theme!

3) Revisions are going VERY well on my end. I did some cuts and some rewrites, and I'm really proud of where this book is going. Recently I made the less-difficult-than-anticipated decision of cutting my prologue from the book, and It's SO much stronger for it. It wasn't agonizing at all--it just felt right. I'm aiming for completion by February 15th, now, and I hope you all hold me to it!

4) For the first time since grade school, I'm going to make an effort to keep track of the books I read this year. So far I've made it through three. Maybe I'll do a monthly book report for what I've read. Does Beta-reading novels count?

5) I've made some progress on the Icelandic flavoring front with the help of one of the books I got for Christmas, The Sagas of the Icelanders. It's not much, but I like it. Unfortunately I still don't have a good no-nonsense, non-textbook translation of the Eddas, but it's only a matter of time...

6) This website looks like it's pretty cool. Just in case you ever need help keeping your Olympians straight, it's got an awesome family tree. This guy(?) is apparently putting together comic books about each of the Olympians in turn, which I think is awesome! Anything that gets kids into mythology is a good thing, and comic books are definitely IN right now.

7) Trying to figure out how to make time to write? Here's a great post by Trinza at Tall Tales on how best to ensure you're making it happen!

Keep your fingers crossed that we don't get snowed in on Saturday-- I've got places to be!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Revision Notes VI

I don't have words to describe the feelings of relief flooding through me now that I have finally gotten Chapter Five to its proper and most glorious place.

I may even celebrate by reading the next Percy Jackson book tomorrow!

Do you treat yourself to anything when you conquer a stubborn chapter?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Fight Scene Day!

So I only just heard about this fest today, but I'm determined to participate! Yesterday was Fight Scene Day! Hosted by Mireyah Wolfe at Crimson Ink. Head over to her blog to see who else is participating, and enjoy a day of violence to get you through all your shopping this month, when you have to slog through aisles and aisles of red hearts and flowers :)

I don't actually have a lot of physical fights in my books. I have one GREAT scene between Thor and Loki, which might be hands down my favorite fight in life, but it isn't one I can really share right now without giving away spoilers, so the only real fights I have to contribute are only quasi-fights. Still! I will not be stopped! So here you have it! Some good old Adam vs. Thor! And the first scene I've revealed on this blog not written from Eve's PoV.

Note Please, that this is only a draft. And I'm terrible at writing physical fight scenes, to be honest with you.

[Excerpt removed]

And just a heads up, while we're festing, Courtney Reese will be hosting the Love At First Sight Blogfest come February 14th! I have no idea what I'm posting for it yet, but you can be sure I'll be taking part. :)

P.S. I'm in the process of trying to find some suitable Scandinavian turn of phrase to replace "You arrogant cur," but so far, no luck. I'm taking all suggestions into consideration!