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Apr 12, 2007

Crit Marathon

It's Crit Marathon time at the OWW. I'm not officially participating, but I did put up some reviews, and I did post some new material, which keeps me on my toes returning crits.

Mar 2, 2007

Alternative Titles

Originally, I called my book The Rainbow Dancer. Those of you from the OWW might recognize it under that name. Now I've tentatively retittled it The Faery's Maze.

Some other options:

The Windwheel and the Maize
The Faery's Curse
Faery Dance
Rainbow Dance

I still haven't found a truly catchy title, one that, by itself, compels you to take the book off the shelf and look at it. I know that in the end, the title is up to the publisher.

Excerpt from The Faery's Maze

Chapter 1
First Row, First Column

A stately veil of birch hid Dindi from those she stalked. The trees encircled a wide clearing of stamped down reddish earth where the Tavaedis, the Chroma Dancers, practiced their Patterns. They began every day in the misty rose twilight before sunrise and ended when the noonday sunshine poured down molten gold.

Dindi roused herself earlier still, to hide in the woods before they arrived, and she dared not leave until after they were gone. She went there to watch them, to envy them, and, in shameful secrecy behind the trees, to imitate them. Her mimicry was clumsy beside their grace, she knew, but she could not help herself. Though she did not have the Chroma magic and never would have it, she loved to dance.

The Tavaedis performed at births, weddings, fairs, exorcisms, charmings -- in fact at any event of importance in the clanholds of the Corn Hills. These occasions kept them busy most afternoons. There were dance patterns effective for healing, for fertility, for fortune, for conflict. There was a dance for every stage of the community’s life.

Summer was drawing to a close, so the Pattern they were working on now would weave the magic to ensure a good harvest. They would perform it in its full bloom on the night of the Harvest Festival, with families from three clans in the audience. For now they had sprinkled salt on the ground to dampen any magic roused by the movements of their practice. Dindi had sprinkled salt around the ground in the woods where she danced too. Of course, Dindi herself had no magic worth dampening. But she'd found that salt also kept the pixies, sprites and willawisps away. Dindi liked the fae well enough. In fact, she bribed some to do her daily chores for her back on the clanhold while she was out here. It was just that their constant pranks made it difficult to concentrate. The fae had no respect whatsoever for human magic.

Today, Dindi had chosen to follow the steps of Marita, who danced Yellow. The Harvest Pattern called for several Yellows, which was good, since seven of the group's twenty-two Tavaedis danced Yellow. A true Tavaedi could only dance his or her Chroma. Since Dindi wasn't a true Tavaedi and it didn't matter what part she took, she had set herself to learning all of the parts. Every day she chose a different role model.

In two weaving rows, the Yellows traced boxes with their feet, stepping forward, leftward, backward, rightward. Their right hands plucked the air, their left hands opened to welcome guests. Abiono, the Leader of the Dance, yelled out the steps in a big bass voice that was only slightly warbled by age: “Pick the corn! Pick the corn! Now, circle, circle, left hand under, right hand over, and grind it, grind it, grind the corn! You must dance Yellow as carefully as a rich auntie counts the baskets she takes to barter at the market. Lads, take your corn maids and lift them by the waist…”

The Yellows were working up a good sweat coordinating their section. Dindi was sweating right along with them, when Kemla, a Red, interrupted them with her screeching.

“He does this on purpose to humiliate me!” Kemla brandished a scythe. It was a sacred object, with a precious obsidian blade, crucial to her part in the dance, but she flailed it about like a dangerous toy. “Why don't you do something about it? If you won't, I will! I don't care if he is the only Purple we have! I can't work with him!”

In his prime, Abiono, a Zavaedi as well as the troops’ Leader of the Dance, had trained for seven years in the Rainbow Labyrinth, tamed a horse and a wife from the Aurochs Plains, and proven himself in dance and battle as a warrior dancer with a Shining Name. Now, though, he was an aged man whose mind skipped more than his legs. He was a good teacher of the Patterns, but he was not equal to the temper of his diva.

Although Kemla and Tamio had only been Tavaedis for a year, they had proved themselves to be extraordinary dancers in the same test that Dindi had failed. Kemla was the only one out of all the clans in the Corn Hills who could dance Red. This talent made her the pride of Full Basket clan. Unfortunately, the obvious one to partner her was Tamio. To convince a cat to swim would have been easier. Born of Broken Basket Clan and a long line of Horse Tamers, he danced a powerful Purple and had already lured back a wild horse from the roaming herds last spring. He preferred breaking in his horse to spending time with Kemla, and Dindi couldn’t blame him.
From where Dindi stood, still panting, she couldn't hear Abiono's reply, but Dindi imagined it well enough. This was the third day in a row that Tamio had been late arriving at practice.

“He has no right to make the rest of us wait!” Kemla screamed in response to Abiono. Abiono muttered something else, which only set her off again.

“Why should I care if the Yellows need practice?” Kemla slashed at the air with her scythe. “By the Seven Faeries, they should know their steps by now, a sow could do those steps. It's the duet between Red and Purple that ensures our harvests are twice as plentiful as those of any other clanholds this or that side of the hills!”

Dindi sighed. She knew what was coming. Although Dindi felt sorry for the Yellows, she also felt a little thrill, because the simple truth was that Kemla was by far and away the best Tavaedi of them all. Dindi longed to dance even a sliver as well as Kemla. Every time Kemla danced, Dindi focused on Kemla as her role model. She had a stick ready to use as her own “scythe.”

Sure enough, Abiono decided to appease Kemla by giving the Yellows a break and going over her steps with her by herself. Kemla smiled in triumph. Tossing her long black braid over her shoulder, she strode to the center of the clearing where she gripped the scythe and started her steps. Abiono called them as she danced them.

“Red begins in a fall!”

Kemla dove headfirst to the ground and rolled smoothly and leaped back to her feet.

Oh, but those rolls were hard. Dindi’s arms and shoulders had erected a bruise as memorial to every mistake she’d made in learning to fall. Eventually, her rolls had smoothed. However, Dindi had discovered that the best way to avoid any pebbles was to not touch the ground at all. If she rolled fast and high enough, the earth forgot to grab her before she was flipped and up on her feet.

“Red rises like a flame!”

Kemla leaped into the air, scythe held parallel over her head, her legs forming a split parallel to the ground. In the woods, Dindi did the same move.

“Red cuts down, Red destroys!” shouted Abiono. Kemla slashed the scythe, right, left, over her head. She whirled it and passed it around her waist. She slashed the air; she punched it. “You must dance Red as if you are beating your most hated enemy to death!”

Every color had its own mode, its own moves and mood. You cannot dance Red, Abiono often said. You must burn Red.

Kemla burned.

Screened by the woods, Dindi mirrored each fiery movement. The climax of the dance built to a complex series of handless cartwheels and round kicks.

“Fa-la, what have we here?” burst out a boy’s voice over barely suppressed laughter. “Can it be that there are two Red Tavaedis in the Corn Hills?”

Dindi whirled around, and not because it was a move in the dance.

There stood Tamio.


The Novel Merry-go-Round

Naturally, I have a novel I am trying to sell. Now the first draft is complete, so I’ll start posting a few excerpts in this blog. I've begun the merry-go-round attempt to interest a publisher so I can I can entice an agent to represent me, or interest an agent in representing me so I can entice a publisher to buy the book.

So far I have sent it to seventeen agents. I've had three requests for partials and one request for a full manuscript. I've received the usual formal reject letters, as well as one or two warm and encouraging reject letters.

[BABYWATCH: He's behind me on a pillow, chewing one of his books, babbling. I was worried about him for while because he seemed behind in his babbling. He seemed to only use vowels. However, he now babbles consonant sounds as well, and makes "phrases" that sound like conversation.]

I also have a crit group, mostly folks from OWW, for novel exchange critiques. I have five or six novels I am reading for them, and they will read my novel in turn.

One of the main problems with the book is its length, which, even after paring down, rolls in at 175,000 words. If I could just find a way to chop off another 25,000 words, it would work for Luna, Harlequin’s new female-oriented fantasy line. In other respects, I think it would be perfect for that.

[BABYWATCH: He is no longer crawling under my chair. He now stands underneath my chair, using the edge of the seat to balance on his shaky little legs. ]

There are two ways to cut words. One is to cut out whole scenes, or even whole subplots. The other way is to tighten the writing in each scene. I would prefer to do the later, but it’s harder. Especially since I suffer a curse, wherein whenever I go to edit something to cut wordage, I end up adding rather than subtracting.

Jan 29, 2007

FAQs for Adoptive Parents of Converted Extraterrestrial Children (CETs)

While Tyranosauros Rex sleeps, I am taking the time to try to write. I'm finding it hard to concentrate on my WIP (work in progress). My rule for myself is that I have to write something every day, no matter how crappy it is or on what story. So I am working right now on a short sf story set in an sf universe I call the "Xenophile" universe after my main storyline there.

This particular story is about parents who are trying to raise an alien baby.

Hm. Is that scaple a little too close to the artery? Hee hee. It's really terrible, I've wanted to do a Mother Gives Birth To Alien story ever since I was pregnant. The premise of tv series like "Smallville" and "Roswell" is that every teenager feels like an alien just trying to fit in at one point. This is the same thing, but from the parents' point of view. Maybe it's just me, or maybe all parents at one time feel like their offspring are the first wave of an alien invasion.

Trying to understand what a baby is thinking IS like trying to read an alien mind. That was the starting point of my story, "FAQs for Adoptive Parents of Converted Extraterrestrial Children (CETs)."


Baby Learns to Crawl

My little boy crawled for the first time on January 7, 2007. Yes, I wrote it in my calender. :) He was only four months, three weeks old at the time. Now, five months and counting, he's crawling all over the place.

Well, specifically, he's crawling under my office chair, squeaking to be picked up. His idea of a good day is one spent entirely in my lap, alternated only with periods of time spent in his daddy's lap. Since we both work at home, he sees no logical reason this can't happen. What are parents for?

My mom says I'm spoiling him. (Ha! She should talk. She raised two of the most spoiled kids ever!)

But I'm not spoiling him! I am more than ruthless enough to let him cry himself silly on his playmat until he figures out that he can entertain himself with his toys for at least one fifteen minute period during the day. But we have no playpen for him yet and no matter how often I return him to his playmat and the company of his toys, HE JUST CRAWLS BACK UNDER MY CHAIR! Now, do you know how dangerous it is to have a baby under an office chair? I have one of those imposing, black Dark Side of the Force thrones, with a mesh back and pentaped rollar bottom. It rolls around on a plastic floor mat over the carpet in the room that serves as my office/baby's playroom.

Silly woman, you are thinking at this point. Why didn't she just purchase a playpen?

There is a good excuse for this too! First of all, the things they pass off as playpens in Target and Walmart are pathetic. They are so cramped, I don't see how the little buggers have room to turn over, never mind crawl, flip, kick and stand and all the other things he's doing. So we ordered a gym mat and plasti-fence system on-line. Unfortunately, by the time these items ship here, my son will probably have already figured out how to strap on his crampons and use his Black Diamond Viper Ice Pick to scale out of it.

You can see proof here:

By now you have probably figured out that this entire entry is just to serve two purposes:

1. Boast about the fact that my baby learned to crawl when he was only 4 m 3 wks old, when the average baby doesn't crawl until 7 to 9 months

2. Give a pathetic sob story about why I didn't finish this month's writing quota.

Hm. I feel better!


Jan 22, 2007

My Secret Other Life

Obviously, I haven't been blogging much recently, so what have I been up to? Mmm. Well. As all you millions of die-hard Tara Maya fans know, my stories Drawn to the Brink and Portrait of a Pretender are set in a world where magic can bring paintings to life.

So it's probably not surprising that I also paint. You can even visit my eBay store, Lau Studios. I write under a pen name, but I paint under my real name, Christine Lau. Recently I started a new series of paintings of urban fairies, called Mimsykins. I will start putting them up for auction in February. You can also see some of my paintings in the Saatchi Gallery.

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Now Available from Amazon Shorts

My short story, "Portrait of a Pretender" is now available from Amazon Shorts.

Portrait of a Pretender

Right now it is on page 11, rank 124 of 2,892 results. Please buy a copy and help move it up!
It's only 49 cents.

A while ago, I started another story in the Brink universe, but I never finished it. I didn't expect this story to be available so soon. I supposed I had better start cracking on the sequel!

Remember, the other story set in the same universe is still available too, in WomanScapes

The Amazon Short Portrait of a Pretender is less than two quarters, and WomanScapes, while a bit more at $16, goes to help starving orphans.

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