Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bee Geisha Research

Yes, yes, I know. I can't seem to concentrate on one novel at a time. Unless I get into the "groove", the obsessive phase where I can write for hours on end and don't even get up if mildly hungry, I usually don't.

So here's a growing list of bee geisha books I'm using as research, because you see, it's damn hard to find what I want in one source. So I have to go across so many different subjects to get what I need. Other research topics are going to be makeup and dress, etiquette, tattoos, courtesans, dance, tea ceremony, and body language. That's just to start with.

I don't think I ever did this much research for a novel before--sure I've read about four or five books, plus dozens of articles, for EoS, but that's was relatively easy. Look up Aztecs, find Aztec information, there you go.

To find out what I need for bee geisha, not only am I going to have look up the two main topics, bees and geisha, but Japanese and Chinese culture and daily life, Greek culture and daily life, and any "art" that the "geisha" in my story will have to learn.

Like manners, how to dress, make up, tea ceremony, dances. They will have to read body language like a pro and be able to control any conversation with their own words--so books about speaking. Oh and feng shui is also going to have a role in this. I'm sure I'll discover tons of more stuff.

But for now, here is my starter list.

Ios's bee-geisha-research book montage

Daily Life in Greece at the Time of Pericles

The Mikado's Empire: A History of Japan from the Age of Gods to the Meiji Era

The Greeks: Life and Customs

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

Geisha: A Life

A Keeper of Bees: Notes on Hive and Home

The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense at Work

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Memoirs of a Geisha

Ios's favorite books »

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

250 Words

250 words on Lab? On anything? Nope. My laptop died. Black screen. Flashing "lightning bolt". Finally, I tried starting it up without the battery. Presto, chango. It worked. I backed up my crap. Then I put my laptop battery back in, and it works again. Stupid cheap-ass computer, there was a reason why it was put on sale, and it wasn't just because the power button fell off after a month of use either.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gender in fiction

Some interesting comments out there in the blogosphere about the genders of your fictional characters.

For instance, BookEnds on male protags. And Fangs, Fur, and Fey blog on females (which includes more links).

So it seems it is hard to write the opposite sex than you are. Really? In general, making the gender believable in fiction isn't the hardest thing; it's making the characters work, period. If the character works, then gender isn't a problem any more, is it? Because gender is just one part of the character. Because you know, if you worry too much about believableness of your character's gender, then you run the risk of writing a stereotype. Because I believe characters in fiction, just like dialogue, just like any part of fiction, is about exaggeration. It may be slight or it may be great, but fiction isn't about how people in real life act. It's about characters acting better or worse than us, different than us. That is why fictional characters can never be like real people: it'd be too boring. Fictional characters, instead, are here to entertain us, not be a mirror to our own lives. Thus, they can't be just like us.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Progress: Lab

Holly Lisle has a challenge going of writing 250 words a day. Well, I tried it towards editing, and I got 359 of them. Wanna see one?


Lol. Well I did say one. Ok, a few more.

I returned to the front door and started the night's mischief with a little spell to Tamay's lock to greet his next few returns; see if that sparked up a memory or two.

Then, I continued by poking my hand up into the crevice above the door frame.

"What are you doing? Secure the kitten and depart."

"Oh, I'm sure the kitten's secure enough in her cage, for the moment, Your Lowliness. Don't worry your orange little brains about it."

How's that for context? ;-)


Look at what I discovered:

Ios's currently-reading book montage

A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler

Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

The Ionian Mission (Aubrey/Maturin Book 8) [UNABRIDGED]

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Memoirs of a Geisha

Ios's favorite books »

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lab update and Snippet.

Update on the editing progress. Now have three chapters edited in the second draft.

To celebrate, here is a snippet from my work in progress, Labyrinth. The main thing that needs set up for this snippet to make sense is that my MC, a sixteen year old invisible male, is holding a plant goddess captive. Or rather, he is holding captive a plant goddess in seed form inside a vial inside a pocket in his shirt. He is trying to get past a sphinx (owned by a immortal man called the Collector) guarding the labyrinth.


I stepped forward.

The Sphinx turned her head toward me, claws flexing in those platter-sized paws.

I stopped.

The Sphinx said, "I am the Soul, the Flesh, and the Guardian of the Labyrinth. None shall pass without permission."

"Funny," I said, looking her up and down. Casually. "You look like a Sphinx to me." What would she say to that? How good was her warning spell? "And I have an invitation. From one worldly friend to another." I plucked out the vial and waved it, noisily, to test the extent of her visual and aural capacities. "See? Your turn." I ignored the whisper of "filth" in my head and returned the Invective One to safety.

She did blink, nor follow my hand, suggesting low sensitivity to my presence, and what sensitivity existent quickly fading.

But she did manage to say, "I am the Labyrinth," through a still muzzle. "Those who do not heed the warning trespass. Trespassers forfeit their souls."

No movement. Anywhere. Not even a whisker flicker. The Sphinx as-is was incapable of any real conversation.

Just like a goddess I loved to torture.

I eyed the Sphinx's leg, a paw waiting with claws sheathed. Claws, however, do work well. Especially ones kin to scythes.

"Your Lowliness, you might be right for twice. She doesn't seem to be listening." Shame, since her attention span was beyond the momentary. Did you have a falling out?" I snapped my fingers. "You tried to leach onto her graven images, didn't you! You lichen fiend!"

"Fool." Two seeds beat about this time inside my belt pocket. "Coward fool. It is a trick. Circumvent her and break the spell binding her tongue."

Fine. Besides, I had a own trick of my own. A trick within a trick. I reached inside a breast pocket number six, upper row, and pulled out a heat spell hiding in a lightstick. Been holding onto that since the last time I was here. Now that I needed a diversion, I hope it hadn't forgotten to work. After all, if I were going to be foolhardy, best to be foolhardy and quick rather than just foolhardy and crushed beneath giant Sphinx. I gathered my weight, rocking on my heels. Swift. Easy. Moving in line with my goal, I broke the trick lightstick in half and tossed it near the opposite paw. For a moment, it sat there. Leaving me an idiotic litterer.

Then it flared to life with pale orange light, rotating in place like a drunken firework. Not quite the right color or speed, but . . . .

The Sphinx cocked her head at it.

Yes, swift and easy. I pushed off, leaping over the ledge of a paw, with a hand of my own to help. The paw was warm, furry, and firm with muscle.

I landed on the other side, the impact jarring. The anticipated displacement of air--from a swipe of a paw or snap of jaw--never came. I didn't perceive any movement; had no time to check. I rolled ahead, out of the squeeze of body and white wall before that turned into squish of my body between both.

When I came to my feet, I was ready judge my success and doff it to Collector's so-called enforcement spell from many yards away, before a cat and I resumed negotiations.

When I came to my feet, I was face to chest with the Sphinx, and the haze rested behind her this time. She had not moved.

But she had moved. Was facing me. Somehow.

"Impossible," I whispered.

"Finally," the goddess tinked. "Fool."

The Sphinx dipped her head and said, "So be it, trespasser."

This time, she swiped her paw.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Body Lang and Six

Interesting post here. I had seen the comment's question last night and was going to comment then, but I like the blogger's take. Because Six, my main character from Lab, does this very thing. He interprets body lang and other things about a person--he takes their measure and does it quickly--and gives his opinion like a fact. He's often right, but he's also wrong, too. Why did I do this? Because originally I was softening his opinion words like "maybe", "perhaps", "I thought". Then I got disgusted with it--because it's what I do too often is use those words--and decided to be radical and make him express opinions as facts. Well, at the time I thought it was radical; in light of this post, maybe not so. But anyway, it changed how I wrote Six; it became an important part of his character,and I love it when things like that happen.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Secret Agent contest

Over at Miss Snark's First Victim, there is a contest going on in which a secret literary agent will comment on a snippet. I wish I could have tried it. But nothing was ready. But my goodness, is this the trend? Is everyone writing YA? I hope not. Not that I have anything against YA, I just prefer the plain ol' fantasy genre. Anyway, I've commented on probably about 10 entries, and it is true what they say. You learn about your own writing by critiquing others. But I also think you learn a lot by your fellow critter's crits, too. Anyway, I'm all pooped out on that until the Secret Agent starts commenting.


In spite of laotong, yin, yang, or sense, I'm working on one of my older novels. I had been editing it in the past, but I heard so many warnings never to try to sell a book in a fantasy novel series first, that I decided to put it aside. Now it seems like that is no longer quite so true. Series will be what the publisher wants. (The guy also asked the question of stand alone vs series on an agent blog, but I can't remember which or when.)

Lol. Seems like I'm trying to follow hearsay again, but I'm not. I'm still leery about Lab, because it is somewhat comedic and I'm not a comedic fantasy writer. My character just happened to be a funny person. But that aside, it is the closest to being ready for submission, and I don't have the patience right now to finish writing, then extensively rewrite EoS. So, Lab it is. For now ;-)

Oh, and I do have some writing done on it. A new prologue. Yeah, yeah, I know. A prologue, but that is a whole other blog post, I'm afraid ;-)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Contract Signed

Well, I did a little happy dance on the 3rd. After some email kerfuffles, Drollerie Press was in contact with me and sent me the contract to sign. Sent it back today. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my email won't cause problems this time.