Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson


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Dream of a Different Flavor

Two nights ago, I had a dream about Jeff Buckley. Thank you, subconscious, reminding me of the anniversary of his death today. I don’t spend my day in mourning for someone I never knew, although I’m one of an untold number of people whose heart was touched by his music, his voice, his presence. My subconscious repeatedly insists on trying to convince him not to move to Memphis, but by the light of day I always wake to find I’ve failed once again.

A few lovely articles:

My Hero: Jeff Buckley, by Benjamin Wood

Jeff Buckley: ‘Either Cursed, or the Luckiest Man Alive’ by Ted Kessler

An Interview with Jeff, by Daryl Mason


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Never Trust a Writer

Not even two weeks ago I swore I wasn’t going to work on this story for a long time, if ever. I needed a break, wasn’t interested, couldn’t face it.

All that changed the other day, and I’m cruising along writing. It’s too early for me to claim I’m back in some sort of groove, but it sure does feel good to be writing again…and to be enjoying what I see on the page.

The moral of the story: never trust me when I say I won’t be working on a specific piece, because while I’m probably being perfectly honest in the moment, I’ve got a Gemini ascendant and will undoubtedly be drawn to the very thing I thought I hated.

Swallowing my words!

Swallowing my words!


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Waiter, there’s a goat in my soup.

Oh no, wait: there are goats in my yard.

goats goats goats

Every year, the park district contracts with a nearby goat farm to clear out the weeds and long grasses and other fire hazards. Today is goat day! They arrive in two batches on long-bed trucks and stay in the park until it’s grazed to the ground.

Because we live closest to the park, we also do a trade with the goat keepers. In exchange for the goats reducing the weeds and grasses in our back yard, we keep them supplied with water (and the shepherd with electricity for his trailer). It’s a win/win.

I happened to look out and saw these fine specimens trying to climb the tree to get to the fresh juicy leaves. Have at it, kids (ba-a-a-a-d pun).


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Ahead to the Past

Last November I did my best to work through my NaNoWriMo novel. By the end of November I was just this side of disgusted with it, put it away, and decided not to take the February pledge to finish it. That was a first for me; I’ve always pushed ahead to finish my NaNo books before even when I felt they were only so-so.

Last night I pulled up the pages on Scrivener, chose a random chapter, and started reading. Guess what? I thought it was pretty damn good after all. The problem with the novel isn’t the story itself, it’s the story-within-a-story framing that doesn’t seem to work. I can take the inside story and write that by itself, and I do believe it will be a nifty little murder mystery. Once that’s done I can go back and revisit the framing and see if it needs the modern-day layer or if the 1940s story is better off on its own.

I started the novel from a single concept: a long-dead actress is destined to rest uneasily, unless she can convince a seemingly unrelated group of people to put their heads together to solve her murder. Some pieces of the modern-day story are lovely, but I might be able to weave those in without the extra complication of three sets of year 2000 characters converging.

I like ghost stories. Actually I love them, and love writing ghosts. Now that I’m warming up to revising this one, though, I might leave the ghost angle out (for the most part, I can’t make any promises about doing it for good because ghosts are too much fun to write). I can always save that part for another day.

To work! Signing off now, with much love to one and all.


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Death is like that.

“Dead?” said Sophie. She had a silly impulse to add, But she was alive just an hour ago! And she stopped herself, because death is like that: people are alive until they die.

–Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle

A lot of people like to make mother-in-law jokes. I’ve heard a few good ones: What’s the definition of “mixed emotions?” Watching your mother-in-law back off a cliff in your brand new Mercedes. That one was probably my favorite. My mother-in-law Molly liked that joke.

I didn’t have the mixed emotions about her. She lived five minutes away and I visited her nearly every day. She told me stories and secrets and gave me the details of her life she never shared with either of her sons, and I loved her. She passed away in her sleep this weekend at the age of 96. I hope she’s in a place free of pain and concern, and that she knows we love and miss her.


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Shaking Things Up

Today I took a long look at one of the ways I’ve been defining myself and decided it’s time to drop a self-imposed restriction.

For a long time I’ve been defining myself as not liking fantasy as a genre. But when I look at what I enjoy most I realize I’ve read all of A Song of Ice and Fire and will read the rest of the books whenever GRRM writes them, and I’ve watched all of Game of Thrones and April 24 can’t come soon enough: there’s some hardcore fantasy.

What am I in the middle of in my downtime: Dragon Age: Inquisition and Heroes of Dragon Age. Guess what? Fantasy.

What was my first favorite book series? The Lord of the Rings. More fantasy!

It’s time to come to terms with this. I admit it now. Fantasy is an awesome genre. My intention when I started this post was to say it’s a great genre, but I can’t write it. Wrong! Which stories have I had published? Both fantasy.

Also, almost all the scifi I love best has elements of fantasy woven into it. There’s a slim line, actually, between a lot of fantasy elements and a lot of SF elements. Think Cylons as an army of Orcs, or Last Exile’s Silvana as Galactica or the Enterprise… things intertwine in so many ways. This is probably patently obvious to everyone already. About time I threw off the shackles of thinking of fantasy as something it isn’t and embracing it on an intellectual level for everything it is.

I could probably write for pages and pages about romance-as-fantasy, but I’ll quit while I’m ahead. You’re welcome.


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The Road to Writer’s Block

I spend a fair amount of time wondering about this blog: who reads it, how useful it is, what I want to get out of it. I started it so I could have a space online to talk about my writing. I’d just been published in my first anthology and thought haha, I have made it! Now I have something worth saying! A few years later, neither anthology with my work is in print (although you can still find Dragonthology around and about on the net, either used or new, even if Happily Ever Afterlife seems to have vanished). I guess that makes me an unpublished published author? I don’t know.

It’s taken me a few years to admit it, but I don’t know that I have a whole lot of knowledge to impart that anyone who wants to be a writer can’t figure out for themselves except for this one simple truth: if you write, then you get more words. The more you write, the more words automagically appear. If you don’t write, guess what you get? Nothing. The more nothing I have, the more nothing I’m likely to have.

I call this my own personal road to writer’s block. It’s not a place I want to visit. When I’ve traveled there I sit and think about all the words I could be writing, but actually sitting down to do it starts to look like as faraway a goal as my elusive desire to be published used to. What a sad place to find myself!

Fortunately, the remedy is easy: just write. That’s it. It’s simple. Just write. The more I write, the more I want to write. The more I write, the more ideas I have for even more writing. The more I write, the better I feel. If you take one thing from this blog, make it this little gem of advice.

Does anyone else have writerly words of wisdom to impart? Chime in!

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