Friday, August 27, 2004

Rollin' Toward Dragon*Con

Well, if you've never attended Dragon*Con (aka The Mother of All Conventions) then you've missed something. Think 20-25,000 of your closest buddies all packed into two hotels in downtown Atlanta over Labor Day Weekend. Squads of storm troopers, Klingons, Goths, elves, hobbits, historical figures and various cartoon characters. Always a good show. Not designed for anyone who has a crowd phobia, though.

As usual, I'm doing my writer gig at the con. That involves sitting on panels, trying to sound intelligent and going crazy for about 20 hours per day. Sleep is optional. One of the really cool things is that I get to meet up with all sorts of friends from all over everywhere. Lots of catching up, besides working the con as a guest.

Doing the writer panels is always fun, though you never know who you're going to be paired with until the last moment. Flexibility is the key. Almost all of these folks are far higher on the writer food chain than I am, so I always learn something.

One of my favorite things is doing the booksignings. Unfortunately, this year they seemed to have not scheduled me for any so we're trying to work that out. Mercury is in Retrograde, of course, so I'm not surprised.

Hie thee hence to Dragon, dear bard!

More anon...

Friday, August 13, 2004

Possessed by the Muse

Well, the Muse has moved in full time and taken up residence in my already crowded brain. Muse has decided it is time to finish the current work-in-progress (WIP) which is a paranormal romance. No, it's not a bodice ripper. Sorry, don't write those. In fact, they're hard to find now-a-days. This one is set in contemporary L.A., including Skid Row in downtown L.A. and that's occasioned a lot of research. One of my characters is a homeless fellow with mental issues so I've had to read up on what it's like to trudge the streets of The Nickel as it's called, living out of trash cans. Given there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 44K homeless folks in a 50-block area, this isn't a minor problem. Wow. I had no idea.

I've been spending three hours a day at local coffee houses, wired into my ITunes and banging away on the keyboard. I usually go to Starbucks, but will try a new place today so I don't wear out my welcome at the other shop. I've been doing what NYT Best-Selling author Jennifer Crusie calls "the 'don't look down' draft." I'm dropping prose on computer screen as fast as I can and not thinking about Goals, Motivations, Conflicts, story arcs or any of that other stuff. In other words, just like I used to write until I started reading how to write and somewhat screwed myself up. I'll go back after I get through the first draft and clean up the mess. I believe Hemingway said the first draft is sh*t. He's right. But in the process the characters find their strengths and frailties and you discover plot twists you never considered.

Or not. It just depends. The key point is to write, even if its drivel. And that's what it is right now, including such notations as "find better word here" or "insert physical movement here that indicates heroine is stunned by hero's bright purple tie" or some such nonsense. When I'm writing for content, the words are thick and lush and the action dynamic. Right now I'm just throwing stuff at the page. Then you go back and edit the dickens out of it countless times.

In the end you have a book. That's how it works. Fanny in chair, hands on keyboard or wrapped around writing instrument of choice scribbling on notepad. It just doesn't happen any other way. Some days go really well and you're on an adrenalin high and others are so-so. Given the YoWH (Year of Writing Hell) I went through last year, I'm not complaining. At least the book is happening. Whether it turns out good enough to sell to someone is another matter entirely.

Pardon, must go, the Muse is tugging on my sleeve and whining in my ear. It's lot like a self-absorbed three-year-old on a sugar high. And we all know what those are like.

"90 percent of writing is getting out of your own way." -- Jennifer Crusie


Friday, August 06, 2004

Ignorance & Intolerance -- The Seeds of Destruction

Unfortunately, a friend of mine picked the wrong e-mail petition to forward to me. The gist of the e-mail was that we should boycott the Eid holiday stamp offered by the US Post Office because of the numerous murderous assaults on Americans by Muslims. (Eid is a Muslim holiday.) Apparently, the issuers of this e-mail didn't realize this stamp has been out for some time.

To assume that mainstream Islam has bloody hands just because of the deeds of some of their fundamentalist brethren is like blaming mainstream Christianity for the Crusades. Any time someone suggests boycotting an entire religion based on the deeds of a few, I get upset.

It appears that whoever sent the email didn't do their homework. If you've got an open mind, check out: ( -- a website that tells precisely what the celebration of EID is all about.

To quote the a portion of the site's contents:
"Each 'Eid is a Day of peace.

When a Muslim establishes peace within his heart by obeying the Law of Allah and leading a disciplinary life, he has certainly concluded a most invioble treaty of peace with Allah.

Once a person is at peace with Allah, he is at peace with himself and, consequently, with the rest of the universe.

So when he celebrates the 'Eid in the right manner, he is actually celebrating the conclusion of a Peace Treaty between himself and Allah, and this marks the 'Eid as a Day of Peace.

That is the proper meaning of an Islaamic 'Eid: a Day of Peace and Thanksgiving, a Day of forgiveness and moral victory, A Day of Good Harvest and remarkable Achievements, and a Day of Festive Remembrance. An Islaamic 'Eid is all this and is much more; because it is a Day Of ISLAAM, a Day of Allah."

When you look at the meaning of Eid, it could be suggested we all need to do the same in our lives, each in our own way and within our own particular religious tradition. Offering thanks to G*d, asking for forgiveness, giving alms to the poor and seeking peace are not unholy acts. On the contrary, they are the cornerstones of all of the major religions.

Now lest you think I'm all rosy eyed here, I'm not. I'm keenly aware that a certain number of fanatics would cheerfully cut my throat or blow me to bits because of my religion and my nationality. I think about it every time I fly in the US and overseas. I'm an American and a Jew. I'm a target. That's the reality. On the other hand, I refuse to demonize an entire religion because of a small band of murderous bastards who circumvent the laws of Islam to their own ends. I repudiate them just as I will repudiate those who murder in the name of Christianity or any other religion, Judaism included.

What we need to do is address those who would kill us, not the ones with whom we have no quarrel. Being ignorant is no excuse. Do your homework, understand why other people worship in different ways, why they act differently. It is the only way we're going to stay alive as a species.

If you insist on labeling everyone else the enemy, in the end you will stand alone.


Sunday, August 01, 2004

A Sea of Women

I knew I was in for it when I found the plane loaded with tons of woman; between the Romance Writers' Convention, a jewelry convention and a Mary Kay convention, Dallas was the place for guys who want to watch gals. Lots of us. I suspect there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 3600-5000 of us at the Adam's Mark. The Mary Kay folks were decked out in very colorful jackets (and, of course, their makeup was flawless.) The RWA folks were carrying bunches of books, muttering about GMCs (not a vehicle) and editor/agent spotting.

The hotel had a bit of a problem checking all of us in at once (about 1 to 1-1/2 hours, to be precise). Thank goodness for being a member of the GoldMark Club (Adam's Mark preferred guest program.) That helped. The room was very nice, the restaurant served good food and the company was excellent.

The charity booksigning raised $60k, half of which stays in the Dallas metro area. Lots of the big names were there (Nora Roberts, for one) and so there was a long line near her table. Given the NY Times Bestselling competition, I still managed to sell a few books. Readers were looking for fantasy. And I got to talk to a very cool British grandmother who pens erotica (Madeline Oh.)

Between reconnecting with friends from all over the country, attending panels and awards ceremonies (no, none of my books were up for an award as I didn't have one to submit) I also got to chat with Anna Genoese of Tor/Forge. She's editor of their new paranormal romance line which launches in November of this year. Anna's a neat lady with a wicked sense of humor and nifty tattoos. (Yes, I'm having tattoo envy. I've done about everything else I can to myself, but not a tattoo. I suspect there is one in my future.) Anna and I got to talk shop since I'm fighting through a paranormal manuscript at the present moment.

Getting home proved a bit difficult with the plane suffering a flat tire/a change of equipment and then a change of seating. Finally touched down in Atlanta at about 12:40 a.m. Wow. Made for a long day.

Another RWA Convention under my belt. I get to stay home for the month of August and then it starts to get crazy again. Hopefully, I can have the first draft of the book out by Dragon*Con (Labor Day weekend.) If not, soon after. It just requires nose to computer monitor, fingers on keyboard and not checking emails twenty-nine times a day.

Later folks --