Archive | September 2012

Idea Factory

As a writer, sometimes I get asked where my ideas come from. As I write fantasy, especially about dragons, I can understand the question comes from. How on earth can you relate what happens in today’s world to a high fantasy setting?

We went to Moaning Caverns in Northern California last weekend. A princeling (3 years old), the Duke of Dyspraxia (at 6 years old), Linda and myself. She’d commented before that she always had wanted to go—and I had as well.

In the parking lot, the Duke of Dyspraxia fell down and skinned his knees. We hadn’t even gone ten steps yet. Whew! That’s out of the way!

So we wait around, waiting to go down into the cave. Down should be easy. Down is ALWAYS easier than up.

234

Two hundred
and
Thirty four
steps

In areas I didn’t think I’d fit (I’m a big girl, both tall and extra fluffy). The first stair case is close, rock walls closing in on you both from the sides and from above. The wooden steps have a little give in them and were, well… only the first part.

Then the unthinkable happened. We were at the head of the line of people trooping down the stairs. Princeling first, then Linda, then Duke of Dyspraxia, then myself. And the princeling, the one we were not concerned about falling— fell. Linda saw her baby falling, and lets be honest here. There’s no room for error when the cavern floor is 165 feet below the surface of the earth.

I hope I never witness that sort of stark terror again.

He slid ten feet before she snatched him up.

He was carried most of the rest of the way.

Finally we got off the wooden stairs and onto a platform. And you learn it’s only the first portion of the trip. Legs are noodling, breathings getting a little different, and it’s warm. And humid.

The next portion of our journey was to be taken on a spiral staircase. Just in case you’re wondering, there are no nuts and bolts in it. It is all welded together and fitted into place and has been there since the 1920’s or something. It was built using scrap metal from one of the World War I battleships. You can see air through the slices of steps going down.

The boys were sandwiched between us this time.

If you look out into the cave as you’re descending, it’s extremely easy to get disoriented. The points of reference make no sense if you’ve never been down there before. If you’re afraid of heights, just look at the center pole.

Just saying.

Then you get to the bottom (finally!), huffing and puffing, legs noodling, knees giving out….

To recap: To get down into the cavern, we have been claustrophobically close to rock walls creeping in, watched as someone damn near slid off the face of the earth (a child. A child you love and who calls you auntie and you love to pieces). Then you’ve decended the spiral staircase into the underbelly of the world.

And then you arrive.

And think “Hey, it’s really nice down here. Maybe we don’t need to climb back up. Because, you know, my legs don’t work anymore.”

The cave itself is gorgeous. A small pool with baby blue water was on one side. The ceiling was higher and grander than any cathedral (although now I know where the impulse comes from—God’s artistry will top them all). The features in the walls themselves—I’m not sure if they are from the dynamite blasting, nature, or someone wanting to make a little extra cash. The rocks had faces== dragons, a hippo butt, a shark, Winnie the Pooh… As if they were trying to escape the primordeal ooze of the earth’s core. Or perhaps an evil magician had trapped them? Or were they the guardians of the cave? And the angel’s wings, high above.

The tour does what they call “total darkness”. Turn off all the lights. It was interesting. You never think about it— but how often are we left in complete and total darkness?

The ascent was uneventful. Unless you count having to pull myself up. We took a break at the midway point. Big girl huffing and a puffing over here and burning. Oh my gawd my muscles were burning. (Note: it took five days for my legs to return to normal.)

But I did it! And I have first-hand knowledge of what it feels like to succeed at something and still feel like a total failure.

Originally, I had a much longer post planned. It is morphing into an essay about mothers and daughters. I have several short story ideas as well, just from the information above. But it’s not the going places and doing things that gives writers their ideas. It’s a way of looking at the world and seeing the possibilities. In our minds, Chocolate Factories are scrumdeliumptious and romance always wins. We see, we feel, we process and we save. It’s another form of scrapbooking, in a way. It’s taking that memory, and spreading it through several snap shots.

Speaking of which, I’m going to try and figure out posting photos on this blog. We’ll see if it works (Why oh why can i not figure this out???)

Until next time, my lovelies. I’ll be happily writing until then.

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Life Catches Up

And so do I, eventually, hehehe. Here’s the current list of who we’re going to read through today: Christina Dodd, Kristen Callihan, Rosanna Chiofalo, Lisa Kleypas and Lisa George. Yup, I have FAILED in my attempt to keep you guys up to date and current. But we’re fixing that!

 

Lisa Kleypas, Dream Lake. Pubbed by St. Martin’s Griffin.  I loved this novel. The characters are flawed, and our hero has acquired a ghost…. A smart ass, tell it like it is ghost who is not happy to have gotten saddled with an alcoholic. And while the ghost has been living a half-life, you start to realize that those who are living and breathing are also living half a life. It’s a great book. (Recommended by Eloisa James in the Barnes & Noble newsletter)

Rosana Chiofalo, Bella Fortuna. Kensington Fiction (ARC copy provided). One of the things I love about this book (and I have to admit that I don’t know if it made it to the fully published version– it was in my ARC and if it’s not in yours let me know and I’ll get it to you LOL) is a letter from John Scognamilglio, Editor in Chief, about the selection process and how he feels about the book. Don’t get me wrong, the book was good: well written, paced great and the main romantic hero clicked with the heroine well. It’s just… Haven’t you ever wondered “What goes through an editor’s mind?” I have. Lots and lots of times.

Firelight, Kristen Callihan. Published by Forever.  Firelight was a great take on the paranormal romance by a new author. The mystery of Archer’s affliction kept me going for quite a while. I just figured he was a vampire, but no. It is something much more than that. Keeping me guessing about something like that is one of my pet peeves— either do it well, as Firelight did, or just tell me. Cuz most of the time I figure it out in the beginning and it just annoys me when the writer tries too hard. Callihan pulled off effortlessly what so many fail to do: offer clues without giving it away.

Wilder, Christina Dodd. Signet Select Paranormal Romance. This novel is part of a series called The Chosen Ones. It is, however, a great stand alone retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Action packed, with such a great romance. And characters who really do choose the right thing, who do the right thing, even when it’s so painful for themselves. I’ve been reading Dodd since forever, and am very glad of it! Although I haven’t been reading her paranormal, that is probably changing right now! (Again, recommended by Eloisa James in the Barnes & Noble newsletter)

Demon Hunting in the Deep South, Lexi George. ARC provided by Kensington. I liked this one, thought the voice was carried out well. The pacing right near the end was a little off… probably only for a chapter, but it was off a little bit. Of course, we’re also talking about a book I ripped through in 2-3 days…. I only put it down for a day. I do wish that I had read the first book in the series, but it wasn’t needed to get through this one.

Which is a great point. Have you noticed that on the ones that are a part of a series it behooves you, authors, to make them STAND ALONE as well as attractive to series’ fans.  Even though we love you, we may not read all your books otherwise.

I know that of the above books only 1 is *not* a paranormal romance, so will look for something to surprise you with next time. Maybe even something about my writing.

He.

He.

He.

Stranger things have happened.