December 31, 2006

A year in books

So the year draws to a close. And I figure an appropriate way to finish the year is to about books. As a writer and a reader, they’re just about my favourite thing.

For those of you following along, I decided to track my reading for the year…at least my new books read. So far, it’s sitting at about 100 books. Which doesn’t include books I didn’t like enough to put up on the list and most of the non-fiction I read this year. I’ve had half an eye on my re-reading as well and I figure I re-read about two – sometimes three books for every new book. Which means my total for the year is somewhere between 300 – 400 books. Funnily enough, that’s about what I thought it would be. I read a lot. But probably less than I used to given that some reading time is now writing time. My days are very story and word oriented. I don’t want to try and do the math on how many pages and words that might be. But I can’t think of many better ways to spend some time.

Anyway, I’ve looked backed over the list and here are my faves for the year…in no particular order.

Kushiel’s Scion – Jacqueline Carey
Wife for a Week – Kelly Hunter
Temeraire series – Naomi Novik
Crazy series – Tara Janzen
Lord Perfect – Loretta Chase
Balance of Trade – Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
The Compass Rose – Gail Dayton
Full Moon Rising – Keri Arthur
The Perfect Stranger – Anne Gracie
The Sharing Knife – Lois McMaster Bujold
Warprize – Elizabeth Vaughn
The Devil in Winter – Lisa Kleypas
Moon Called – Patricia Briggs
Pleasure for Pleasure – Eloisa James
Lover Awakened – JR Ward
Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett
Don’t Look Down – Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer

Not all old favourite authors, which is good. Finding great new authors is always wonderful. Though my year seems to have been female heavy…not that surprising given that I read a lot of romance. But this year, even the fantasy and mystery stuff has been largely female. I need to find some new male authors I love. Some of the old ones have gone off the boil for me.

And if you’re interested…here are the authors that I know I’ve re-read everything I own of theirs, or my favourites of their series, at least once this year:

Terry Pratchett
Jennifer Crusie
Barbara Samuel
JD Robb
Janet Evanovich
Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Lois McMaster Bujold
Jacqueline Carey
Anne Bishop
Guy Gavriel Kay
Susan Elizabeth Phillips

So here’s to a 2007 filled with fantastic stories. May I even write some of them.

And given it’s time to start a new list, I’m transferring the 2006 list here:

The Damascened Blade – Barbara Cleverly
Ways To Be Wicked - Julie Anne Long
Breaking Point - Suzanne Brockmann
Good Grief - Lolly Winston
To The Edge - Cindy Gerard
Only a Duke Will Do - Sabrina Jeffries
The Runaway Duke - Julie Anne Long
Lover Awakened - J.R. Ward
To Love a Thief - Julie Anne Long
Lover Eternal - J.R. Ward
Crazy Sweet - Tara Janzen
The Boss's Christmas Seduction - Yvonne Lindsay
Pleasure for Pleasure - Eloisa James
Motor Mouth - Janet Evanovich
Lady of Sin - Madeline Hunter
The Devil to Pay - Liz Carlyle
From London with Love - Jenna Peterson
To Pleasure a Prince - Sabrina Jeffries
Disappearing Nightly - Laura Resnick
The Grand Tour - Patrica C Wrede and Carol Stevermer
The Sharing Knife: Beguilement - Lois McMaster Bujold
Angels Fall - Nora Roberts
Courting Trouble - Nonnie St George
Lady Luck's Map of Vegas - Barbara Samuel
See Delphi and Die - Lindsey Davis
The Valley of Silence - Nora Roberts
The Book of Seven Delights - Betina Krahn
Crazy Love - Tara Janzen
Ragtime in Simla - Barbara Cleverly
Crazy Kisses - Tara Janzen
Crazy Wild - Tara Janzen
The Last Kashmiri Rose - Barbara Cleverly
Dance of the Gods - Nora Roberts
Crazy Cool - Tara Janzen
Wintersmith - Terry Pratchett
Crazy Hot - Tara Janzen
Touch the Dark - Karen Chance
Doppelganger - Marie Brennan
A Fistful of Charms - Kim Harrison
Undead and Unreturnable - MaryJanice Davidson
Cast in Shadows - Michelle Sagara
Scandal in Spring - Lisa Kleypas
Avalon High - Meg Cabot
How to be Popular - Meg Cabot
Morrigan's Cross - Nora Roberts
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
Thunderbird Falls - C E Murphy
Wife for a Week - Kelly Hunter
The Inconvenient Duchess - Christine Merrill
Blade Dancer - S L Viehl
The Eight - Katherine Neville
Mr Imperfect - Karina Bliss
The Bought and Paid For Wife - Brownwyn Jameson
Balance of Trade - Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Pregnant on Arrival - Fiona Lowe
Charmed - Nora Roberts
Flirting with Forty - Jane Porter
Memory in Death - JD Robb
Twelve Sharp - Janet Evanovich
Map of Bones - James Rollins
Sandstorm - James Rollins
The Oracle's Queen - Lynn Flewelling
Amazonia - James Rollins
Winter Moon - Luna Anthology
The Hallowed Hunt - Lois McMaster Bujold
Black Powder War - Naomi Novik
Kushiel's Scion - Jacqueline Carey
The Perfect Stranger - Anne Gracie
Captives of the Night - Loretta Chase
Tinker - Wen Spencer
The Barbed Rose - Gail Dayton
Petty Treason - Madeleine E Robins
Finding Serenity - Jane Espenson (Ed)
Warsworn - Elizabeth Vaughn
Broken - Kelley Armstrong
Madam Mirabou's School of Love - Barbara Samuel
Throne of Jade - Naomi Novik
Crystal Dragon - Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
The English Witch - Loretta Chase
Isabella by Loretta Chase
The Music of the Night - Lydia Joyce
Don't Look Down by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
The Shades of Time and Memory by Storm Constantine
The Compass Rose - Gail Dayton
The Devil in Winter - Lisa Kleypas
Warprize - Elizabeth Vaughn
Taming the Duke - Eloisa James
Touch of Evil - C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp
Undead and Uappreciated - MaryJanice Davidson
First Truth - Dawn Cook
Sebastian - Anne Bishop
Lord Perfect - Loretta Chase
Ideal Bride - Nonnie St George
The Ruthless Groom - Bronwyn Jameson
Full Moon Rising - Keri Arthur
Moon Called - Patricia Briggs
Temaraire - Naomi Novik
Poison Study - Maria V Snyder
The Decoy Princess - Dawn Cook
Sisters of the Raven - Barbara Hambly
The Reluctant Widow - Georgette Heyer
The Nonesuch - Georgette Heyer
Gods in Alabama - Joshilynn Jackson
Kiss Me Annabel - Eloisa James
Beneath a Darkening Moon - Keri Arthur

December 30, 2006

I hereby resolve

In the year 2007 I resolve to:
Get an invisible friend.

Get your resolution here.

I think I have some already...they're called characters.

But as New Years Eve rapidly is time to think about next year. I don't know about resolutions but this is what I'm doing next year:

1. Staying on the rollercoaster ride that is trying to sell a book. And trying, as much as possible, to enjoy the highs and the lows and the attendant laughing and screaming.

2. Exercising. This got a bit lost towards the end of last year when I pulled a muscle in my side. And I felt crappy. Feeling crappy is bad, so more moving the butt for me.

3. Writing. I'm not setting a specific page goal but I'm going to finish my revision and write at least two more books of unspecified nature...we'll see which wips start yelling louder. Setting my friday routine up (including the odd treat).

4. Indulging...see the previous post.

5. Eating right. Losing the last bits of weight I want to lose after a year of mostly plateauing.

There. That sounds good to me. It's always a juggling act between writing, working, wellbeing and keeping the house from descending into a pit. But I'm going to try and keep the balls in the air most of the time. And if the invisible friends play nicely, it's going to be a great year!

December 27, 2006

Indulge me

Okay. Stuff tossed. Lunch and relaxing music and aromatherapy applied. Mood improved. Now I can think about fun things.....

2007 Indulgences (idea courtesy of Jenny Crusie)

1. Things that smell good. Aromatherapy, perfume, flowers, lotions and potions. I find scent can really lift my mood so daily applications of yummy aromas.

2. Relaxation. More massages (I think I managed a whole 1 in 2006 so topping that shouldn't be hard lol). More meditation. More naps or couching with my story fix in whatever form when I need it.

3. Girly stuff. More facials, manicures, pedicures, spa days, makeovers and pampering whether at home or elsewhere. If it includes hanging out with the gals, even better. If we can also add pink champagne, perfection!

4. More music, particularly live music. Every time I go to a concert I remember how much I love the sensation of loud live music, basses vibrating through your chest, singers pouring their hearts into songs and the energy of the crowd. And it doesn't have to be the ginormous stadium variety. More musical adventures in general but some more live stuff in particular. If there's dancing involved even better. Singing along goes without saying.

5. Do some fun short courses or whatever that have nothing to do with writing. Something weird and wonderful just because it sounds cool. Rope some of the gals into trying them too!

6. Cook more. Try new recipes, both healthy and indulgent. 3 or 4 a month. Traipse around some markets and experiment.

7. A real vacation even if it's a long weekend or something. Most of my leave tends to be writing related these a trip somewhere that isn't.


I was intending to copy Jenny Crusie and list some 2007 Indulgences (go read her blog to get the low down) but given my day so far has tended to bank inspired crankiness, I might have to do that later.

I could do a list of top five annoyances. At the moment it would read Banks. Banks. Banks. Banks and guessed it...Banks. Grrr. It's remarkable how banks never make mistakes when you're doing something that increases your debts but seem to be terribly slow and error prone when you're reducing them. Humph. And bah humbug to them. Hopefully it will be sorted out soon and I can stop wishing for a zombie doll of a certain bank.

In the meantime I am taking out my energy on throwing stuff out in an attempt to have a clutter reduced 2007. We'll see.

More later as my mood improves!

December 23, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like...

It's almost Christmas and Santa has brought some much needed cool weather and rain. Which is supposed to continue...they're even forecasting snow for Christmas day in some parts of the state! Nothing like changeable weather to keep us all entertained.

And I'm now on holidays, so yay. To celebrate, I have been lazing around reading and ignoring my list of chores. Chores will wait. Books and a brand new DVD of Moonlighting (I LOVED Moonlighting) won't.

So I hope you all have a relaxing lead up to Christmas, that Santa has you on his nice list and that your plum puddings flame and your turkeys roast well!

December 18, 2006

The wrap up

In the end there was:

1 Lulu meeting complete with vampire ants
80% of Christmas presents obtained
0 Robbie concerts

and 1 brand spanking new baby boy at 7.35 pm yesterday.....welcome to the world little Sterling - your Mum is one tough cookie that's all I have to say. If I ever do that, I'm taking the drugs lol.

In the meantime, the orange cat spent his weekend approximately like this.

December 16, 2006

The waiting game

Still no babies. Two friends due. No news. Particularly not of the one I'm going to be attempting to help during the process. Though that one's not officially due for another day.
So I'm still jumping every time my mobile rings and carting around a bag of comfy clothes and hospital stuff with me.

One day to Robbie.

Four more working days till Christmas and 11 days off.

Lots of christmas shopping still to do, though I have now written my christmas cards. Except for the two families with the babies due. It seems a bit rude to write dear a, b, c and d and little mystery bump.

No days to Lulus. I'm off today to figure out how the heck to get to Keri's new place. The others are road tripping together but I need to take my own car in case of babies, so I get to get lost all by myself.

No news from agents yet. But that might be a good thing. I did find out the book has gotten through to the second round of RWAs Emerald ST comp, so that's heartening on its first comp outing. I'd love to final 'cos the final judge is an agent, so fingers crossed. Actually the other one I'm rewriting got through to the secound round of the Emerald category comp as well. In its un-rewritten form so not holding out hopes of it finalling. It will be interesting to see what the comments say though. I'm going to try some US comps with the ST. See what happens.

Writing wise it's been a quiet week. Busy at work and my Dad was in hospital so was visiting him and having Mum stay. I managed to get five pages down of a scene which I think might just be wolf book number 2, so taking that to lulus to see what they think. Which means I have to go get organised!

Hope your Christmas countdowns are going well!

December 09, 2006

Temperature's rising

Everyone think's Australia's a hot country. But it's not. Not always. And the state I live in is actually quite cool - most of the time. But every so often we get a stinking hot summer. Looks like we've got one this year. Combined with a drought, this is not good news. We're barely a week into summer and we have massive bushfires.

Melbourne smells like eucalyptus smoke and the sky is hazy and sullen. It looks like a winter day until you step outside and realise it's 37 degrees. Tomorrow is meant to be just as hot. And windy. Fires like wind. So, if anyone knows some good raindances, do them for us. We need the water in more ways than one.

Speaking of heat. The new James Bond. Oh my. I'll admit it, I was sceptical. Daniel Craig did not fit my mental image of James. I loved Pierce and Sean. Though the last couple of movies were getting to the "I really can't suspend my disbelief quite that much" stage in terms of stunts. But the trailers looked interesting, so I figured I'd give him a go.

Good decision me : ) You've probably heard this is kind of a reinvention of the franchise, going back to the beginning of Bond. And it works. It's kind of leaner and meaner. And Craig works just fine in that context. Not sure he would've in the old style Bond, so good decision also by the producers and the director to go a different way. I mean, when the opening titles of a Bond film don't feature any women, you know something has changed.

Which got me thinking about reinvention in general. New directions and when it's a good time to follow them. Some people ride a horse until it's beyond dead. Some people have faith to switch horses when they see the current one is tiring. And some people throw caution to the wind and try and rope a zebra. Which might not work out but sometimes it does. Writing the wolf book kind of felt like that. Like saying 'what the hell' and giving in to a different side of the muse. How successful a zebra it might be is still to be seen. But it was one hell of a ride and now I have more options. More knowledge.

Every book teaches you something, which is why it's better to finish a book than just write a partial and why sometimes it's better to move onto something new than keep polishing the life out of something that hasn't quite worked. But revising is another lesson. One in honing. In letting go and trying to see the angles. In figuring out why what was in your head hasn't always translated into what the reader is seeing. Sometimes you need to change horses in a revision as well. Let go of the original idea and try a different way. Having just polished up one horse so it will look beeyootiful for race day, I'm now circling another, wondering why it seems to be cantering on three legs. Hopefully I figure it out. I'm not quite ready to send it out to pasture.

So more horses, the odd zebra, more choices. I'm trying to sit down over the next week or so and see what I want to set as goals for next year. What to write. Who to target. What to learn. Because whatever you're riding, it helps to have a game plan. And other people along for the ride. Whether they're riding with you or cheering from the sidelines, it makes the journey even more fun.

PS For those keeping track:
8 actual days to Robbie.
8 work days to holidays.
14 shopping days to Christmas.

December 03, 2006

Zoom zoom

Every time I blink at the moment, another week seems to have flown by. The Christmas countdown has apparently been set to fast forward.

Of course that might be due to a very busy week between training and querying and the orange cat hurting his tail in a mysterious late night incident that resulted in yet more cash flying out of my hands and into the feline medicine fund. He is recovering nicely. My stress levels are doing so more slowly.

And the parents' birthdays are done as of today (happy birthday Mum and Dad) so now I can think about Christmas present shopping. I see list making in my future.

But at least the agent queries have gone out so the finger crossing and fingernail gnawing has commenced. This is my first long book - I've only queried agents with category before. And though I got some nibbles and some nice rejections, trying to get an agent as an unpubbed category author is playing long odds. And you can sell without one. Whereas this book, this is the kind of book you need an agent for. So let the periodic 'eeeeeks' commence and I shall be the one in the corner revising the other book and working out what to play with next and trying not to check my email every five seconds.

The other events looming closer thanks to the days deciding to disappear way too quickly are Robbie (yippeeeeee!!) and the arrival of babies (also yipeeeeee!!). All, as they say, is good. Plus, hey, twelve more work days to holidays. I like my four day weeks already, and I've only had one!

PS Gilmore Girls Season 6. Hmmm. I wonder how much of that was long term arc and how much was born out of the Palladinos leaving. I shall leave it at that given most people in Australia haven't seen it - including the VT ; ). Not sure what Season 7 might bring in new hands. (Please don't tell me, I'll be waiting for the DVD which I'm sure will come out before Channel 9 gets organised enough to show even the rest of Season 5 here in Oz). And we're now officially in a TV dead zone so mucho writing should be achievable. I am looking forward to Weeds - I love Mary Louise. Though part of me is forced to think that, if it is good, it's probably doomed to the Channel 9 shaft.