Tag Archives: pas de chat

Indefinite Progress

I love word counts. I love to quantify my progress. For the past several years, the only time a word count has worked for me is during November. Even then, I get annoyed with the lack editing when I spew out 35,000 words. I know intellectually that progress isn’t just a number, but man, it’s rough to find satisfaction in the indefinite. Therefore, a list:

  • Eric’s in the midst of the end-of-the-semester crunch. He read my Zeta Iota changes. There are new concepts to be added and tweaked. I need to make daily progress on that. We heard from Chris last week. He probably won’t be back in the States until July (late June, early July?). Since we’d like to see him, Eric’s trip to Omaha will be moved up to early June. It would be nice to have the ball really rolling on Zeta Iota by then.
  • Sent Model Species to another three agents. Okay, two. The third needs to be sent by mail. For the record, it’s had five rejections. Okay, probably six since there’s one agent I queried that doesn’t answer unless she’s interested (most annoying policy EVER).
  • I’m continuing to post chapters of Pas de Chat. I wish I had a little more feedback on it, but I’ll just trust that someone out there is reading it. It would probably help if I were more consistent with promoting it on Twitter. I forget to hashtag…
  • I want to get back in the habit of free writing. My goal with that is to produce a some #fridayflash pieces. We’ll see how that goes.
  • Tertiary projects: I should edit the Eden story and send it out. Also, I tend to be writing a bit of fairy-tale-urban-fantasy in my flash projects. Maybe there something to be done with that.

Hmm, interesting where the month of April took me. I have more fiction online for public consumption than I ever have. Whether it’s good or bad thing remains to be seen. Whether it counts as real work is in question too. (It probably doesn’t.) I shall continue to slog onward.

Book #12 – Good Book

Plug: I’m serializing my novel Pas de Chat. Basically, a chapter-a-week, free! I posted the second part of chapter three yesterday. It’s contemporary set crime/horror. No cannibalism. 😉

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Book #12 – Good Book by David Plotz

Subtitled: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible
Which should include a disclaimer: Every Single Word of the *Hebrew* Bible, aka The Old Testament

And now I’ll include *my* disclaimer: I’m going to talk about Good Book and the Good Book in relation to my experience of them. I’m not intending this to be a dialog about religious beliefs. My friends and family run the gamut. In any case, and as with most serious things, I tend to address religion with a good dollop of humor. No disrespect intended.

I have found the Bible fascinating since my mother gave me an edition as confirmation gift that included the Apocrypha. Here were whole books that were left out of my education. What else had I been missing? And my education hadn’t been small up to that point. From kindergarten through sixth grade, I attended a Lutheran school. We had religion class in the morning, chapel on Wednesdays. Music class was choir and handbells. That was in addition to church and Sunday school–every other week (none of my family are morning people)–and Vaction Bible School in the summer. I was also confirmed Lutheran which meant class once a week throughout seventh grade (and maybe eighth, I don’t remember). In all, I’ve read a good deal of the Bible. I’m also somewhat cynical and somewhat morbid. There’s a good deal in the Old Testament for the horror fan. Not only plagues and the smiting of first-born sons, but gems like Jael taking care of an enemy general by lulling him to sleep and then driving a tent peg through his head. I know most of the popular stories *and* their dark codas. (Take Daniel and the lions’ den, for instance. King Darius is convinced to pass a law stating that prayer should only be addressed to him. Daniel, an adviser to Darius but also a God-fearing man, won’t do it. He’s ratted out for disobeying the law. The king realizes that the law was bone-headed, but has to punish Daniel. Daniel is thrown into the lions den, but emerges unscathed. …And then the king arrests the tattle-tales and has them *and their families* thrown to the lions. Even though they were working to enforce the king’s bone-headed law.)

So, I had that over Plotz.  A lapsed Jew, he started this literary adventure after randomly encounter the story of Dinah. He too had a "What else am I missing?" moment. It’s somewhat interesting to relive that innocent shock at some of these tales, but that would get old if that were Plotz’ only commentary. Instead, I’m rather impressed with how much of the Bible is a history of a people and an instruction book for their continued survival. The angry Old Testament God serves a specific purpose. He’s toughening His people up. This is somewhat Jewish reading. As Plotz points out, Christian’s argue the OT is simply a set up for the redemptive New Testament. While I’ve always known that Judaism doesn’t include "the other half," I’ve never stopped to think about what that leaves behind. The OT is messy and sometimes ambiguous in its message, and that’s a good thing. That encourages dialogue.

Another thing that Plotz points out, and I’ve noticed this too, is how ubiquitous many Bible stories are. They pervade our culture. We’re are expected to catch references to Jonah and Whale or Noah and the Ark. (Without good ol’ Noah, the comedy of Bill Cosby and Eddie Izzard (NFWS) would be lacking.) I can’t imagine not knowing these stories.

David Plotz’ writing style is light and easy. Good Book started as a blog project and the style has some of that immediacy. He treats the Bible with respect, but isn’t afraid to question what’s going on. My only criticism is that sometimes the references made to popular culture or current politics are too trivial. They’re going to be outdated and might cause this book to age poorly. That’s probably the biggest danger of blog-to-books. We expect blogs to be up-to-date, but eventually out-of-date. We expect books to remain relevant.

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Look at that! Twelve books in four months. I’m right on track. I was behind a bit, but the readathon got me back to where I wanted to be.
Also read:
"Four Horsemen, at Their Leisure" by Richard Parks
"Bridesicle" by Will McIntosh

Book #10 – Bonk (and Readathon summary)

Book #10 – Bonk by Mary Roach

Subtitled: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
Roach’s first book was Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Her second book was Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Spook was not as "curious" and not as good.

Simply, Bonk is a quick history of sex research. I’d say that Roach tends to highlight some of the more odd aspects, but when you get down to really thinking about it, all sex research is slightly befuddling for our culture. Sure, rats in polyester pants is not ordinary, but if you’ve ever read a popular news article about a scientific paper on some aspect of sex research (and we’re talking about the act here, not aspects of gender), you may have thought, "Uh…how exactly did they measure *that*?" Well, Mary Roach tries to answer some of those questions. She does so frankly and with the humor you can’t remove from the subject. The bottom line of this book (as well as Stiff) is that knowing more is better than knowing nothing, especially if the subject makes you uncomfortable.

—###—

I have been busy, at least online. I posted my first Friday Flash on, well, Friday and participated in Murder Scene Blogfest Saturday. The comments have been great and I’m at the moment terribly remiss in replying to them. Even online, being social is pretty tiring for me.

Saturday was also a Readathon day. I did much better than last October. This time, I slept first and didn’t have a football game and social engagement. I read during every hour, though I did take a break at the halfway point and called it a night about twenty minutes early. I read 480 pages and around 30 murder scene blogfest posts.  I imbibed 1425mg of caffeine (though I only had one energy drink). At this point my reading list needs some work, but it’s pretty low priority.

Sunday marked the debut of Pas de Chat online. I even added cover art.

And today, a new Obscure Media Monday post.

Murder Scene Blogfest: Pas de Chat, Ch. 1

As my post for Anne Riley’s Murder Scene Blogfest, I offer the first chapter of my novel Pas de Chat.

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He didn’t follow her home every night.  That would not be practical.  He always had work to do, and this activity was limited to when he could not sleep.

Tonight, he walked on the same side of the street, a block behind her.  He moved lightly, the soft rubber of his soles making little noise.  The rustle of his coat was swallowed by the wind that rushed between the downtown Chicago buildings.  He ignored the chill, keeping his senses attuned to her.

She walked quickly with the defensive posture of a woman alone at night.  Shoulders squared, head held high, quick confident steps.  She slowly scanned her environment, but didn’t show fear and cross the street and when she passed a group of men who were gathered on a corner for no good reason.  Her hands were in the deep pockets of her long coat.  She could hold anything in her hands.  A wad of keys, mace, a gun, a knife.  Being on the street this late at night wasn’t wise, but she did all the things that were meant to project a warning message to those around her: she wold not be an easy mark.

When she stopped at an ATM, he turned at the cross street.  The square block of extra distance would leave him not much further behind her if he walked quickly.  But he fancied that he didn’t need to see her to track her.  Like a dog that would go to the door to greet a master that was still miles away, he was familiar enough with her to hear her steps beyond the buildings.  It was those intuitions that put a twist in his stomach.  Viscerally, he knew something was wrong.

Silence didn’t mean as much now, and his fast steps slapped the pavement.  The block was broken by an alley and he rushed to it.  With streetlights at both ends, only the middle of the passage was inky black.  He might have blundered forward into the stink of rancid garbage, but he stopped when he saw the silhouette of a man emerge from the shadows.  The thug at the other end of the alley grabbed her as she passed by.  From the graceful flail of her limbs, the voyeur knew it was her.  He was not innocent to violence, but the attack on her made his heart pound with the want to protect.  He stayed at the other end of the alley.

The silhouette took her from behind, engulfing her, pulling her into the darkness.  Joanne was a strong woman, fit, but she was smaller and lighter than the mugger.  One arm was across her chest, angled to her neck.  He held a knife.  His other hand plumbed the depths of her coat pocket.
 
"Don’t scream, bitch," he heard the thug rasp.

She didn’t.  If anything, a thin growl emanated from her throat.   She twisted in his grip.  One of her arms broke free and she raised it again and again like she was slapping him.  The scream that echoed from building to building belonged to the mugger.  He dropped the items he’d been holding and brought his hands up to deflect the blows.

When the mugger finally fell, the voyeur thought for a moment that he might be seen.  He had known this would be the outcome of the altercation.  If she saw him, he could be in danger too.  Instead, the woman doubled over as is if suddenly sick.  Then she turned and ran.

—###—

I hope that you enjoyed reading. If you’d like to read more Pas de Chat, I intend to blog a chapter a week, starting April 11th. Thanks!

Updates & Devils

Zeta Iota might be the most difficult project we’ve ever undertaken. I started over. 1500 words. Still not where it should be.

New Obscure Media Monday post, highlighting the movie Ink.

Starting Sunday, I intend to serialize Pas de Chat. She has her very own blog. I intend to post the first chapter (on Saturday) for Anne Riley’s Murder Scene Blogfest. I need to write it first, since it was decided that the novel needs a better beginning. I…should do that tonight. Actually, after looking at my old word count sheet, I realize I started working on PdC in earnest on April 12, 2004. Six year anniversary!

Also going to do Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Saturday. I am way behind on my reading.

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The Devils You Know:
I recently read a blog post by a young writer who fell into conversation with a more seasoned author at a book festival. The more experienced author made a comment about the realities of writing life that the youngster found somewhat demoralizing. Further, the blogger felt that established writers should be careful about this sort of dream-crushing behavior. I disagree with this. There is nothing lost in knowing that a writing career is going to be difficult. Very few writers get accolades; very few make much money at it. Very few are published at all. In fact, I’ve always felt that the best advice to an aspiring writer is this: If you can be happy doing something other than writing, do that instead. But these are the devils that you can see and easily identify. Rejection letters. Poor sales. Bad reviews. Line ’em up and send ’em back to hell because they’re not going to stop you if you can’t be happy doing something else. (If only it were *that* easy.)

The Devils You Don’t:
Over ten years ago, I workshopped the first several chapters of Lucinda at the Window in a college class. Since it is a genre novel and the class wasn’t, I had the instructor read the chapters beforehand and talked with him about them. His comments at that meeting were positive. During the class period, he launched into a fit of diagram drawing as he tried to figure out the chronology of the novel. He didn’t understand that there was no chronology problem, that Lucinda has a double.* The twenty students got it. He didn’t. The incident left me feeling angry and a little humiliated, even though his opinion was the minority. I got over it. I thought. Lucinda is my published work. He didn’t make me want to stop writing. But, he left me with an insidious unnamed imp. Whenever Eric suggests something non-conventional writing-wise, I balk. I’m certain that the reader won’t get it and will assume that I’ve made a shoddy mistake. I never realized this until Eric called me on it yesterday. It’s been the devil that I didn’t know that’s warped the process for me. So, I now name it and banish it. (If only it were *that* easy.)

*That’s not much of spoiler, really. It’s in the first couple of chapters.

May tribbles eat your kibbles…

So, what has been going on lately in Katherine-land?  A bit of this, a bit of that.

Spent Monday whittling down Pas de Chat‘s synopsis to one page (and then shorter than one page to accommodate formatting), and by Tuesday afternoon sent her out to six more agents.  As usual, there was much moaning and fretting about guidelines. This was somewhat defused by serendipitously timed blog post by Nathan Bransford and by the longest, kindest form rejection letter I have ever received. (Three of my six submissions were by email; two of which I quickly received responses to.) The agent had obviously taken time and put forth effort in its crafting.  I try not to be grumpy at agents when all I get back is a three line email or a poorly photocopied half sheet of paper. It’s easy to forget there are people, busy people on the other end of my query letters. But it is nice to get a response (even a negative one) that acknowledges that there’s a busy person on this side of the query too.

Tuesday afternoon, we went to see Star Trek. (Over Wolverine, in fact.  I got curious.) I will confess, I am a Star Trek fan.  My mom was a big fan.  I’ve met William Shatner and I’ve accidentally tripped Walter Koenig.  I own a stuffed tribble and a small titanium insignia magnet.  I’m not a rabid fan, but fan, I am.  I had very low expectations for the movie.  A younger Star Trek.  A “reboot” of the franchise.  Directed by JJ Abrams of all people.  How could this manage to be good?  It does and doesn’t.

The science and the extension of technology from the present to future, is terrible.  Granted, if you’re staying true to the setting of Star Trek as put forth in the original series, the science and the extension of technology will be terrible.  Unfortunately, it didn’t seem particularly consistent with the original series level of technology either.  But really, I didn’t expect this aspect of the film to be any good.  The call backs and nods to the original series were somewhat poorly handled in my opinion. Those things were done for the fans, but should have been done much more subtly. There were also some joke-y aspects that I could have done without.  Often, it felt as though the writers were trying too hard to wink at and nudge the audience.  Also too many things that just struck me as incredulous.  Prime example: where exactly *is* the canyon in Iowa?

Ultimately and surprisingly, what I did appreciate the movie is the “reboot” quality.  Restarts happen often in comics, often in tabletop gaming.  I’ve even sort of done one between two novel drafts.  Essentially, you want to keep the things that are good, but tweak those things, shake them up, make relationships different. To pull this off, they had to be gutsy about it.  To the credit of Abrams and his writers, they were. They offer fans a way of excepting this new Star Trek and maybe even look forward to more stories being told in this universe.

Yesterday kind of devolved into a goof-off day.  We went out and played disc, grocery shopped, and finished watching The Wire.  If I were to be balanced, I would now go on for three paragraphs about how good this show is.  Alas, there’s usually less to say when something is good.  We watched all five seasons over the past couple of months.  I picked it from Netflix because it was an HBO show that I hadn’t heard much about.  It is very good.  It’s well written, well acted, well produced.  At its base is the crime in Baltimore, MD.  Over five seasons, the stories are told from the POV of the cops, the criminals, the lawyers, the politicians, the school system, and the media.  It gives an excellent view of the criminal organizations and the non-forensic procedural aspects.  It’s further proof that television at its best could be better than movies.

Other links of interest:

Whether ‘Terminator’ or ‘Angels and Demons,’ Films Feel the Call of Boycotters – NYTimes.com
My guess is that neither of those two films will be affected, though one might content that Angels and Demons is less reliant on the American market.

NeuroLogica Blog takes a look at something I’ve always found curious: Spontaneous Human Combustion

Amazon.com is becoming a reprint publisher.

Totally Addicted… reviews Wired passion fruit with calcium. Better known as the only palatable low-calorie “energy” drink I have left. It also mixes very well with UV Cherry vodka.

Cereal And Milk Is The New Sports Supplement
*After* exercise isn’t really what sports drinks were made for. Sports drinks are for during prolonged exercise when an athlete’s stomach wouldn’t really appreciate a bowl of cereal.

Got a rejection back from a publisher yesterday. From an editorial assistant. Which means that actually meeting and talking to the senior editor at WHC did little good. No matter what I am told about the process, I still feel like I’m fumbling around in the dark.

Anyway, I’m over it in another 3.5 seconds. I’ll probably wait until after WFC to put her out there again.

All in all, Regionals was pretty good, at least for me. The hotel was a bit of a disappointment, but I really didn’t see the nice side of Redlands, San Bernardino, or Higthland. The tournament didn’t seem very well organized in my opinion. VOTS does a much better job.

Huckwallas held seed and finished 7th. We were pleased with this. I just hope we have some improvement in the future. It’s slightly exciting for me. I actually have a team jersey. Spiffy, eh? And I got a weird little thrill when reading about our “first team win.” Personally, I did all right. I think I played better last week though. I felt tired and my timing was off. I played decent D and caught a couple of scores, but it seemed like everyone else was doing more than I. Hurt my quadricep Sunday. During our second game Sunday especially, I feared I wouldn’t be able to play. I hope it’s better today, we’ll see.

Ironwood missed Nationals by one point. Drat and damn.

Eric’s done reading Joanne. There’s a few little things I need to fix and then she’s “in the can” if you will. I’ve been writing a bit of Pecos, and organizing my counters. Also thinking about writing some Neopets articles for Neopian Commentary. I suppose it would be nice if I got one of those things done, huh?

Okay, maybe I’m not over it yet…