Research this, research that, learn something else entirely…

All I wanted, really, was a list of names commonly found in East Anglia. I now know more about the really amazing assortment of people that have called the southern, eastern, and south-eastern coasts of England home, and the only name I have is Swithin — and I have no idea if I’ll use it for a human or a horse. I did finally settle on a place to set my next story (the aforementioned East Anglia), primarily because I decided that the horse in question is going to be a Suffolk Punch. Which means I now need to know more about horses.

Also, I was reading about Martin Luther last night, and now I need to look into the history of the Lutherans in France, in the hope that maybe my former Welsh pirate and his Breton farm-boy will be less fearful for the future of their souls… *Pats them*

Fridge Logic:

Something that makes sense at the time, but when you go to get a snack you open the fridge door and suddenly realize that it didn’t make that much sense after all. (Or it didn’t make sense, and then you realize that it did). I’d link to TV Tropes, but I’d like to go to bed within the hour…

Anyway. So, I’ve gotten some reviews for First Flight; some are great (Serena Yates!) and some are…less so. (Getting the plot that’s outlined in the blurb is apparently not enough for some people.) Some of the other reviews (they liked it, but…) have been nudging at me for the last few days, so I did something about it. I start with a tangent, but stick with it: I promise I have a point.

I like to draw. I’m not all that great at it, but I’ve amused myself and at least one other person – as well as having inspired someone (because, as they said, they could do better than my paltry doodles). This is not a bid for sympathy, but rather the set-up for my next statement, which is this:

If I have to label the parts of the drawing, then it’s a pretty crappy drawing.

I hold a similar attitude toward my own stories: if I have to write a paragraph or more explaining the story, then I’ve pretty much failed and need to start over. That said, what follows is more or less an explanation. It’s most definitely justification, as well, but I’m more comfortable with justifying things. (Friends and family know that they can count on me to justify nearly anything, heh.)

This is in response to a reviewer on Goodreads, who said that there are some big/important issues that are glossed over in First Flight; it’s also something of a response to another that said First Flight was “unrealistic”.

Nota bene: I am not writing this out of anger or a desire to make the reviewers see the errors of their ways – quite the opposite (it’s hard to argue for realism when one of the main characters is a guy who used to be a bird). I know there are some places where I basically painted some vaguely building-like objects on a piece of canvas and nailed it up over a hole in the background, then pointed off into the distance and said ‘Look! Something shiny!’ in hopes people wouldn’t notice.

Short version is: yeah, there are some holes, and here’s why I left ’em instead of trying to explain in-story. Cut for mild spoilers, just in case.

Continue reading

Thinking about what’s next

I have a new thing bouncing around in the back of my head; I have a good double handful of things that need finishing. I need to make a list and match it up with the various sub-calls/due dates, then see what happens.

The New Thing seems to be asking to be a semi-historical: set in the mid-60s and featuring an older guy (40+) running a diner. I’m wondering how long ago something has to have happened to be considered “history”, not to mention whether I’m going to write it as an AU or more realistically (which: depressing, booooo).

Checking things off the list

Galley proof read and tweaks noted: DONE
Interview written up and submitted: DONE
Rolls and cookies for dinner with family: DONE
Dinner with family: DONE

Oof. Tonight: NCIS, Unforgettable, writing. Tomorrow: a trip into town and (probably) a trip to the post office; writing.

I found a new sub call this afternoon, and it’s another one about the sea. I’m tempted to do a version of The Little Mermaid, but I’m still torn… Maybe I’ll look up other myths and legends involving the sea instead, or just go with Welsh pirates or something.

Sometimes I Hate Making Decisions

So I’ve been thinking about the three sub calls I’ve got rattling around in my head. One of them is due in August; two of them in September. I have one thing that’s almost done (Max & Trev); one thing that’s kind-of started (sailors); and one thing that’s still in the flaily-maybe stage (Home For Christmas call).

And now I’m poking at the sailors thing and thinking about doing a riff on The Little Mermaid. Thing is, I’m kind of worried that someone else/many people will think of the same thing. I like what I’ve got on the call so far, but I’m not sure that I can fulfill Mr. P’s requirements (anything, as long as it’s sexy) without making it seem like Character A is saying “I know you’re sad and all, Character B, but let’s fuck like crazed bunnies!”

I know I could turn it around so that all of the emotional stuff comes after the sex, but I don’t know that I want to do that. I know I need to make up my mind sooner rather than later, since I’ll run out of time, otherwise… Argh! Maybe I’ll just go back to working on my strange dragon thing.

Nicknames, Pet Names, and Terms Of Endearment

I love nicknames for my characters. They’re usually easier and faster to type (and sometimes easier to spell. Hi, Khobelithalichen and Avemorielle…), and they often can be used as part of characterization. For instance, Tobias doesn’t like to be called ‘Toby’ by people he’s just met (or has just been kidnapped by). Phillippe, however, is allowed to call him Toby. He doesn’t just start calling him that until Tobias says it’s all right, though, he’s polite like that.

Other times, the characters have been called by the short version of their names for so long that they’re only called by their full names when they’re either A) in trouble or B) in a formal situation. Benny and Phil, for example.

Stir and Jamie are a little different, though, in that Stir didn’t really like his name when he was a kid, and told his friends he wanted to be called by a nickname–almost any nickname–instead. Of all the possible diminutives of Chester, Jamie picked out the only one that isn’t in any baby-name lists.

Gabriel starts calling Tristan Tan-Tan because the word French/Creole word ‘trist(e)’ means ‘sad’, and he didn’t like calling Tristan something he wasn’t. He eventually turns it into a term of endearment by tacking on the word ‘ti’, meaning ‘small’ or ‘little’.

A lot of the time, my characters go for pet names or nicknames that reinforce the exclusivity of the relationship in which they’re used. Trevor calls Max his pretty princess, and Max likes it because Trevor has always meant it to be something that’s theirs alone. Trevor has never used it in an attempt to belittle or emasculate Max, or in any other derogatory sort of way — neither of them like humiliation or degradation, and it has no place in their relationship.

Jesse calls Chris ‘funny bird’, and like Trevor’s princess, it’s meant lovingly. (True, Chris and Jesse’s relationship is rather different than Max and Trevor’s, but most people’s are.)

As for terms of endearment… I’m one of those mythical creatures: I’m in the middle of the road. Some people utterly loathe terms of endearment between men; others love them deeply. Me, I want them to sound like something the characters would actually say, but otherwise I don’t hate them or have to have them.

In my writing, the go-to term tends to be ‘baby’. I’ve been waffling over ‘sweet boy’, which has the potential to sound kind of creepy despite the fact that the endearee isn’t a boy. (He’s young, yes, but not that young; on top of that he’s also about ten years younger than the one potentially calling him that.) I suspect there will be a conversation between the two of them about it.

Of course, I do have two characters who call everyone they meet by something other than their name: sweetie, honey, darling, dear, doll, cupcake, pudding, sweetness, etc. etc. etc. I don’t really know why the first one started doing it; the second (his son) does it because he didn’t realize that very few other men talked like that until he was about twelve.

So, what about you? Are terms of endearment and cutesy nick/pet names cloying and horrible, tolerable as long as they’re in character, or does it matter?

This isn’t really news to anyone who knows me, but…

I am an odd duck. I am easily amused by the strangest things; I’m easily entertained (a family friend once proclaimed that my entire family could keep themselves busy for at least a few hours with nothing more than a piece of string and a pan of dishwater); my mind goes leaping willy-nilly from thing to thing.

I am also not the world’s biggest fan of organized religion, for reasons which don’t need exploring at this juncture. I have this Thing for liturgy, though–probably related to the way in which my Virgoan desire for order manifests itself–and I’m pretty cool with the liberal end of the Anglican communion. I like rites and rituals and things done according to schedules and tables and things like that. (I’m happy to let other people do the math, though.)

I’ve tried working faith into stories before, but it hasn’t quite worked out — no one ever felt like they were being preached at (win), but it also contributed nothing to the storyline (fail). This is where I’m going with this: I’ve started something new (I know, I know), and I’m basing most/all of the religious stuff on the Anglicans/Episcopalians. I’ll probably be taking some liberties, since it’s a paranormal/fantasy (I think? Maybe?), but otherwise… And the only people doing any preaching will likely be preaching to the choir. I’m also pretty sure you won’t have to have a Book of Common Prayer to follow the story — although now I’m having images of Rite II people getting into arguments with Rite I people… (“Stuffy old goats!” “Hippies!”)

It never ends. (Or: A Peek Into How My Mind Works)

In the course of Tristan making a joke about Bastille Day, I thought I’d better double-check to make sure I had my dates/events straight in my head. Lucky me, the whole storming-the-Bastille thing took place in 1789.

Wait, 1789? I went scrambling off, thinking I was going to have to be concerned about getting Tristan’s escape from the French Revolution just right, and then I suddenly realized that it would have been over– No. I just checked. Crap! The Revolution wasn’t over until Napolean showed up in 1799. Argh.

I go from one war to another. If Tristan is (15-16, 16-17, 17-18) when he leaves for and then arrives in the nascent US, then he was born, let’s see, he gets there in 1814, so if his birthday was somewhere between the middle of January and the middle of April, then he’d have been born anywhere from 1797-1799. Which means that no matter how you slice it, depending on where he was born, there’s going to be war and bloodshed in the kid’s surroundings. (And now I’m wondering what I did with my copy of the Les Mis soundtrack. I was actually exposed to it via my high school choir director, who gave us a medley of Do You Hear The People Sing and…one of the sad ones, I think the one about the castle in the sky, to sing.)

And all of this over a joke. I still don’t know what the most common breed of draft horse was in the US at the time, either.

Edited to add: AND I just found out that one of the things that happened during the French Revolution was that the whole master-apprentice thing got tossed out. Anyone could join a trade as long as they got the right license. *Grumble* *Blink* But that doesn’t mean that people forgot about it, and it doesn’t mean that it actually happened overnight… And besides, Tristan’s parents wanted him away from certain “undesirable elements” anyhow, so it all works out. Okay, then.

Second Edit: Hm. Upon noting that France went to war with Austria (who was then supported by the Prussians), about the time that a 17-18-year-old Tristan would have been born… I’m about ready to throw up my hands and decide to move the Dupont family to Spain or Belgium or something. (Aaaaand now that I think of it, since the US didn’t want anything to do with French or British imports, it would probably be easier on Tristan if he boarded a Belgian/Dutch ship and sailed off, instead of having to do the whole Spain-Florida-Louisiana thing. Hmm.)

Revisionist History

I’ve ordered more books, including one about revising. I tend to edit as I go, which means that my final-draft-duties consist basically of making sure I put two spaces between sentences and checking to see that my name’s spelled right. (Or Wright. It’s the middle of the night and I have no idea why I’m up, plus I’m easily amused.)

I’ve been fretting over whether A Steady Thing is ready to be sent away; did I make it clear enough that Phil is bi, not “gay for Benny”? Did I catch all of the words that shouldn’t have a G on the end; did I misspell one of the few words that shouldn’t be? (Running spell-check on a Benny and Phil story is almost impossible.) Is it tight enough; is it too tight? Should I add the bit at the beginning back in; should I change that bit in the middle? What about all the italicised words?

I know I should just leave it alone for a little bit, or ask someone else to take a look at it, then come back. I have a few days before the deadline, after all.

Speaking of Benny, Phil, and revision, I’m thinking about trying to write up their big story again. I still have to figure out a plot so that it’s not all sex, all the time, but I think I can do that, now.

On the general-revision front, I’m still kind of stuck on my Jesse/Chris story. Small Mind keeps escaping from its cave, running around the meadow and screaming at the top of its little lungs about how I’m going to have to throw the whole thing away and start over from the beginning and it’s too much work and Oh my GOD we’re all gonna DIE!

Of course, none of that is true. I may have to do a lot of rewriting, and it may be a lot of work, but I don’t have to start from scratch. And if I take it in small chunks, one scene at a time, it will be fine. If I do one scene/chapter (depending) a day or every two days, it’ll probably only take me about three weeks.

On that calming note, I’m going to try going back to sleep.

Yes, this is how my brain works.

No, I can’t help it.

So I’ve gotten some work done on a story I’ve been working on that features what is essentially a doll turning into a living human. I’m hung up on whether it’s important to mention him learning about being hungry, thirsty, having to pee, that kind of thing, or if I should just skip it and go on.

Gah!