Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mighty Fortress

The other day I went out to run errands. The garage door has become more and more doubtful lately. There was the sound of the rollers straining under the bend in the panels where it had been kissed with the truck bumper, more than a year ago.

I backed out of the garage, pressed the button on my visor, the door lurched and stuck. I can't exactly drive off and leave the garage door open, even though the house door is locked. I come up with an idea of fixing it, but decide it best to put the car back into the garage in the event it isn't a good idea.

I opened the single garage door, knowing if my plan works it will suddenly get much darker in the garage, and I wanted good light for my work. I pulled the red handle hanging by a red cord from the drive chain on the track, allowing the door to move freely - if it wasn't stuck.

Being a bit height challenged, I am proficient with using long handled things for purposes they weren't intended. With the push broom in hand, I pushed the bulging garage door panel back into place.

The bind freed, it immediately began to come down without restraint. Knowing that grabbing for a gravity driven double door size metal garage door on a rush meeting with the ground could take a hand off in a wink, I pushed the broom up to slow its descent.

Once I had a bit of control, wedging the broom handle under my arm for leverage against the weight of the door, while releasing the grip of one hand, I pushed the garage door opener that I had hung from my jeans' pocket. The motor pushed the thingy along the track and engage the part the red knobby thing had released and the garage door closed as it should.

The problem still existed that my car and I were on the wrong side of the door to run errands. So (this is the good part), I pushed the remote and raised the door almost fully, stopping it before it could hang up again where the bent part had to round the track to retract parallel to the ceiling.

One of the few things I'm taller than is my Mustang. I measured the clearance ratio by walking to the door. I had to dip my head slightly, but figured the car would clear nicely, even though the radio antenna would touch. Back in the car and ever so slowly out the garage, I pressed the remote again and closed the door without a thought to whether I could put my car back inside upon return.

Needless to say, we have a new garage door.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Here we go again!

If I heard it once, I've heard two things about the trilogy a million times.

One is: Please don’t take this personally Nadine – I still prefer third person past tense. That’s just me.

No it isn't 'just you'. Lot's of people feel that way. It’s what everyone is used to because that is what the industry produces. Humans like the familiar over the unfamiliar.

Third person POV is the mainstay of the industry. Why? Because it is easier to write in third person. Get stuck? Easy, just have another character 'think' the answer or drop it in through the narration so the reader knows long before the main character (MC). That way when the ends aren't tied up very good and the MC figures out something too easily, the reader doesn't question it.

It is less risky to get submerged into the story line when it is a bit removed, as in third person, less discomfort for the reader. Some will also argue that they can get into the characters better in third person. I offer again, that is because that is what readers have been exposed to all their reading life. It’s safe. The reader can stay one step removed from emotional involvement with the third person voice.

But that isn't real, you can't know someone by only observing them and being told by someone else who that person is. You can't know people intimately by another person's view of that person. It is only an opinion. You know a person by what you experience of them, and in writing, you can know them more completely by seeing the story through 'their eyes'.

Kathryn's Beach started out as third person, past tense. It was too detached emotionally to do what I wanted to do with the character. If you read the books, you know the action is not enough to carry the story. What keeps a person reading is seeing life through Kathryn's eyes.

Third person is actually a more elementary style, easier to write than first person. (Boy that statement should get people writing comments! Whew!) Third person is safer to write: 1) it is what 'everyone' does; 2) easier for the reader to know things the MC doesn't know, so easier to write - requiring less literary devices (and actual writing ability).

When the plane went down in KB, I (Nadine) wanted to show what was going on at Karen's house. Can't do it in first person POV. I had to make Karen come over to Kathryn's house and use dialogue. Which, in the end, was more powerful for them to share the moment than to do it individually in two locations, bouncing the reader back and forth across town.

Second thing I get all the time: I could feel there was a lot of YOU in there!! (even though I don’t know you that well).

Everyone says that because it is first person. I try not to say publicly anything less than complimentary about Kathryn. If Kathryn was real, I'd probably like her, but she would also get on my nerves. There are a lot of things I don't like about her. I don't think we would be close friends, not BFF.

Storm Surge said a lot more than the other two books. It was more dramatic and better for it. You need more of that.

Storm Surge is a richer book because it is the third in the story of Kathryn's growth. It was hard to keep Kathryn 'broken' and move the story in KB. I kept wanting to write her stronger, but then lots of the story would not happen if she was a stronger person. If someone is a 'recluse' then they have to be written with a narrow view rather than global view (people-wise, not geography). As she begins to heal/grow in HT, the secondary characters can come out of the shadows. Then in SS she is kicked back to her insecure self, but shakes it off faster than she would have if all that had happened to her in KB.

It is a matter of writing style. This stuff is bound to happen when a writer writes outside the norm. I bet people think I'm Victoria in Red Planet Revolt, and I guarantee that I am not from the future.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Twitter NOVEL

The other day, I joked about turning my received texts into a book.

Someone has sent me a twitter novel link. This novel is being written on twitter and is 140 characters or less per entry.

Curious? Look here. https://twitter.com/spiritghost

No, it is NOT me doing this. I promise. Yes, I do know who it is. I'm under oath not to tell.

I think it is cool in a nicely weird way. Let's help this person with this project. Please pass this link on to your email list. Oh, and I guess you people with twitter accounts can and should tweet about it.

So twitter this link, post it on Facebook, mention it on your blogs and newsletters, and all the other places you haunt. Add "Twitter Novel project: https://twitter.com/spiritghost" to your signature line on your email. (Life isn't all about you, help this other writer.)

Let's see what we can do to launch this. Let's see if social networking really works. You know, I need convincing. Now is your chance to make a believer out of me - I dare ya.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dyslexic Football Coach

Dyslexia is in the sports news. Even though football is very popular in our house, I'm not likely to read much about the NFL. It just isn't my sport. But I thought I'd post this about dyslexia since some people think it is wild that I am a novelist and horribly dyslexic.

Keep in mind that being dyslexic does not mean that we can't do things, it just means that some things that deal with letters are weird for us. Many studies indicate that dyslexic people have average to above average IQs. I donno 'bout that. What I do think is that we might be more analytical than some of the population. We have to figure things out on our own. We look for patterns and figure out other ways to compensate.

I keep thinking that someday I will post a piece that I haven't corrected, just so you can see how it would be if I didn't have my finger glued to the backspace button. Delete-delete-delete...

The HUGE link is at the bottom of the page. I've been told a million times how to make them into short links, but I just don't get it. I understand the words of the instructions. It just doesn't translate into doing it. (I'm going to be so disappointed if that link doesn't work.)


(OH hey, 6 months until Christmas! Just thought I'd throw that in.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

DG sighting

I have a tendency not to wear shoes in the house. I like the smooth, cool feel of the tiles on my feet. The other night, I went out for something on the patio. I'm not a huge fan of stepping on 'things' unexpected. I turned on the light and went out.

Our patio doors are double doors, both opening from the center of the doorway. The twin doors are about 9 foot in height. (Honest, I have to get out the ladder to wash the windows in the doors.) The windows run from the top to the floor, surrounded by about 6 inches of thick wooden frame. The whole idea is to provide a good view of the pool from inside the house.

As I was coming back to the door, I saw a lizard upside down - above my head by at least a foot - on the wooden frame part of the door. We both froze in place. He had a tail about a third of the length it should be for the size of his body. It was broad at the base and quickly tapered to a point, more like a horney toad or desert tortoise's tail than a lizard tail.

I knew it was DG (Desert Ghost) the little lizard who was in my jeans the other day. The way he motionlessly stared at me, I think he recognized me too. It wasn't a fond glare in his red eyes.

When I spoke, he moved a step. Then stopped. Locked eyes again. I almost felt intimidated by him, but I think it wasn't as much fear as still feeling guilty about his tail falling off when I flipped him out of my jeans.

I told him to stay put when I opened the door. Like a child, of course, he didn't listen to me. I turned to look before shutting the door, and sure enough, he had moved so that two of his feet were on the edge where the door would shut on him. His tail, such as it was, turned toward me, as if to make sure I saw what I had done to him on our last encounter.

No one in the house was awake to call for help. I went for the fly swatter with the plan of schooching him away from the hinge area -- possibly flicking him off the door completely. Lizards run very quickly, in case you didn't know. I intended to be careful not to flick him far enough to land on the pool deck. I didn't want him to run into the pool and cause yet another rescue with the net.

It was a stand-off. He wouldn't budge with a gentle nudge of the edge of the fly swatter. I tried to explain his position of danger, if I shut the door - which I did intend to do. He whirled around and stared at me again, then dropped to the floor. With the door open, that meant he was on the inside of the threshold.

I was earnest in my desire not to have him inside the house, whether he was a good spirit (good luck) or not. My memory of the pant leg encounter is still too fresh to be inviting. With a quick scoop of the fly swatter I helped him over the threshold and quickly shut the door, locking both locks.

He ran under a chair and twisted around to look back at me looking at him through the glass pane. His stump of a tail, his searing eyes, my rapidly beating heart - we both froze.

I'm relieved to know he is still alive and his tail is growing back. Yet I am all the more concerned about my friend Inez and I going off to the mountains to camp near her Pueblo in New Mexico - neither of us like creepy-crawly things.

I'll keep you posted on how that turns out, if I don't chicken out going.

Writing: Another book idea

Yes, yes, yes...I am supposed to be writing Act Like You Mean it, and I am. My newsletter (next week) will tell you how far along I am on that WIP (work in progress).

However, I was thinking... (This is about to get scary, buckle up.) There are a few blogs that have been converted into books. I'll grant that IS writing. But ever since I heard about the book of twitterings, I have had a wee bit o' difficulty embracing that as writing. That is about as much writing as collecting the clever bits of prose from the loo stalls in public facilities.

While I was texting my boys, I wondered: what if some of the better texts were collected and called a book. I keep the good ones on my phone, the ones that remind me of special moments.

Here are some of texts from my phone:

"Goin 2 uk 2moro 4 2wks. Wel hav cofe wen i get bac"

"Computer case" (Yeah, I had to call to see what that one meant.)

"Thank you so much for the Indian bracelet. Its lovely. Big hug."

"Did u see me" (on television - the Jerry Lewis Telethon.)

"If you were going to wash tennis shoes would you wash them by their self?"

"Opening Jeep." Followed by, "Starting engine."

"Hey they fired _______ last night." (Cue to call the other person.)

"So someone hit my truck and there is no damage to it but it left a big mark on her car." (About a hit-and-run driver.)

"My advice sucks...do what feels right to you." (about a book contract)

"Yes it was pretty awesome. I wasn't sure i could make myself go out but the training kicked in and out i went." (About military Jump school)

And my favorite from macho Army guy... "I love you mom."

Book material? Nah, probably not. Good memories though. Do you keep some old texts?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Friendship Award

Ella, blogging The Clock Monkey, shared the "Let's Be Friends" award she received. Thank you, Ella, I accept your friendship and the award.

Blogs that receive the Let’s Be Friends Award are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers.

Now, it is my honor and privilege to pass on this award to eight other bloggers:

Carolyn 'Carrie' Sheppard, fiction author, blogging The Somewhat Odd Life of a Folk Musician http://ukfolkie.blogspot.com/

Jeannine Garsee, YA author for Bloomsbury USA, blogging Elusive Sanity http://onegrapeshy.livejournal.com/

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, fiction & non-fiction author and poet, blogging War, Peace, Tolerance and Our Soldiers http://warpeacetolerance.blogspot.com/

June Austin, non-fiction author, blogging Podding Along Nicely http://juneaustin.blogspot.com/

Dr. Nidhi Dhawan, fiction writer, blogging Incontinent Pen! http://incontinentpen.blogspot.com/

Joy Collins, fiction author, blogging Joyful Thoughts http://joycollins.blogspot.com/

Marsha Stewart, professional photographer and writer, blogging Prairie http://prairie.typepad.com/my_weblog/

Susan Gabriel, fiction author, blogging Susan Gabriel author http://www.susangabriel.com/blog

Barbara, fiction writer, blogging Everything Victorian http://myvictorianbooks.blogspot.com/

Anita Davison, fiction author, blogging The Disorganised Author http://thedisorganisedauthor.blogspot.com/

AND HONORARY MENTION, Ella, fan fiction writer, blogging The Clock Monkey http://theclockmonkey2.blogspot.com/2009/06/my-first-award.html

Congratulations, best wishes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

It's a JEEP thing

When you're the mom of boys, you know lots of un-girly things. My oldest son and I were having an enthusiast conversation about his JEEP CJ-5 (it's older than he is). Seems the electrical problems are nearing their end.

He had been to see his favorite mechanic to discuss an issue. I don't know what the issue was, because he was delighted that the head mechanic HAD TO look at the work said owner had done to said Jeep, and as I was told, was very impressesed with the new, hand-made wiring harness. (Proud Mamma here.)

There are, in fact, only three more tasks remaining on the electrical project. It seems that he NEEDS (translation: wants) to find an AMC oil pressure gage because the aftermarket one just isn't right...something-something-something about plastic in a place that should be metal, Dude.

I look up to his excited face and said, "Did you just call me, 'Dude'?"

Without missing a beat, he says with a big grin, "Well, it wasn't the standard issue 'DUDE' that means 'dumb sh*t'. It was the special 'Mom Dude'."

He waits, smiling sweetly.

I look up again, "You know I'm not buying it, don't you?"

He got tickled and left. I heard him chuckling all the way to the garage. I never did find out what the 'issue' was or what were the other two aftermarket things that NEED to be replaced.

God, I love my boys!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

War! War! What is it good for? (Sing along)

Another of my sons is completing his paperwork to join the military, and a third is thinking about it. What do they want? To be educated. Not to kill. Not to be killed. It is a simple quest to attend university in a bad economy, if they live long enough.

Suddenly I hate everyone who put our children into this war. As horrific as the attack on the twin towers was, their deaths will not be undone by all the deaths that have followed nor all the deaths yet to come. An undeclared war, yet a long ago declared won.

I vote that we send the politicians (on all sides), regardless of their age now, who brought us to this end. Send the men and women who met in secret to lie about what they knew and didn't know. Suit 'em up with an 80 pound field pack and send them to the heart of the fight.

On the short string of my anger comes those who have foolishly wrecked the economy - ours and our global neighbors. Greed. I hope they live long enough to see their hand in other's misery. I hope the martini lunches in the Caribbean and the excessive bonuses will be weighed against every flaw in their actions, from Reaganomics to the recent ill-planned bailout of the guilty, causing others to lose their job, home, retirement, hope.

My father, God rest his soul, was in the US Army in both WWI and WWII. He lied about his age in the first war. They had to know, but that cowboy was a great shot (either hand) and a fantastic horseman. My father-in-law, God rest his soul, was in the US Marines in WWII. One in the European Theatre the other in the Pacific. They were destined to never meet.

I'm not anti-American. I'm proud of where I was born. I'm just tired of wars that history can't explain the defining moment that required so many to die. What is it in our nature that makes killing so easy? Where have all the statesmen gone?


Wednesday, June 17, 2009


SEEKING SARA SUMMERS by Susan Gabriel is one of the most engaging novels I've read lately.

Susan Gabriel perfectly captures the twenty (plus) year marriage of most of the women I know, including me. The writing is superb, and for those who must have third person POV, here it is -- well done.

Sara's self-rediscovery is encouraging, though her life takes on a twist that most women won't experience. It is hopeful that the cautious-caretaking-zipyourcoat-fastenyourhelmet-Iloveyou mom can learn to breathe easy again and find her forgotten self after the kids are launched 'safely' into adulthood. I only hope we are as brave as Sara.

Seeking Sara Summers is a great read and if I did book reviews, I'd give it a million stars for courage and hope.

Find signed copies here: http://www.susangabriel.com/

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Let's connect

There was an article recently stating that authors don't want to connect with their readers (link below). I don't know what planet that guy is from, but all the authors I know (and that is quite a lot) do want to connect with their readers.

It is a slippery slope to find ways to connect with readers and especially with potential readers. For years, mostly before the Internet age, there was no good way to connect readers and authors. Sure, a really determined reader-turned-fan could write to the publisher and hope the letter would get forwarded to the author. Sometimes there would be a personal response, sometimes only a signed, glossy photo would be the reply.

By-in-large it was a passive relationship. Books would get published and fans would buy them when they noticed the book on the bookstore shelf. And that was the extent of the interaction. I don't know, maybe some people like it that way.

I'm horribly shy and a semi-recluse, so I have no idea why I am so driven to interact with readers, some I know and some strangers. We share a common ground in the character of Kathryn and she brings us together in an interesting way that I can't explain.

If you ever feel the desire to connect, my email address is NadineLaman and @aol.com. Please don't hesitate to write or post a note on my wall on filedby.com, or leave a note here, the comment section is totally open to posts. I don't even have that squiggly letter thing you have to enter ... which I have trouble seeing when I have to enter them.

So what's all this huggy, keep in touch stuff? With the new release of my books, I know lots of new people are reading them for the first time. I want to make sure everyone feels welcome to contact me. Plus, I'm writing ACT LIKE YOU MEAN IT and I sort of get caught up in that -- but I'll always take a break and chat with my readers. I love you guys!

The link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/jun/07/literary-book-festivals-authors

Filedby.com page: http://filedby.com/author/nadine_laman/2238025

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yippie-skippieee! Mid-June Newsletter

My Mid-June Newsletter is now posted on my website.

If you are on my mailing list, you know that sometimes I attach an audio message to the newsletter notice. Well, now it is on my newsletter web page. Joyce, my brilliant web designer, came up with that idea. Remember the audio messages are unscripted, so don't expect a high gloss polish or huge infomercial. It is just a chat. Let's stay connected.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Wholesale Math

Someone asked me why my books aren't on Amazon, et al.

Sigh, here we go again. Books are usually priced to the sky. Kathryn's Beach was once priced at $16.99 (not including shipping). I write a decent book, but for an unknown author, that is a bit steep, if you ask me. I've priced my trilogy books at $12.95 each (plus shipping).

I wanted my books affordable for people who love to read. Hey we're in an economic recession, if not depression. We all live on a shoestring right now.

By putting the consumer first, the readers, I have shut the door to most wholesale sales. Most of the time, they want up to 55% off the SRP, the cover price. Well darling, if I do that and pay to ship my books to Amazon (or anyone else), I'm actually losing a couple of dollars on each book sold. Does that make sense? Why should someone else make money on my books when I'm going in the hole? Seriously, I might as well just write and not publish the manuscripts at that rate.

So the choice is to buy my books from me through my website (secure with PayPal) or email me and we will make other arrangements. I've even been paid in Euros!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Casting Call

If you've been around the theatre even just a little, you know that actors act. During the process of blocking scenes, costume fittings, make-up trials, and rehearsals the actor and character become one for the run of the play.

On breaks or in coffee shops, the actors will lapse into their character in the wink of an eye. Even years later, upon meeting again, two actors may exchange a line or two from when they worked together.

When I write first person fiction, I get into the character in the same way an actor does. I begin to think like them, feel what they feel, and sometimes talk like them. Whether I am writing little Shasta's double negative dialogue or Mother Elizabeth's lines, for that moment, I'm in character. How else would the pinkie promise come up? I don't do pinkie promises in real life, never have. Besides, I'm the mom of three boys, we don't do that girly stuff. It all came from being in character.

When writing third person, the writer is an observer and tells the story as if Mr. Watson to the character's Homes.

The argument can be made either way as to which style battles telling over showing. The real key to whether the story is boring has less to do with the POV (point of view) than with the story and the writing. Most of the time, it is clear which POV to use for each book.

There ya go. That's my take on POV. I think first person present tense writing is like 3-D, surround sound, IMAX. If you want inside the mind and heart of the character, then read my books. Dare ya.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I can't get into it that much...

It is funny (odd) that I was thinking for several days about writing this post, then wondering if I should. But a very influential book reviewer sent a note that pushed me over to the "Go ahead and do it" side.

True, my writing isn't the industry standard third person voice - keep your distance - formula writing. I get lots of comments about my different style. Some people love it because it gets them out of their reading rut. Others comment about how it takes some getting used to (and I know some people just can't make the switch to it).

Someone once said my writing is an acquired taste. So is marmite. I'm not sure that is a compliment, but it is probably true because there just aren't that many novels written in first person present tense. Its tricky stuff, that's one reason it isn't done very much.

I know some people don't get past the letter reading scene in KB. Sure THEY KNEW what the letter meant. The point is all those best-of-the-best in the story missed it. OMG! My characters are human and even beat themselves up about it - just like us sometimes.

Those who do continue reading seem to get hooked. Ya know, like getting caught up reading and forgetting to put on their make-up, only to notice it when they get to work.

While EVERYONE gets the letter, no one (NO ONE) expected what happened Thanksgiving weekend, right? I dare you to tell me you expected THAT person to die. Actually, I double dare you.

Why do I write like that? One thing is, it got me "A" marks in school. My creative writing professors liked that I was, um...how do I say it, oh yeah, "creative."

I know storytelling is usually third person. But you have to admit that the post about the lizard up my pant leg would not have made you laugh, if I had told it in third person. (Oh! Remind me, when I write Raven's Song, set in a New Mexico Pueblo, I'm going to throw that lizard story in there some place.)

I'll tell you tomorrow how I write in first person.

Lizard stories:


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Peer Pressure

There is a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) pressure to conform. Someone told me recently, if I'm going to write Red Planet Revolt, I should use a pseudonym when I change genres.

I can't figure the logic of that. For one thing, all my books are going to be on one website and my name is plastered all over that site from the URL to the blog address. Not only that, my writing is fairly distinct, so who is going to believe that two people write the same and happen to have their books on the same website? Tell me this, what do I do for a photo of that other me?

I'm not hiding the fact that I have my own books printed by using an ambiguous name for my company. I am standing talk, count me. I don't care if anyone else stands with me. They should go with their comfort level. I'm not trying to be a trend setter. I am a trend setter. But don't follow me, follow your own ideas and ideals.

Here's the deal, I write fiction, but in real life I'm fairly grounded in reality. I work hard to make my fiction believable, but it is still fiction. So why the need for deception on the name issue? I don't know. I've decided not to do it. It has nothing to do with branding. It has everything to do with being honest with my readers.

I'm pretty much: What you see is what you get, except few people are allowed to see how frustrating dyslexia is at times. Just like anyone else, I have my moments. But as long as there are readers for my books, I'll keep writing. Here's to us. My books belong to all of you who have contributed to their existence.

Thank you to Joyce, my web designer, who watches my spelling and makes my official presence on the internet a good one. Thank you to my beta readers. Think back to the first ms you read, we've come a long way together. Thank you to my friend in England, Carrie, who makes time to be the first to read my blog every day that she can, and helps me fix the "oops!" Thank you to those who unexpectedly send notes about how you enjoy my books. I love you all.

Monday, June 8, 2009

First Draft

If you read last week's posts you had to notice right off that first drafts are no where near the end result. That's why I keep saying that a finished manuscript isn't finished until rewrites have been done, beta readers have gone through it, and an editor (not an English major from University) has put their ink stained fingers on it too.

Why not an English major as your editor? Simple, there is more to producing a good book than perfect grammar, though that is important. I like to have a couple of English geeks as beta readers because they do catch HUGE goofs. Also, I have a couple of very serious readers as beta readers because they will let NO bogus stuff pass in the story line or with the characters. Plus book editors add a dose of commercialism to the book by sending it back to the writer to add or subtract scenes and characters.

Frankly, some very prolific writers do just the first draft and hand the ms off to their team to polish, while they go off and write the next book. How else do you think they crank out so many books in a year?

So the posts last Thursday and Friday are the first time though drafts. They are flat. The characters, set, and secondary characters are just bare bones and need fleshing out on the rewrites. And it will happen. The book excerpts on my website are further along in the process, yet even those aren't the final edition. The lesson here is not to judge a writer by drafts or excerpts posted on the internet. They might be the finished product, or as in my case, only a representation of what is in the book. The published book IS the finished product.

Go look at the excerpts and compare the writing to last weeks blog posts. See the difference? http://www.nadinelamanbooks.com/

And thank you for taking the time and interest to reading what I write.

So far the vote is: ACT = 6 and RPR = 4. I should have set up a poll for you, but didn't think of it in time. Oops!

Friday, June 5, 2009


This is the first draft of the beginning scene of Red Planet Revolt. It is longish for a blog entry, but not for people who read novels. Look back to the 3 June entry to see what is going on. I changed his name...

"Whew, that's enough for today," I say as I remove a small hand decorated leather-bound book that had belonged to my paternal grandfather. He was responsible for my love of antiquity. I smile fondly at the memory of sitting in the sunny meadow listening to "Papa" tell stories of Greek and Roman mythology when I was too young to go to school with my brothers and sisters.

Slowly over the past few weeks, I have been removing items from my office shelves, pondering their worth, and taking the chosen items home. It shouldn’t, but it amazes me how many possessions accumulate over twenty years in the same office.

The sun shining through the window illuminates the dust floating in the air. I place the book in the box and top it with a second century Roman helmet. The helmet was a gift from the first department chairman that I worked under when I came to the university. Now, I realize that it was given to me, not so much as a gift, but out of uncertainty of what to do with it when he, too, was retiring.

Eventually, I have done the same thing as I prepare to move on in life. Many of the items that I treasured are now being passed on to my proteges for proud display on their shelves. It is the passing of the baton, as it were.

One last look around, and I pull the door shut. I touch the name plate, as I have every time I have closed this door. It is a little ritual of mine, perhaps steeped in my interest in mythology. I look back at the name plate one more time before I leave.

I will be back, but not before I have gone over the data cartridges that are stashed in the pouch slung over my shoulder. I already know who has mastered this class, and who has made only the slightest effort to conform to my request to provide me with a knowledgeable review of the information presented in class. But, I will read them as I am required to do, perhaps with the helmet looking over my shoulder from a new shelf at home.

This is the way I enjoy spending my time – quietly entertaining myself with a passive activity. Next week there will be the usual farewell party, but I am no longer obligated to attend other end-of-the-year faculty functions. In a few weeks, I will be free to enjoy living a more reclusive lifestyle. I have had dreams about this time for the last three years. That is when I decided to retire after twenty years of teaching Greco-Roman Antiquity.

As I leave the building, I step on the mobility tread and announce my destination to the voice activated control panel. Smoothly, it moves me along the concourse to my waiting shuttle. Most days, I walk on the surface pathway. I enjoy the walk, and quite frankly, it’s less congested. That suits my tendency to enjoy my own company over the company of the masses. But, today I am in a hurry to get home with my treasures.

Ternion is scheduled to transmit tonight and I don’t want to miss talking with him. It is rare that we can speak with each other. Now, that Ternion is on the planet, he can communicate to Earth only when all of the satellites in the system are aligned and available for personal messages. Because of the various orbit dimensions of the planets and moons between us, that occurs only once every eight months. It will be next year before I hear from him again.

Once the shuttle hatch closes, I request the time only to discover that I have worked later than I had planned. The ignition sequence activates and the shuttle eases toward home. Before he left, Ternion set the shuttle memory for the places I routinely go. It requires only for me to speak my destination to take me home.

Ternion gave me this new shuttle before he left and I haven’t mastered much more than what he programed into it. I get most places I want to go, and I can do a few simple manual maneuvers. I plan to spend time and learn enough to please him when he returns home in five years.

I lean back into my chair and gently touch the seat beside me, imagining Ternion is there. Everyone said we were a poor match, but that hasn’t been true. He is more precious than all of history and I miss him terribly.

It is a forty minute trip from the university in North America to my home on the hills above the Marathon Plains in Greece. I rarely fly above the atmosphere. I love the sight of the Mediterranean Sea from this lower altitude.

The instrument panel signals that my home beacon has activated. I acknowledge with the voice command to began descent, and lock the glide path onto the auto-park beam. The doors open, and my shuttle settles to rest in the pod bay. Nearly silently, the beam concludes upon landing the craft. It is good to get home. I breathe a sigh of relief the moment the hatch opens.

I skim through the data cartridges during the two hour wait for Ternion’s transmission to arrive. At least I have sorted the cartridges into stacks: interesting, enlightened writers, and my marginal students. That will balance the task of grading the exams when I finally have to face that task.

I ask the sentinel if there is a transmission from Ternion, and am disappointed that the response is, "No." I wander into the kitchen to consider dinner. Mindlessly, I request my favorite meal, hoping it will fill the void my anticipation created.

The weather is lovely, so I stroll through the columns to the outer gardens. I sigh as I activate the biosphere for the night. Ternion developed the biosphere technology when he was in graduate school. I remember how excited he was when he received the Nobel Prize for his creation.

I sit down on a garden bench, as I watch the biosphere activate, enveloping the garden. Technology. We take it for granted when there are other worlds in desperate need of the things we dismiss without a thought. There are many nights that I don’t activate the biosphere, yet it is so simple to do. I am proud of Ternion, though I don’t really understand his work.

He is a bio-chemical engineer. We met shortly after I began my professorship. He is slightly older than I, in Earth years. He is from Ka’Bobk, a planet in the neighboring solar system. His people have a natural knack for science and are recruited by every university imaginable. I miss him terribly, though I should be used to his long assignments away from home.

I lean back against the back of the bench staring dimly at the plants across the sky. We had several years together in the beginning when we both taught. It was fun to have quiet lunches together on the days that our class schedules coincided. Those years together at the university proved that our decision to marry had been correct.

We knew when we married that our genetic makeup was not compatible for having mixed-race children. Before Ternion and I married, there were long discussions with my mother about whether it mattered that we couldn’t have a family. After a while, we adopted two children from Ka’Bobk.

My melancholy mood is interrupted by the sentinel announcing a transmission from Ternion Ka’Bobk.

"Yes, activate the transmission," I respond as I hurry toward the view station.

"Victoria, my darling," Ternion begins.

"Hello, Ternion. I love you. Are you well?" I ask quickly, knowing that transmissions to the distant galaxy are sometimes interrupted by any number of anomalies. I want to have a long and lingering conversation with him, but I know that isn’t possible. Since he left the university and began working with the development company, we have had only brief periods of what I would call a normal home-life.

When he would come home after being gone for several years, he would have to readjust to living with a family. The children were eager to have him return home, but it was always an awkward adjustment. Then, when we were accustomed to living like a normal family, he would have to leave to set-up a biosphere that kept him away for several more years.

"Victoria, the fighting here subsided months ago, and the biosphere is just about ready to activate – why don’t you join me when you finish at the university?"

He looked good considering the transmission quality. I think I detected a slight grin as he spoke. He knows that I fear intergalactic travel, but it was a sweet thing to say. His species were known for their considerate ways of interacting. I knew he was sincere.

The children are busy with their own lives. I really didn’t have any specific plans after I finish work. But, then there was that flying thing. That was my only reservation in leaving Earth. I was the only one in my family for three generations that had not been off of Earth – ever. Several times I made plans to take a trip, once even to meet Ternion on one of his work sites. But, I never quite made it out of Earth’s gravity. To be fair, it wasn’t always my fault that I didn’t go – but, I was felieved that the trips didn’t materialize.

I have to think about Ternion’s proposal. "Yes, that would be fun," I hear myself say back to the screen.

Ternion smiled. "Good, I'll have it all arranged. Check with the Company and they will give you the details," he said as the transmission faded out.

I didn’t mean to say that I would come. I missed him so much that I wanted to say what would please him since we spoke so sledom. I waited a little while to see if the transmission would come back on. It did not.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


This is the first draft of the frist scene in ACT. It is longish, but if you're reading my stuff, you read novels. Unedited, of course.

"Sorry – sorry, let’s try it again," Leigh said a little kinder than usual.

"Leigh, we have been at it for hours," Josh whined, as only he can. "You don't know your lines." He said more harshly than necessary.

"Listen, Josh, you will do as I say," Leigh said returning to her usual abrupt manner. "Now, run the lines, again."

Josh spun around and angrily took his mark down stage. If he was trying to hide his disgust, he was unconvincing. Leigh didn’t seem to notice, or she didn’t care.

It was too expensive to have the house lights on. From his dark vantage point in the balcony, the janitor sat for hours watching the two rehearsing on the dimly lit stage. He knew that in time the two would run the gamut of their many moods, so it didn’t matter which mood Leigh was in at the moment.

This private rehearsal between Leigh and Josh began at the unusual hour of seven A.M., it was now three o’clock in the afternoon. They were undoubtably tired, but with those two, tempers were always flaring. The best anyone could do is stay out of the way for as long as possible. No one really wanted to work with them, but the money was usually very good for those who did. How else could they get a cast?

Working with Leigh and Josh was a good way for someone new to the business to get noticed. The media was sure of interesting copy with those two squabbling. The public likes their work, too, well until recently. The constant fighting is beginning to show in the final production. Their fans are tiring of the bickering. But, the janitor enjoys the fighting more than the acting. From years in the Theatre, he has the two of them sized up.

Josh is beautiful, movie-magazine beautiful. Yes, beyond handsome. He is in late twenties or early thirties, it is hard to tell with his youthful face and dancing dark eyes. He is self absorbed and arrogant – even more than most actors.

Leigh, on the other hand looks every bit of forty-five, and more. She is beautiful, too, but the stress of the years of long hours, on and off the stage, is obvious. She is a talented actress, no one can deny her range of character or her dedication to the craft. The back-to-back movie contracts have run their course and she is currently acting in a small community Theatre in a play by an unknown author. It’s a sad commentary for someone with such talent. And it doesn’t help that she drinks too much.

The play they are working on isn’t a very good play. At the rate things are going, Leigh won’t manage to learn her lines before the play closes – without ever opening. Frankly, this may be the end of the little community Theatre, too. There is not enough money to keep it going.

'Community Theatre' doesn’t exactly convey the essence of this Theatre. The building is nearly a hundred years old. It is nestled in an old and dying neighborhood that once was the heart of a thriving community. It was built with the craftsmanship of the pre-electronic age. The acoustics are so lively that the slightest utterances on stage can be heard in the third balcony – clearly.

These days there are very few patrons. The Theatre is in serious financial difficulty and not likely to survive if this play fails. Part of the problem is that the Theatre is in disrepair. The years of neglect show in its interior. The plaster and lath walls are full of cracks, though not structurally serious, they are a distraction to the ambiance of the once elegant Theatre.

"All right, Josh, let’s call it a day," Leigh said in submission to fatigue and Josh’s whining. "We will resume in the morning, the same time." Leigh picked up her sweater from the stage floor where she had discarded it hours ago.

"No can do, Leigh-darling, I have an audition for a movie tomorrow." Josh said with a tone of arrogance. He was making it plain that he didn’t need her any longer.

"Go then, damn you," Leigh screamed.

Josh threw his script across the stage, nearly hitting Leigh. The janitor had seen this scene several times over the last few weeks, though it was not in the script. The old guy chuckled to himself and shuffled out of sight. The old girl deserves it, he thought. "Her career is about in the same shape as this Theatre," he muttered to himself. He picked up a trash can and went to empty it. There wasn’t any reason to hurry. He could go about his duties at his leisure. Nothing else was booked in the Theatre, nothing at all. This will undoubtably be the last play scheduled here.

The Theatre board of directors only met to pay the utility bills, which took about twenty minutes a month. They have tried fund-raising projects, grants, and a variety of bookings – nothing brought in the revenue they needed. When the last bit of money ran out, which was any day now, the utilities would be shut off and the doors locked. No doubt in the end, the building would be sold for taxes and someone would tear it down. It was about to see its final curtain call. His feet shuffled with a scuffing sound as he tended to his janitorial duties, muttering to himself.

Leigh was an intelligent and talented woman; but there was a sadness about her that she was unable to hide. She seemed lonely even when she was surrounded by the media or at the usual Hollywood parties. Though lately invitations to parties were few and far between. It may be due in part to her consistent, cranky mood and sudden outbursts of anger. She shook her head as she shrugged off her thoughts.

Leigh pulled a chair across the stage and sat there looking out at the dark house for the longest time. Maybe she was imagining a standing ovation of the past, or maybe she was seeing the empty house. It was hard to tell from her far-away expression. Finally, her shoulders slumped and her glance dropped to the tape marker on the floor in front of her. Leigh took a breath, stood up, threw her shoulders back, held her head high, and took a bow. In some ways, she had a strength about her, but it was a sad strength.

A slice of the afternoon sun lit the stage briefly as Leigh went out the side stage door. It slammed shut with the sound of finality.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My horoscope lied

It said I'd be focused and productive on the 2nd. Nope. Far from it. That can mean only one thing. Time to start writing another novel. Not rewriting, writing. The choices are:

Act Like You Mean It (ACT): Contemporary fiction. Sandy, a marine biologist, and Leigh, a famous and difficult actress on the downside of her career, are forced together when Sandy discovers Leigh injured and is stuck with her until she recovers. They think (hope) the situation is temporary, but find they can't part company until they figure out who is trying to kill Leigh (considering her abrasive personality it could be any one she ever met). While Leigh recuperates is the perfect time for Sandy's family of step-children to fall apart at the urging of their live-in Russian speaking grandmother.

Red Planet Revolt (RPR): Set in 2953. Retiring chair of the Department of History, Victoria, is more at home in her world of Greco-Roman antiquity than in the world where she lives. Her alien husband, Tiananmen, is a bio-chemical engineer who is constructing a post-Civil War biosphere on the blighted planet. Ordinarily not one for off-world travel, bored with retirement Victoria visits her husband. The report that the Civil War is over was greatly exaggerated. The transport ship departs hastily while under hostile fire, leaving Victoria marooned on the distant planet. Not well suited for wilderness survival, Victoria heads for the city in search of Tiananmen - straight into the heart of the Civil War. (Note, she lives on Earth; the Red Planet is not Mars.)

Which story do you want next? Leave your vote in the comment section. Anyone can vote. If you are shy, you can email me. The story with the most votes will be the next book I write.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

You get what you pay for

FREE can be an uncertain commodity. Sometimes you get what you pay for, sometimes you don't get anything near the value you paid. Sometimes customer services is a lost art. Very lost. Oh my gosh, you do NOT want to get me started on that one.

Recently, I found filedby.com. Of course, I don't know how it works, but my old book covers were harvested from somewhere, maybe mechanically. I can't imagine someone doing all of that by hand. I've tried correcting the info on similar sites, only to end up leaving the outdated material out of sheer frustration. Filedby was a wonderful surprise.

Anyone who has known me for half a millisecond knows I'm worthless at this web stuff. Most sites have at least one fill-in box that is vague enough to leave me questioning what to do. I'd be totally lost without Joyce, my web designer of the last four years.

However, on filedby.com I changed the cover art in a snap and uploaded my photo without it looking like a radioactive mutant when it appeared. The publisher and publishing date were somehow protected from change. I easily found tech support and explained the changes needed. A real live person, Renae, verified the information and promptly changed it for me. Not only that, she was very personable and helpful in her email contacts.

Anyway, if you are a writer, you should check to see if your books are on filedby and claim your page. It's free and logical (easy). I had NO TROUBLE. Trust me, I don't even go into the backrooms of my own website, that is why I have the email address that I do.

Filedby.com has something for readers. I have no idea what it is, but if it is like the part I've used, it is way cooool. So check that out and let me know how it works.

Go look. I'm impressed with their site and with their customer service. Renae was very pleasant and helpful; she went beyond what we have come to expect from customer service.

Here's the link: http://filedby.com/author/nadine_laman/2238025

Or scroll down the sidebar on this blog and try out the blue filedby button that I installed all by myself. Is that easy or what? So, here's to you guys over at filedby. I'm impressed.

Here is the big info: http://www.filedbyblog.com/2009/05/19/filedby-adds-more-than-1-million-new-sites-for-co-authors-illustrators-photographers-artists-editors-translators-and-others/

Monday, June 1, 2009

Whoopiee -- June newsletter

My June Newsletter is now posted on my website. http://nadinelamanbooks.com/newsletter.html