April 12, 2011

Monitors are Evil

I am an introvert. This isn't news to anyone that knows me, but it's only in the past few years that it's gotten to be a problem. I like people, just not in large groups. I'm much better dealing with individuals one at a time. Even my children. Especially my children. Same goes for my hubby. It's one of the reasons I love to go on long car rides with him. Aside from the captive audience aspect of moving vehicles, we tend to open up with each other when it's just the two of us. Maybe that's why I get so upset when he talks on his phone in the car. (If I'm going to pull my mind away from the story brewing in my head to talk to you, then damn it, I better have your full attention!) I digress...

There is no doubt in my mind that close friends are essential to a happy and meaningful life. Humans are social animals and even we introverts suffer if we go too long without some sort real interaction with others of our species. Phone conversations, email, Twitter and Facebook can't replace the intimacy of a face to face conversation with another person sharing the same space. Cool as they are, even the new iPhones with video chat can't meet that need.

I don't have many friends (other than the characters in my head and the equally nebulous but cherished people I connect with online). Yet, I am blessed by the few friends I do have.  They love me and would do anything for me ... I just can't figure out WHY. 

It's not that I'm a bad person. I'm just not a very good friend. I don't intentionally neglect the people that mean so much to me, I just get ... distracted. I forget what day of the week it is, I miss appointments and don't return phone calls. I have no idea what time it is and am often surprised to find myself typing in the dark hours after sunset. It's gotten much worse since I began writing full time. But it's not the act of writing that's to blame. It's the computer monitor. You see, I write on a laptop, so I spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen.

Now don't get me wrong, computers are wonderful tools. I couldn't manage without one. But the monitors are pure evil. They suspend time and take over our brains, making us believe that the light from their little glowing screen is meeting all our physical and emotional needs. We don't feel pain, need to eat, sleep, shower, make love, talk, blink, or even pee. 

But it's all a lie. The monitor doesn't really meet any of those needs, it only postpones them. As soon as something forces us to look away -- fire, smoke, or spurting arterial blood -- it all comes back with a vengeance. As soon as I log off, I know I'm going to need to hobble to the bathroom with my legs crossed then hope I can find that ziplock bag of trailmix under my bed before I collapse in exhaustion.

I escaped the evil monitor yesterday and spent the afternoon with a very good friend, Carol. She's done so much for me. Not only did she photograph my professional portrait, she's edited multiple drafts of Enchantment and even went to Orson Scott Card's workshop with me last June and made sure I didn't get freaked out by: the airports, the turbulence on the plane, the crowds, the pressure, having to drive a rental car, use a map or check into a hotel. She's not even a writer, but she paid her own way, and never complained about being left on her own while I was sequestered away in the workshop. I wouldn't have gone without her. Find Carol and samples of her work (including the photo on this blog) at http://www.facebook.com/SuperiorImaging  

I have another friend that is always there for me. She rescued my daughter's wedding from my ineptitude and poor planning and even saved my life once, but that story would take a novel to tell. Speaking of novels, I need to get back to work. Wow, it's after three and I haven't even had breakfast. I blame the monitor.

April 04, 2011

Nothing New Under the Sun

I spent two days gathering copyright free photos. Another two days cropping, retouching, hand painting and manipulating them in Photoshop and what did I get? The perfect cover for my novel "Enchantment"? Yes. An original cover? No.

Not only is my cover art nearly identical to Orson Scott Card's new novel, "The Lost Gate," I'm using the same title as his romantic fantasy published in April of 1999. The image with the book is the first, and favorite cover I designed. The one with the hands is the one I'm actually using. OSC's cover (and book) can be found at amazon.

I knew the title's were the same, but since his book is twelve years old, my storyline is so very different from his, and there are other lesser known works with the same title, I didn't think it was a big deal. Especially since he's the one that recommended I turn my short story "Name Games" into a novel. (This was just before I learned of a little series called "Hunger Games." Love the books, hate the title since it required me to change mine.)

Then, as if the whole title/cover thing weren't bad enough, I stumble across Kate Hart's description of her novel "Refuge" which is about a seventeen-year-old witch that leaves her family's mountain compound to attend public school for the first time.

My novel, "Enchantment" is a young adult paranormal romance set in Louisville, Colorado. The protagonists are Josh, a seventeen-year-old BMX racer and Channie, a transplanted witch from the Ozark Mountains. The main conflict grows out the chastity curse her parents place on her to protect her virtue and the young couple's disastrous attempts to free themselves from its restrictions.

So, yeah, it boils down to a story about a sixteen-year-old witch forced to move away from her family's mountain home and attend public school for the first time. As Channie would say ... Damn it to hell and back.

I am intrigued by Ms. Hart's story but I'm afraid to read it before I finish editing "Enchantment." I know my subconscious mind sabotaged my book cover design since I'd recently read "The Lost Gate." But I'd never even heard of Kate Hart before last week. And I'm ninety-nine percent sure she's never heard of me and one hundred percent sure she's never read my book since it's not yet published. I'm hoping the only similarities between her book and mine are the descriptions and not the actual stories.

I want to cry, but I'll settle for a pint of Ben and Gerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream.