Saturday, January 26, 2013

Things I need to know at 2 AM

I read somewhere that you never have to edit what you write at 2 a.m. 

I’ve gotten out of bed a few times in my life to write something down. I have no idea where it’s going or what’s going to happen, I just hear a voice talking in my head. It’s my job to get up and write down what it says. It’s like channeling. I’ve only completed one story from one of these, as Tolkien put it, bolts of lightening out of a clear blue sky. I assume the rest of the story will show up one day, or the other stories wanting to be written will step aside, and that bolt of lightning's time will have come.

I currently have a world that wants to be written about, but rather than emerging, fully armored, from the top of my head like Athena burst forth from Zeus’s, it's coming in tiny bursts of static instead of a bolt of lightening. Sometimes, I hear conversations, sometimes I just get bits of information, for instance, the vampires in this world are not the sexy heroes I like. They’re old school vamps and their physical appearance changes depending on how much they’ve fed. The hungrier they are, the scarier. These are the things I need to know at 2 am. At least according to the muse.

I keep a notebook next to my bed. It’s not for writing down ideas, it’s to catch my dreams in a net of words. I have crazy, Technicolor dreamscapes rather than regular human dreams. I’m convinced they are of importance, and keep them in a journal for when Cthulhu calls on me to testify. The problem is, I might remember a dream in the morning, but by the time I get around to writing it down, it’s a pale version of itself or I’ve forgotten it altogether. But, with just a few words scribbled upon waking, I can remember most of the dream. I assume the tactile act of writing helps me remember, it carves something on my synapses so I don’t forget. But there are times when I’ve looked at the list and remembered something that had completely slipped my mind. It’s usually something incredibly important, like the coat color of the dog chasing me. This is not true of those bolts of lightning.

If I don’t get up and write down what I hear, the rhythm of the words, the phrasing, the magic, is lost, even with a net of words scribbled in the notebook. I look at what I’ve written, and there is no synaptic sparkle. I wonder... What was special about a shock of hair over an eyebrow? Why did that belong on the first page of a story? That’s like 2nd chapter stuff. What are you doing? What did you drink before you went to bed?

This morning as I lay awake, enjoying the fact it is Saturday and I can get up whenever I damn well please, I heard the heroine of the world trying to be born start to speak in my head. It was the first few sentences in a short story, and the first that I’ve heard narrated from her point of view. It was not the great big googeldygoo I imagine wants to be born, the grand sweeping epic. Maybe that was why I neglected to write it down. I scribbled a few useless words to try and remember the gist of what it was, but not in the exact words as I heard them. And now, they are gone forever.

I hereby swear, by the muse, that if she should every speak in my lazy, traitorous head again, I will get up from my bed, not just rise, but BOUND like a gazelle, to my desk and write down every preposition, every exhalation of breath that she sends in my direction. I don't care what time it is, or what day it is, or how late I went to bed. I don't care how grand the story is, if there is coffee or not, if I feel like it or how cold it is. I will not take the words of the muse for granted. If I do, may she turn me into a lollipop and put me in a tobacco chewer's mouth.

So help me, Odin.

Jesus, Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, too.

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Book Review Blog

I am sure this will delight Blogger no end....

I have started a book review blog on Wordpress. Uh. Again.

I tried this before, and made it such a pain in the ass that I stuck to it all of a month and a half. This time, I am just going to make it free and easy. It's reviews of books I've read, celebrations of author's birthdays, discussion of books I can't wait to come out, that sort of thing. It will be all over the place. For instance, here is a sample of my Goodreads shelves.

Classic - Mystery
Contemporary - Literature
Gothic - Modern
Historical - fantasy
Historical - romance (the vast majority of this is actually Regency Romance)
Horror - classic
Paranormal - romance
Science fiction
Science fiction - romance
Urban Fantasy

Right now, the next few reviews will be Tiffany Allee's Lycan Unleashed, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and most likely, the first three books of Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles... I don't know if I am going to do one post for all three books, or individual ones. I got the bundle as a library book, can't renew it, and have until February 8th to read all three of them. I better go read.

This blog ain't goin' nowhere. I am still writing away. I'm over 100k on Nocturnelle (my gothic romance) and still going. Clearly, it's going to be more than 90k. I really floundered, and whole chunks of this badboy have to be re-written. But I continue. I will finish it. I will edit Vampire Baron and Dreadlight over February and March. I will soldier on. I will be seeking agents. Agents of the world: gird your loins.

Writers: Write on.

Readers: Come on my magical journey with me. 
Books with BettieLee... All manner of bookery

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013

I've decided to move this challenge to my new book review blog, Books With BettieLee, on Wordpress. I've changed the dates I'll be posting as well. Click here to read the updated post.

I previously mentioned that I am doing a few challenges this year. One of them is the brainchild of the Austenprose blog. Here is the post with the official-ly rules and such. The impetus is the 200th Anniversary of Pride and Prejudice. The idea is to read and review Pride and Prejudice itself, or the prequels, sequels, re-tellings, variations, books, movies, miniseries, etc. and then review them on your blog, or if you don't have a blog, you can leave your review in the comments in the review posts at Austenprose. If you wish to participate, please read the original post and follow the instructions. There are prizes and everything!

The first thing to do is to pick the level of participation you want to commit to:  Neophyte: 1 – 4 selections, Disciple: 5 – 8 selections, Aficionada: 9 – 12 selections. I'm going full on Aficionada. :) Below are my selections, linking to descriptions on Goodreads or IMDB, and the date the deliciousness will hit the bloggery. I'm going mainly with books, except for the one movie choice in February. I can't talk enough about Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy

There is nothing sexier than a tall, surly, dark-haired Englishman. Heathcliff. Mr. Rochester. Mr. Thornton... oh Mr. Thornton. But Mr. Darcy is the archetype... I blame PBS for this unnatural predilection.

January 31 – Pride and Prejudice, the original! Jane Austen
Feb 28 – Pride and Prejudice – The Movie starring Keira Knightly 2005
March 31 – Georgiana Darcy’s Diary – Anna Elliott
June 30 – Mr. Darcy’s Diary – Amanda Grange
September 31 – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Sethe Grahame-Smith
October 31 – Death Comes to Pemberley – P.D. James
December 31 – To Be Determined…..

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books. Can you believe it was the only Jane Austen book I read for years and years? I was afraid the others wouldn't hold up. I tend to cling to the familiar. At some point I kicked myself in the metaphorical keister and read all of them. I promptly regretted my foolishness. I've probably gone on to love Northanger Abbey as much as P&P. I just recently read my first Austen-sequel, and it was a continuation of Catherine and Henry Tilney's adventures. A proper gothic romance. I really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to a year of the Darcy's... I tried to pick "fan favorites" or those that tend to the dark and mysterious.... mwah ha ha! I'm ending the year (at least so far as I have mapped out) where it began - the first Austen sequel written in 1919. I am even going to read that damn zombie book.... Don't judge me.

Monday, January 14, 2013

363 Poem Challenge

So, some crazy lady on the internet (I'm looking at you, Pauline Campos! ) who has a child, twitters quite a lot and, besides the blog for Aspiring Mama I linked to above, also has a blog called GirlBodyPride that's all about women not hating themselves and their bodies (imagine that...) posted a link to  Schmutzie . com  - wherein was mentioned a 365 day poetry challenge.

My little ears pricked up.

I write poetry. And like Schmutzie, my poetry output over the last few years has been teeny tiny. I used to write poetry several times a week - not producing daily poems, but working on them was part of my life. I kept journals solely for my creations. I sat down, consistently, with the intention of developing a poem. I fear that my poetry output has been WAY less than 8 a year.* I only sit down and write one now when they come screaming up out of the abyss at me, and the abyss doesn't scream that much. As a matter of fact, the most recent journal entitled "Poetry" by yours truly was begun in 2005. It has 16 poems in it.

I am not going to do that math.

I decided, though it was January 3rd, that I would begin this challenge. Not a 365 day challenge, but a "Write a Poem Every Single Day in 2013" challenge. So I'll be doing a 363 day poem challenge. :) And I won't be boring you with it online. *cheers from the peanut gallery* It's a personal thing, you see. I've done well - I only missed one day. I have to admit, I'm not all that crazy about many of the poems, but I'm trying not to beat myself up over it. I'm also struggling with my prose, so I'm trying not to stress out over the poems.

Ok. Ok. I will hit you up with a taste. I am reading Lord of the Rings, and I saw The Hobbit, and this little gem was written on Jan 10th. It is untitled.


Hey ho, hobbit roll.
Dwarf bellow.
Elf stroll.
Wind and rain
and mud and sloe.
Forest, hillside, meadow, hole.
Goblin. Orc. Troll.

*Edited to make sense: Schmutzie said she had counted her poetic output and found it came to approx. 8 a year. I guess I should have made that clear.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Obligatory List of Books Read for 2012

Hello Fearless Readers! It's been awhile since my last blog post. I owe you the obligatory "List of Books I read last year." The list is below, and she is mighty. This is the largest number of books I have probably EVAR read in a single year (108 - but who's counting?), except for during school years, when I had daily access to a library 9 months out of the year (pre-High School - when yes, there was a library, but in California, the library is a good place to get beat up.) As usual, there were many re-reads, and those are in grey. I'm proud to have listed some that I only read in beta form. :) I was unsure at first if I should just call them "beta" - but I ended up putting "beta" for the ones that are (so far) unpublished.

As usual, I look through this list, and I can't even remember reading some of them. Hopefully, that won't happen so often, now that I'm keeping a book journal. And even if I do forget a book, I can go back in and look it up in the journal! It's fun to look over the list and remember the ones that really touched me. The ones I had to close and then think about. The ones that made me snap the book shut and then shake my fist at the heavens, wishing I could have the NEXT ONE ALREADY! The ones I wish I would have quit before the end. I did quit on two books this year... but there are a few on this list that shouldn't be here... (I did not list the DNF's, as I do not wish to embarrass anyone living or dead.) 

Over the next few days I'll be blogging about a couple of challenges I plan on doing this year. I felt the need to challenge myself beyond the four novels I am editing and the one I am still writing. Yeah. :) So now, for the list: 

  1. Let the Right One In - John Lingqvist
  2. Carmilla - Joseph Sheridan le Fanu
  3. Lady Audley’s Secret - Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  4. The Turn of the Screw - Henry James
  5. The House on the Borderland - William Hope Hodgson
  6. A Dark Night’s Work - Elizabeth Gaskell
  7. Varney the Vampire - James Malcom Rymer
  8. Don’t Shoot the Messenger - Regan Summers
  9. -beta read for someone-
  10. Allison Hewett’s Trapped - Madelaine Roux
  11. The Scarlett Plague - Jack London
  12. Banshee Charmer - Tiffany Allee
  13. Viking Sacrifice - Julia Knight
  14. The Prestige - Christopher Priest
  15. The Wilder Life - Wendy McClure
  16.  On the banks of Plum Creek - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  17.  By the Shores of Silver Lake - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  18.  The Long Winter - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  19.  Little Town on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  20.  These Happy Golden Years - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  21.  Blackout - Connie Willis
  22.  The Greater Inclination - Edith Wharton
  23.  A Local Habitation - Seanan McGuire
  24.  An Artificial Night - Seanan McGuire
  25.  Snowflower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See
  26.  Devil’s Kiss - Zoe Archer
  27.  Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
  28.  White Horse - Alex Adams
  29.  Late Eclipses - Seanan McGuire
  30.  One Salt Sea - Seanan McGuire
  31.  Changeless - Gail Carriger
  32.  Blameless - Gail Carriger
  33.  Soulless - Gail Carriger
  34.  Heartless - Gail Carriger
  35.  All Clear - Connie Willis
  36.  Grange House - Sarah Blake
  37.  Return to Neverend - JM Sloderbeck
  38.  Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
  39.  Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
  40.  Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
  41.  Dustin Time - June Kramin
  42.  Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
  43.  Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carrol
  44.  Alice Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carrol
  45.  Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux
  46.  Unholy Ghosts - Stacia Kane
  47.  Hunters Find - June Kramin
  48.  Hunger Games...again
  49.  Thornyhold - Mary Stewart
  50.  9 Coaches Waiting - Mary Stewart
  51.  Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
  52.  Beta - no can tell you! Unpublished secret business
  53.  Unholy Magic -Stacia Kane
  54.  City of Ghosts - Stacia Kane
  55.  Home - Stacia Kane
  56.  Hell House - Richard Matheson
  57.  I am Legend - Richard Matheson
  58.  The Haunting of Hill House- Shirley Jackson
  59.  Monday or Tuesday - Virginia Wolf
  60.  Color Out of Space - HP Lovecraft
  61.  Dreaming in the Witch House- HP Lovecraft
  62.  Running in the Dark - Regan Summers
  63.  The 13th Tale- Diane Setterfield
  64.  To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  65.  The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole
  66. The House of the Vampire - George Vierck
  67.  The Familiar - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  68.  This Book Does Not Exist - Mike Scheider
  69.  The Gunslinger - Stephen King
  70.  Drawing of the Three - Stephen King
  71. The Waste Lands - Stephen King
  72.  Wizard and Glass - Stephen King
  73. Wind Through the Keyhole - Stephen King
  74.  Wolves of the Calla - Stephen King
  75.  Song of Susanna - Stephen King
  76.  Dark Tower - Stephen King
  77.  Dog Of War - Heathor Gregson
  78.  Helter Skelter - Vincent Bugliosi
  79.  Succubus Lost - Tiffany Allee
  80.  Blades of the Rose - Zoe Archer
  81.  19 Dragons - SM Reine
  82.  Phoenix Rising - Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
  83.  Haunting Violet - Alexandra Harvey
  84.  Vicious Circle - Mike Carey
  85.  Venetia - Georgette Heyer
  86.  Once Prey - Twice Forsaken - Tiffany Allee
  87.  Quiet Gentleman - Georgette Heyer
  88.  Bath Tangle - Georgette Heyer
  89.  Frederica - Georgette Heyer
  90.  Regency Buck - Georgette Heyer
  91.  A Lady of Quality - Georgette Heyer
  92.  The Gamester - Elizabeth Chater
  93.  A Place for Alfreda - Elizabeth Chater 
  94.  Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
  95.  Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  96.  Emma - Jane Austen
  97.  Persuasion
  98.  The Red Necklace - Sally Gardner
  99.  Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen
  100.  Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
  101.  Vixen - Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  102.  Portrait of a Lady - Henry James
  103.  Cell - Stephen King
  104.  Nachsturm Castle - Emily CA Snyder
  105.  Dragonwyck - Anya Seton
  106.  Romance of the Forest - Anne Radcliffe
  107.  We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Schriver
  108.  The Bride of Lannermoor - Sir Walter Scott