Saturday, August 29, 2009

Congratulations, ma'am, it's a....... chapter!

I spent all yesterday morning struggling with chapter 1 of my original romance, and managed to produce a whopping 500 words. Wow.

So I ate a whole buncha lunch.

Then I spent all afternoon struggling and managed another 500 words.

Jeez, louise, I never had this kind of trouble writing fanfic.

But after dinner the muse suddenly cooperated. He's a hot Cuban Sex God (hereinafter referred to as my CSG), and when he permits, I can huff up a hurricane of hot wind.

I finished it off this morning and *trumpet flourish* I've got 4,000+ words! A complete Chapter 1! Yay me!

Now if I can just do this 11 more times I'll have a Harlequin!

Don't hold your breath...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Top 100 books

Gakked from my writing buddy Rosa.
According to the Big Read the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books listed here.
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare--A few of them, but not enough to bold
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll--Do kiddie versions count?
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis--Yeah, I know, it's part of the Chronicals. But eh...
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert--I struggled through it, but it was hard
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen--I'd underline this twice if I could!
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett--Loved the movie even more
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray--Does seeing the movie count?
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte's Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute--On the Beach was good
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl--I saw Willie Wonka...
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

*buffing nails on chest* That would be 37, and 10 of the top 11. Not bad at all, though I must admit that a number of them were forced reads in school. And even more humiliating... I can barely remember some of them. But now I'm inspired to search out digital copies of some of the classics I'd still like to read and put them on my Kindle.

Maybe I'm finally over my addiction to romance...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

To write or not to write

I'm a technical writer, have been for more than fifteen years. I can interview an engineer about a product or process, review engineering drawings and designs, organize the thoughts and produce an article suitable for publication in a trade journal. I've done this many times, with great success.

So why in the world do I have this nagging desire to write fiction?

I know how it all started. Fan fiction. Where the readers are undemanding and will praise almost anything. Except, of course, if you put your heroine with the wrong hero. Then watch out for the cursing and nastiness. But for the most part fan fiction readers are easy to please.

So now I find myself with the beginnings of an original romance novel. The ideas have been tumbling around in my head for months and this week I'm putting pen to paper--okay
, really fingers to keyboard--and beginning.

It's agony.

Do I really want to do this? I'm ambivalent. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.

One of my writing buddies referred me to an article by author Stephen Bergman, Five Laws of the Novelist. Rule Five says there is only one reason to write... only write if you can't not.

Can I not write? That's my question of the decade.

We shall see.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

An engineer's holiday

A month or so ago Betsy took us to a book fair in Philadelphia. Although it wasn't the bonanza of bargain books we were hoping for, we did come away with Backroads of New York, a guide to some of the lesser known attractions of New York State.

So last week, on our way north to spend a few days at Lake Champlain, Dave consulted the book and we ended up winding our way around Waterford, just north of Albany. There where the Mohawk River meets the Hudson is the entrance to the Erie Canal. An engineering marvel of its day, the first five locks lift boats a staggering 169 feet.

We continued our trip by following the Lakes to Locks Passage along the Champlain Canal. That waterway uses the Hudson River, with locks to bypass non-navigable rapids.

The New York State Canal System is touted as the most important inland trade route ever created, opening up the Great Lakes by linking them with the Hudson and St. Lawrence Rivers, and pushing the frontier westward past the Appalachian Mountains. Through the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries, mega-tons of raw materials and completed goods traveled through the canals.

Times change, technologies advance, and the premier transportation system of yesteryear has become obsolete. Today the canals are mainly used for pleasure boating, though in the past few years trade barges are again traveling the waters, a "green" mode of transport that has the added advantage of being substantially more economical than trucking.

The vision of the canals, once so important, left me with a bittersweet taste, a yearning for simpler times. Then the temperature rose and I gave thanks for modern miracles as I turned on the air conditioning.