Archive for May 2008

A little night magic

Last night I went out to look at the full moon. Classic country music from down the street wafted on the breeze, but I couldn't hear what song it was. I smiled. One of my neighbors was having a party.

The song ended and after a pause a new one began. This one was a little louder, and from the quality of the sound I could tell it was actually a live band playing, no drums, just guitars. I might have been hearing the practice session of a local band instead of a party.

The opening chords drew me in, so I sat cross-legged on the lawn. An old man's unsteady voice began, "On a long and lonesome highway/ East of Omaha/ You can listen to the engine moaning out its one long song..." and I was treated to a secret moonlit concert of Bob Seger's "Turn the Page," an endearingly off-key rendition, building artfully to passionate crescendo and then echoing away into the night.

As I waited for another song to rise through the frogs' and crickets' cacophony, the wind carried to me the heavy perfume of honeysuckle. I inhaled, remembering my childhood when honeysuckle grew right outside my window.

I considered weaving flowers into my hair and stripping off my clothes, letting breeze and full moon's light caress my fertility-goddess body as I danced under the oak. I was more than an observer of the night. I was a welcome--no, a necessary part of it.

The church bells echoed ten o'clock. I lingered a while longer, then I said good night to the moon and went inside.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Synopses and warm Oklahoma spring mornings

I love warm spring mornings, waiting for the bus with the two oldest children, soaking up nature's joy in the rising sun. Today the kids almost missed the bus because of the distractions awaiting in our front yard. They lamented the violets losing their blossoms and reveled in the luxurious blooms of roses. They shed their jackets (thrust upon them by an overprotective mother) and skipped through the grass. Then a bird landed in the mulberry tree a few feet away and ate some breakfast, which, of course, the children then had to do. "Let's go eat the mulberries before the bird gets them all!" they cried.

They picked a few before the bus came, and then had to rush to make it to the street in time. "Have a wonderful day," I called as I do every morning. They chorused, "We will!" They sat in the front seat of the bus with their heads together and forgot to wave at me out the window, as they do more and more. That's all right.

Oklahoma is a great place to live. Really fantastically awesome. It has it's challenges, as every state does, but I couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

A.C. Crispin of Writer Beware liked it when she came to the OWFI conference a couple of weeks ago. In the linked post she compares the Nebula Awards banquet with ours, the professional writer and the amateur. She talks about the enthusiasm and joy of writers who attended the conference, and through our example realized that once you're a pro it's easy to forget to enjoy writing.

I'm enjoying it, that's for sure. I finished my longer synopsis, which ended up being 2 1/2 pages. I know this is weird, given the general feeling floating around cyberspace about them, but I love writing synopses. It is a unique challenge, word-for-word taking about quadruple the time it takes to write the book itself, but when all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, it is immensely satisfying.

So now the synopsis is finished, and while I wait for proofreaders to get back to me (anybody else who wants to volunteer, I'll love you forever) I'll insert the changes in the first three chapters that somehow didn't get saved the first time I did it. Then my proposal package will be complete, and I can focus on editing the rest of the book. IF I can stay inside during the lovely summer evenings and get it done.

I think the next topic I post about will be a fatherless follow-up.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Posted by Sherri Cornelius


PMS is a huge part of my life. I've refrained from speaking of it too much for a couple of reasons. First, I know it makes some people uncomfortable to talk about bodily functions. You'll notice I also don't tell fart jokes here, even though I tell plenty in real life. Second, to dwell on it would feel like wallowing in self-pity, which I try not to do.

Over five years ago I had my huge-ass thyroid gland removed because of a few little cancer cells. Once the thyroid is gone, of course, one has to take replacement hormone every day. Forever and ever. Amen. Which means I'm chained to a doctor for regular testing.

It helps to have a doctor who actually listens to me because an imbalance in hormone can be a subtle problem, immeasurable by an outside source. Oh, sure, they have the "normal" range of values in a blood test to go by, but the range is relatively large, and the tweaking is all about how the patient feels. My old doctor wasn't good with symptoms like shortness of breath, hair falling out, feeling crazy. His best work was done when I was able to point to a lump or a rash or a sprain.

(I hate you, old doctor. Hate your pompous, self-important, making-me-suffer-for-five-years ass. I told you. I told you, mother frakker. GAH!


Thank the gods I finally have a doctor who actually listens to me.

I think this kind of "yes, dear," head-pat doctoring happens to women a LOT. I know how I feel, doc. Just because you can't find the cause doesn't mean I'm a hypochondriac. Just because I have monthly hormone fluctuations doesn't mean it's all in my head. So I'm in the "normal" range, so what? I feel like crap, doesn't that count for anything?

(My husband did it to me just last night. I've been working on my eating habits, and I mentioned that I was giving myself a little leeway since that time of the month was nigh. I said I always get hungrier, and maybe my body needed a few extra calories to get through. He said, "Sounds like an excuse to me." I replied, "A reason is not an excuse," and then I punched him in the face. Just kidding.)

After five years of being made to feel like a hypochondriac, I finally have vindication. My new doc lowered my prescription a lot, and I feel better than I have in years. I don't feel neurotic (or as Dwight so diplomatically put it, "focused"), my hair and skin are not as dry, my appetite is under control.

And the biggest deal of all hit me yesterday when I "started" with only a hint of PMS. Every month, growing worse as the years go on, my period has been telegraphed two weeks before by anger and craziness; a week before by incredible bloating; and a couple of days before by stomach problems, cramping and such. This month, I figured it must be time, but I didn't feel crazy at all. My appetite had increased a couple of days ago, I'd gained a single pound, I was sort of tired. I just figured I would be slammed soon enough with the full cocktail of my usual symptoms.

Surprise! That was it. The extent of my PMS, and I'm so relieved and happy and joyous. My love for my new doc burns with the intensity of a thousand suns. Maybe you folks don't quite understand the root of my joy, but that's okay. I feel it.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

May 12 mystery

Well, it's been driving me crazy, not remembering why this date sticks in my head. I looked through my blog posts, and realized I missed my 2 year anniversary on May 8, so happy bloggiversary to me! My second post ever fell on May 12, about the time I ate ants but I'm sure that's not the reason. It's probably just my silliness.

Oh, and Fal, you and I think too much alike. I used seam binding tape and stick-on velcro to make a support. LOL
Monday, May 12, 2008
Posted by Sherri Cornelius
Tag :

Random Monday nothings

Today is May 12. For some reason it seems like an important day to me, but here I sit as usual, on the couch, in jammies, drinking coffee. Easing into my day. I googled the date, and the only thing I can see is that stamps go up a penny today. It may be I'm still riding high from the con and every day seems important. I feel like I'm in the middle of the most exciting time of my life, but it's hard to put a finger on why. Nothing has happened that I can point to and say, "That's when my life changed."

The hinges are loose on my laptop screen. I have to keep it perfectly balanced or it flops back. I'll rig up some kind of support before I press my luck too far and it snaps off. It'll probably be ugly. Good thing I never go anywhere. (Yeah, right.)

I hope all you fathers out there did something good for the mothers of your children yesterday. My mother's day was mostly like all other days, except it started with extra love and hand-made cards and chorus after chorus of "Happy Mother's Day!" My 9-year-old made a card with a drawing of a boulder that said, "You rock!"

Yesterday was not only Mother's Day, but also my lovely bonus daughter's 16th birthday. I've known the girl since she was 4, before I'd had any children from my own body, so I love her like one of my own. It's hard to watch her grow up, but her satisfaction at becoming an adult is fulfilling to me as well. She got her first job at the neighborhood pizza place last week, and will be driving soon. I hope she always considers me her friend. Love you, Z! (I tried to get a pic uploaded in here, but WP is not cooperating!! argh!)

That's enough from me. I feel like I'm forgetting something, but who says I can't post again if I remember later? Nobody, that's who.

Brain sucker

I love the writer psychology pieces on Buzz, Balls & Hype. This week's is about how to control an over-active imagination. The querier says:
My novelistic abilities are making me crazy. The very thing that enables me to be a writer is torturing me in real life. I find that I am projecting my imagination onto already stressful situations and making them almost untenable.

I do this a lot, and if you are a creative type, you may, too. It took a long time to realize that not everyone does it. I think my mom and brother do it, but not my husband or other brother. I wasn't truly able to release my paralyzing anxiety until I recognized the problem. It's too easy to walk through my day in a dream state, with unfocused (or too focused) images taking precedence over what is right in front of me: a book, a chore, a child. It really is enough to drive a person crazy. Coincidentally, my husband and I established last night that only I am allowed to question my sanity.

I know one thing, I'd be a lot happier without the g-d writer's mind. After the birth of my son, images of horror were uncontrollable and rampant. Images, and sometimes entire scenes, would superimpose on reality. Accidentally dropping a knife on him, our family dog turning rabid and ripping him apart, him burning to death in front of my eyes, really horrible stuff. Eventually I recognized that I was suffering from serious post-partum depression, as similar stories surfaced over the intervening years, but still...I wonder if it was made worse by my powerful imagination. I wonder if they've ever done a tally of the jobs held by the sufferers of post-partum depression.

Anyhoo, now that I've gone in a completely different direction than I planned... Don't worry, my son is six, and the things I described in the previous paragraph have been over for a long time. Though never as intense or horrible since (the thoughts have been expanded to include good stuff), they are still distracting. Over the past year or so I've gotten much better at recognizing when my thoughts fall in that pattern, and as the Practical Vampire Slayer says, when you bring vampires into the light, they lose their power.

Go read the article.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Do you compare?

Rainy this morning. Nice. No hail. That's a good thing. No internet, either, until just now.

Thank you, dear friends, for all your supportive comments. I'm so happy to have you with me on my journey, as I am right next to you on yours.

So I bought some books over the weekend. First let me say that the bookstore situation in OKC is woeful. The conference was held in Midwest City, which is really an extension of OKC, a thriving, growing community with new strip malls going up everywhere. Within a mile of my mom's house are the high school, a junior college and the Air Force base, as well as a new Target, Kohl's, Home Depot and Lowe' get the picture. A lot going on in that area. Yet to find a large bookstore one must drive 20 minutes on the interstate system to the other side of OKC. It's crazy and annoying.

My brother, Tony, and I picked our books based on some author names floating on the wind at the con. Steven Erikson was recommended by Minz as good dark fiction, so Tony picked up a couple of those. I already mentioned that I chose a Laurell K. Hamilton and Lois McMaster Bujold (what a frickin' tongue twister that is!). I cracked open the LMB, The Sharing Knife, first.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear but one of my main character names in Ea's Gift. Dag is the name of both LMB's male lead and a supporting, but important, character in my book. Not that I have a problem changing it if need be, but it crossed my mind that certain people might wonder if I copied.

I'm stumbling over the name, picturing the Dag from my book. Not only am I seeing my character, but all his knowledge and experience is automatically applied to this character. Quite weird. It won't make me put the book down, but I might have to rename him in my mind, maybe read it as just plain "D" or something.

Besides that, I'm really enjoying the flow of the story and the characters, and I noticed something by the end of Chapter 2. Over and over at the con, (and before that on the internet) I heard the advice to compare yourself to an establish author's style. To find an author whose voice is most like your own, and then use the comparison as a shorthand to describe your style. Great advice, but I've never been able to equate my voice with another writer's. I believe I've finally found a similar voice.

I make no comparison of quality for that is not mine to judge, but it felt strangely familiar. Not the story or the characters, but the development, the language, the feel. It seems a bit silly to compare myself to such a well-established author, and even sillier that I have never read such a well-established author, but there it is.

What do you think of this advice, and how has it changed the way you see your writing? Do you worry it will make you derivative?
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Posted by Sherri Cornelius
Tag :

Where do I begin?

I found out something about the world while mingling with other adults at the conference, and here it is: Nine o'clock is not "late" for most people.

I also learned that I'm pretty good company, especially after a glass of wine. And that underneath my shyness is a craving for face-to-face conversation. Also that people forgive most faux pas, probably because they remember their own. Who hasn't flipped a crouton across the room?

Now that's hail

Thursday night we had a storm with up to baseball-sized hail. The biggest hail I'd ever seen, which punched holes in my mom's rain gutter and ruined the roof on the house across the street. I saw many cars with shattered rear windshields over the weekend, the first being in the hotel parking lot. I got video of a tight little pre-tornadic cloud rotation right over my mom's house in Midwest City, but for some reason I can't get it uploaded here. Maybe later.

My brother kindly gave up his bed to me to save hotel fees, and my mom gave up her SUV for the weekend so I could drive back for meals. I appreciate it so much, because staying in the hotel was out of the question this year. The gas factor was negligible, since the hotel was literally five minutes away.

James MinzMy pitch session was first thing Friday morning with James Minz, senior editor at Baen. He made me feel right at home during my session, as well as the couple of times I spoke to him over the weekend. A very easygoing and knowledgeable guy, an interesting speaker, eager to help the newbies.

Minz has edited some really big-name authors, including some of my faves: Lawrence Watt-Evans, Elizabeth Haydon, and especially Catherine Asaro. We actually talked about the Skolian books a little, and he told me a funny story about the cover of Skyfall, which I may relate later. Somebody remind me.

I guess I'm skirting the real news about my pitch session, which is that he asked to see Ea's Gift. I'd gone in pitching BVA, the newest project, but when he asked about other projects and I told him about EG, he said, "Well, I'd actually be more interested in that," and to tell my agent to send it to him. Is that as exciting as I think it is? I'm really trying to be cool about the whole thing, but I did have a dream in which he bought EG. Of course, then he morphed into James Carvill and we got married, so I'm dubious about the prophetic nature of the dream.

Here I am right after the pitch, before the adrenaline crashed and left me limp and headachey:

Before my pitch

So the pitch was the big event on Friday. I was wiped out but managed to go to a few more sessions (including the Minz session pictured above) before I called it a day. I skipped the evening's activities, a cash bar reception and the J.A. Jance speech at the banquet, and my bro and I went to Borders instead and picked up some novels. I bought a Lois McMaster Bujold (how did I go so long without reading her?) and a Laurell K. Hamilton.

Saturday was actually the better day, the productive pitch session on Friday notwithstanding. I came out of my shell on Saturday, though it took a few hours. I finally figured out that most of the sessions were geared toward writers with less experience than I have, so I didn't worry about getting to every one. I hit the high points, hung out in the central meeting area, and went home to rest when I felt like it. Met a lot of interesting people, including William (a WWII vet and electronic engineer) and Rachel (the prettiest girl in the world and an artist I could see doing my future book covers), and Wayne Wyrick (Director of the Kirkpatrick Planetarium), who made me feel right at home when I was shy and nervous. Writers are such a great group of people.

As a result of my go-with-the-flow attitude, I had plenty of energy to dress up for the reception and banquet. I ordered my first glass of wine in probably ten years with help from the lovely bartender. I chose the red Zinfandel. I felt like a real grown up rubbing elbows with editors and authors in my silver high-heels with a glass of wine in my hand. So cool.

At the banquet I hooked up with some ladies I know on the internet. Although a Jenny McCarthy look- and act-alike at the next table eclipsed us with her group's contest wins, Jen Nipps (left) managed to pull some eyes our way with her two wins. The rest of us were wishing we'd entered something so we could be included in the excitement.

I'm in the purple, paranormal romance author Gloria Harchar and her daughter, Audrey, are to my immediate right, and Harlequin author Tessa McDermid there on the right.

Believe it or not, it was my first girl's night out in probably ten years, perhaps the last time I had wine, and I was so jazzed to be talking to these ladies about agent issues and editor changes in such a matter-of-fact way.

So that was my weekend in a nutshell. A very large nut's shell, to be sure, but there was much more I wanted to say. The rest will come out in bits and pieces over the week, probably, along with links and possibly more pictures, though a lot of them are blurry for some reason. I'll have to see.

Monday, May 5, 2008
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Popular Posts

- Copyright © Sherri Cornelius -Metrominimalist- Powered by Blogger - Designed by Johanes Djogan -