Now this is a great Christmas present!

Received the 2005 Ellora’s Cavemen calendar along with a lovely holiday letter yesterday. 12 months of inspiration! And this is just more of why I love working with this company. They are every bit as wonderful to work with as Oatmeal Studios, where I started freelancing. Oatmeal Studios treated writers well, sent out freebies like notepads and cards, handwritten notes of praise from my editor; all this, and they paid me for being funny. It seemed too good to be true. I moved on from greeting cards because I really wanted to write novels, and now I have an equally terrific book publisher with the same business practises I loved from Oatmeal Studios. Ellora’s Cave is fun, positive, encouraging, enthusiastic, incredibly professional and they make work a delight.

Aside from that, I’m enjoying a break from projects. I vegged out and watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban last night, Princess Diaries 2 the night before that. Both terrific movies I’d highly recommend, by the way. I plan to keep watching movies and resting up until New Year’s and then I’ll get back to work.

Things that will be coming up soon: the edits from Dangerous Games, news on Under a Spell, and a Scheherazade Tales anthology is getting underway.

Yule news, Hark the Herald Pirates Sing, and Sea Lion on Hwy 101

Now that my head is out of Love and Rockets, here’s an update on other news around here. First, Yule Be Mine is still the #1 romance best-seller on Fictionwise, a 3 week run! Between the best-seller status and the rave reviews, this should be a sobering thought to writers everywhere: I nearly left the ms. in a drawer for good instead of sending it out one last time. Never give up, you have no idea what door might open if you persist.

Second, I learned this year that if you forget the words to Hark the Herald Angels sing, you can substitute these lyrics:
Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil be done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum…
I won’t post the whole song here, but you can keep going through all the verses.

And third, when a sea lion gets loose on Highway 101, chaos ensues. Thanks to our local heroes, this sea dweller has hopefully learned an important lesson about the dangers of hitchhiking and will stick to the water in future.

Rockets revised

The revised Love and Rockets goes back today. This is one of those times when it’s hard to say when. I could keep working on it for another month, but even if I had another month, sooner or later it’s just time to stop. The goal is not to rework any single ms. to death in the hopeless quest for perfection, because if you do that you never have a body of work. It’s time to acknowledge that I’ve done a good job and that my job now is to send it on to the next stage of the process, not draw this stage out forever. It’s much improved and I’m glad. There’s still one scene that I’m not confident works as well as I want it to, but this is where it’s important to remember that perfection is not an achievable goal. The best I can do with the time I have is achievable, and I’ve done that.

Post-project let-down, probably. I felt like Yule hadn’t really worked as well as I’d wanted it to, either, but the editor and subsequent readers and reviewers alike have a different opinion.

The person on the inside of the creative process sees the idea that is never quite fully realized, no matter how hard or long or well you work to turn that idea into reality. That’s just how it is, because an idea has no physical form and anything in physical form is imperfect. Nothing ever lives up to the initial vision. It’s always humbling to see how far you fall short. It’s not a bad thing to have an ideal to aim for, or to aim higher than you can reach. That’s how you keep stretching and improving. I’d rather stretch myself and fall a little short than aim too low.

Joy to the world!

Christmas Day and still dark out, but a great morning. Alex is old enough this year to open her presents (with a little help) and she’s having so much fun playing with everything. Next year the new baby will be with us and old enough to sit up and participate a little. Big Sister will be taking charge, I’m sure. Getting us all up at 4:00 a.m., probably, but then, she does that even on normal days. Early riser, that one. We have no idea who she gets that from.

I was awake in the wee hours of the morning myself, because at 3:00 a.m. I woke up and realized what had been bothering me about the Rockets revisions that I hadn’t been able to put my finger on. Out of the blue, there it is, clear in my head and I can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner. So later on today I’ll be putting that change in. It’s a small but very important addition. (No, I didn’t get up and do it at 3:00 a.m. I just noted it and went back to sleep.)

Christmas Eve!

Well, it’s the afternoon of the eve, anyway. Turkey’s in the oven, carols are playing, loaves of cranberry bread are baked. We’re about as ready as we’re going to get for Christmas.

There’s been the usual nonsense in the news about deleting the word Christmas lest it offend somebody, which I frankly can’t understand. No Christmas parties, it’s being called “winter break” instead of Christmas break in schools, etc.

When I was a kid, Christmas was a national holiday. Everybody celebrated it (except the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and we felt really sorry for them) and it had nothing to do with religion. Church-goers and non church-goers alike put up their trees, hung lights, dangled stockings from the fireplace mantle, took their kids to see Santa. In fact, there were complaints from the religious types that it wasn’t a religious holiday at all and had been so commercialized it no longer had any spiritual meaning. Nobody was offended by traditional carols or the words, “Merry Christmas!” It was all fun.

I feel like my daughter has been robbed of her childhood by politically correct killjoys who want to sanitize our language and our holidays until it’s all bland, tasteless gruel that won’t offend anybody but nobody will like it much, either. She’s going to miss out on school Christmas parties, Christmas pageants, and who knows if public nativity displays will be allowed, either?

We can resolve this by sending her to a private school where Christmas is still allowed, but it doesn’t change the culture that she’s going to inherit. So I’ll do my part to lead the Bring Back Christmas (and national sanity) revolution by saying those forbidden words at every opportunity. Merry Christmas to all! And if you celebrate Kwanza or Hannukah, by all means use those words.