Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Friday, November 30, 2007

Whatever It Takes With One Caveat

Over at Murder She Writes, Karin Tabke poses the question: How far will you go? - with regard to what you will do to reach your goals.

My short answer was 'As far as is necessary without compromising my values'. Simple answer for me, really, but I'd like to talk about it a little further here this morning.

One of my goals it to write novels. Actually, I'm doing that - every day if I can manage it. I have two in the bag, and another three in various stages of editing, plus my WIP, so I am accomplishing that goal. Sometimes I work when I would rather be watching football, or Criminal Minds or NCIS. Sometimes I don't work when I ought to, and that leads to a big ball of stinky guilt. I never work when I'm supposed to be focused on teaching. First off, it's too hard to concentrate on both of those things at the same time, and secondly, my daughter's education comes first. It has to. I can write for the rest of my life, but I only have one shot to get my daughter started off right. That's part of where the 'not compromising my values' comes in. If it's a situation where there has to be a choice between writing and my family, the family always comes first.

The second goal is to get my work published. This is a little bit harder to accomplish, since it is not entirely in my hands. (Unless I want to go the self-publishing route, which I've considered and rejected.) On this front, I'm willing to read everything available to learn what it takes to be a publlished author. I've spent countless hours perfecting my query letters and synopses and outlines. I've tweaked my manuscripts until they shine, and then I go back to tweak them some more. I'd be willing to go to conferences and trade shows, if I had the money to do that. I'll schmooze and hobnob and rub elbows. I did that for years without any adverse effects.

The only thing I'm not willing to do is compromise my work.

I know that sounds like one of those pretentious phrases one hears from time to time. It's almost become snobby in its implications. What I mean by it, though, isn't anything like that. If getting published means I have to snip the meat out of my book, I won't do it. If it means taking an editor's suggestion to change the villian in Caldera from an eco-terrorist to a 'greedy businessman' I won't do it. It would go against my principles, and it would make the work less than it ought to be. If I accepted that, I would cry every time I saw one of my own books on the shelves. If I allowed that to happen, I couldn't look at myself in the mirror.

It doesn't mean the entirety of my work is sancrosanct. If some scenes need to be edited, so be it. If some passages have to be reworded to better convey their meaning, I'm all for it. Just don't cut out the ideas that are supposed to be in there. I'd rather burn everything I've ever written and live in a cave than see that happen.

So, if I have to sit here every day for the rest of my life--typing and editing and polishing--I'm happy to do it. If I have to leave the comfort of my hermitage in order to sell my books, I'm up for that, too. I'll just be doing it on my own terms, as I think it should always be. If that means I'll never get a single thing published, so be it. I won't be happy if I never publish, but I'll at least be content in the knowledge I never lost my integrity.

Now it's your turn. How far would you go to accomplish your goals? Do you think I'm out of my mind for publicly making the statement about not compromising my values? What wouldn't you do to accomplish your goals?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

When Feeling Bad is Good

You know how sometimes you're going along, feeling good about yourself like everything in your world is just right, and you run into a gas bubble that steals your confidence right out from under you? That's a burp in your confidence. (Or maybe it's just me.)

Anyway, I hit one today. Out of the blue, it smacked me upside the head and knocked me to my knees. Like a stray bubble of methane in the ocean, it sucked the breathe right out of me and threatened to drag me under.

Suddenly, I was a hack. Everything I ever wrote or would ever write was utter crap. My characters were flat and lifeless; my prose stilted and trite; my descriptions lackluster and, dare I say it? Boring.

I was floundering fast.

When these bubbles hit me, I can't do anything right. I'm a good cook, but for some reason I couldn't roast a friggin' chicken tonight to save myself. I'm a pretty good poker player, but I lost every hand I friggin' played. I even felt like a homeschooling failure, whose only child would be consigned to the fryer at MickeyD's. For the past few hours I've felt like a complete waste.

After a dinner of not-too-bad roast chicken (that took two and a half-hours to cook :grumble:), I wandered out to the smoking foyer to freeze my buns off and inhale some nicotine inspiration. That's when it hit me. I felt totally futile and useless. I felt like an incompetent. I felt like the lowest rung on the evolutionary ladder.

In essence, I felt like my MC at the beginning of Blink - when she gets canned from her job because she's been proclaimed 'incompetent' by the powers that be.

Now, even though I felt like doo-doo, I'm still smart enough to know none of my horrible feelings about myself had any basis in fact. I'm also smart enough to know when to grab hold of an emotional moment and use it to make my writing better. I took all that negativity and thrust it upon my dear Mary. She now feels like crap, and I am feeling much better. In fact, my book is feeling much better, too - mainly because Mary needs to feel like pondscum at the beginning of the book. If she felt good at the beginning, the rest of the book wouldn't have the whole enlightenment experience for her. (She'll thank me for it someday, trust me.)

I sat down and reworked the entire first chapter. That chapter's been a bugger since I first wrote it. (It wasn't the first first chapter I wrote for Blink. The original first chapter is now Chapter 2. It works better there anyway.) Now I think I finally hit it on the head. Mary wakes up feeling futile, she goes to work feeling confused and when she gets there, they fire her and tell her she's incompetent. The whole experience for her sucks royally. It has to. It's great!

Anyhoo, I'm back on track - although I still think I need to stay away from my WIP until this shitty feeling is gone completely. (Otherwise I could end up deleting something important or writing something crappy when Jordan's life isn't crappy - irritating and frustrating maybe, but not crappy.)

Have you ever had one of those moments? How long do yours last? Mine used to last for days or weeks (and that one unfortunate span of months when I couldn't write anything I didn't think was junk), but now I get over them much faster. I think part of it is forcing myself to get over it, and get back to work. How do you get over yours?

Playing Frankenstein

Over at Manuscript Mavens, Lacey wrote a post about how she comes up with her characters. In the comments there, I told her my method, but I thought I'd expand on it here.

I play Frankenstein. :insert evil laugh here:

I take pieces from everyone I've ever met - including family, friends, and myself - add in bits of other fictional people I've encountered (from TV, movies, books, stories, etc.), stir vigorously and out pop my characters.

For instance, in Blink, one of the characters is modeled after my maternal grandfather, but since he died when I was ten, the character has his physical traits while his personality is gleaned from a combination of several older men I've known. In Redemption, the MC's fiance is modeled after one of my ex-boyfriends - except for the physical, which I just threw together. For ARJ, almost all of the minor characters are based on people I know, but I've mashed them all together to such a degree, the only person who be able to recognize who's who is me. (One case, for instance, I took a couple and switched their personalities - he's boisterous, she's shy - and even that wasn't enough, so I amplified them both until he came out a mouse and she came out pure bitch.)

It's fun to play doctor. Heh. And on the bright side, my creations won't rise up and try to destroy me.

Of course, this method doesn't give me every character nor every trait even for the ones it does give me. The rest is part of the magic of being a writer. Stuff dribbles out of my conscious and subconscious to form the entirety of a character. (Which is good, because I never want to have to use that clause at the beginning of a book - you know the one. The "Any similarity to anyone real is purely coincidental" one.)

How do you come up with fresh characters? What's cooking in your lab today?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Falling Down on the Blog

Okay, I know I've been falling down on the blog this week. Unfortunately, today is no different.

Now that the holiday is over, we're back to school full force, and between helping with math, and giving up my internet for science and English, my blog time is a little curtailed. No excuse really, especially since this morning was spent screwing off and tonight was spent watching the Republican debate on CNN. (In my defense, the afternoon was spent researching colleges for my darling daughter, so I got away with not writing there.)

Ack. I still have to write today. This might be another day off. I'll wallow in my guilt over that tomorrow (privately) if it works out that way.

Anyway, I promise things will return to normal soon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bummer Dude

I got cut from the first line contest. Needless to say, I'm bummed out.

I went through the stages of grief while playing poker. Working out my frustrations by kicking the crap out of other poker players, works wonders, lemme tell ya.

Now I'm to the point where I can graciously wish the remaining competitors "Good Luck".

After all the falderol and balleyhoo is over, there's only one thing left to do:

Get back to work!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Taking A Night Off

I asked the boss if it was okay, and I told myself it was fine by me. I'll be back to work tomorrow. =o)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Curious Thing

On Thanksgiving, TLC ran a marathon of What Not to Wear (love Stacy and Clinton and their fashion magic). Since hubby was cooking, I watched several episodes while keeping tabs on the football games. Football, fashion and food... what a great day, but I digress.

While I was watching, I noticed something curious. The episode was them working with a woman who had a particularly tragic mullet turned braid-monster. Throughout the whole thing, the woman was attentive and flexible about the things Stacy and Clinton were telling her. (If you haven't watched the show, a lot of the women get mulish about their fashion ruts, but not this gal.) By the end of the show, the transformation was astounding. She was looking good, she was feeling confident, and she went home with a new outlook on herself.

This is where the curious part came in. At the end of the show, they always follow the newly transformed person home to catch the reactions of their families, and the reactions are (usually) very positive. This time, while the butterfly was hugging her best friends and everyone was crying over how great she looked, you could see her husband standing in the background, glaring at her. Then they interviewed the husband and he said he was happy and his wife was beautiful, but the insincerity dripped off him like spaghetti sauce off a ceiling.

Needless to say, the whole thing stuck in my mind. The only thing I can figure - because she really did look amazing - was that he was happy with his dowdy, unattractive wife and pissed she'd been changed. (He wasn't any prize himself, btw.) Her sudden transformation into attractive and confident was somehow threatening to him. And I wonder now which won - her newfound beauty and confidence, or a marriage that was based on keeping her husband comfortable at her expense.

I had a relationship like this once - only the man in question wanted me to be gorgeous, but not smart. Whenever he caught me reading, he'd get a look very similar to the aforementioned husband. I wasn't ALLOWED to do anything to improve myself, unless it was in the looks department. Many many MANY conversations were held on the subject of breast enlargement (and since you can't see me, please understand I will never need that kind of operation - I need the opposite). One Christmas he bought me an entire wardrobe from Fredericks of Hollywood. (Yes, they do make things to wear outside the house... If you're comfortable with your bits hanging out.) Another Christmas he bought me hot rollers and other beautifying gadgetry.

Neither example shows a good relationship. A spouse, boyfriend, lifemate, significant other, partner, etc. should help you improve in every way because it's good for you. They shouldn't get angry because you're becoming a better person, and they shouldn't force you into their 'concept' of you. (Of course, this cuts both ways - men shouldn't put up with this crap either. And how many comedians joke about women trying to change their men?) When I think about people wasting years of their lives in a relationship like that (and I wasted three), it just pisses me off. Hell, both of my sisters ended up in similar circumstances, which pisses me off even more.


Anyway, for me it has a happy ending. My hubby loves me for who I am. If I want to do things to improve myself, he's happy for me, but he never pushes me to. He loves me for everything I am - warts and all. (It's an expression, folks. I don't really have warts.)

So, have any of you ever been in this type of situation? Know anybody who was? How do you/they get out of it, and how much better is life now?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Chowing Down Across the Nation

Yesterday I stumbled across a really neat show on the Food Network - Diners, Drive-thrus, and Dives. This guy goes around the nation finding little out of the way spots with awesome food. One of the shows yesterday was devoted to hamburgers and I nearly drooled myself into a coma.

Anyway, I suppose you're asking yourself what this has to do with writing. Not much really. I guess the topic could be stretched to recognize the fact that writers are everywhere, they travel a lot for signings and conferences, and they always need to eat - so why not share the knowledge of the good places to eat.

In my former workaday life, I was an outside sales rep - manufacturers' rep to be specific - and aside from covering southeast Michigan (and the Upper Peninsula), I had to travel around for sales meetings with the manufacturers we represented, plus I had to go to Vegas every year for the one big trade show. (Sounds like a blast, but it was a lot of work.) Additionally, I've lived in 5 different states, and I've traveled some for personal reasons. With all that traveling and moving I ate a lot in a lot of places.

So without further ado, here is a list of some of the best foods I've eaten and their locations. (Don't shoot me if you go looking and they're not still there. I haven't been to some of these places in a while.)

In the panhandle of Florida, delicately perched over the Apalachicola River where it empties into Ochlockonee Bay is a place called Angelo's. The history of the joint says that because the counties nearby were 'dry', they built the restaurant over the water so they could serve alcohol with their meals. (The river itself, it seems, was in a 'wet' county. No pun intended, but sometimes the truth is punny.) Anyway, this place serves the best of everything seafood (okay, not everything, since the whole time I lived in FL, I couldn't get a decent plate of crab legs) and I would particularly recommend their amberjack and their scallops. Oh, heaven. If you're stuck in Tallahassee for any length of time, it's worth the drive - even if you have to rent a car to get there.

Also, in Tallahassee is a little, out of the way place called Albert's Provence. They advertise the menu as French Mediterranean. A bit pricey, but worth every penny. Nice atmosphere, great food; friendly staff.

If you're ever in the Salt Lake Valley and looking for a classy, upscale restaurant, try Tiburon in Sandy, UT. I used to live up the street, and although I couldn't afford to eat there regularly, I was treated to an awesome meal once. Looking at a dining guide just now, they say the average price on the menu is $28 a plate. I believe it. I got their New Zealand Elk and it was $38, but man oh man was it the best. Actually, everything we ate was incredible.

Also for a great meal in SLC, check out The Wasatch Grill. (Their website only shows the address for their Murray location, but they used to have a place on E 2100 S, that was tops for atmosphere and friendliness.) Anyway, anything you eat there should be great, but I loved their Teriyaki Pasta and their Chicken/Halibut plate. Oh, and their kabobs.

I lived in a suburb of Chicago briefly. It was one of those years I'd rather forget, but some of the places we ate were spectacular. For instance, Bob Chinn's Crabhouse. This place is probably the reason why I am dissatisfied with almost every other plate of crablegs I will ever order anywhere. When you get a crableg that as big around as your arm and almost as long, you can never go back. Plus, try a pitcher of MaiTais and one of their two-inch thick steaks. Of course, we always had to wait 45 minutes or longer for a table (they didn't used to take reservations for parties smaller than 6), but if you were lucky you could catch a glimpse of one of the Chicago Bears players eating there. I'm drooling again. Damn it.

Another nifty treat in the Chicagoland area is Zin Mi Japanese Steak House in the suburb of Morton Grove. It's one of those nifty little places where they seat you around one of several large cooking stations, and they cook your meal in front of you. The chefs do little tricks with their spatulas and it's great fun, but even beyond that, it's great food.

For a great meal in St. Louis, give Mike Shannon's Steak & Seafood a try. I haven't been there in fifteen years, but damn, it left an impression. The steaks were tender and tasty, the appetizers were to die for (I could live on appetizers, btw), but the high spot of the meal was the Upside Down Apple Pie. Knock you to your knees goodness with a scoop of ice cream. I'm tellin' ya.

I won't even start on Vegas - so much good food, so little time. But I do have to give a shout-out to the guys and gals at Sergio's Italian Gardens. Every year we had a rep dinner there, and every year the place was great. The food was always spectacular, the people were always fun and friendly. I really missed the last year I was in the business when the manufacturer in question changed locales for their meeting.

Lastly, I'd like to take a moment to remember my lost comrade and dinner delight... The Awesome Wet Burrito from Entre Amigos Restaurant. In researching this post today, I discovered the restaurant no longer exists, and therefore, The Awesome Wet Burrito is no more. :heartfelt sigh: You shall be missed, my friend.

Of course, there are other places where I've had awesome meals. I can't even remember the names and locations of some of the places. Like the little greek place that served the flaming cheese and the key lime cheesecake, or the little restaurant in some tiny town where the soup was so incredible you could cry.

Your turn: Tell me, where are some awesome places you've eaten?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Book Recommendations

I don't usually do this, but...

If you haven't read C.L. Wilson yet, what's keeping you? I could sing her praises, but reading is believing. Check out her website, and if you still don't think it's worth the money, well, you're the one losing out. She's already hit the bestseller's lists with both books, and I anticipate we'll be seeing a lot of this lady for years to come. I'd even go so far as to say she might end up right up there with Terry Brooks "Shannara" series.

This gal's got a flair for rich world-building, scene setting, characterisation, dialogue, intrigue... Umm, yeah. Everything. My only negative with her work is that I got so caught up in the plot, I tended to skip over some of the setting. I really do like to read every word, but sometimes things just move too fast and I want... NEED... to know what'll happen next. Seems a waste to miss each of her wonderfully written words, but stuff happens. I guess I'll just have to go back and re-read what I missed. Oh shucks.

Thanks for your work, Ms. Wilson. I and my daughter appreciate it. (Oh, and one last minor glitch. The next two books in this series don't come out until October of 2008. Damn it. Now I have to wait.)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is typically a North American holiday. We do it here in the States, and our northern neighbors have one of their own up in Canada. I don't think it's a completely North American concept, though. (We may have started it, but it doesn't have to end with us.)

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may have the idea I don't quite think in the same terms as most people. This isn't an exception. I don't think of Thanksgiving as a day to sit around being grateful or thankful. I think of it as a day to celebrate man's ability to achieve. (Mr. Gary Hull of the Ayn Rand Institute explains it better than I do in his essay Thanksgiving: The Producer's Holiday - "This holiday is designed to celebrate, not faith and charity, but thought and production.")

So, in honor of this concept, let's talk about what we've produced this year, and celebrate our abilities.

It's been a banner year for me writing-wise. In a little over a year I've completed the first drafts of three manuscripts, done numerous edits on the first of those so it's almost finished-finished, finished polishing my first book, and submitted both to my first literary journals and my first contest. I think over the past year I have really grown as a writer, and I know my writing shows vast improvement over the work I was producing even a year ago. This year I also got my first Critique Partner. In this past year I started this blog, as well as my other two: my new brand-name blog Tabula Rasa and the lesser-known, almost-forgetten (even by me) Home Ed Musings. I've made a great deal of friends and acquaintances in the blogosphere, and I treasure them all. :waves: Through this making friends and networking, I joined The Novel Racers which has swelled to its maximum capacity of 40 racers.

It's been a pretty good year for me personally as well. (Only pretty good because every year a little rain has to fall, and we had a couple bum spots - like moving again.) My family's been pretty healthy, fairly happy and generally well adjusted. My daughter made the state spelling bee last spring. My husband excels at his job, as always. And the cat who topped out at 14.5 pounds looks like she's lost a little weight (thanks to the kitty stair-master - which basically means this house has two floors and her kid lives upstairs while her food lives downstairs). Over this past weekend, one of my nieces got married - the first one of the gaggle of grandkids to take the plunge. Another niece, who is a single mother, took a plunge of her own and moved out of her parent's house to live life as an independent person. My oldest nephew got engaged to a wonderful woman, bought a house and decided to take night classes to get his Masters degree. From what I hear, the family business my father started in 1983 and which is now run by my brother is doing well - selling lots and spec'ing in new products all the time. Dad would be so proud.

So, lots of productivity going on in my little world. Like I said, it's been a good year. For those things in my control, I've tried to make it good. Sometimes that's all you can do.

How has your year gone so far? What achievements would you like to celebrate?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Musical Manuscripts

Okay, here's the deal. I just finished the first draft of a book, right? Much to the amusement of my family members, I started another one. First let me defend myself by saying I never edit a manuscript right after I finish a draft. I've learned I can't be objective that close to finishing. (And to defend my family, they're amused because I said I was taking a break, but they knew I wouldn't. Hence, a new book started days after I finish one is slightly amusing.)

The new book - codename: JA1 or JA Mystery - is cute and funny and it's flowing rather nicely. I zipped out a quick 4K plus words, and I've plotted the next few scenes. I know who dunnit and why. I know who's going to be pegged for the crime and how all the pieces of evidence will point their way EXCEPT for a small few the heroine will piece together to catch the real criminal. This one will be written as a stand-alone, but has huge series potential. HUGE.

So, that's all to the musical manuscripts? Ummm, not really. You see, I still have two OTHER books in draft stages that have to be finished. Blink - a speculative fiction (or futuristic dystopia, if you will - although that's not completely accurate either), and ARJ - a mystery that leans toward romantic suspense. Blink is much farther along and really only needs some post-critique cleaning up. ARJ is only finished with the very first draft.

Today I got back to working on Blink. I feel really bad about ignoring it for so long, but in the time since I finished the last draft and sent it off to my crew (Hi, guys! :waves:), I've also written the first drafts of two other books - the aforementioned ARJ and my newly completed R2L. On the upside, Blink has been out of the brain for long enough now, I can be totally objective looking at it. Another upside is that I still love it, I just love it enough to recognize it needs work.

Tada! Musical Manuscripts. For now, I'll juggle between the WIP and Blink - until I finish editing, finish writing or slowly go insane. (I thought my husband said he was committed to me, then I realized he said he was having me committed. LOL)

What are you up to? Ever play musical manuscripts?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Round Six and Heroic Traits

I made it to Round Six! Yay! Mine is the very first comment. What can I say, I already had my lines ready to go. =oD

I also wanted to talk about heroes today. What makes a man or woman heroic?

Personally, I like my heroes to have certain qualities that I think are common to all heroic people.

- Integrity - a firm adherence to a code of (positive) moral values. I throw the word 'positive' in there because villians can have integrity, too - they're just adhering to negative values instead.

- Strength. Although a guy who can lift a car off the gal he loves is pretty nifty, I'm not just talking physical strength. He has to have strength of character. He has to believe in himself enough to not fall apart when the chips are down. Which brings me to...

- Courage. In the words of the Cowardly Lion, it's what makes the muskrat guard his musk, but it's something more. The hero has to be able to wade into the thick of battle (be it with a dragon, a gang of thugs, or his future mother-in-law), even if he's nearly scared out of his jockey-shorts. Flinching is okay, but he still has to take on the monsters to protect his values.

- Intelligence. Because without it, he'll never figure out exactly what he's supposed to do. He doesn't need to be a Rhodes scholar--hell, he doesn't even have to have graduated high school--but he does have to possess some kind of intelligence. Maybe it's book smarts. Maybe it's street smarts, but whatever it is, he has to have them to save the day.

- Sensitivity. I'm not talking about a guy who can weep on command, or who's heart is touched by the mere mention of Sonnets from the Portugese. I'm talking about a man who knows when his woman just needs to be held. Maybe they've just defeated a band of roving trolls and they're both bloodied and exhausted. She needs some quiet lovin' and frankly, so does he. They've been through hell together, and they need some soul renewing human contact. (Don't we all from time to time?)

That's all I can think of right now. Tell me what you think a good hero possesses. Are there different traits that a heroine would posses that a hero shouldn't? Talk to me, people.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Last night, I went from itching to write straight into Post Manuscript Malais Disorder (PMMD).

This condition is when you've finished a manuscript and the glow of accomplishment has worn off leaving you feeling like a useless hack who couldn't write prose if you tried. I'm convinced PMMD is responsible for those stories you hear about writers who suddenly up and destroy everything they've ever written. Last night a bonfire in the front yard sounded like it would've been the perfect place to store all my writing.

Thank goodness I could never bring myself to actually do that. Think about it? Yes. Do it? No.

PMMD is similar to an advanced case of the squirms (when you're in the middle of a project and you get to feeling like you're writing crap, so you stop writing and can't get started again - like writers' block, but squirmier). At least with the squirms you've got an unfinished project you're worried about. With PMMD, everything you've ever written is in question.

Hence, the bonfire.

I stayed away from the computer last night because I wasn't sure how bad this PMMD thing was. I sat on the couch and watched football. I finished reading Lord of the Fading Lands, and started Lady of Light and Shadows, by CL Wilson. I smoked a lot. I didn't burn or delete anything. Then I went to bed. Lucky me woke up and the PMMD was mostly gone.

If you suspect you have PMMD, get help before you do something you'll regret. (Like wiping your hard drive or having the above mentioned bonfire.) If you suspect someone you love has PMMD, use any means possible to keep them away from their manuscripts.

Warning signs for PMMD:
- Mumbles incessantly (words such as 'crap', 'hack', 'loser' and 'junk' will be liberally applied)
- Cries after reading a book, not because of the emotions invoked by the writing, but because they can't believe how much better the book was than anything they could've thought of.
- Watches the show Dirty Jobs for ideas on a new career - anything that doesn't involve writing is good.
- Any and all boxes, piles, and folders containing materials related to writing have suddenly disappeared, and the person is wandering around looking for the bottle of lighter fluid they used for last summer's barbeque.

Don't let this happen to you. The pages you save may be your own.

Fess up. Have you ever had, or known someone who's had PMMD? Are there other warnings signs the world should know about?

We can put an end to PMMD, but only if we work together.

ETA: The only known cure for PMMD is to get back to work, so I started a new project this morning. Totally not my typical work in progress. A light-hearted romp through the hard-boiled detective novel--my tongue-in-cheek homage to Erle Stanley Gardner and Mickey Spillane.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Writing Junkie

I finished my WIP Thursday night. Now I'm a bit lost. It's like I'm a writing junkie, and I'm missing my fix.

You see, working on writing almost every night for the past 6 weeks put me in a routine. Finish the book; finish the routine. Gack. That it's only been one day, and I'm already feeling the DTs, should be testament enough to how this is effecting me.

It gets dark around here and I ought to be sitting at my desk, writing. I write from after dinner until just before bed. Even after I finished R2L on Thursday, I wandered around the house until bedtime wonder what the hell to do.

Nothing seems right. TV stinks. I don't want to read. It's too dark outside to do anything constructive inside (without turning on all the lights and wondering how bad my electric bill will be).

Yesterday I spent four and a half hours playing in a free poker tournament. Finished 35th out of 3970 - and if you don't play, this really is an accomplishment, but it was meaningless to me. If I were playing in a real tournament for money, I would've walked away with some cash, but I didn't. I was just killing time (especially since playing poker for money online is illegal - which sucks royally, btw - but that's beside the point, and before you ask, there are loopholes I'm too lawful and too paranoid to use.)

My husband is encouraging me to take a break. He knows how hard I've been working, and he knows I've earned a rest. My CP tells me I've earned a rest. Hell, I said in the previous post that I've earned one. Problem is, I don't want to take one. I want to feel my fingers flying over the keys, putting a story together. I want it. I need it. I crave it. I want to see my heroes and heroines battling the villians to make their setting a better place.

I think I'll make it through the day okay. After all I have the biggest game of the years to keep my occupied, at least for a few hours. (In case you're wondering, in my world the University of Michigan versus Ohio State is the biggest game of the year. I'll be glued to the couch in my O-fficial UofM sweatshirt - that I bought at THE UofM store in Ann Arbor, btw. I've laid in snack supplies. All I need now is the beer, and I'm still debating on whether to bother.) After the game is over, though, the writing will call to me.

Tonight, I'll probably answer it. I will stick to my plan not to edit R2L for at least two weeks (okay, maybe one), so I can look at it with a fresh eye. However, Redemption is still waiting for me to write. Blink and ARJ are still waiting to be edited. How can I leave them languishing on my hard drive for any longer? I need to write.

Of course, I can stop any time I want to. I just don't want to...

"Hello. My name is B.E. and I'm a writer."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

1st Draft - FINISHED

Yep. You're seeing it right.

Tonight I finished the first draft of Right to Life (R2L). I'm still keeping the storyline to myself. It's too special to share yet.

So, as of right now, I'm not writing a damn thing - at least for a few days. I know I have this whole 'do something writerly every day' thing going on, but I earned this break. I wrote 78422 words between October 9th and November 15th. I didn't write every day, but for those days I did write, I put out, on average, 2704 words. That's a record for me.

I'll get back to doing writerly things before too long, though, so don't break out the wet-noodles for lashings yet. I still have two books I need to edit, and Redemption has been waiting over a month for me to get back to it. I just need a couple of days to decompress. I'll still be blogging, but otherwise, I think I'll take some time to do some of the things I've been putting off.

Like maybe clean the house. ;o)

Mark My Words

In twenty years, this nation is going to see a spike in the number of deaf people.

Seriously. Every town in every state I've been in has inordinate numbers of people who can't seem to listen to music unless it's cranked on high and the bass is thumping so hard it feels like their hearts are leaping out of their chests. You know the ones. They drive by and your windows rattle. They live five blocks away and you can hear their stereo over the sound of your TV.

They're all going to be stone deaf. Maybe twenty years is being lenient.

As they go deaf, their volumes will rise. Soon not just the electronic volumes either. They'll all be shouting like ninety-year-olds.

I seriously need to buy some ear plugs. See, I have this problem where I can't concentrate while other people's music is playing in the background. And it's EVERYWHERE. Recently someone in my neighborhood began allowing a band to practice on their premises. Whoever they are, they play their instruments with their amplifiers maxxed out, and they have yet to play anything that vaguely resembles music. If I'm not careful, not only my hearing but my sanity will be affected.

Maybe it already is.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I think you're probably all familiar with the term 'denouement'. Simply put, it's a wrap-up at the end of a book. Often an epilogue or in place of an epilogue, it's generally where in a few pages or a chapter (or two, depending on how much stuff you need to wrap up), you give your readers closure.

I'm a huge fan of closure. As a reader, I want to know what happens to the characters after the climax has occurred. I want to make sure the characters are going to be all right after I close the book. After reading all those pages, I have a vested interest in knowing these things. Even if it's just to know they'll be happy for a little while.

So, as a writer, I want to give my readers the closure I desire. I like to hook on a little wrap up at the ends of my books. Do the hero and heroine get together? (Since I don't write romance, that part is usually open to interpretation after the climax.) Does the villian and his evil band of henchmen get what's coming to them? Do the horrible things that have happened during the course of the book resolve themselves in some positive way? I may do cliffhanger-esque chapter endings, but I never cliffhang the end of a book. As a reader, I hate not knowing.

Tell me. As a reader, do you need the closure of a denouement? As a writer, do you feel you have to give your readers an end they can be content with? Or would you rather just leave it open to interpretation?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

To Die For Coffee Cake

I'm writing like a mad woman on R2L right now, so I think I'll just do something a little unusual for today. Over the weekend, I made the most to-die-for coffee cake. I think you deserve to share in the sheer yummy-ness, so in lieu of cramming cake through the modem, here's the recipe.

To-Die-For Coffee Cake

1 pkg Butter Pecan cake mix (I think Betty C. makes it. Check your grocery store.)
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Make cake batter according to directions using the above measurements instead of the recommended measurements.

For the streusel topping (which is VERY necessary):

1/2 cup butter (cold and diced)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans if you'd rather)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine above ingredients using a pastry blender (or a fork if you don't have one) until the mixture is crumbly.

In a greased 9"x13" cake pan, spread about half the cake batter. Over the top of the batter, sprinkle about half of the streusel mixture. Gently place remaining batter over streusel layer. Sprinkle remainder of streusel mixture over the top. Place in preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes (or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean). Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm, or eat cold. Can also be reheated in microwave.

Cake lasted from Saturday morning until Monday morning with only three people in the house. What can I say, it was GOOD.


(P.S. Any cake mix will do, if you can't find the Butter Pecan. I'd go with yellow or white or even Spice. Whatever you like best.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Round Five

I made it! I made it to Round Five of Karin Tabke's first line contest. My next line is up at comment #2.

Veterans Day

Today is Veteran's Day in America. It is the day we set aside to honor those men and women who have served in the armed forces. I'm the daughter of a veteran, and the sister of two. My husband is a veteran.

On this day I would like to take a moment to thank all of the people who have worked to keep this country safe and free. Without your efforts, America would not be the country she is.

Thank you so much.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


...love was such an easy game to play... Umm, sorry.

Anyway, I took yesterday off. Nine straight days of writing, and a day off. That's not horrible of me, right? Instead I spent yesterday reading Darkyn #3, watching college football, and just generally vegging out. Hell, I didn't even cook dinner.

Of course, now I feel guilty. I neglected the blog, the book, and my family. Thank goodness both of them can cook. (My family, that is - the blog and the book just laid there.)

The blog, I guess, isn't such a big deal. After all, my stats invariably drop on the weekends. (I guess I'm one of the few who surf then.) So writing long, in-depth and insightful posts on Saturdays is something of a waste of time. It's not like people go back over my old posts on Mondays to see what I said.

My main source of guilt is the writing. I'm close to the end of R2L. The story is almost over. I think I'll miss it when I'm done, but that really isn't any reason to keep from writing it. (It's also not a reason to throw more stuff in the book just to keep the story from ending - which I thought about, believe me.) I like my characters, but I've subjected them to enough and the time really is approaching to wrap this up and give them the HEA (happily ever after) they deserve.

I'm planning on pulling out the stops today. Stay away from football, don't start Darkyn #4, stay out of the kitchen (I forgot, yesterday I made pecan-walnut streusel coffee cake. It's just a recipe I created from combining a few other recipes, and it's to die for... But I digress, again.) - butt in chair, hands on keyboard, mug-full of coffee at elbow, and WRITE.

Now, if I can just keep my cat off my desk...

Friday, November 9, 2007


Considering I offered to encourage and spur other writers on - kind of as a refuge for those who either weren't able to do Nano, or weren't interested - I thought I'd devote Fridays to giving updates.

Right now, R2L has been in the works for a month. I started this puppy on October 9th, and I've been hard at it ever since. In that time, I've written more than 60K words (as of last night, as a matter of fact). Since I began, it's been 30 days. Out of those thirty days, I did at least some writing almost every night. I missed 7 days - five of which were due to illness. Over those days I wrote, I averaged 2615 words a day. I didn't average in those missed days. My weakest day was 1184 words, and my best day was 5488 (a Sunday, of course).

The last day off I took from writing was Halloween, so that makes 8 days in a row (9 if you count tonight, and unless something unforeseen happens, I plan on writing tonight). I'm going for a personal record. Actually, since I didn't keep records on the first two books, this is probably already a record.

Aside from R2L, I also sent out a short story to a lit magazine this morning. It wasn't a recent one, but I go through infrequent spurts where I send my stories out to one or two mags, and then wait. The story I sent out this morning was Haudego. The tagline for the story is: When Dr. Manny Kanton finds the key to eradicating selfishness, the drug he creates has side effects he never conceived of.

Also I got an update on the short I sent out to a contest last March. I didn't make it into the finals, but the letter said my story was a 'top runner-up'. Unfortunately, I think they say that to all the entrants, just to be nice. Still, it was good to hear.

So, give me the dirt on your writing accomplishments this week. Nano or not, all accomplishments count. (And that includes editing, plotting, outlining, brainstorming, writing, etc.)

P.S. I'm coming up on my one-year anniversary with this blog. Look forward to a contest on December 2nd. I'm contemplating prizes even now.

Have to celebrate, dontcha know.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Errors, Errors Everywhere

I'm not perfect. I fully admit that. All I can say is 'I try'.

Having said that however, I have to say I'm a little concerned. Read a book, and there are errors. (From both the writing and the editing side.) Read contest entries, and there are errors. In either case this is supposed to be the finest work we can put out, and still they are full of errors.

Sometimes they're just typos. Typos I can deal with. Those are mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes make it out into the real world, and there's little we can do about it. (Although I might argue, in the case of published material, someone somewhere was supposed to check the text before it hit the printer. Right?)

Sometimes they're grammatical or spelling errors. These should be rectified before the book hits the publisher, but proofing hundreds of pages of text is a daunting task. I don't mind a few in a book. Shit happens, and I can get over it. Please note, I'm not talking about intentional disobedience of the grammar rules. This is writing for Pete's sake. Sometimes the style and the story warrant a sentence fragment, or ending a sentence with a preposition, or beginning one with a conjunction. I'm talking about unintentional misuse of grammar because the person just doesn't know the rules. Yes, the education system is partly to blame, but only partly. At some point a person has to pick up a Strunk and White, or visit OWL (Purdue's Online Writing Lab) and pick up the slack. Not sure how to use a semi-colon? Go here. Not sure how to spell a word? Try here. (And if you follow that last link, and enter a misspelled word, it gives you a list of possible matches, so you can spell it right.)

Occasionally, it's nerves or excitement. As shown in my post of a couple days ago, nerves can bite you in the butt every time. So can excitement. If you're nervous about sending out your baby, chances are you can't look at it any more and see where the mistakes are at. If you're excited, it's even worse, because you're rushing to get the submission packet out and you can see the missing commas or the repeated words. If you're thinking this is happening to you, stop it. Find someone else to proof your stuff before it goes out the door, or take a couple days to relax so you can pull off those blinders.

In any case, this stuff can and should be fixed before someone slaps down $7.99 or $19.95 or $29.95 to purchase the book. They really ought to be fixed before a judge gets hold of your manuscript and shreds it - at least if you ever want a chance at winning.

When I left school, I sucked at English. Looking back on the papers I saved from middle school and high school and college, I can't understand why I was allowed to pass any of my English classes. It's almost painful to look at them now; they were so bad. My point is, I didn't settle for that. I taught myself. My spelling was atrocious, and I made a conscious effort to change. It wasn't a breeze, but it wasn't like a root canal either.

I guess all I'm saying is for the writers of the world to try. If you're trying already, ignore me, but if someone else looks over your COMPLETED work and afterwards it looks like it's bleeding red ink, then for your own sake, get thee to a grammar /spelling /proofing workshop /website /class.

It can improve not only your writing, but your marketability. Maybe afterwards your readers will be mesmerized by your story and not distracted by your errors.

And that can only help. Right?

(Please refrain from pointing out any grammatical and/or typographical errors in this post. This is a blog, not a book or an entry. I don't do much proofing here. Thank you. :grin:)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Letter to the Publishing Community

To any agents or publishers or editors who happen upon my blog:

I'm not a loon. Really I'm not. In fact, I think I could be your dream client.

For instance, I'm not a one hit wonder. I've already got two books completed, and another two that are written but still need some polishing. Meanwhile, my WIP is around two-thirds of the way first draft complete, with another one sitting at around a quarter of the way through. I also have a story idea file four pages thick now. When I finish the books I'm working on, I plan to start a mystery series in the same vein as Mickey Spillane and Erle Stanley Gardner but with a female protagonist. Think Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski, but with less baggage. After I get the first of those done, I have an awesome new thriller idea that I'm still working the bugs out of.

I don't feel the need to have anyone hold my hand. Which means I won't be calling you once a week to ask you what you thought of my latest book, or if you've heard from X publisher about my last book, or pestering you to find out when my release date is. The only time I think I'd be the least bit pesky is if for some odd reason my royalty check is late.

I'm self-sufficient, and financially sound. You won't be hearing from me once a week complaining about how if my check doesn't come in soon, I'm going to have to donate organs or sell my eggs on eBay. Oh, and don't think it's because I don't care about the money. I care. I want money for my work. I just don't NEED it to survive. I like money, which brings me around to the next point...

I am not afraid to sell my own work. Hell, I worked in sales in differing capacities for most of my life. If I wasn't selling hard products, I was selling services - like computer training or consulting. I did a lot of PR, which is selling an image. What's an author signing but selling the author's image while they sell their books?

I'm also quite adept at talking to people. This comes from my years in sales, and being raised by the epitome of the salesman. I grew up watching my father talk to everybody, all the time, everywhere.

Another thing I think is important is I learn quickly, and don't have a problem taking advice. This means that if you give me advice about my work, I'll take it, use it and not make the same mistakes again. (Unless, of course, your advice is to do something that would change the content of my book, and even then, I'm willing to discuss alternate ways of accomplishing your ideas without compromising my own.)

So, if you've stopped by because a query caused you to Google me to see if I was a nutcase or a professional, please take this information to mean I am more professional than nutcase. Sometimes, there's a fine line between the two, but with me, the line is set in stone. I keep just enough of the loon around to make life interesting.

Now, if you're read this blog, you'll see some strong ideas that might put you off. I admit, I'm opinionated, but I see that as an asset rather than a liability. I'll never be a 'yes-man', and I'll never be a dishrag. I'll match you, wit for wit, and we'll both come out on top.

You see, I'm really committed to writing. I could write for the next twenty years and never be published, and while that might be a little wearing on my psyche, it won't stop me. I'm not going to turn tail and run. In essence, I want you to know that I'm in this for the long haul, and I think some agent and I are going to have a very lucrative relationship together over the course of my career.

So when you get that query letter in your inbox, or the mail as your guidelines may be, don't hesitate to contact me. Talk to me for a while. Learn about my work. Maybe it'll be the start of a beautiful partnership.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dumb Thing I've Done in Queries

Reading a back-post of Janet Reid's today, I was reminded of the ever-growing list of dumb things I've done in a query letter. (All of which, I'm sure, landed me in rejection hell.) Okay, so out of her list of three things you should never do, I only did one, but it only takes one thing to cause a rejection.

My recent batch of query letters went out with the blurb paragraph in... gasp... italics. In my defense, it looked better to me in italics, but my preferences don't really matter here. I really stepped in it there.

Do you hear that flushing sound? Well, that was me.

It's not the first dumb thing. It probably won't be the last. (But hey! I'm trying to make it work here.) So, here's a list of the bone-head plays I've made in writing a query. (Please understand. I'm not a lunatic. I'm just a little scatter-brained sometimes.)

- I talked about how important my topic was to the free world. (Okay, not in those exact words, but that was the gist.)

- I compared my work to Ayn Rand's and then said something along the lines of 'while I don't expect to garner her acclaim, I believe a large portion of her readers will buy my book'. Or some such nonsense.

- I sent a query letter to one agent and forgot to change the 'Dear So and So' from the previous letter. I changed the address on the letter, I adapted the letter to the specific agent, and then I forgot that one little thing. D'oh!

- I was so excited about my new query letter, I sent it out to an agent, and then while re-reading it afterwards, I found three typos. I swear I proofed the damn thing a million times, but I must've been in lala-land.

- I dropped a query packet in the mail, got home and saw the SASE laying on my desk.

- I went with the minimalist approach. One short sentence introducing my book, one short paragraph of a blurb, one sentence listing the enclosures, and a signature with my contact info. Less is more right? Ummm, not always.

- Once I threw caution and good sense to the wind, and basically told an agent (thank goodness I only did this once) that my book was awesome and if he couldn't see how awesome it was, then it was probably better if we didn't work together. If, however, he did see my awesome-osity, then I was sure we'd make millions together. In my defense, I was a wee bit frustrated and figured if people were going to reject me anyway, we might as well be up front with each other. Needless to say, I never heard back from that one.

Why am I admitting all this, you ask? Maybe coming out of the closet with my stupidity will stop another poor soul from making the same total blunders I did.

In other words: Learn from my mistakes. Lord knows, I certainly have.

If you're brave enough, or foolish enough, drop a comment and tell me about the stupidest thing you've ever done while you were querying. We can laugh and learn together.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Made Round 4

My first three lines have made it past the judges to Round 4! I'm still trying to post my fourth line, but Karin's blog seems to be having a brain fart, so I'll probably wait until tomorrow. I'll let y'all know when it's up, so you can visit it.


(Brain fart of my own. I tried it again just now, and it worked fine. I'm comment #11.)

The Reality of My Progress

After thinking about it last night and reading the comments to my previous word-count related posts, I think a little explanation is in order.

(And I'm not one of those people trying to downplay my accomplishments. Please remember however, they are mine, and each of us is different.)

First, I spent umpteen years as an Executive Secretary (that's a normal secretary who works for upper management - and I can plan a business meeting with the best of them, complete with the finest pastries and/or lunches, but that's beside the point). While it's true I never really did learn to touch-type like normal people, I have my own system of touch-typing, and I can really fly when I know what I want to type. I never really meant to be a secretary, but it certainly came in handy for this writing life I've chosen.

Second, this time around I know exactly what I want to write. Aside from meaning my fingers fly faster, it also means I'm not bogged down trying to find the right wording - it's already there. It doesn't always work this way. Sometimes I'm slogging through mud trying to figure out what comes next, or how the hell I got sidetracked talking about my MC's great aunt Bertie and how to get back to the main plot. I went back to my spreadsheet, and in the same amount of time last year, I averaged 1278 words a day on Blink. (That's 21 days worth of writing, not counting days off, which were more frequent for Blink. I took nine days off over the course of a month for Blink, and only 6 days off for R2L - five of those because I was sick.)

Third, and related to the above, each book is different just like each writer is different. I've had other people act as if my word counts somehow reflect poorly on them. As if my writing two-thousand words in a day versus their 500 words means they're not as much a writer as I am. P'shaw. The only thing that makes you a writer is whether you're committed to writing. Obviously if this thing is just a lark for you, you need to rethink your stance on being a writer, but how many people reading this blog are just doing this for kicks? I'd venture not many.

Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, I don't work outside the house. If I want to spend an entire day writing, I do so. (Sometimes to the exclusion of a clean house and well-fed family, but thems the breaks.) This also means I have very little distracting my brain from the ideas flowing through it. I don't have to worry about whether shipping will get the product out on time, whether sales will bring in enough orders to make payroll next month, whether the receptionist is on her break diddling the stockboy in the bathroom. I just have to worry about my daughter (and at her age, the worries are few - she's self contained, and needs little direction now), and my writing. My hubby takes care of himself, and the cat only requires minimal attention to keep her from shredding the carpet on the stairs. What this all boils down to, is I have huge amounts of time to write. Sometimes when I think about all the time I have when I should be writing and I'm not, 750 or 1500 or 2500 words a day seems pitiful. If I kept my nose to the grindstone, I could crank out 7500 (I did it one day when I was writing Spectacle - which was also while my daughter was still going to public school). Of course, if I did 7500 a day, I'd be so burnt out Kingsford would want to package me as the latest barbeque briquette.

Anyway, please remember we all do this at our own pace. How about we change the nudge below to read 'commit to writing or some writerly endeavor like editing or querying or synopsizing every day for the next month', and see how it works out. I know when I joined a gang of other writers at this time last year, and made a similar commitment I was surprised by how much my production improved. You could be surprised, too.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

NaNoWriMo or Not

It's that time of the year again. NaNoWriMo started last Thursday. If you're not familiar with Nano (for short), it stands for National Novel Writing Month. (I assume a strictly U.S. thing, but if you're one of my friends from another country, feel free to chime in if I'm mistaken.) During the month of November, the idea is to write a 50K word novel. And yes, we all know novels are supposed to be longer than that, but the idea is to get at least that much done, and if you finish the first draft of a book, more power to you. (I'm sure there are websites devoted to this whole thing, but I've never been to one. Google should be able to help you there.)

Anyway, I have never participated in Nano. It always seems to fall when I'm in the middle of some other project. The idea isn't to write 50K on an old project, so I don't bother jumping into the fray. Having said this, though, it occurs to me that Nano or Not, I did complete their specifications. I wrote 50K words to a novel within a month. In fact, since I started R2L on October 9th, I'm a bit ahead of the game. You see, I hit 50K tonight.

Don't feel bad. I never crank out this many words this fast. For me, this is a total abberation. Usually, I average 750 words a night before my brain goes kaput. This sucker is just falling out of my head and onto the page right now. I wish all my stories came out so easily, but no such luck.

Anyhoo, to those of you participating in Nano this year, I wish you success. (Because luck has nothing to do with this part of writing.) And for those of you who aren't, why not join me in a little bit of friendly nudging. For the next thirty days, write 750 words a day. That's roughly three pages worth. Don't worry if some days you can't make the 750. As long as you have your butt in your chair and your hands on some writing implement, the words will come. Some days you may hit 1500, and in the end, they'll all average out.

Remember for this little gambit, the honor system works and the only person who is responsible for your words (or lack thereof) is you. I'm not going to smack you with a stick if you miss, but you may feel free to kick your own butt.

So? Are you game?

(And if you currently have no way of keeping track, let me know. I'll be happy to help you build a quick spreadsheet, and put up a word meter. Just one of the services I can provide to my writing friends. Ya know?)

Now, having only put up 1100 words today (and a weekend day at that... I'm so ashamed... :kicks own butt:), I'm headed off for slumberland.

Good night Mr. and Mrs. Writer and all the 'puters at sea.


Today's post is over at Tabula Rasa. It's a partial of a different kind of horror story called Trapped. I invite you to read it, if for no other reason than it's probably something most people haven't thought about. And hopefully one none of us will ever experience. (Warning: Do not read if you don't want to be affected by it. It gets me every time.)

And if you haven't read yesterday's post, scroll down. It's a happier post.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


First off, I apologize for not posting yesterday. I planned to post, but I got busy working and... well... you know what they say about the best laid plans. I ended up spending all day yesterday working in my bookstore, and then all night writing. *shrug*

Speaking of writing, I noticed something about the way I write. You've heard of plotters (people who plot their books before they write them) and pantsers (people who write by the seat of their pants), but I'm neither. I'm a plantster.

You see, I start out with a general plot. I always have a general idea where I'm headed. I know about where the story is going to end up. I just don't always have a clue as to how to get there. So, I start writing by the seat of my pants. Along the way, I stop and plot the next few scenes and get writing again.

It's almost like participating in a treasure hunt. Did you ever do that when you were a kid? At the beginning you get one clue you have to figure out to get to the next clue, and so on, until you reach the prize at the end. Except instead, I'm giving myself the clues, or rather bits of a map that lead somewhere, but I won't know where until all the bits are put together.

Am I making any sense here?

Probably not the most efficient way to write a book, but it seems to work for me. I've tried doing the whole thing by the seat of my pants. That was pretty fun, but a little frustrating (as evidenced by the scads of notebooks covered in chicken scratch). I've tried straight plotting, and while it gave me a better idea of itinerary, the writing seemed a little flat. Frankly, for me, it was like pulling teeth to get from one scene to the next. Been there done that. Boring.

As a result, I offer you plantstering. Plotting, planning, and pantsing all in one. It slices, dices and makes Julienne fries... Wait... Maybe not quite the fries. But it does make my writing fun, and it seems to flow fairly well, with only minor stoppage. Gone are the days of sitting on the couch agonizing over which path to take. Gone are the countless hours of banging my head on the desk trying to make the words come out and fit the plan.

Listen. I'm the last person to tell someone else what the best way to write is. I couldn't do that simply because the best way changes from individual to individual. I'm merely offering you an alternative, especially if you haven't found your groove yet. I've been at this for almost four years now (which is still rather newbie by comparison to some of the writers I've met). Four years of sitting at home writing (because I don't work for other people any more), and I'm just now finding what works for me. Maybe this will work for you. Maybe it won't but it's always worth a shot.

So, tell me, how do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Or do you do a combination?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Blahdy Blahdy Blah

I haven't the faintest idea what to blog about today. (Which explain why this post is so damn late.)

I could give you all an update on how things are going, but the meters make the writing part pretty obvious. Other than writing like a maniac, not much is going on. I sent out some queries the other day, and two came back rejections. (Jury's still out on the rest.) One was pretty form-ish, but the other was quite nice. Something along the lines of her current workload combined with the limited number of fiction she's taking on, but (and it was a stressed but) she wanted me to know her decision had nothing to do with my idea or with the quality of my writing. That one was fairly heartening.

I still haven't heard from the publisher I sent Caldera to several months ago. Of course, they did say they had a 4-6 month lead time, but I'm assuming the longer it takes, the worse my chances are.

I've put submitting on hold right now so I can concentrate on R2L. Actually, I've put all my other writing work on hold for this book. I haven't been editing, querying, synopsizing, or anything. It's liberating in a way, but definitely weird.

On the R2L front, I'm still going at a pretty good clip. Hit a rough patch in the middle (like always) where everything seems lame and the story is dragging, but I'm forging ahead. I'll fix it during the edit process.

So, tell me... How are things going for you these days? Doing any querying? Any nibbles? Is the writing flowing well, or is it coming out like milk that's turned all cottage cheesy?