Yes, it's time for my annual tradition of running from store to store, frantically scooping up last-minute gifts and party supplies for our big Glöggfest. (Glögg is the Swedish mulled wine we make every year, following the traditions of my Viking ancestors.)
BUT -- through the magic of the internet -- while I'm out panic shopping (truly an adrenaline rush), you can visit me at The Debutante Ball, where I'm talking about this fantastic book:
Speaking of which, I think I just had a great idea for some of those last minute gifts!
Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, whatever you celebrate. See you on the other side!
It's time for me to unveil my very favorite camels ever:
These were carved by TG's grandfather, Old Pap. (If you'd care to see more of Old Pap's carvings, you can look here.) We've had these camels forever, and always display them prominently at Christmas.
Okay, the one in the front isn't a camel. Obvi. It's a donkey with a rider. Somebody has to lead those camels around.
And that's a brass and crystal Nativity scene on the humidor behind the camels. In case you couldn't tell.
(No, I didn't put away the humidor for Christmas. Yes, I'm lazy.)
Oh, and that's not a real guitar. It's the miniature one I got TG one Christmas to represent the guitar I was really giving him. I know nothing about guitars, and thought he should pick out his own, so I very cleverly wrapped the tiny one, thus keeping him guessing about his real gift until Christmas morning. I may have even *cough* implied it was socks. Which was mean* of me, yes, but that's just the way I roll. Mean, mean, mean Linda. It's possible you've noticed this about me.
*But not that mean. Really mean would have been if it had actually been socks. Like I'm getting him this year, in case he's reading this. Reindeer socks. With bells.
(Hi, sweetie! *waves angelically*)
Do you have any decorations you drag out year after year, for whatever holiday you celebrate?
Or, if you're feeling confessional, what's the meanest gift you ever got for or from someone?
I am a member of a family of nerds. Not only are we nerds, we are Proud Nerds!
We revel in our nerdiness, and often try to out-nerd each other. Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, video games -- you name it, some or all of us are into it.
So what does a nerdish family do together during the holiday season? Why, we alter the words the Christmas carols!
Here's one we worked on together the other night as we sat around the fire sipping adult beverages:
The Twelve Days of Christmas, Version Le Nerd
On the first day of Christmas my true nerd gave to me
A cartridge for my A-tar-iii.
On the second day of Christmas my true nerd gave to me
Two power gloves
And a cartridge for my A-ta-iii.
On the third day of Christmas my true nerd gave to me
Three laser pens
Two power gloves
And cartridge for my A-tar-iii.
On the fourth day of Christmas my true nerd gave to me
Four angry birds
On the fifth day of Christmas my true nerd gave to me
Five ELV-ISH riiiings!
On the sixth day of Christmas my true nerd gave to me
Six geeks a-playing
On the seventh day of Christmas my true nerd gave to me
Seven Wookiees winning
On the eighth day of Christmas my true nerd gave to me
Eight bards a-filking
On the ninth day of Christmas my true nerd gave to me
Nine knights a-lancing
On the tenth day of Christmas my true nerd gave to me
Ten Gollums creeping
(You know the drill...)
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true nerd gave to me
Eleven fanboys griping
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Twelve warp-drives humming
Eleven fanboys griping,
Ten gollums creeping,
Nine Knights a-lancing,
Eight bards a-filking,
Seven Wookiees winning,
Six geeks a-playing,
Five ELV-ISH RINGS!
Four angry birds,
Three laser pens,
Two power gloves,
And a car-tridge for my A-TAR-III!!
*If you want to read about my wardrobe malfunction. Yes, it's Friday again. I'm over at The Debutante Ball, and this week's topic is wardrobe malfunctions. Stop by and say hi. I promise there are no frightening pictures.
And now, if you'll excuse me for a little while, I have to go get ready for these guys:
Those are my grand-kitties, Vera and Valentine. They'll be here later today, and are going to spend the holidays with us. Oh, and they're bringing my daughter and son-in-law with them, which I think is rather nice of them. :)
So, it's getting to be that time of year. The time for facing the consequences of a year's worth of behavior.
Yeah, the Big Guy in the Red Suit is watching, and he knows things.
Damn. It's enough to make you paranoid.
I, of course, have been an absolute angel.
Well, except for the drinking, eating junk when I really shouldn't, and the bad words.
Oh, and *cough* possibly some uncharitable thoughts about my fellow drivers and where I thought their final destination should be.
Perhaps embellished with a suggestion of what, er, "activity" they might enjoy once they got there. Explained with hand gestures. But, really, the hand gestures were just in case they didn't grasp my full meaning. Explaining things to the simple-minded is a kindness, right?
All right, all right. Maybe I wasn't precisely an "angel." Maybe I even deserve a few lumps of coal in my stocking. But you know what?
Totally worth it!
How about you? Are you on Santa's Nice List or his Naughty List?
(Like how I snuck that camel in there? Happy Hump Day!)
Everything you put online is saved, somewhere, for posterity. If you send your pixelated words into cyberspace, they will be preserved, ever available somewhere in that vast virtuality, for a clever someone to stumble upon.
Those drunk tweets? Uh-huh. They are now archived at the Library of Congress. Betcha didn't know you were that important, huh? Just think, future generations of Internet Archaeologists might read your Merlot mad-cappery!
Rather chilling, huh? Try not to think about it too much. I'd hate for you to get so paralyzed at the idea of cyber immortality that you're unable to comment here.
Or *cough* at the Debutante Ball, where I'm discussing privacy issues in social media. (Um, that sounds rather dry, doesn't it? I promise it's not quite as dull as I've just made it sound. I hope.)
So, tell me, have you ever sent words into cyberspace that you long to call back? Do you sometimes wish fervently for this:
Okay, everybody, sing along! It's the most wonderful time of the year...
Well, except when something ticks you off. Anyone else notice how quickly people can go from jolly
in two seconds flat?
Especially in parking lots. Or store lines. Or at the post office.
Normally, I'm a pretty happy camel--er, woman. Yesterday, though, when TG and I were circling an extremely full parking garage, I noticed a car straddling the line between two parking places, obviously intentionally, taking up two spaces instead of one.
Now, it was a very fine car -- a Corvette, as a matter of fact -- and I can understand why the own wouldn't want to risk getting any dings in the paint from careless car-door-opening parking garage neighbors.
But DAY-AM, straddle-parkers!
Don't you know your risk of getting keyed for your inconsideration outweighs the chance of getting dinged? (Er, not that we *cough* did any such thing...)
Okay, so now you know one of my pet peeves. What about you? Anything get your blood up during this fine season? Any good tips on how to deal with it?
While I was slacking off on my blogging break several of my regular readers hinted they might be missing their regular infusion of entries for the Verifictionary.
(If you don't know about the Verifictionary, go here for the deets. Oh, and try to ignore how pathetically comment-free that post is. I was using the Intense Debate commenting system then, and when it crashed it ate all my comments. *sob*)
Anyway, I tried to keep up with commenting on other blogs while taking a small break from my own, and I collected some more those formerly-annoying-but-now-loads-of-fun verification "words" that supposedly keep the spam-bots away.
gramize – What happens to a woman when her child has a baby. Ex: "Just because I've been gramized doesn't make me old!"
labloozi – When your retriever can't fetch the duck. Opposite of "labwinni."
outdoe – Proud lesbian deer.
outwish –What you do when you want your wish to be bigger and better than anyone else's.
pugstive – Feeling like a small, scrappy dog. Ex: "I'm feeling rather pugstive today, so don't cross me."
rodion – Kept moving while mounted. Ex: "I was ridin' my hoss and didn't want to stop, so I rodion."
sporb – Theoretical eating utensil. Similar to a spork, only spherical. (Though apparently, according to Wikipedia, "sporbs" are also creatures encountered by Samus in the Torvus Bog on Aether. I like my definition better.)
stsand –Patron saint of beach bunnies.
stskid –The patron saint of winter drivers.
vanitype – Bragging via a keyboard. Ex: "I couldn't stop myself from vanityping about my book deal."
versick – Really twisted poetry.
There you are! I'm open to alternate definitions if any happen to occur to you. Real words can have more than one meaning. Why shouldn't Verifictionary words?
Otherwise, how the heck have you been doing? All is well in your world, I hope. :)
[I know I'm officially on a blog break right now, but I had previously promised to help Jessica with her Amazon Chart Rush today, so I scheduled this. If it looks like something you'd enjoy reading, today would be a great time to buy it. No pressure. *grin* Oh, and if you still want a Linda fix, I'm over at The Debutante Ball today, blogging about glögg and pink hair. Stop by if you get a chance.]
To listen to samples of the soundtrack, visit iTunes.
If you are
not familiar with StringBridge,
check out the book trailer:
Rave Reviews for String Bridge:
“Jessica Bell’s STRINGBRIDGE strummed the fret of my veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page, yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative.” ~ Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie and Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal
“Poet and musician Jessica Bell's debut novel StringBridgeis a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout, seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world begins to unravel …String Bridge is a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a hint of magic.” ~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion Thrust and Sleep Before Evening
“Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer of great skill and depth. She doesn't pull back from the difficult scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel. I look forward to reading her next novel, and next and next.” ~ Karen Jones Gowen, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds
So, I'm thinking November is the ideal time to take a break from my regular blogging schedule, what with everyone being so caught up in the whole NaNoWriMo thing. Heck, I figure y'all will appreciate the break from me.
Plus, I'll get to recharge the ol' blogging batteries.
I have a few special posts lined up, and I may pop in randomly from time to time.
AND I'll still be at The Debutante Ball every Friday, so don't think you're getting off scot-free. *grin*
The thing is, social networking, while all kinds of fun, takes a huge chunk of time. I've been neglecting my fictional world. I miss getting lost in it.
You'll still be seeing me around. Just not quite as much here for a while.
What about you guys? Do you ever take a break? Or do you power through, come hell or high water?
Welcome to a special medieval edition of Hump Day.
Today I'm interviewing a friend of mine, Lynne Sears Williams. Lynne and I go way back. Waaay back. Not quite to medieval times, but close enough. We hung together over at the Compuserve Books and Writers Community back in the proverbial Day, and often critiqued each other's work. I'd read chapters of The Comrades, and she'd read chapters of my drawer novel, Catspaw. (Not sure you you'll ever see Catspaw. It needs to marinate in the drawer a little longer. Maybe forever.) And then we'd tell each other what worked and what sucked.
Frankly, the only thing that ever sucked about The Comradeswas how long it took Lynne to finish writing it. I'm not known for my *cough* patience when it comes to reading stuff I love.
A little about Lynne in her own words:
I was born on a street that had only ten houses; four kids went to law school. Clearly, the water was contaminated.
In my 2nd year of law school, I saw the school 'playboy' carrying a large fantasy novel. I made certain my wedding ring flashed protective bolts of lightning, then spoke with him. How did he find time for 'free reading?' "If I didn't read something that wasn't law, I'd lose my mind." Color me amazed, he had a point that didn't include hitting on me! When I got home, I picked up the first book I saw (Tolkien) read for a while, then fell asleep.
I was promptly transported into a dream where there was a great-looking guy and a beautiful woman, with cold wind blowing in from an ocean. As the days went by, each time I closed my eyes, it was like watching a movie as the characters became real. Evan was a king, the woman's name was Morleyna and I *knew* a grudge separated the two kingdoms. (Later, as I researched, I discovered the latter fact was true.)
I gave up trying to understand the Tort Contract Matrix during an honors lecture. On the page where I was supposed to write Brilliant Notes, I decided to draw a map of the country I'd seen. A mountain range *here* a different kingdom *there* and when I got home, I opened an encyclopedia. I'd drawn a map of Wales. Alaptop appeared and a story was born.
I worked as a freelance journalist for the Canadian and American Medical Association's Journals. Canadian law professor J. Chris Levy and I co-authored a legal article published by The Alberta Law Review. I finished my law degree at the University of Madison, Wisconsin and interned at Districts 4's Madison Court of Appeal for my final semester. Then I began to specialize; Wales in the 9th Century had a *different* code of laws. I began to write The Comrades, a story about love, war and mysticism.
My thanks to everyone who helped a journalist become an author, with particular gratitude to a playboy who started it all.
I can't tell you how long I've waited for Lynne to finish this book, just so I could see what freakin' happened. (I can't tell you, because she might kill me. Let's just leave it at "a while.") I totally fell in love with her Welshmen. Her hero, Evan, naturally. He's totally swoon-worthy. But mostly his cousin Gareth, naughty, naughty Gareth. *sighs dreamily*
Anyway, Lynne has agreed to be interviewed here on my humble blog.
1. Why Wales? And why the 8th century?
I didn't choose the country. The characters abducted me at knife point, tossed a laptop at me and said "Write!" After I began seeing characters as if I was watching a movie, I decided to go along with it. The 8th Century gave me access to other notable people; Charlemagne, Kenneth MacAlpin, the first king of Scotland, and King Alfred the Great of England. It also provided Celtic law, Danes and Vikings.
2. Why did you change the title from your working title of POWYS? Were you afraid potential readers wouldn't know what a "Powys" was?
[Hint from Linda: Powys is a place, not a thing.]
3. Morleyna seems to be to a creature of dichotomies. Innocence/worldly wisdom, biddable/rebellious, timidly nonthreatening/scarily intimidating. Intentional, or did she just spring forth that way?
I had no control over her at all, which is confirmed by most of the other characters.
4. I love the character "Aunt." Did you base her on anyone in your real life?
Aunt is who she is. Sometimes she's sweet and very kind but she can be as mean as a dragon. I like the way she reacts to everything, whether telling her nephew that he should dry his hair after a rainstorm or wading into an argument in the courtyard. Her views on getting married or flicking a cloth at invisible dust make me smile.
5. You weave historical detail into the novel seamlessly. It's obvious you really know your 8th-century Wales! So, was it tough to resist the urge to info-dump?
Not really. It was difficult to edit a long book into a smaller one. Sometimes things are interesting but not necessary. A writer once coined the phrase 'killing your darlings.' In other word, edit, edit and edit. Rinse. Repeat.
6. Can you briefly describe your writing process? Do you plot and outline, or do you wing it?
Wings. I can't plot to save my life. It enables the characters to decide what will happen next. This resulted in one chapter being titled as 'Surprise!' because I had no clue it was waiting to be written. It was, so I typed till we were finished. Sometimes I was astonished at who wanted to talk that day. I see every character as if they are real because at the end of the day...they are.
7. Finally, do you have any semi-naked pictures of Gareth for me? (Okay, probably not an appropriate interview question, but, hey, this is me. I had to give it a shot!)
Yes, I do have a picture of Gareth with no clothes. He says come and get it.
[Linda is fanning herself now.]
Thank you for the interview, Linda! I look forward to reading your novel.
Thanks for being here with us today, Lynne!
For those of you interested in historical fiction 8th-century Wales, and a roaring great story, here's a cool book trailer for The Comrades:
You can read more about The Comrades at the publisher's website: Heart Ally Books. It's also available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Yes, it comes in both trade paper and in e-book formats! (I have both.) Well worth the read, and I'm not saying that because Lynne is my friend. That part is just fortunate happenstance.
Obligatory end of blog post questions:
Have you ever been to Wales?
Have you ever seen a whale in person?
What makes you wail?
Take your pick, or answer all three. Or, yanno, say anything about anything at all in the whole post. I'm not picky, and neither is Lynne.
Yeah, I'm sailing around the dance floor over at the Debutante Ball today. Sorry, no half-naked man candy pics there this week.
(Oh, great, Linda. Way to sell it. TGIF anyway, right? Come on, right?)
HOWEVER, this week we are discussing the hardest scenes we ever had to write. *BLINK*
I know! Heh-heh. "Hardest." Tough to resist an opening like that. One click on that Deb link, and you can see where I went with it. *waggles eyebrows*
But just so you don't feel like you wasted your stop here, how about a few entries for the Verifictionary? (That's my ongoing compilation of verification "words" gathered while commenting on other blogs. For a better explanation, clicky-clicky that link.)
gonstabi -- A level of anger involving cutlery. Example: "I tried to calm her down after boyfriend answered her truthfully when she asked if her pants made her butt look big, but she'd already gonstabi."
proose -- Describes writing that would benefit from some judicious tightening.
So, do you ever have trouble with proose writing?
Or, you can tell me something that irks you (proose writing, perhaps?), and about which you've gonstabi.
Trying to decide what TG and I should dress up as for Halloween.
I've narrowed it down to this:
(Are you sensing a theme here?)
Which one do you like best?
Okay, to be scrupulously honest here, we probably won't do any of those. Because, hey, they all look like work. Now that our kids are grown, there's only so much work we're willing to put into Halloween.
I'll buy tons of candy, yes. Well in advance, just *cough* in case the stores run out before the big day.
I'll put out the plastic Jack o'lantern with the stick-and-press light in it, and stay home, watching silly TV, jumping up every few minutes to give handfuls of choclate-y goodness to a fresh round of trick-or-treaters. (TG, when he doesn't have a show, participates in this activity with me, making it much more enjoyable. Plus, he helps keep me honest about how much candy I scarf down between little ghosts and Lady Gagas.)
I'll ooh and aah over visitors under five, heap tons of praise on any costume that looks homemade, and grudgingly give older teenagers one piece of hard candy each. (I mean, really, don't they have better things to do with their time? A party, maybe?)
Then, at about 9:30, I'll haul in the Jack o'lantern, turn off the porch light, and call it a night, gleefully eyeing the leftover candy, because (oops!) I will have over-bought again. Huh. You'd think I'd learn to estimate better.
Do you celebrate Halloween? Any special traditions?
Oh, and you can still help me pick out a camel costume. TG will be home this year, and who knows? We may get motivated.
Yes, I woke up this morning, after an extremely hectic weekend, and realized I didn't have a blog post written.
I tried pushing this:
But it didn't work.
No matter how hard I jabbed it.
Then I found this:
Sounds like good advice to me.
Two questions for you today. (You can answer either one. Or both. Or neither. But I'd really love it if you answered at least one of them, because then I'd feel less, yanno, panicky about screwing up this blog post.)
Thanks to all of you who told me your lovely home remedies for my sore throat and cough, which has now morphed to include nose, lungs and sinus cavities. More than a cold, less than the flu. I'm calling it "The Crud."
(Er, not that I'm blaming your home remedies. I'm sure, if I'd had the wherewithal to employ them properly instead of just staring at them on the computer screen like a zombie, they would have worked brilliantly.)
Alas, I wound up at the doctor instead, who prescribed me some very strong (and honkin' HUGE) antibiotic pills. I'm sure I'll be back to my healthy, wise-cracking self in no time.
Or maybe I'll just crawl into a cave somewhere until I expire. Bleah.
BUT, I wouldn't want to leave you without something fun to look at while I'm expiring in my cave, so here:
So, let's see...a question. Um, do you prefer plain tissues or the super-soft kind with lotion in them?
(Come on. You knew I was going to get a camel or ten in here somewhere. For Pete's sake, it's Hump Day!)
Anyway, while searching for a camel-related topic for this Hump Day, the whole "ship of the desert" thing got me thinking about boats, which in turn led me to another common phrase: "Whatever floats your boat." (See? This is how my mind works -- skipping merrily from one random thought to another.)
I started tallying up things that float my boat. Here are a few, in no particular order:
Hot cocoa on a cold day. Bonus points if it has whipped cream.
The crunch of leaves under my feet. Only not indoors.
An extra cherry in my Manhattan.
Writing my way out of a corner I've written myself into.
Any happy news from one of my kiddos.
A smile from TG.
Finding a pair of shoes that not only fits, but also looks good.
Ditto for jeans.
Good news from my agent.
Ditto for editor.
In the interest of balance, here a few things guaranteed to sink my boat (again, in no particular order):
Too much snow; i.e., measurable in feet instead of inches.
Not enough sleep.
More could be added to each of my lists, but I didn't want to overwhelm you with my floaters and sinkers. You get the gist. So, what floats and/or sinks your boat?