Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Been a While...


2010 has been a rough year. Don't get me wrong, I know how blessed I am and how "smooth" my "rough" may seem to some. Even so, I spent the first half of the year in a fug of pressure, physical/mental burnout, and mild depression.

BUT! This blog is not meant to be a pity party. It's about my writing.

And I'm happy to say that in May I passed my board exams and am now a fully-certified Diplomate of the American Board of Radiology in Radiologic Physics. *big sigh of relief*

We got the new accelerator installed before then, in March. *big sigh of relief*

And I spent the summer cutting back on my tendency to over-obligation, resting, and doing things that made me happy (like taking up pottery--look for a link to my ceramics blog soon!).

All that has led me back here. I'm not done with Alec and Elspeth, oh no. I was about to send them out into the world but something was bugging me. Now I've taken long enough off to see what I need to do, which is a replot of the first 4 chapters. I have some ideas, and I think they'll make the book better received by most readers. They shouldn't take long, and I can't afford for them to. I've reentered the Golden Heart, and there's nothing like a deadline to get my BICHOK. *g*

Maybe third time will be a charm...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Year, New Start

Hey, I'm back (again--doesn't it seem I start a lot of my posts that way? Indicative, I guess...) and I'm actually posting this from the midst of the KYRW meeting on Social Media Marketing, led by our very own Maddie James. She's blogged on the topic, here:

Tweets, widgets and blogs, oh my!

Very informative. I'm at the point now where I'll be delving back into the world of all my social networks and online presence as I send my book out into the wide world to try to find a home.

Yes! The final draft is complete, the Golden Heart entry submitted, and queries will be going out this week if all goes well.

Meant to get to it a little sooner (though still after the holidays) but the truth is, I've been buried beneath a huge load of LIFE and am just now starting to clamber up on top of the pile. It doesn't help that my mild SAD has kicked in, making me extremely exhausted by the time we get the kids--yes, there are still 2--in bed and thus eliminating my primary computer time (10pm-midnight). But I have cleared my queue of other projects, AND my inbox (from 212 down to 30 last night!), and the book is Back On Top. That is, until the new accelerator goes in--early February--but you should know me and external deadlines by now...I have a narrow window to get the queries out before I get bogged again. So there's my motivation. *g*

Let the games begin!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Word Meters

And, hey, while I'm on a posting spree (and procrastinating on my 11th hour rewrites, hehe) I finally found a replacement for the beloved, now defunct, much-lamented Zokutou Word Meter:

They're slick, easy to make, and display well.  And they have the look of the Zokutou, which I liked. Check out mine in my "Progress" sidebar to the right.

For some other options, check out this post:

Happy Metering!

P.S. Yes, my word count is up again.  I think that's partly due to how LSB calculates, and also not counting the fact that the majority of four chapters are about to get the axe. On that note...

Comment Moderation

I had to turn Comment Moderation on (for older posts) and added word verification to all comments. I like keeping open and easy comments so people feel free to drop me a line, but spammers somehow managed to find me and I'm getting more and more spam comments on some of my Google-trigger posts. Once I get them to go away, I'll come back to the "open and easy" format.  Sorry!

And for those of you thinking, "Why bother? You never post anymore anyway!"'re right. I've been gone a lot. But mainly because I've actually been revising the book. Golden Heart deadline is next week, and I'm in the process of finishing up the third and FINAL(!) draft. Once that puppy ships, I've also got a full request I intend to honor, and I'll begin the query process in earnest after the holidays.  And I should have more time to blog. *g*

In the meantime, follow me on Twitter for my micro-updates (which I can do from my phone--when and if someone develops a Blogger app for the iPhone I am SO there!). My daily life feed is just to the left in the sidebar, and I'll try to get my Writer Focused feed up on the blog soon:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Check out this new blog

Friends of mine, four very witty and enjoyable ladies with lots of good things to say about the writing life, have started a new blog.  Check it out!

All The World's Our Page

They're giving away books, as if you needed any more reason to stop by.  *g*

My life was about to change...

...and I didn't even know it.

Haven't been by the blog in a while--obviously--for reasons that shall become clear.  But I dropped back by today, as work on the MS is picking back up in preparation for the Golden Heart, which I entered.  And I noticed the date on my last blog post.  August 13th, 2009.

Little did I know while I wrote that post that across town, in the hospital where I did my graduate work, a baby was being born.  A baby that, 4 days later on August 17th, would come home with my husband and me from said hospital to become our foster daughter.  To say that I've been a little busy since my last blog post would be...very accurate.  *g*

I can't say much about her for privacy reasons, but Baby Girl was born full-term and healthy at 7 pounds 12 ounces, 20.25" long.  Today at 2 months old she sleeps through the night(!)--most nights--smiles, coos, and wants very badly to learn how to laugh.  Little Boy has been better than I could even have hoped, such a doting big brother.  But still, life with 2 kids is exponentially busier than life with just 1, as many many parents can attest.  DH is back in school for his final year of Ph.D. coursework, and the day job continues to consume me, along with all the myriad other little commitments I have.  We finally have a date on the new accelerator--installation early 2010, just after the holidays.

And yet, the book remains a part of me, something I am still working on/thinking about in the odd moments I can catch for it.  I'm about to go full-steam in a big way for the Golden Heart, and for the query process, and hopefully for publication.

I know I keep saying stuff like that, but the important thing is that I haven't given up; I continue to work towards my dream.  I read a great quote today by Rick Warren:

"When you die, you wont regret your unfulfilled dreams...just your unattempted ones."

Here's to pressing on.  *g*

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Slate Article: Time-Traveling for Dummies

With the recent release of the movie adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger's (really most excellent) book The Time Traveler's Wife came this article on Slate:

Time-Traveling for Dummies

In which a physicist lays out some ground rules for the use of time-travel in fiction.

A couple favorite quotes from the Slate article:
Quantum randomness must obey well-established laws, and Novikov showed that the probability of producing a different future with a time machine was zero. To put it more simply: You cannot alter history in any way that changes it from what it always was.

Matched with (my character) Teresa's words:
"Ye cannae change the past, lass.  Ye can only do what ye have already done!"

But if you've already seen what your destiny is, then the future is already written. Making that self-consistent future play out is one of the great challenges of time-travel fiction.

Yes, I can tell you: it is!

I read the article with increasing glee, as I had constructed my own time-travel "rules" based on my own background as a physicist, and was very happy to see that I seem to have gotten it "right"...

To wit: my 2.5-year-old posts on the topic in my own book establish that Elspeth is moving within one, self-consistent universe, her "time machine" is space-time itself, so she can travel back beyond her own birth, her own supposedly "free will" actions to change history actually result in the occurrence as she recalls it, etc. (No spoilers here! Not really.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Newspaper Article

An article in the local paper about our KYRW group:

Overall some pretty good press!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Snippet Saturday - Going It Alone

Today is not an "official" snippet Saturday - and I see by my clock that it is actually now Sunday - but since I missed the first one and I'm actively revising I thought I'd put another one up for fun.  I meant to spend tonight finishing up the first chapter (AGAIN), but ended up in Glencoe.  Here we see Alec's actions in the previous week's snip coming back to bite him:

From ONE HIGHLAND NIGHT (copyright 2008, Jennifer R. Clark)

Alec passed the Signal Rock and through the slantwise gusts of snow he saw the fire lit upon it.  Shots rang out, like the crack of branches bowed and broken, and in his heart he knew they were too late.

Yet he could not turn back.  His fate was now bound up with the MacDonalds of Glencoe, and having come so far he would do what he could to save them.  If for no other reason than Highland honor--insulted by the prospect of murder under trust--demanded it.  And Elspeth wished it.

At length he reached the chief's house at Carnoch, where all was madness.

Soldiers ranged through the house, flushing out servants and driving them into the night to be shot.  Two bodies lay already by the door.  He slipped round back, and by great good fortune avoided them all, and came into the laird's bedroom.  The sight that awaited curdled in his wame.

Alasdair MacDonald of Glencoe, the MacIain, lay sprawled facedown on his bed, still in his nightshirt, a bullet hole in the back his head and his trews around his ankles.  In truth, "facedown" was only an expression, for the MacIain's face was missing, blown away by the force of the exiting bullet.

"Ah, Christ, MacIain..."

Sounds of footsteps outside the door drove him into the wardrobe, and he hastily pulled the doors closed behind himself, leaving only a tiny crack through which he could see.

Two soldiers entered, followed by their lieutenant, who instructed them to drag MacIain's body from the house.  Before they had moved more than two paces, he heard a fourth man enter the room.

"My Lord Breadalbane!" the lieutenant exclaimed.  "We had not thought to see you here this night."
Breadalbane!  Och, aye, this scheme reeked of him. 

"I was at Ballachulish with Duncanson," the earl replied.  "I set out early, before the snow began, to meet Glenlyon here and see his orders carried out.  His strength of character is not enough to see this through, so I have come to ensure the old fox is dead."

"He is, my lord.  He lies just here, on this side of the bed."

Through the slit Alec saw the form of Breadalbane pass--dressed as a clansman for winter and without his wig--and heard the sound of the earl's laughter.

"Well done, Lindsey.  You have meted out the king's justice, and I shall see you are duly recompensed."

It was too much to bear.

He burst from his hiding spot, driven by fury.  "You pawkie bastard, I should have kent you would be in this up to your moth-eaten eyebrows, even if the lass had not said as much!  Your very presence here damns you to the deepest pit of hell!"

He felt more than heard the click of pistols cocked and trained on him by the lieutenant and his men.  Breadalbane rounded on him, eyes narrow and cold.
My presence?" the earl asked.  "I think you shall find that hard to prove.  None ken my presence save Lieutenant Lindsey, these two fine soldiers, and MacIain there--" he indicated the body on the floor, "--who shan't be telling tales."

"And me!" Alec lashed out.  His breath came in ragged gasps, anger fueled white-hot.  "I will tell the chiefs who is truly to blame for this abomination, this slaughter of innocents under trust--I, a MacGregor, who knows firsthand the greed and perfidy of the Campbells!"

The room was quiet for a handful of heartbeats.  The earl spoke.  "MacGregor, did you say?"

"Aye, and proudly I claim it.  We may be a broken clan, but we have our honor yet.  I take leave to doubt you had any to start with, and soon all will know it!"

Breadalbane grinned maliciously.  "Oh, I think not...

Too late, Alec realized his mistake, made in the heat of his anger. 

"You of all people should know: the name MacGregor is proscripted, and all men who claim it are to be put to death.  Especially those who do so whilst obstructing the king's justice."  Breadalbane turned to the red-coated soldiers.  "You there, take him."

He drew his dirk--no room for the sword--and cursed the lack of time to reload his pistols, discharged at Leacantuim against another band of soldiers.  But one of Lindsey's men still held a loaded musket, with which he backed Alec against the wall.  The other relieved him of his weapons. 

"I could kill you now, MacGregor, and it would go unremarked," Breadalbane said.  "But I wish to make a lesson of you, to remind your broken clan who holds power.  I can still wield the weapons of fire and sword against them.  How better to prove it than to execute a favored son?"  The earl sneered.

"But to make my statement it must be done in the legal way, with a proper death warrant.  Not difficult to get, considering your activities against the Watch and in my own hold.  Oh aye, I ken your actions against my daft son, when he thought to capture the prize I so ardently sought.  You stole from me, and injured soldiers of the crown in the process.  I have witnessess that will testify as much.  It will not take so long to make the case against you."  Breadalbane waved a dismissive hand.  "But speaking of my lost prize, tell me: where is the lass?  Was it her Sight that brought you here?"

At that Alec set his jaw hard, and his gaze harder.  Breadalbane would learn nothing of Elspeth from him.  He would protect her if it was his last act on earth.

He felt a sharp pain as the nearest soldier clouted him in the head with the stock of his own pistol, and then he knew no more.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Snippet Saturday

Fellow KYRW member Anya Bast has started "Snippet Saturday" and today's theme is Fight Scenes. Since I'm (finally!) back on the blog circuit, I'm diving in:

From ONE HIGHLAND NIGHT (copyright 2008, Jennifer R. Clark):

Elspeth lay in her cell, staring up at the dark ceiling, and waited.

She thought of Alec, wondered if he even noticed her absence. They had talked of her need to return to Kilchurn; it would be so easy for him to leave her here to find her own way, alone as always. No MacGregor involvement meant no threat to his clan. It made sense, really. Her only regret was not having the chance to say goodbye.

Paradoxically, she looked forward to the morning, and the earl's return. Somehow she felt he wasn't after her body—only her knowledge, and the power it could bring him. His son, however...

Her eyes snapped open and every muscle tightened in fear when at last she heard the door scrape open. Futilely, she pulled against the ropes binding her wrists. They rubbed the raw patches left by multiple previous attempts, and she subsided.

A dim shape moved toward her through the pitch black room. Ormelie. She curled into as tight a ball as she could manage with her arms tied above her head, and squeezed her eyes shut in imitation of sleep.


A hand touched her arm. She exploded from her coiled position, driving both feet like pistons into the man's midsection. The air left him in an audible rush, and he stumbled back, clutching his abdomen.

"Christ, mo phiseag!" Alec wheezed. "If ye dislike me so, tell me plain. Dinna take it out on me just because I get near!"

Relief flooded her at the sound of the familiar voice. "Oh, God, Alec! I thought you were Ormelie coming back." He had not left her alone, after all. Then she remembered where here was. "What are you doing here?"

Breathing more normally, he returned to her side. "Rescuing you, I suppose. Though it might go faster if ye helped instead of hindered…" His dirk cut through her bonds and she pulled her hands free, rubbing her wrists and sitting up.

Alec knelt on the floor at her feet. He searched her face, concerned. "Lass, did anyone…harm ye? Can ye come wi' me now?"

"Yes. I mean—no, he didn't hurt me. Yes, I can move."

"Good. We dinna have much time. 'Tis dark yet, and best to leave before dawn."

They emerged from her cell and passed an unconscious guard slumped by the door to the bailey. The work of Alec's dirk-pommel, if she had to guess, or the scrolled butt of one of his prized Doune pistols. It was still night, as he had said, but she could see the faint rose glow of dawn beginning to lighten the sky over the East wall.

A shout sounded behind them: the alarm was raised. Here and there around the courtyard, torches flared and soldiers appeared in various states of dress and equipage. Hugh and Ewan emerged from the shadows of the wall and engaged them, drawing attention.

Alec's breath whispered warm in her ear as he gave her hurried instructions to make for the rear retaining wall, then he drew sword and dirk and ran ahead to join the fray. She slipped along the wall of the bailey, keeping to the shadows. At first she ignored the warm spot against her leg as a figment of her imagination. But then the warmth was supplemented by a faint vibration. She stopped and withdrew the meteorite from her pocket by its string, already knowing what she would see. Sure enough, it glowed faintly and emitted a low chiming sound.

One more step, and the crystal brightened. Another wormhole must be forming nearby. If she just walked forward, the portal might open. She could leave certain danger behind, and the heartache that would surely result from her growing feelings for Alec. She could go home.

Home. Home meant safety, the comfort of the familiar. This place, this time were not her own. But home meant loneliness, too. The pain of abandonment.

If the wormhole even returned her there—and that was a very big "if". It might take her to another place and time altogether. Or…nowhere.

She looked to Alec, torn. He fought two soldiers, plaid swinging and sword flashing. Sparks flew as his blade met those of his opponents, clash after clash. It startled her; she'd thought that a special effects gimmick in the movies.

This was no gimmick. The gentleness and humor she loved about him were gone from his face, replaced by a fierce scowl of concentration. He was every inch the Highland warrior. He'd risked himself, his friends, and retribution against his clan to rescue her. In Glasgow, he'd taken her to see Isaac Newton. And before that he'd taken her in when she was lost and alone, found a place for her within his clan. Above all, by coming for her, he'd earned her trust...something she thought to never give another man.

Go or stay? The men fought, the sun rose, and every second wasted brought them closer to certain capture, but still she hesitated.

And then she saw him. Half in shadow, one of Campbell's men slunk toward Alec from behind. His knife gleamed dully in the pale light. Alec remained occupied with the soldiers at his front, new ones come to replace their fallen colleagues.

Going unnoticed was no longer an option. She stepped away from the wall and shouted.

"Alec! Behind you!"

But he did not seem to hear her. The Campbell crept closer.

Choice made, she sprinted into the open, even as the man raised the knife high. Throwing up a blocking arm, she inserted herself between Alec and the blade. But she timed it poorly. Instead of meeting forearm-to-forearm as expected, she felt the knife bite deep into her flesh, a lightning-strike of searing pain. It scraped bone before the attacker yanked away.

She had no time to focus on the pain. A quick left jab to the solar plexus took the attacker's breath. She aimed a vicious kick at his groin, skirts be damned. While he was thus distracted, she reached around and withdrew the small sgian ockle from its sheath beneath a startled Alec's arm.

But her first blows had been effective enough. The Campbell remained doubled over on the ground where she'd kicked out at him, and the direction of Alec's struggle led them farther away by the second.

They fought their way across the courtyard, back-to-back. Alec did most of the work, and she guarded the rear. A rope and grappling hook dangled from the top of the north wall. She watched as Ewan clambered up and dropped out of sight. Before she really knew what was happening, Alec boosted her to the top of the wall and began to climb the rope himself. She closed her eyes and dropped to the ground below.

Hugh, the last of the group, landed with a thud even as she and Alec picked themselves up and headed for one of the two small boats drawn up on the rocks. As he rowed, she saw glowing balls of torchlight gather on the shore, heard the retort of muskets. A ball splashed into the water off the starboard side. Garrons nickered from the trees on the shore.

When they reached the mainland, Alec swung into a saddle in a flair of plaid, then reached down and pulled her up before him. The party rode north along Loch Awe. Toward Glenstrae, and safety.

Toward home.