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Monday, March 12th, 2012 | Author:

My progress in getting through my to-be-read shelf has taken two big hits lately. First, the pull-chain on my bedside lamp broke. Which wouldn’t have been quite such an issue if the lamp wasn’t also my bedside table, and kind of too expensive to just replace entirely. Fortunately, my husband isn’t afraid of wiring, and after a trip to Home Depot – and about a thousand reminders from me to take care of it, please – he fixed the light. Hooray! I could read in bed again!

Just in time for Mass Effect 3 to be released! For those who don’t know, that’s the final installment in a pretty seriously epic video game series, of which I have been an embarrassingly fervent fangirl since 2007. So of course I had to play it right away, which means that all my leisure time has been spent in front of the TV for the past week or so.

Of course, just because I haven’t been reading much doesn’t mean that I’ve left my TBR shelf completely alone. No, I’ve been adding to it. I’m still managing not to buy any new books, but that’s not slowing me down as much as I thought it might. That many Smashwords authors celebrated the recent “Read an Ebook Week” by making titles available for free with a discount code didn’t help a bit – I think I’ve downloaded another 30+ titles since my last blog post. Oops.

I have a really funny story about my out-of-control urge to obtain new books, actually. It’s also a funny story about drugs – but nothing too scandalous! The drug in question is zolpidem – many people know it by the brand name Ambien – which is used to treat insomnia. It’s pretty effective, and I’m glad to have it when I need it, because sleep is one of those things that one can’t really do without (trust me). But it turns out that for lots of people – myself included, on occasion – being asleep while on zolpidem doesn’t necessarily mean being in bed with your eyes closed and snoring and so on.

Sometimes it means performing fairly complex tasks just as though you were awake, only without the awake part. Most often, this just means weird conversations which you won’t remember – though the person you share a bed with will, and he will make merciless fun of you for your philosophical musings about what responsibilities you as a creator have to the imaginary hedgehogs sitting on your stomach – but it can also involve a lot more activity than that.

I’ve sent emails in my sleep and chatted with friends over Google Talk using my phone, and once got out of bed and went into another room to fetch a cookbook so that I could look up a recipe for creamed onions. Luckily for me, I don’t say anything when I’m asleep that I wouldn’t have said while awake in my emails, and my grammar is much better than that of my friends who drunk-text, so no one gives me too much of a hard time over it. And when I looked up the onion recipe, I carefully marked the place and set my copy of Joy of Cooking down next to the bed so I’d trip on it in the morning and remember what I had done, but I didn’t actually try to cook.

But it’s usually just plain old sleeping, and since I’ve never done anything dangerous or really embarrassing while on zolpidem, I keep using it when I have insomnia.

Which is how I came to download a book in my sleep.

Yes, that’s right. Apparently not content with my waking book haul, I got out of bed, came into the study, looked up a title I was interested in on Amazon (I had read earlier in the day on a forum that it would soon be offered for free), and had it sent to the Kindle app on my phone, all while completely checked out.

I was pretty confused when I woke up in the morning and saw that I had mysteriously acquired a new book overnight, that’s for sure. Luckily, it was actually free by the time I hit that seductive “Buy now with 1-Click” button. I’m just glad that I didn’t suddenly have a sleep-addled urge to buy anything else – who knows what I could have ended up with!

Well, more books, probably.

I should probably start turning my electronics off before bedtime, huh?

By the way, there’s still time to help my work make it into Circlet Press’s best-of print anthology! Just go to the poll here and vote for “A Woman of Uncommon Accomplishment” by Elizabeth Reeve (from Sense & Sensuality) before March 15th.

Want to read an excerpt first? I’ve posted one here on my site.

Thanks for your support!

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Sunday, February 05th, 2012 | Author:

I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because I always forget. And the sorts of things that I would probably resolve to do are the sorts of things I get all resolve-y about as soon as I think of them anyway, rather than waiting for a new calendar year. Which is a good thing, since my moments of pledging to do better tend to be about housework, which can pretty much never wait until the next available January.

But! This year, I made a resolution! In 2012, I am going to read through at least half of my to-be-read shelves – those books that pile up whenever I buy the next hot thing or see a sale or discover a new favorite author and snag her backlist…until they fill multiple physical shelves and an equal number of virtual ones.

I swore this on the sword of my ancestors – by which I mean, I said it out loud in front of my husband and the parakeet, at least one of whom was probably even paying attention – and then started to worry almost immediately. I didn’t resolve to read all of my TBR books, because I’m not a hopeless optimist, but would I be able to manage even half? I ran from bookcase to bookcase and fired up my reader software and did a quick count, determining that a rough half of my TBR pile at that very instant would be about 60 books. Oh my.

So I made a second resolution, which was to not buy any new books until April, at least. Two things immediately happened. First, I started really wanting a lot of new books. I mean, I always really want new books. But this was the “put my credit card somewhere inaccessible, quick!” level of book coveting. Second, while I was distracted by my intense focus on not buying any books, I somehow managed to download something like a dozen new titles that I got for free one place or another.

Self! What the hell? This is not helpful!

But… Free books! You can understand my weakness, I’m sure.

In any case, though I have been ever-so-good about not buying anything, my TBR pile has actually gotten larger since January. And I’m pretty sure that if I tried to keep myself from downloading freebies (limited time offers!) as well as making new purchases my head would explode, so I suspect that will keep happening.

So I’m going to refine my resolution a little bit. The goal now is to read at least 60 books over the coming year that I already owned before…um…let’s go with “today.” I should probably date that back to January 1st, but I received books as presents over the holidays and some of them not until after the new year and blah blah blah – the goal here is to prevent cranial fireworks, right? Right.

Here’s what I’m going to do:

  • Go through the house and actually catalogue all of the physical TBR books and add them to my Goodreads account with a handy-dandy new shelf tag (tbr-in-2012 has a nice ring to it, I think).
  • Do the same with my ebooks.
  • Read at least 60 of these bad boys in the coming year.

And here are some things I’m going to try to do:

  • Don’t buy new books until April! (Hey, I said it in front of the parakeet. He’ll be disappointed in me if I renege.)
  • Read at least three books from the TBR before every new book purchase after April. (Hahahaha!)

And hey, while I’m at it:

  • Blog about this regularly, because my efforts to stick to it are sure to be hilarious.
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Saturday, October 16th, 2010 | Author:

I’m writing an erotic romance short right now that’s set in approximately-Regency England. It has a fantasy slant to it – an incubus, to be precise – but it’s definitely outside my usual range. Which means… All-new research!

“Yaaay,” she typed weakly.

Actually, I love doing research, most of the time. There are a few exceptions. I’ve been working on a space opera for ages, and while I love the characters and the plot and so much of the setting, I loathe doing the chemistry and physics legwork. Ugh, lasers!

But even when there’s math (my ancient foe!) involved, I do love learning new things. Over the years I’ve been writing, I’ve learned about age of sail warfare, blacksmithing, codes and code-breaking, and more ways to grievously wound a hero and have him survive than you can shake a stick at. I’ve also brushed up on my knowledge of founder effects and other biological oddities, improved my Latin, and spent some time working out how a professional researcher would do her work (kind of meta, isn’t it?).

Somehow, I’ve avoided using dictionaries as research aides in any serious way until now, though. But since I’m writing a story that takes place in an actual historical setting (as opposed to a second world fantasy setting, for example), I have to be more careful with my word use than I usually am. The Oxford English Dictionary has come to the rescue more than once, giving me dates of usage for various meanings of various words. But what’s even more fun than that, I’m learning, is looking at dictionaries that are roughly contemporary to the time period I’m writing.

I found one at Project Gutenberg that is fascinating, informative, and hilarious: the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue .

One of the gentleman who contributed apparently went by the name of “Hell-Fire Dick,” which gives an idea right at the outset of what the text will be like. It’s been fun to see some of the language that didn’t make it into many of the novels that form part of our literary canon from that period. And while a fair number of the entries seem a little too over-the-top to have been in common usage (if they were really in usage at all), they’re certainly entertaining. I think my favorite has to be the definition for “Carvel’s Ring”:

The private parts of a woman. Ham Carvel, a jealous old doctor, being in bed with his wife, dreamed that the Devil gave him a ring, which, so long as he had it on his finger, would prevent his being made a cuckold: waking he found he had got his finger the Lord knows where.

Though I was also deeply impressed by the entry for “sh-t sack” (the bowdlerizing is the author’s, not mine):

A dastardly fellow: also a non-conformist. This appellation is said to have originated from the following story:—After the restoration, the laws against the non-conformists were extremely severe. They sometimes met in very obscure places: and there is a tradition that one of their congregations were assembled in a barn, the rendezvous of beggars and other vagrants, where the preacher, for want of a ladder or tub, was suspended in a sack fixed to the beam. His discourse that day being on the last judgment, he particularly attempted to describe the terrors of the wicked at the sounding of the trumpet, on which a trumpeter to a puppet-show, who had taken refuge in that barn, and lay hid under the straw, sounded a charge. The congregation, struck with the utmost consternation, fled in an instant from the place, leaving their affrighted teacher to shift for himself. The effects of his terror are said to have appeared at the bottom of the sack, and to have occasioned that opprobrious appellation by which the non-conformists were vulgarly distinguished.

Isn’t research fun?

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Monday, September 20th, 2010 | Author:

Did I say last month that I didn’t think I’d ever want to write a historical romance? Oh yes, I did.

So, naturally, Circlet Press has a new anthology coming up that will be a collection of Jane Austen-inspired stories, paranormal style. It seems that I spoke too soon, because reading the call for submissions got me going with all sorts of ideas.

I was joking with Marie that this is starting to become a pattern for me. I’d always said I wasn’t interested in writing werewolf stories, and then I wrote “Lunacy,” at which point I said I wouldn’t be doing any vampire stories — and I have two making the rounds of potential publishers right now. And now I’ve started writing a historical just weeks after saying I wouldn’t. Maybe I should start saying that I’ll never write a wildly successful, best-selling novel, hm?

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