Monday, January 31, 2011

We're going to Renovation--World SF Con

We're going to Renovation! That's this year's WORLD SF CON, and it's in Reno, Nevada--someplace we can drive to! Rob is going all out getting us a fancy hotel room, so we'll be celebrating our 20th anniversary a little late (10 months or so) but in style!

I had a lot of fun going to World Fantasy Con while in California, and I know it's going to be even better this year. Not only do I know some of the people, but Rob will be with me, which always makes things better. The only thing that could make this a dream come true would be for Infinite Space, Infinite God to win (or even place for) a Hugo. Of course, as an anthology, it only qualifies in the Best Related Work category, but wouldn't it be cool? Not just for me and the contributors, but for faith-based science fiction, which is an underexplored subgenre.

Ah, to dream!

Anyway, I'd love to get a list of folks who are attending who know me. Maybe we can meet up. If you're going, contact me. Let's make plans!

Link to Renovation Website:

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Mind Over Matter edits

It is done!

I finished the major revisions of Mind Over Matter Thursday afternoon. I knocked it down from 132,000 words to 98,500, primarily by killing a subplot and some deep background, plus removing a few redundancies. I've got it with some friends for a general critique of plot progression and character, to make sure I didn't cut too much and leave important points unexplained. In the meantime, I plan to let it sit until Monday, when I'll read it out loud to check the flow, then print it and read it backwards to make sure the sentences are free of errors and written as well as possible.

This is the most extensive revision of a manuscript I've ever done. I found it interesting that I could cut so much that seemed so very important when I was writing it, and come up with a better story. I remember reading that Spider Robinson had a similar experience. He would send a story to (I think it was) Amazing, and Campbell, the editor, would send it back saying, "Great story! Cut it by a third." He said he'd sweat over each word, believe the idea impossible, do it anyway, and come up with a better story as a result.

I think I've greatly improved Mind Over Matter. I can't wait to get a pub date on it!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Mind Over Matter edits--lesson time

Last week, I didn't talk much about the lessons I've learned--or knew and applied--in my editing marathon, so I thought I'd talk about a three now.

Less is More: Last week, I met my goal of cutting 32,000 words, and I think I can cut more. Some of it was redundancy and a cutesy parceling out of bits of info when really, just saying it didn't hurt things at all. However, I also cut out a subplot, some favorite scenes, a couple of instances when we saw an event from two character POVs. Rather than losing the richness of the story, it has made the primary conflict harder-hitting and the story moves faster.

Kill the sacred subplot. I loved the subplot of Joshua's failed romance. I used it to show the differences between Kanaan romance and human. Also, his ex shows up near the end. (No spoilers on how, other than it's awesome.) Nonetheless, I spent way too much time in background and flashback for something that ended even before Mind Over Mind. Some of it was gut-wrenching writing, too, but let's face it: Josh is stuck on an alien planet. Is he going to stress over an affair gone bad? It distracted from the main theme. Machete time! Subplots should support the theme.

Be open to change: I started the rewrite process by re-reading the hardcopy and making notes. After about the fourth chapter,however, I didn't even look at the notes because the revision moved far beyond the simple changes I'd planned. The notes helped to jumpstart my brain, but as a character-driven seat-of-the-pants writer, I get a lot of energy by letting my characters take control. Even in revisions, I'm a pantster.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Catholic Writers Conference Online March 21-27!

Feel free to copy and disseminate this press release.

CONTACT: Karina Fabian
Ann Margaret Lewis

For Immediate Release

Registration for Free Catholic Writers Conference Online Opens

World Wide Web—Are you a Catholic writer? Looking for an opportunity to learn more about writing and marketing, a chance to meet like-minded authors, and get an opportunity to pitch your work? Want it all for free—and without leaving your home? Catholic Writers’ Conference Online, which will be held March 21-27, 2011.

The conference is held via chats and forums at http:// Sponsored by the Catholic Writer’s Guild, the online conference is free of charge and open to writers of all levels who register before March 1, 2011.

"Each year, we have about 300 writers and around 50 presenters participate," said organizer Karina Fabian. “In addition to presentations and workshops covering a everything from idea generation to marketing your published work, we have crit groups and pitch sessions with Catholic and secular publishers. ”

Previously publishers hearing pitches have included well known Catholic publishers like Pauline, large Christian publishers like Thomas Nelson, and smaller presses like White Rose. This year, Fabian hopes to add some agents as well.

"Even in good economic times, it's hard for writers to attend live conferences," said Fabian, "but this year, we think it's even more important to help careers by utilizing an online format. We're so grateful that our presenters are willing to share their time and talent."

Although the conference is offered free of charge, donations are accepted; proceeds will go toward future conferences. Non-Catholics may attend, as long as they respect Catholic beliefs and the conference's Catholic focus.

To register or for more information, go to

# # #

Graphics, interviews and further information available upon request.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Mind Over Matter edits

It's been 3 weeks since I started the Mind Over Mind edits. I'm on page 208. I'm down from 132,000 words to 105,000 and am thinking I can cut 10,000 more. I am scrapping one major subplot/deep background about Joshua and building up the romantic tension with Deryl and Tasmae. I've also cut a lot of redundancy and explained some information earlier on instead of being cute and trying to give it piecemeal (which really ended up just rehashing things again and again).

Two minor characters, Ocapo and Terry, are taking on bigger roles, and it's fun to see them more often. Leinad went from cranky guardian to legitimate threat, and the beasts and the keep itself (which is semi-intelligent) are siding with Deryl and Josh openly. Deryl's less angsty, and Joshua, more so. I had to kill a couple of "cute" scenes, but they didn't really fit emotionally, anyway.

I had to do some pretty major manuscript surgery this past week, and just as I thought I was smooth sailing, they hit me with a new issue: thanks to the changes above, things have gotten a lot more serious a lot faster. Joshua has to get out of Dodge immeditately, and Deryl is going to be on his own when he wakes up from the psychic experience he's sharing with Tasmae. Sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun--once I write it--but I must admit, the thought leaves me with a "what, again? I thought I was done with cut-and-paste!" feeling.

No matter. The book has spoken! I shall obey!

Here's one piece of text I changed. In the first, I have Deryl and Joshua talking about Josh's fiance', Sachiko, who is not in this book. In the second, I have Deryl showing Tasmae his telekinetically-created shield.


Deryl gave a grunt of assent, then rose and went to the rack of weapons along the wall. He pulled a sword down, eyeing the craftsmanship. They’d taken his basic ideas, sure, but they’d gone well beyond anything he’d imagined. He swung it around, testing its balance. “It’s a salle, not a studio.”

“For you, maybe. I’m a dancer, not a fighter.” Joshua moved to the bench, picked up his towel and wiped off the sweat as he spoke.

“Oh, I don’t know. Sword fighting can be a kind of dance, too, you know. Have you seen Sachiko do her black belt form yet?”

“She’s got a black belt in Kendo?”

Deryl moved to where Joshua had been, took up a position, then began to move the sword in the established routine Sachiko had taught him. “Sachiko has four black belts,” he informed his friend. “And some other martial arts training as well. Her dad’s ex-Navy, special ops--“

“That explains a lot,” Joshua murmured.

“--and he wanted his only daughter to be able to handle herself.”

“She can do that,” Joshua admitted, and Deryl felt a sudden flash of Joshua’s memory of how she’d taken down and immobilized a manic patient that probably outweighed her by a hundred or more pounds.

Neither Joshua, toweling his hair dry and thinking about Sachiko pinning McDougal down with a knee and a hand, nor he, concentrating past Joshua’s inadvertent but strong memory and back his routine, noticed Tasmae silently enter the room and unsheathe her sword.

“You’ve got to get her to show you,” Deryl was saying. “She’s something to watch. Like you said, she’s got a temper. Sometimes, on really bad days at work, we’d sneak into the gym after hours and go at it with broomsticks, and I’d let her take it out on me. Or try to, at any rate. I’m very good at defending myself--“

Suddenly, he swung around and blocked Tasmae’s blow.

Joshua dropped his towel at the loud clang of metal, and saw Deryl push off of Tasmae’s swing and back away. He saw his friend grin at her, eyes sparkling, but she looked deadly serious.


“It’s a personal shield,” Deryl explained as he approached Tasmae. “Telekinetic. I imagine it covering me like armor, but I control it. I can protect myself from anything, but, if I want to touch something—“ He reached out and brushed back a strand of her hair. “I can,” he finished, his voice softer than before.

Tasmae raised her arm to knock his away, but again encountered his shield. Slowly, she set her hand on his arm.

He smiled.

Tasmae raked her nails across his arm.

“Yeow!” Deryl backed away, grabbing his arm. He backed up fast when she followed up with a kick.

“Must you always concentrate on them?” She asked. Though she continued to advance on him, swinging and kicking, she didn’t sound angry at all. Just calculating.

“Only to alter them,” Deryl replied, puffing a little as he ducked and blocked her blows. She kept pushing him back to the far wall where practice weapons waited neatly in a rack.

“Do we teach this to children, then?” she demanded. “Or can you fight and keep the shield?”

“Oh, I can fight!” Deryl spun, snagged a sword in his left hand and lunged toward her, swinging the sword wide. When she stepped back, he returned to a more natural stance while swinging his blade in a back-handed figure eight.

“Nice,” Joshua called from the other side of the room.

“Sachiko taught me,” Deryl replied.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Review of The Muse by Fred Warren

Summary: Stan Marino needs a muse. He's written himself into a corner...again. A shot of inspiration is all he needs to finish his story ...where is he going to find it? What Stan doesn't know: Inspiration has found him. And it's about to take over his life. Ripped from reality, he must lead a band of lost souls in a life-or-death battle with a merciless enemy. Stan has found his muse, but will he survive it?

My Review: I was curious about this one, because I know Fred and have enjoyed his short stories, so Grace Bridges, publisher at Splashdown, gave me a copy. I devoured it in a day.

A delightful, light read. I read it in a few hours, mostly because I did not want to put it down. I loved the juxtaposition of the ordinary lives of writer-aspirants with the supernatural element of a muse addicted to their creative energies. The characters you could recognize from your local B&N coffee shop. I had to wonder at the way our heroes escaped the evil Muse’s clutches, but I don’t want to give any spoilers except to say that it didn’t pass the logic test for me. However, it did make for a delightful romp and a nice conflict in the end. And, I did shed a tear at the end—but you’ll have to read to see why. (No spoilers.) Fred has the ability to touch the heart as well as tickle the funny bone. I recommend The Muse for anyone looking for a pleasant diversion.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Preditor and Editor Polls Open until Jan 26--please vote

Hey, it’s time again for the P&E Reader’s polls! This is a "readers' favorite" kind of poll, so I just wanted to share the link and to let you know I have two books in the running:

--Infinite Space, Infinite God II under Anthologies
--Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator under Horror Novels.

Naturally, I’d appreciate your votes, but pick the book you like best in each category.

The P&E poll runs until Jan 26. They had some trouble with the website earlier this month, but it’s fixed now: Be sure to scroll down to get to the book titles.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Mind Over Matter edits

It's been about four years since I wrote Mind Over Matter, the second book in my Miscria trilogy. Now, with the edits to Mind Over Mind done and DragonMoon happy with the manuscript, it's time to clean this one up. The goal: Have it ready by March to submit to DragonMoon.

The nice thing about having worked with an editor and the first book is that I know what Gabrielle likes and does not like, and I can look at this manuscript with "new eyes." Four years of sitting while I grew as a writer certainly helped. This is actually my second manuscript, written in a crazy month and clocking in at 132,000 words when I added a couple of chapters from the first book that I decided to cut so that Mind Over Mind did not end on a cliffhanger.

I had printed it out back in 2007, which helped relieve some of the scare when I could not find the file. (Did find it) and so I could read it without the temptation of tweaking on the computer. Now, I could see the redundancies, the unneeded background, the self-indulgent prose, the unnecessary flashbacks. the story was still sound, and the characters lots of fun, but (as Gabrielle pointed out), making the action more present and less explanatory makes them really shine.

So that's been my goal, with steps of 1-2 chapters a day, a total of 6-8 a week. The first few chapters were easy, but when I hit chapter six, I hit Land O Flashback, and it's been a tough slog moving things and rewriting. Re-imagining a scene is fun, but time-consuming, and sometimes intimidating, especially when you haven't lived the characters in awhile.

Naturally, now that my characters had room to move, they wanted to boogie! One character, the heroine, is taking more of a backseat (she did this in the first book, too), while a minor character that didn't get a big role until the last third of the book is now a major player. I'm hoping things get back on the old track at least enough so I don't have to rewrite the last 300 pages, but regardless, it's going to be a fun ride--for me, for my editor, and eventually for you!

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 Domestic Goddess Goals

Last week, I gave you my writing goals, so now for all to see (and thus to give myself pressure to perform) are my domestic goddess goals:

1. I will continue with the Flylady regime of daily laundry, Kelly Missions and daily chores for the kids. This made an incredible difference in how well our home was kept up.

2. I will expand my mission to meals, ensuring that we only get junk food once a week and go out once a week (except perhaps brunch.

3. I will recover my dining room chairs with the help of my mom in Feb.

4. We will get out of debt before Rob retires (April 2012 is the target.)

5. I will teach my children how to do laundry and cook. (They know some, but not all.)

6. I will resume my haidong gumdo lessons and work out every day I'm not at lessons for at least 15 min. (Sundays are days off.) This will include walking the dog, weather permitting.

7. I will pray daily and read daily Scripture.

8. I will get my kids to their clubs, etc. I will help them keep up on grades and homework daily.

Most Important: I will keep writing in its place where it does not interfere with my domestic goddess/supermom duties.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Writing Goals, 2011

This is going to be an interesting year for writing, in part because I have some things going on at home that may sap my creative energy--or may resolve themselves. Also, I have an agent--with a big league agency!--interested in me, and I'm not sure where that will lead. So my goals this year are running in a "IF-THEN" pattern. However, here're the general plans:

1. I need to finish the school planners for 2012-2013. I'm waiting on further instructions, but they're 85 percent done.

2. I will revise Mind Over Matter, the second in the Miscria Trilogy, to submit in March. (Mind Over Mind comes out September 2011 from DragonMoon.)

3. I will write the second Neeta Lyffe book to submit to DamnationBooks bu June. I have the basic idea and flow of events. It will be another fast moving, crazy ride!

4. I will have four virtual book tours: ISIG II, Perfect Ten, Neeta Lyffe, and Mind Over Mind.

5. I will develop my marketing database, then use it! I hired my very good friend, Rebecca Butcher, to do the bulk of it, so I figure this goal is 70 percent done right now.

6. I'll continue to blog at least twice a week. I may add a third day, "Tour Tuesday" to tour friends' books.

7. I will resubmit all my short stories at least twice this year. I have 14-20 left to sell, depending on whether the ones out are rejected and if I can polish some and write more.

8. I will teach at the Catholic Writers Conference Online, the Catholic Writers Conference Live and the MuseOnline Conference.

9. I will write at least one more book--either I will compile my 30-Minute Marketer newsletters into a weekly marketing schedule OR I will finish Discovery OR I will write Gapman, Redcap or Damsel and Knight, depending on what the future holds.

10. I will revive my Dragon's Eye View newsletter. It got away from me this autumn because of stuff at home.

I am going to drop my weekly 30-Minute Marketer newsletter in March. I got so little feedback and few subscribers, that it's not worth keeping up. Likewise, I'm dropping my online classes on my website. It was so frustrating to me to have people sign up and pay then never do any assignments! Maybe in 2012, I'll look for other paying venues for my workshops, but 2011 is going to be busy as it is.

Monday, I'll list my 2011 home goals.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Twilight of the Living Dead

I was on one of my yahoo groups and someone wondered why no one had come up with the perfect marketable mash-up: Vampire romance with zombies. He just had to say that. Here, for your enjoyment, are snippets from "Twilight of the Living Dead":

Beautifica couldn't believe her mom was sending her to Seattle to live with her dad. Was it her fault she died and came back? Her mom kept saying, "They're more open-minded about the 'differently living' there," but she knew better. Still, she tried to act like she didn't resent it. She even wore her favorite shirt on the plane to honor her mother. Fat lot of good that did; Mom kept complaining about he she'd buried her in that shirt...

"So!" Beautifica's dad cleared his throat and tried again. "So, I figure you'll want some independence, so I bought you a car." He handed her the keys.
Beautifica stumped over to the garage, sure she would be disappointed, and opened the door.
It was a hearse. Her dad was so lame....

"Who's that guy?" One of Beautifica's best friends whom she'd met that morning jerked her head toward the other side of the cafeteria, where a disgustingly hot guy was trying to accidentally sit in the sunlight while looking like he was avoiding the windows. He caught her looking and glared. She felt an instant attraction she immediately killed.
Her other new BFF snickered. "The sparkly one? That's Drac Lugosi. They say he's plasmatically inclined, if you know what I mean." the two giggled.
Beautifica sighed. She didn't have any plasma to incline him. Good thing he looks like a jerk. Probably didn't have any brains to speak of, not that she was into brains. She threw a sneer his way and saw him return it. Immediately, that spark of attraction returned.
Great. Were her feelings zombiefied, too?...

In the classic scene, Drac takes Beautifica up a tree. Little does he know that he'd bumped her hand against a branch, and she lost a finger. The date ends badly. They break up and she mopes for a few chapters until the undead haters group goes after her with torches and Drac and his faithful, friend...,Lupo, save the day.

Later, he'll confess that he's hemoglobin-intolerant, and they'll realize it's true love.

OK. now perhaps I can return to my regularly scheduled life! :)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Update on multiple projects 2

So, it looks like another week (two weeks) where I've been scattered across several projects, but several got finished this time, so I'm feeling good.


"Of Slings and Feeling Vexed":  This is a DragonEye, PI short story I wrote for 10Flash's "The End of the World As We Know It" issue.  If you were in the flash fiction workshop at MuseCon, then you saw the first drafts.  The advice I got was terrific, and I fixed it up, and editor KC Ball loved it and made changes to make it even better.  It comes out in February!

"The Mover":  This is a story I brainstormed with my husband, Rob, for Damnation Book's hero anthology, Corrupts Absolutely?, though the characters took it in a different direction than I expected.  Lots of blue collar humor as a moving man get superpowers and realizes that he really isn't cut out for great responsibility after all.  I submitted it on Black Friday instead of shopping--a day better spent, IMHO.

The Damnation Books/Eternal Press Marketing Guide.  This was contracted booklet of marketing tips and ideas, plus examples and templates.  I'm honored that Kim Richards and Sally Christie had confidence in me to ask me to do this.  I'll be following up with classes and chats for the DB/EP authors.

"Valentine's Day Pandamonium":  My husband and I were joking about chasing each other around the old folk's home someday, and inspired this DragonEye story.  Pandarus, a cupid, gets mugged by folks in a retirement home who take his arrows to use on themselves.  Not sure if I'll submit it places or use it in my DragonEye, PI newsletter in March.

In Progress:

I Left My Brains in San Francisco:  I talked to my source at an oil refinery and got the ideas I need (I think) to finish this book.  I am working it out now, and I'm going to go back and thread more subplots in better.  Still aiming to finish this by end of December.  I'll need some critiquers and beta readers!

The Old Man in the Void:  He's still in the void, poor old man, and no one to chase around either!

"Christmas Spirits":  A DragonEye, PI mystery done in serial.  We have raised enough to buy a goat, but I'm hoping we can continue to raise funds to help more impoverished families in third-world nations.  Please check out the story at