Wednesday, December 31, 2003

That is the truly lovely cover to my latest ebook release. A great way to end out the year, don't you think?

Less than 24 hours to the end of the year. I'm still fighting my way through a number of things that need to be done. We have an incredible amount of stuff going on over at Forward Motion. And I still have to finish off my final short story. I'm almost there.

It's been an odd year, hasn't it? I certainly didn't expect to find myself starting 2004 with Forward Motion fully in my hands, plus being the science fiction and fantasy acquisitions editor for DDP. And Vision is (as always) going very well. I have a stack of contracts to sign and send off after Friday when we finally get the money in the bank and print out the checks.

And I have a very lovely outline that I'm looking forward to starting in about twenty hours. You know, put that way, I suddenly feel as though I don't have nearly enough time left.

I've told Russ that I intend to only write about half a million words next year, and I think that sounds like a lovely, calm goal. The editing I intend to do will likely drive me mad instead. (grin)

Here's hoping 2004 will be a happier year for all of us. For writers, a productive and published one.

And everyone have fun!

Monday, December 29, 2003

Well this year is going fast, isn't it?

I'm actually doing all right. Haven't finished my final short story for the year... but then if I did I'd just have to write another one in a very short time. So I'm just writing along at a sedate 500-1000 words a day. And then I'll notice it's the 31st and I need four or five thousand to finish it and go nuts. My life works that way.

Vision is closer to finished, too. Not done, but getting there.

I'm amazed, in fact, that things seem to be falling together pretty well. I still have a little bit over two days in which it can all go to hell, but for the moment, it looks good.

Oh, had an amusing round of email with another clueless person. This one emailed to complain about something at the site. I corrected him on it. He then emailed to say that I had no right to email him.

Where do these children come from?

Thursday, December 25, 2003

A Very Proper Little Bear
By Lazette Gifford

The proper little bear arrived at the door at sunset on Christmas Eve. He checked the address again and gave a tentative nod. He and Master Aristotle had been exchanging missives for several months now, and he didn't think he could have gotten it wrong.

But my, it sounded noisy in there! Master Aristotle had said there would be a gathering at his home this night, but he had never expected anything this... loud. No doubt it would end soon, though, and he and the renowned Aristotle Bear would sit down to a proper, dignified discussion.

With that thought in mind, he carefully straightened his blue bow and then tapped lightly on the door -- but of course no one inside could hear above that din. For a moment he considered turning away, but he had come such a long distance to meet the famous bear and he would not be dissuaded now just by mere noise.

So he knocked harder. He heard laughter and music -- and the sound of far too many feet heading toward the door.

"I'll get it!" someone shouted inside.

The little bear straightened his shoulders and lifted his head, the epitome of a proper little bear as the door opened --

And he found himself facing a cat! A very large cat with bright blue eyes and a black nose and ears. The cat looked right and left, perplexed, while the little bear stared rooted on the step, not even daring to breath. Behind the cat came he could see movement everywhere, and the sound of music crew even louder.

"Well, I could have sworn I head a knock," the cat said, his ears and tail twitching. He started to step back, and just chanced to look down. "Oh, there you are! My apologies. Do come in!"

"I'm -- I'm looking for the home of Aristotle Bear," eh stammered, ready to bolt at the slightest provocation from the cat, no matter how undignified running might be.

"Yes, of course," the cat said with a quick nod. "You must be the guest he's expecting. Come in out of the cold!"

The cat stepped back and for the first time the little bear could clearly see inside the room. Bears of all sizes, shapes and colors were gathered in groups about the room. But there were also cats, dogs, birds, bunnies and squirrels! The little bear stepped inside despite himself. So astounded by the sight that he half expected to even see humans, despite knowing they always slept soundly through Teddy Bear Time.

The aroma of fresh baked cookies, gingerbread and mulled cider filled the room. His little tummy rumbled and he felt a flush of embarrassment, even though he knew no one had heard above all that racket.

Oh, surely there had to be a mistake. An important bear like Aristotle couldn't be here in this cacophony of chaos!

"I'm Wind," the cat said, giving a quick bow of his head and a very un-cat-like smile. "Aristotle is over there by the tree, telling the young ones a story. Have fun!"

Aristotle gave a nod of thanks, despite his misgivings about the cat, and turned to the tree. He could see a gathering of young bears, surely too young to be taught any wisdom! He could not, however, see maser Aristotle yet.

Calm, the little bear reminded himself. Calm, serene and above all, proper. He did so want to make a good impression!

So he moved in and around the bears and other creates, his shoulders back and his head high --

"...And that's the story of the Christmas House," a steady, clear voice said.

A dozen smaller voices called out, "Oh, tell us another!"

"Another please!"

"Tell us about the high shelf!"

"And how you found a home!"

"Please, tell it again!"

"Perhaps later," Aristotle said and didn't even reprimand the young bears. Oh yes, a very proper looking bear, despite the story telling. "Oh, don't look so disappointed! TiBearius and CanToBeary, do please go get the boxes. It's time to decorate the tree."

The young bears were not the only ones who became excited by that news. The very proper little bear watched on, amazed and perhaps more than a little dismayed by the very childish reactions of joy and pleasure in every creature in the room.

But still, having come this far... well, he stepped forward to present himself to the esteemed and famous Master Aristotle.

"Sir," he said when Aristotle came close, the young bears still trailing around him. "I am Beartholomew Lucian Bear. We have corresponded, via the mail. I believe you were expecting me?"

"A pleasure to meet you at last, Beartholomew! And I'm so glad you could attend our Christmas Even gathering. I do look forward to a late night discussion with you, once things have -- quieted."

Well, that at least sounded more proper. "Thank you, sir."

"My pleasure. Ah, here they come with the boxes. Do partake of the cookies and cider. They're quite good, as always."

"Thank you, sir."

Aristotle went to work with the others, directing the decorating of the tree. Beartholomew hoped it didn't take too long. He almost fretted at every lost moment he could not have intelligent, quiet -- proper -- conversation with Master Aristotle. Except that fretting would be far too undignified.

As would be eating too many of those truly delicious cookies. He stopped himself at three and sipped the cider while he stood in a corner, out of the way. He thought Aristotle looked his way now and then, and he hoped he made a good impression.

Even the young bears got to help. Wind seemed to delight in letting the small ones climb up on his back so that they could reach the branches. He didn't even complain when they pulled at his ears in their haste, or hung tinsel from his tail in fun.

He seemed a rather nice cat, in fact. No doubt that was the influence of Master Aristotle and being associated with such a famous intelligent bear.

The work of decorating went quickly, and the others sang carols and ate cookies while they worked. Beartholomew watched from his corner, thinking that perhaps another cookie wouldn't be that bad...

"Oh dear!" Aristotle suddenly exclaimed, drawing everyone's attention. "I've made a terrible mistake! I forgot to put the lights on first!"

"Oh my," TiBearius said, shaking his head. "How could we have made such a mistake? Why the lights aren't even in the boxes! I'm certain that's where we packed them last year!"

"I fear I took them out last week to check them," Aristotle admitted. "Well, there is no way we can string the lights now, and it's far too late to take everything down and start over. Oh my. We'll have to do without the pretty lights. I'm afraid the young ones are too unsteady to climb through the tree and all the way to the top, and the rest of us are just far too large, and we'd knocked all the decorations back off and break them. We can't -- unless -- Goodness! Mr. Beartholomew, would you be kind enough to help us out?"

"Me?" he said, fairly squeaking the answer.

"I know it's a terrible imposition, but would you be so kind and string the Christmas lights for us?"

"Oh. Well. Certainly, cir," he said. The famous Aristotle asking him for help had to be a great honor. Even... even in this.

"Thank you!" Voices called out from everywhere, startling him.

Aristotle send for the lights, and all too soon Beartholomew found himself climbing up into the boughs of the tree, a long, heavy strand of lights draped over his shoulders.

Being a bear, the climbing part proved to come naturally. And he found it oddly satisfying to move up each level, carefully arranging the little lights around the other ornaments. Up one bought, across another, and up again. He felt downright joyful as he reached the top and found the spot to plug the star at the very top into the lights.

"There," he said, sticking his head out from among the pine needles. "Perhaps you should turn them on and make certain I've done this all properly."

"Oh no," CanToBeary said. "You must come down and see the tree lit for yourself. It would hardly be fair if you missed the first lighting after all that hard work!"

Voices agreed from everywhere. They seemed a very nice group, really.

"I'm certain you did fine, Mr. Beartholomew," Aristotle said. "Do come down and watch."

Well, if Master Artistotle thought so... He made his way back down, careful of the ornaments, and twice rearranging lights. He did so want this to be right!

When he finally arrived on the floor, a bunny gave him a cookie, and a squirrel picked stray pine needles form his fur. Aristotle held the little switch for the lights, but then he shook his head and smiled. "Mr. Beartholomew, would you do the honor of lighting the tree?"

Beartholomew gulped own a bite of cookie. "Oh sir, surely you should --"

"No, no. Come now. Wind, please get the light."

Beartholomew came and took the switch, feeling quite fluttery and unexpectedly excited. At Aristotle's nod, Wind leapt up and turned off the light.

"Now, if you would, Mr. Beartholomew."

He pushed the little switch.

Star like lights glittered everywhere in the tree, reflecting on the ornaments. The star at the top shown with a golden light. Beartholomew felt his breath catch at the beauty, while others patted his shoulder and thanked him, and said the lights had never been so well placed ever before.

The tree was, he thought the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. And he had helped to make it so.

"Thank you, Mr. Beartholomew," Aristotle said, all very proper --

"Oh, do call me Bertie!" he said, and laughed as the room light came back on. "Mr. Beartholomew sounds far too proper for a night like this, don't you think?"

Aristotle smiled and patted him on the shoulder.

And when everyone gathered around to hear Aristotle tell the story of The Bear on the High Shelf... well, right then Bertie wished that the party would never end.

The End

Happy Holidays
From Zette and the Gang

(Having a nice quiet holiday. I thought I would copy this from my journal and share it with the blog people. Hope you are all having a nice day!)

Monday, December 22, 2003

Russ is flying home today from New York. This is troubling, of course, with all the alerts. As though just the idea of flying in winter wasn't enough.

It has been, as usual, a fast few days while he was gone. I actually got a few things done at the house for a change, at least. I think not having the usual writing rush helped.

I've a few things to straighten out still at FM before the new year. And I'm running out of time on Vision. That sounds far too familiar!

Ah well. Time to get some work done, I think. Either that or nap!

Saturday, December 20, 2003

My office looks a little better. Not great yet, but there is a definite improvement in the 'piles of junk' problem. Shelves have even been tidied up a bit, and I will likely get some more done over the next couple days.

My kitchen is starting to look better, too. I may even attempt an attack on the dreaded library, which has become a haven for lost boxes and stacks of video tapes that have not been filed.

It may be more than I can face...

My short story is going fine. I might need to have a goal on it soon, though. The characters have been interesting to play with, but as I often do with short stories, I have no clearly defined plan of action for where I want it to go... and most importantly, where I want it to end. I need to jot that out, I think.

My novel class material is going very well. I may end up with a nonfiction book out of it in the end. That might be fun. I'm not seriously considering that yet, though. I think it will be enough to get the classes done. I'm up to Week 5, although I already have part of Week 6 done as well.

Lady Jane Pudge'ums has found that I've cleaned the desk so she can stand in her favorite spot and head bash me in the shoulder while I'm trying to type. She's so cute!

Beyond that... things are calm and quiet here. Almost all of our snow has melted and it looks as though we won't have any new before Christmas. Odd how that keeps happening.

It looks as though I will have a story in a Best of Anthology next year from Fables. I'm looking forward to that!

So off I go to write more... things.

It's either that or clean house, and I've already done more of that then is healthy, I'm sure. (grin)

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Russ just headed out the door going for Omaha to catch a plane to New York. He'll be back late on the 22nd or the early the 23rd. I hate that he's gone the last week before the holiday, especially since we didn't get a bit of shopping or decorating or cookie baking done. I've pretty much written this year's Christmas off -- same as last year. One of these years we'll get it all straightened out again!

So what am I going to do over the next few days?

Vision, Estand, Novel Class, Dare, pages for FM, Back to School material... oh and a bit of writing.

In other words, pretty much the same as usual.

Oh, and check this out!

Hatch Magazine link

Some days my life is just odd...

Monday, December 15, 2003

Nice snow!

We're having a good little storm tonight. I'm glad to say that Russ made it home fine, and in a few minutes we're going to be watching some shows and relaxing.

But first a few words about people who are so stupid that you have to laugh at them.

Let's take, as an example, a recently banned member of FM. This person has never written a book, or much of anything else except some unpublished poetry. Not a problem -- we all start unpublished, after all. And that's what FM is about -- helping people reach their writing goals.

At least it wasn't a problem until this person decided he was a far better writer than people who had not only actually done the work, but been published. Better, in fact, and far more knowledgeable than anyone else could possibly be. He insulted everyone who didn't agree that his was the only way. I'd never had so many emails complaining about someone in less than a week.

And now he's banned for not only being rude, but for making attacks directly on two members -- me and someone who told him she didn't need his help. Oh, dear! How could she have possibly been so stupid as to think she could write her work without his guiding hand! Of course, the one time she did ask for specific help in one part of world building (his supposed strong point), he completely ignored the question and went off on a tangent that bored the hell out of everyone and annoyed her and me because he would not stop. Kind of a sure sign of his writing ability, too, I'd say.

But you know... when all the transcripts were looked at, and when all the little insulting emails are read... you have to laugh at someone like this. And, of course, use them as fodder in stories, because you can always use a character who is so full of himself that he'll make a great comic relief.

And that's the great joy of the Internet. You get to see people like this in the words they write, and you can see immediately how that kind of material will work for you. The world is full of wannabe writers who are more than willing to tell everyone else how to do something they've never done themselves.

So now he gets to go play in his own sandbox again, and we get to go back to having intelligent conversations in chat that are not interrupted by moronic platitudes about things he's read, but never done.

And at least there he can still pretend he is the Great God of Writing without anyone questioning him. Self-delusion and that inner voice telling him he's great isn't going to get him published, of course... but it's the only company that can likely stand to be around him for very long.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

I have lists of things to get done. In fact, at this point, I think I have lists of lists. However, I am working my way through them, and it's looking pretty good over all. Lots of time to the end of the year, and if I get one or two things done a day... I'll be done in plenty of time! In fact, I only have six things out of twenty-three left on my main list, but most of those are big, multiple step projects.

Last night I finished what should be my last novel of the year. I don't intend to get crazy and write another one between now and midnight of December 31st, but with me I can't make a guarantee.

Just one more short story that needs to be completed, and that's it. I think I'm going to do a number of very short stories to fill out the year, though. Nothing drastic, just pieces I can maybe kick out in a couple hours, and just for fun.

It's in the site and the nonfiction side that most of that list work is hitting. Vision, of course, is coming up. I've done my final Back to School material for January. I thought it was going to go over into February, but I didn't have as much material as I thought! And that's fine -- I don't mind getting early. (grin)

The kitties are (obviously) doing well. My older guys are still a little put out, but I've caught a couple of them curled up together. They always look so embarrassed and annoyed when I unexpectedly come around a corner and find two older cats and one of the young ones curled up on a chair.

Russ worked in Omaha today teaching, and went straight from that to another job this evening. He should be home after midnight. In the mean time... time to get a bit more work on that list done!

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Busy. Busy busy busy busy.

(Rushes around like kittens looking for toys...)

I rather enjoy being busy most of the time. At least if it's all moving along well, which things are doing right now. I just have a couple minor problems... like the fact the medication I'm on gives me annoying, back of the head headaches. And my cdrom read/write drive died. And it's cold here!

It's the headache that is the only thing slowing me down. I have all the work lined out to do, and if I can just get a good run on it, I don't have any problems. But getting into the work itself is really difficult. I can't think past the headache a lot of times, even when everything is quite easy and wouldn't take much time at all to finish.

But there it is... that sliver of pain that works its way into the back of the head and puts a block between me and what I should be doing. Pick something up and start, and it's going to just leap up and try to stop me. It's hard to believe, sometimes, that the medication is helping -- but it is dealing with other problems that must be dealt with, and I know that, too.

In the mean time, I'm picking away at Book 8 and almost done. I've gotten quite a bit of work on the Novel class done. I'm working on one of my Vision pieces right now, and I've managed almost 600 words.

But I would really like to get a good run on something and even enjoy the work while I do it.


Back to work...

Monday, December 08, 2003

(At the moment my journal site is down, so the pics aren't showing... It does this a lot. I miss my server...)

Busy days...

I'm getting quite a bit done, and I'm closer to finished with the final novel of the year.

And tonight it might snow again. I know those in the US northwest are shaking their heads in despair at the mere thought of snow, but we really do need it. Another county went on drought alert this last week -- and this in the middle of winter is pretty serious. So more snow in this area is not a bad idea.

It is cold here today. We've been having temps well over freezing for a while again, but day it cooled down.

I have been working on the material for the two year novel program at FM. I was going to wait to wait until after I finished Book #8 to start writing out my notes, but I went to work on it last night... and had a hard time stopping. I have so many ideas, and so many books to work with...

It's a lot of work. It's going to be far more work when we get into the actual class, especially for the first few months. However, I think it's going to be worth the effort. I'm glad I have several weeks yet to prepare for this first part, though!

And with that in mind... I need to go write something, I think.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Had trouble getting to my edit page for Blogger today! Doesn't that figure? I don't post for ages, and then when I start up again, I have trouble.

I've done very little writing for the last three days, but I hope today to get my attention back on finishing up the last of the Dark Staff book first drafts. I'm in the midst of the climactic battle, and I think I only have about 3-4000 more words to go in this draft. Like many others, it's running short. But that's the way I work, and I ought to be used to it by now. Once I have the main story line down in the first draft, I have a much easier time seeing where I want to expand and what I want to do.

Next year is looking more and more crowded with edits. I think I'm going to sit down and work out a schedule this time, rather than trusting myself to do the editing early rather than when it needs to be done.

I have one novel outlined to start on January 1 so I'm set for that day, at least. But there is so much else that I need to work on before then! Ack! No time! No time!

(Zette rushes off, fingers flying across the keyboard, trying to get one thing done so she came move on to the next...)

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Well, yes, I rested for a couple days. Rested in my own way, at least. I've only written a couple thousand words total, but I did get a lot of site stuff done, and things done for other sites. I'm still behind, but that's not a big surprise.

I also answered questions for an Interview today. That one was interesting. It's part of a larger article, so there's no telling how much of my material will be in there. But it was fun to do!

I am very nearly finished with both my final projects for the year. I'll be filling out the rest of the month with short fiction, articles, and class material. And that's fine. I'm going to have all kinds of fun things to do in 2004, and I would just as soon slow down for the next few weeks.

Besides, I wrote a million words. What more could a person really want?

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Now I feel much better again...
Did it! 1,000,000 in 2003 -- just finished about seven minutes ago. I was in chat celebrating. (grin)

512 more words to go.
It's slow, but it's moving. I'm at 38,140 -- I have 1026 to go.

Okay, I am 2026 words short of a million words. I'm going for it. I have the eighth book of the Dark Staff series open (Hope in Hell) and it's at 37140. I haven't worked on this for a while so I might be slow off the start... but I will have a million before I go to bed tonight.

And off she goes!