Friday, 30 May 2014

My Stereotype Reversal Novel: An Uncommon Heroine

Possibly my first truly Feminist text. This was more an experiment than an honest attempt at a saleable novel.

Just before I wrote this, I was dwelling upon all the stereotypes and tropes often found in Fantasy fiction.  I thought I'd take a whole bunch of them, and reverse them.

I had a feisty heroine, Mary Jane, who refused to buckle down to convention and propriety.  Her younger sister was to marry Lord Miniver, who was Not A Nice Person.  MJ sought to stop her, thus saving her.

This is a book best forgotten. The only reason I remember it is because it was the project I was working on when I lost my first baby.  Lord Miniver was being a most troublesome character (with chauvinistic tendencies) and wouldn't talk to me.  He didn't respect my authority as an author.

So, when I had to go under general anesthetic for a D&C, I told him I was locking him in a very dark, very lonely room [in my head] and only I had the key.  I was now going to go under anesthetic.  There was a chance I might not come out.

If he wanted to be released from that room ever, he would spill the beans regarding his characterisation.

It worked.

Turns out, he was a thoroughly unpleasant person.

Between him and my inability to string a decent plot together for this tale, I abandoned the novel before I could complete it.

Her Grace, by now, was not above abandoning a novel if it wasn't working. Sometimes one has to experiment.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Ghoti (and a poem)

So remember last week how hard grammar and spelling can be?

I present to you further evidence by way of this poem.  Go ahead. Read it out loud. I dare you.

Her Grace is terse this evening as she remembers a good friend, now gone.  Who will she sing bad karaoke with now?

Monday, 26 May 2014

Verbose Randomosity (in memoriam)

Adjectives get a bad rap. That may be fulsome at best, defamatory at worst. I believe they should not be banned entirely, as some Grammar Nazis would have one believe.  Here's a list of 100 Exquisite Adjectives for your propitious benefit.

My MFA doesn't need funding, but my MS does.  Did you know you could use crowdfunding to support your education habit?  Well, you can.  But then, if one is clever enough to go to school, one is clever enough to figure out how this works. See you on Graduation Day.

And finally, for American Memorial Day, here's a list of sites to help you find a grave (of someone who's already dead. Not like your own, or someone you wish was dead, or something like that).

  • Lets you search for existing graves by name, with some further identification. Will even pull up a photograph of the gravestone (if on file) and show you its location on a map.  Quite nice to view my great-grandmother's resting place. Worldwide.
  • Gravestone Photographic Resource  For when you want to look up more gravestones. Harriet Hull, does anyone remember you?  Worldwide.
  • Find A Grave Not only will it allow you to find grave info, but will pull up all sorts of fascinating genealogy info. My great-grandmother's photo is of her as a young married woman.  Quite handsome. (Mostly, the photos are of the gravestones themselves.) Also included other genealogy info. Then again, my family is into that sort of thing.  Worldwide.
    • Gossip time, if Google can be believed: Rumoured to be one of the biggest databases. Then it got bought up by and apparently there's a bit of interesting rumours going about the Internet. So if you like a bit of drama with your gravehunting, go for it.
Her Grace always finds the most interesting things during her research.  Ever wonder what goes through an author's head?  That's what Randomosity is for.

Friday, 23 May 2014

My Thriller Novel: Hausfrau

Yeah, I wrote a contemporary thriller. We had just bought our first house. Not long after we acquired The Crackerbox, a parrot flew into our front window, killing the poor thing. Alas.

We gave it a respectful burial in the corner of our yard, right where we were going to put a new shed.

Thus, I got an idea.  What if it wasn't a parrot, but a different kind of "bird" buried there.  Thus I came up with this lovely little convoluted murder plot with betrayal, illicit behaviour and lies. (I doubt my real-life neighbors ever suspected I gave them such sordid fantasy lives.)

I love the plot, I was improving in the craft, but this novel is safely trunked, simply because I am not a Thriller author, nor do I have any intent on ever becoming one.

Mr and Mrs Hauser scored a lovely deal on their first home. Why anyone would sell such a nice place at such a low price? Someone was keeping a secret.  What's in the locked shed and where's the key?

All their neighbors have plenty of issues of their own, from suspected infidelity to a missing teenage daughter.

When digging a new garden in the back yard, Mrs Hauser comes across a rather difficult 'tree root' that turns out to be the arm of a dead body.  Once the body is identified, the drama of the neighborhood spills over into their lives. 

The Hausers wonder if they've paid too much for their house.

You know how Everyone has one novel in them, and once they write it, they have no desire to write another one?  This is my Novel In Me. I'm glad I wrote it. I enjoy the story. I have no desire to write another contemporary Thriller ever again.

Her Grace loves the Regency Romances of Georgette Heyer. She thinks her contemporary thrillers suck, and is very sorry she read "Behold, Here's Poison".

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Top Ten Grammar Mistakes

When it comes to the Most Difficult Language in the World (also one of the most widely spoken ones), we do a pretty good job.

Or not.  Even after a good decade of study and daily immersion, most native English speakers still make the following grammar and spelling mistakes on a far-too-regular basis.  (Including me.)

So I present to you, the Top Ten Grammar Mistakes.

1.  The Grocer's Apostrophe.  This one drives me nuts.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  It's when the user inserts an apostrophe-S to make a singular noun plural.  Frex:  Apple's.  This rule ain't that hard, folks. Plurals don't need an apostrophe.  (This grammar mistake is named for the greengrocers who abuse it all the time. Graphic designers should also be held accountable.)

2.  Lay/Lie.  Now here's a grammar mistake worth making. Lay and lie sound so very similar. Can you blame the user for mistaking the two? Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl explains thus: "The way I remember is to think of the phrase lay it on me. You're laying something (it, the direct object) on me. It's a catchy, dorky, 1970s kind of phrase, so I can remember it and remember that it is correct."  If you make this mistake often, don't beat yourself up. Take two aspirin and lie down.

3. Homophones. These are words that sound alike but are spelled different and also have different meanings. If you're good at spelling, these don't give you any issue.  But not everyone is Second Place State Champion in the Fifth Grade Spelling Bee.  So do you mistake your you're yore and there their there? That's homophones messing with you. They like to play mind games.

4. Possessive Apostrophe.  This is probably the evil sister who sets up her little brother Greengrocer to take the rap for apostrophe (mis)use. (Serves Greengrocer right for being stupid.)
How did this come about?  Here's one theory:
     George's hat.  (aka the hat that belongs to George. His hat.)
Wanna know how the possessive apostrophe came into being?  Long-story-short, in Proper (hoity-toity toffee-nose) English, the correct way of talking about the hat that belongs to George was to say:
    George his hat.
That later got condensed (for good or ill) down to:
    George's hat.
Ah, now it makes sense!  If you remember this forgotten grammatical structure, you may be less likely to wonder why possessive has an apostrophe, and will be more likely to not commit Grocer's Apostrophes (evil things that they are).  (Here's the long story and a few other scholarly reasons, if you wish to get all Saxon on us and you may).

5.  That leads to Substitutional Apostrophes, aka Contractions. Frex:  Don't let's think he's making the same mistakes you're using.  Essentially, these apostrophes are used to replace missing letters.
     Do not let us think he is making the same mistakes you are using.

6. I before E except after C.  One of the most famous spelling rules, it also ended with Or as sounding an A as in neighbor and weigh, and other "exceptions" to the rule.  Today we are going to blame French (and maybe German) but really it's the fault of English for its rather harsh recruitment tactics1.  So when you come across words like receipt and conceive, know they have been borrowed from French  The reason for this particular quirk (and it is a quirk, rather than a reliable rule is because these words were borrowed from French, which inherited them from Latin, which has particular spelling rules for words and sounds.

Anyhoo, forget the I. What we're really looking for is the E after the C.  This spells CE, which is one of the ways the French spelled the S sound.  Frex:  piece, nice, lace, and so on.

7.   Spelling, in general.  Phonetics are all but thrown out the window when it comes to English because most of its vocabulary is borrowed from other languages. The more recent the acquisition and/or the more dominant the group loaning the vocab (see Norman Invasion), the more likely that the spelling/pronunciation rules will have come with the word. Some stuck-up prat named Melvil Dui and a few handfuls of others tried to reform English spelling to a more phonetic form.

Personally, I think this is a bad idea (for aesthetic reasons), as it will detract from the beauty of our written language and destroy the entomological footprints in each word.  Besides, there will be sufficient disagreement over the proper phonetic spelling for many a word, simply because English speakers from different places (and accents) will pronounce the same word differently.  Somewhere, someone's gonna get offended.

Anyhow, English spelling didn't really become standardised until the end of the 19th Century. & if txting n Tweetng hve thr way, thr'll b nther sp revolution in th C21. c u l8r.

8.  Could of, should of, would of.   This is a case of phonetics getting in the way of spelling.  (This is also another reason English should not resort to a phonic spelling system. It'll screw up the language more than the Grocers and their apostrophes.)   "Could of" and his mates are really supposed to be "could have, should have, would have". Frex:  I would have come. I should have known you wouldn't. I could have stayed home.

9. I and Me.   At the end of a sentence, when do you use I and when do you use Me?  Those ubiquitous Grammar Nazis corrected many a child from "Me and Jake are going to the pond," to "Jake and I are going to the pond."  Unfortunately, they never explain why.  (Bad grammarians!  Always explain why. Keeps people from making the following mistakes:)  Have you saved seats for Jake and I?  Just so you know, this is incorrect.

Why? Because I is subject, Me is object.  You can see which one is correct if you take Jake out of the sentence.  Frex:  I am going to the pond.  Have you saved seats for me?  And that is how you tell the difference.  It takes some practice, but it's easy enough to master.

10.  Literally.  This word has become completely overused in recent times. Literally means that something is not figurative or metaphorical.  Literally let the cat out of the bag?  There had better be an empty bag in your hands and a moggy running around somewhere.  Literally die?  Your heart had better stopped beating and you are being carted away in a body bag.   Instead, this poor word has been forced to take on an incorrect definition as an emphasiser.  Why can't we go back to the beautiful word totally from the 1980's?  It served the purpose much better.

1"English does not merely borrow words from other languages, English chases other languages into dark alleys, clubs them over the head and turns out their pockets looking for loose vocabulary. This process is, to put it gently, not pretty."  --James Nicholl

Her Grace has some serious grief regarding Grocer's Apostrophes. Anything else, she'll tolerate, and even let slide. But GA's?  That deserves someone's kneecaps whacked.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Randomosity as the sky clouds up

I regularly haunt the corridors of the Writers Corners of the Internet. As I polish up my own updated website, I look to the example of others.  Sometimes some writers do some really cool stuff.  Some of the more memorable sites are when authors have done some subtle or clever extras:

Jonathan Auxier is hilarious.


Ever wonder about Phobos and Deimos, the misshapen Moons of Mars?  This video explains somewhat.

And what if our Moon was as close to the Earth as the International Space Station (ISS)?  It would look awesome, if only we weren't so dead.

Like stories of the moon?  Get thee to thy library and check out Robert A Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".  I once sold a story several years ago about the moons of Mars called "Woman and the Moon."  It's a shame it's not readily available for consumption at this time. I had some good reviews.  If you can get your hands on a Borderlands #8, enjoy.

Her Grace has spent some time staring up at the sky this week, mostly cursing the clouds that obstruct her view.

Friday, 16 May 2014

My fanfic novel redyed: "Savark"

When I was young, I was awfully fond of the pulp novel series Doc Savage.  So, during my screenwriting days at university (right after I did Star Trek), I wrote a screenplay for a Doc Savage movie.

It needed doing.

(Alas, Conde Nast has the rights, and they're very particular about rights.)  So I thought, why not rework it into a novel? So I changed the names, tweaked a few facts, took the Science Wizard himself and made him a real wizard.

Thus I cranked out a novel.  I still didn't have a good mastery of the craft, but I was improving. Probably helped that I'd already written a full screenplay, with developed characters, etc.

Nearly fifteen years later, I idly toy with the idea, realising that this novel really should be a steampunk, should I ever choose to rewrite it again.  I love the characters, think the plot may have merit, and could definitely do a much better job of it now.

While at university, I composed a soundtrack for the screenplay. (It's long, like seven minutes.) It's still one of my favouritest pieces.

Her Grace will always be fond of the Man of Bronze.  Of all her early novels, this one stands the best chance of a rewrite.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Diversity in Otherworld Fiction

I meant to post this for Monday, but Much Things happened.  And I wanted to put a lot of thought into this.  FYI, otherworld fiction is fiction that's not set on earth. Think Narnia, Middle-Earth, etc.

There’s a fair bit of buzz going around the writerly/agently/readerly social media regarding the need for more diversity in our fiction.  More LGTB characters!  More disabled characters!  More People of Colour!

That’s all well and good (and rather long overdue) in 21st Century fiction. Let our contemporary fiction reflect the world we truly live in.  Bring it on.

I believe diversity is a good thing. It prevents humans from becoming too staid.  I grew up in a very homogenous neighborhood.  Prolly wasn't the best thing for me.  

Once I grew up and moved out into the world, I engaged in groups that fostered and encouraged diversity.  Finally, I was home.  Now, I live in a moderately diverse neighborhood.  I wish it was more diverse.  I love diversity for the richness of experience and wide points of view it provides.

So yeah. I support diversity of many kinds in fiction.  

But what about otherworld fantasy?  What about this brand of fiction that doesn’t take place on earth, or even with humans?  Should authors make an active choice to include 21st Century diversity values in otherworld fiction?  Or would that come across as too political?

Diversity is about acceptance of others whose background and situations and choices may differ from your own, either slightly or greatly.

Diversity hasn't been terribly common this past thousand years on Earth.  Two thousand years ago, there was a bit more of that going on, especially around the Mediterranean. If you ignore the wars.

Some books I've read have done very good jobs with portraying diversity.  "Ilario: the Lion's Eye" by Mary Gentle is a good example.  Ursula LeGuin's "The Left Hand of Darkness" also portrays diversity.

What doesn't work for me: when authors throw in a token.   The token woman girl.  The token guy in a wheelchair. The token Black Brutha.  A token character does not diversity make.  Especially if that character is completely, totally, utterly accepted without a single hiccup because they're Just Like Everyone Else.

If everyone is Just Like Everyone Else, that is not true diversity.  True diversity is gonna involve a wee bit of conflict.  (Conflict's good for plot.)

I grew up in one country then moved to another.  When that happened, many of the rules I'd grown up with totally changed.  Rules of social interaction, of acceptability, of public behaviour, of language, and more.  Even the very stars in the heavens were different.

Were there conflicts?  You betcha.  There were many times I was left crying because my ways clashed with the ways of someone else.

But I adapted.  I didn't change completely to the ways of my now-home.  I still retain some very home-country sensibilities--things I don't want to change.  And I have learned to accept the differences in others, even if those difference I might not agree with. 

So, getting back on track: diversity in otherworld fiction.  A good portrayal of diversity is an underlying attitude of many peoples and cultures generally being accepted.  It is not saying, "See this character? She's a blue-haired Arellian."  True diversity is reflected in the attitudes of the characters.  Don't bother with the smerps.

Diversity isn't necessarily gonna happen every time in otherworld fiction.  Not every world an author builds will be actively striving towards societal benevolence for all.  Societies are more broken than not. This has been true throughout the history of Earth and so will be true in otherworld fiction.  If there is to be a lack of diversity, it needs to be a conscious, well-thought-out aspect of worldbuilding and not some brainwashed attitude the author never bothered checking in the mirror.

If you find lack of diversity issues in fiction that subconsciously reflects the attitudes of the 19th and 20th Centuries, then that's not a good thing.  Enough with the Straight White Male Adults of Privilege, no matter how it's packaged.

Have you read any good books lately that reflected a satisfying amount of diversity, especially otherworld fiction?

One reason Her Grace loves diversity: it allows one to openly express one's inner strangeness without knee-jerk condemnation.  Frex, the experience of First Ladyship at school: "I like dragons," she said. "Cool," her peers say, even if they're not into dragons. Her Grace at school, thirty years ago: "I like dragons."  "You're weird. We're going to make your life a misery because of it."

Friday, 9 May 2014

My First NaNoWriMo Novel: "Only a Peasant"

Yep, 2001.  NaNoWriMo had been running for about three years.  (To be honest, I can't remember if I participated in 2000, the second year of NaNo. I can't seem to find any records of it anywhere.  But I was often an early adopter of Cool Stuff, if I was in the right place at the right time.  In this case, good old misc.writing, that introduced the OWW to me, also introduced me to NaNoWriMo.)

Anyhow, I thought, why not give it a go?  I'd been entranced by the idea of a Book in a Week (BiaW). Honestly didn't know if anyone could crank out a full-sized novel in one week. (Since then I have learned,Yes, you can. I've seen it done.  Will give it a try sometime.)

So, a book (albeit a short one at 50K words) in a month?  No problem!

So I came up with a vague outline for "Only a Peasant".

When Anmury is abducted and taken to the palace, she fears the worst. It is not for tortuous purposes she has been taken. Anmury is to become queen.

How can she be queen?  She's only a peasant. Besides, bad fates befall queens. They all die in childbirth.

But that is exactly the reason the King wants a peasant for a wife.  It seems royal ladies are far too delicate to bear children.  Yet peasants pop them out, strap them to their backs and return to work. The king fears not having an heir, even a half-breed, worse than contaminating his bloodline with that of a peasant.

The King is willing to accept Anmury. The nobility would not.  A plan is hatched to train her up and present her as a foreign princess.[Think Eliza Dolittle meets Princess Caraboo.] Will Anmury be discovered before she can give the king an heir, or will their plan succeed?  Can they maintain the illusion forever?  For any child she bears will be seen as a traitor to the crown, should her true origins be discovered.

Alas, I could not meet the deadline. For someone who's never written that much in so little time, 50K in a month was nigh impossible. I never finished "Only a Peasant", and it languishes, pretty much forgotten.  It can't qualify as a completed novel.  But I list it here, for it was my first foray into NaNoWriMo.  With the exception of a year I gave birth, I've participated in NaNo ever since.  With each passing year, I get better and better at writing cleaner draft quicker.

Very useful skill for a career novelist.

You know, I have absolutely no desire to complete this plotline.

For fun, here is my winner's certificate for 2004:

Her Grace has always been fond of NaNoWriMo. But, like a good, faithful pair of The Perfect Jeans, she feels she may have outgrown it. She honestly doesn't know if she'll participate next time.  It all depends on what her project schedule is like.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Randomosity for Birthday Month

Randomosity of cool stuff I found about the web.

Her advice is worth listening to. One morning she woke up to herself, realised she had put herself in a bad place financially, and chose to do something about it.  Good on you, Anna! I'm impressed.

  • Despite its dated corniness, I've always enjoyed Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I'd love to get my hands on the remastered version, that had a lot of cut footage restored/remastered/redone. Alas, there are a few scenes where footage could not be located (possibly destroyed?).   I would have loved to see the whole three hours of this flick.  Factlet: George Lucas worked on the screenplay for this one.

  • "I am a Child of God" - this hymn has a positive self-image message for humans.  My many-great Aunt Mildred Tanner Pettit wrote the original music for this.

  • Recipe for Angel Food Cake - from Scratch.  If you live in the US, no doubt you have ready access to packet Angel Food Cake mix.  Not so in Australia. Therefore, if I am to enjoy my traditional birthday cake, I must make it from scratch.
Angel Food Cake

Preheat oven to 375ºF (200ºC).

Sift together:
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/cup cornstarch flour
Set aside.

Beat until stiff peaks form:
1 1/2 cups egg whites (from 9-12 eggs)
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Gently fold in flour mixture into beaten egg whites.  Pour into ungreased angel food cake pan (you can use a bundt pan if you must). An angel food cake pan looks like this:

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until top is golden brown and crusty.  There may be some cracks.

Invert pan to cool.  Loosen from pan when cools, and serve with fresh berries and whipped cream.  Sing "Happy Birthday" to me while you eat it.

Her Grace has several particular things about her birthday. 1. She's always shared the day with other family members. 2. She's always had Angel Food Cake. 3. Presents are nice, but optional. Having fun with her is far more important than being given things. However, if you must give, consumables, like paper and fancy food items are preferred.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Randomosity in a Galaxy Far Far Away

Happy Star Wars Day for Sunday (May the Fourth be with you.)
My celebrity boyfriend (Richard Armitage)
was in Star Wars I. Alas, his dialogue got cut.

While co-whining with Javelin about the failure of the prequel movies, especially Episode I, (and I get my Fragile Writer's Ego on) he pointed out this excellent article by Rod Hilton on the best order to watch all the Star Wars movies in.

I think we can all agree that Episode I was rather disappointing for so many reasons.

For those who don't like large houses, or who have agoraphobia, or who don't want to spend a lot of money on a Home of Your Own, consider a Tiny House.

Some friends of mine are building a Tiny House and I'm helping. It's satisfying.

Interesting facts:

  • Western Australia has a minimum house size. This is far bigger than my friends want.  However, Sandgroping Tiny House Aficionados can get around this by building their Tiny House on the back of a trailer. Then it becomes a Mobile Home.  (But it's really a Tiny House).
  • You can build a Tiny House for about $25K.  Maybe less if you're clever.
  • Very Compact Appliances exist for Tiny Houses, like itty bitty washing machines, combustible toilets and Thermomixes.

More on Tiny Houses: Tumbleweed; Tiny House Blog; Tiny Houses Australia; Itty Bitty Living.

The latest Simon's Cat episode:

And finally, twenty whole minutes of funny cat videos!  This is what the internet is for!

Her Grace is fascinated by lots of interesting stuff.  Like Richard Armitage.  And cats.  And building tiny houses.  When she was younger, she wanted to grow up to be a Jedi, not so much for the lightsabres (which are cool), but because the Force was such a nifty and useful thing.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Top Ten Places to Read a Book

Once upon a time, when books were for the rich, there were certain places one read: the library, fr'example. Comfy chairs in front of a fire, et cetera. Reading was considered an activity for certain places and certain times. One did not see debutantes standing on street corners, the latest novel open in their hands.

Nowadays, books are E V E R Y W H E R E! Yay! Therefore, we read them everywhere. Yes, even on street corners. Some more popular locations include...

  1. In bed. Isn't it obvious? Since children, people read to us bedtime stories. As adults, we continue the tradition of reading to ourselves before we go to sleep. 
  2. On the toilet. Some may blush at this fact, but many people read while taking care of business. The physical body's engaged in something, why not the mind as well? Even that well-known magazine Reader's Digest has a positive reputation for being the preferred reading material of choice while on the can. The Sears Catalogue, on the other hand, is also known to be found behind the Moon Door, but not for its literary content.
  3. On the bus. Or train. Commuting can be a rather dull time. Bring a book and escape to another world. Also, we read at bus stops, waiting for said bus.
  4. In the lunchroom. So yeah. We have our Daye Jobbe to support our reading habit. We must work when we work, but when it's lunchtime, we take our brown bag of sandwiches, find a nice quiet table, and crack open the book. After all, we hadn't quite made it to the end of Chapter Seven on the bus, and we must see how it ends.
  5. In the waiting room. Of course we read there. That's why doctors and dentists stock their waiting rooms with magazines. My chiropractor has a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf full of books. Thoughtful of him.
  6. At the breakfast table. One is often too groggy for good conversation at the breakfast table, but one is never too groggy to read. Why do you think cereal boxes are so popular? Also, if you fell asleep last night before you could finish the last chapter, now's your chance.
  7. Under a tree. "Go outside and get some fresh air," many a child has been told. So they do, book in hand. Nobody said anything about playing ball.
  8. On an airplane. No such thing as a short flight (except for that hop from LAX to Vegas); airline flights can take hours and hours. Luckily, a book can keep you occupied for hours and hours. With the right book, the time simply flies by. That's why bookstores and news agencies are so popular in airports.
  9. In the bathtub. Nothing better than relaxing in a nice, warm tub, favourite beverage by your side, good book in your hand. Just be careful not to drop the book. No book, regardless of its format, enjoys being dropped in the tub.
  10. Awaiting execution. Let's face it--there will be no other time available to you to finish this book before the executioner finishes you. Otherwise, you will never discover how the book ends.

Her Grace wishes you a happy Cinco de Mayo (Mexican Independence Day). Va y coma la comida Mexicana (go and eat Mexican food).

Friday, 2 May 2014

My Fantasy Novel: Daughter of a Lady

So I wrote a whole bunch of short stories and graduated from college and got married and did all those things 20-somethings do. Even spent some time writing fiction for a Usenet newsgroup. It was very very good and very very bad for me, that newsgroup. I try to think of it fondly like an ex-boyfriend.

And I wrote a novel,"Daughter of a Lady".  I got over my bad Historical Romance issues and dove into a pure Fantasy novel.

Mary, the daughter of a powerful warlord, is given in marriage to Jonan, leader of an allied nation. Before she goes, her mother bestows a gift, secretly handed down to all the women of her line: Mary has a Totem, to guide her as she helps rule a nation.

Thrust into a complex game of politics, her new home is threatened both inside and out. Mary herself comes under threat, for her very presence disturbs the plans of those who seek to destroy her husband's power.

Bog-standard fantasy. The magic doesn't feature in this novel as much as the machinations and political maneuverings.  Still, I was rather pleased with my completed efforts.  Feedback from the 'Orkshop gave high points to the plot and characterisation, even though the Craft could use a bit of work.

Nonetheless, this was the first novel I ever pitched to an editor.  Naturally it was a pass, but Achievement Unlocked: Subbing a Novel!  By now, I'd had success in getting little things published, like short stories and articles.

"Daughter of a Lady" proved to me that I could finish a novel in less than a year. It also reaffirmed that I was starting to get good.  For some people, they can write a good first novel.  For most people, subsequent novels are their winners.  For me, it took a good... um... (counts up novels...) a handful. But I was improving.

(Okay, the 'Orkshop really helped.)

Once I finished "Daughter of a Lady", I wrote another novel, one that had been bugging me for a good ten years...

Her Grace might resurrect DoaL some day.  Maybe. Unless better ideas come along. They often do.