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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

YA Book Recommendation

While in my nearest bookstore, looking for ways to blow more money, I wandered into the YA section and stumbled on The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I finished it yesterday afternoon.

From Rick Riordan's site: "With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction – Zeus’ master bolt. Along the way, he must face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop him. Most of all, he must come to terms with a father he has never known, and an Oracle that has warned him of betrayal by a friend. "

One caveat. Riordan's allusion to science being a fad concerns me a bit - especially when you consider younger readers are more impressionable and can be easily swayed. But if you're considering buying this book for a child in your life, just explain the fiction angle of it all, and you should be fine.

Other than that, this was an enjoyable read. Lots of action and plenty to think about while you're racing across the country with Percy and his pals.

I was going to say how I'm looking forward to the next book, but if you follow the link to Riordan's site, you'll the next two are already out.

Ack. Now I have some shopping to do.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Okay. This is it. Other than a few tweaks, I think I have a blow-by-blow synopsis that is neither expansive nor boring. Unfortunately, there are too many plot spoilers for me to detail it here.

Anyone who wants to give it a looksee, let me know. Any volunteers would be greatly appreciated, and I am offering payment either in the form of a free book of your choice from my store or reciprocal readings of your query, synopsis, outline, or writing.

The new synopsis is just under 5 pages or 1549 words. Should be a breeze, but I can't look at it any more and remain objective.

Any takers?


How does one expand a synopsis without it sounding like a laundry list of events? Hmmm?

That is today's main problem. Yesterday, I worked on doing a Blow-by-blow synopsis. Chapter by chapter until my eyes began to bleed and I set it aside. Tearing my hair out, almost literally, I set the damn thing aside and told myself my one-pager was going to have to be good enough. If they want 3 pages, I'll just double-space it and be done with it. What a weight off my back that was.

Last night I wrote a most excellent cover letter--using elements from former query letters and putting a new spin to make it directed toward publication rather than representation. I'm pretty proud of it. Using the publisher's guidelines, I zipped through the particulars - genre, subgenre, word count, etc. - then I added a nice paragraph on my qualifications for writing this particular novel (Caldera, or NOD, is the one book so far where I can actually say I'm qualified to talk about some of the subject matter) and a lovely paragraph on where my book would fit on the shelves. Gotta love the fact that Follett, Crichton and Clancy have all written books where the environmentalists are the bad guys. (Well, in Follett's case, it's more hippies than enviros, but close enough to mention.) This is one of those cases where it's good to be slightly similar, so you can say "My book should be shelved here."

Anyway, I have the letter, and I was going to print all the pertinent stuff out to send this morning, but I woke with renewed vigor for writing the blow-by-blow. I didn't settle for 'good enough' when I wrote the book, and I'll be damned if I'm going to settle now. So there. =op

So, today will be spent slogging through writing a blow-by-blow without making it sound like a litany. Which means I probably won't be able to send my packet out tomorrow, because after I write this sucker, I'm going to need someone to look at it again before I send it out. Ugh.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Flying Leap

Taking the big leap, I'm prepping a packet to send to a publisher. I know, bypassing the agent step isn't always the best way to go, but in this case, I'm just taking a flying jump into the fray.

"Why" you ask?

Look at it as trying something new. I haven't exhausted all the possible agents in the world, but when I heard about a well-known publisher who's taking unagented submissions, I figured I'd give it a go. Nothing ventured; nothing gained.

The packet will consist of the first 57 pages of Nature of Destruction (Caldera), my nifty neat synopsis, and a yet-to-be-written cover letter. (And always the handy-dandy SASE.) They're asking for the first three chapters or the first 40-60 pages, and since this book's first three amount to 85 pages, I decided to give them the first two and the beginning of chapter 3. The first two probably would meet their requirements--ending at pg 50--but the first scenes in chapter 3 are so essential, I'm jumping at the chance to include them, too.

Additionally, their idea of a synopsis is 3-10 pages, and as I'm sure you all know (and are sick of hearing about by now) mine is just over 1 page. So, my nifty neat synopsis is going to have to expand to meet their needs. After the slice and dice I did on it, it's not going to be an easy task, but I'm going to suck it up and do it anyway. Besides, any writing is good practice for the future. Right?

Anyway, with any luck, the packet will be heading out Monday morning. Then comes the waiting game. The expected lead time on this submission is posted as 4-6 months. Maybe I'll get some Christmas news. ;o)

If I do, I'll post it here as soon as I get it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Woman's Perogative

I changed my mind. I am going to subject y'all to the latest revision of the synopsis. After all, I was up until after 11pm working on it, and I started back in on it first thing this morning. Can't do all that hard work and not let everyone see it, right?

So here is the latest incarnation, better known as version 5.

Synopsis: Nature of Destruction
B.E. Sanderson
Genre: Commercial Fiction
91,000 words

Under Yellowstone sits a volcano 2400 times worse than Mount Saint Helens. every 600,000 years it awakens—spewing pumice for thousands of miles, darkening the skies with ash, causing death and destruction worldwide—and it’s overdue. This time the caldera waited an extra 40,000 years.

The wait is almost over.

Seismologist Dr. Mykaela Hughes has proof the eruption is nearing, but the politicians overseeing the park choose to ignore her warnings. When Old Faithful explodes in a torrent of boiling water, they have no longer have a choice. Even though Myke knows no one can stop a volcano, she’s got the plans to control the eruption. She can save millions from its path of destruction, but only at the cost of the nation’s most beloved national park. Thousands of acres of nature mean nothing when millions of lives are at stake.

Losing her father to the forces of nature pushed Myke to pour everything she was into building Hughes Geologic Services. After all her work monitoring the megavolcano under Yellowstone, she doesn’t need anyone telling her the data is correct. After devoting her life to the potential control of nature, she doesn’t need a consensus to know her theories are sound. She just needs everyone to get out of her way.

Yellowstone’s head ranger Grayson Douglas has spent years ensuring his park’s safety and he doesn’t suspect danger could be growing under his feet. He does suspect a certain fiery scientist is bent on using Yellowstone as her own private way to grab some glory. He’s met her kind before and he won’t let a woman like that near his park again. After the geyser eruption proves Myke’s integrity, though, Gray realizes he’s spent too many years letting the past rule him. His battle against her becomes a fight to help her save America from the threat growing beneath his beautiful park.

As the eco-terrorist known as Fisher, :snip: worships nature almost as much as he hates mankind; as the great-grandson of a land-raping miner, he despises himself almost as much as he hates his money. All that money and all that hate only have one purpose—stopping Myke Hughes and her plans to destroy Yellowstone.

With hundreds of tourists dead, the politicians have no choice but to consent to Myke’s controlled eruption. Even as her plans become real, though, her every move is blocked before she evens knows she’s going to make it and all her hard work threatens to fall apart. It doesn’t take a scientist to know who’s behind it all.

Knowing who the culprit is and catching him are two different things.

When Fisher’s identity becomes public, it doesn’t stop his plot, and as he becomes a fugitive from justice, his minions carry out his sabotage and destruction for him. With every inch drilled closer to the lava, thousands of Fisher’s sacrificial lambs fill the park, hoping guilt and fear will halt the project. Despite what Fisher and his minions think, though, a bigger portion of the populous is at stake. Many may die if Myke’s plan succeeds; more will die if it doesn’t.

:snipped out the ending again - sorry:

ETA: I forgot to mention, in case you didn't notice, I changed the title of Caldera to Nature of Destruction, and I shifted the genre from Literary Thriller to Commercial Fiction. There was some question as to whether it was thrilling enough to be called a thriller and the whole literary thing was just confusing some people. Hopefully these changes will help put Caldera in a more saleable light. (And it will always be Caldera to me, so I'll probably keep referring to it here as such.)

Voluntary Meme

Shannon put this one out there and left it as a voluntary meme. (Which I truly appreciate.)

Describe 10 "weird or different experiences in your blog,"

1) I grew up living in front of a garbage dump. We had a 1.5 acre piece of land and the dump bordered it on two sides. Some of the happiest memories of my life were created in that place - running free through the hills and valleys, never thinking about the refuse buried beneath me. You see, the land closest to our house was the oldest part of the landfill and they had stopped dumping new garbage there years before. So, to me, it was no big deal. Except on butcher day. God what a smell!

2) I get really really bad deja vu. Knock you to your knees, make you nauseous kind of deja vu. Funny thing is I don't believe in mystical stuff, so the theory I have is that my mind is always thinking through every possible combination of experiences that I'm bound to hit on something similar in reality sooner or later. Knowing this doesn't make the experience any less unnerving though.

3) I once broke the knuckle in my right index finger waving at my friends. It was a big double-handed wave because we were out climbing on a little island and they'd climbed to the top. While I was at the bottom I did the big wave and clod that I am, smashed my hands together accidentally. I heard a sickening crunch and for the next few weeks I had to wear a brace on my hand. It looked like I was perpetually pointing at people.

4) Driving on a back country road in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we came around a corner to find a large porcupine waddling his way down the middle of the road. The road was so narrow, and the trees were so thick to either side, we couldn't pass the little bugger without hitting him. Loathe to do that - both because it would have been mean and because running over a porkie means getting a flat tire - we followed behind him for at least a half mile (or about a half-hour). Always down the middle of the road, never wavering to one side or the other. We honked, and he ignored us - grousing the whole time. Finally, when he was good and ready, he waddled away through the underbrush. Oh, and if you've never heard a porcupine, they sound like grumpy old men.

5) Just outside of Marquette, MI is Mt Sugarloaf (no, not that one). One night I had some friends visiting from back home and we decided to climb Sugarloaf in the dark. It's not particularly hard since there is a groomed trail almost all the way up and the moon was out. When we reached the top, we were just going to hang out and catch up with each other. Just the three of us lounging on top of the mountain, with the lights of Marquette sparkling in the distance and an ore carrier slowly chugging toward the harbors. It was a beautiful night, but we never expected to see a shooting star. While we were exclaiming over the first, another fell. And then another. Out of the blue, we were treated to a meteor shower. It was the second most beautiful sight I'd ever seen. The first was the northern lights from that same location.

6) As near as I can piece together, on January 11th, 1994, I was headed to work an hour early when I ran a red light. My little Chevy Citation was t-boned by an S-10 pickup doing 55 in a 45. From the newspaper photograph, he hit me square at the doors and pushed them in about 8 inches. Serendipity intervened that day. It just so happen that two ambulance drivers had been pulling into a Denny's for lunch when they noticed the parking lot was pretty crowded so they opted for KFC instead. They were just sitting down with their food when someone ran inside shouting that there'd been a terrible accident outside. The response time to my accident was less than five minutes. It intervened again when it turned out that the EMTs were experienced, and they knew that although there was another hospital closer, the best hospital for my types of injuries was only ten minutes farther out. Quick response and quick thinking is probably the best reason for why I'm sitting here right now and why I still have a brain to type these words.

7) Way back when before the internet existed, my friends and I would chat on our university's mainframe computer. There were about 20 computers in the mainframe lab and another half dozen scattered around the campus. Often there would be a core 5 or 6 of us sitting in one room talking to each other on the computer for hours on end. It was during one of these long chat sessions when I made a comment that one of the users down campus in the dorms took the wrong way. He immediately logged off. Ten minutes later, he tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to step outside. That is probably the closest I've ever come to getting into a fist fight. (He never lived it down either. It wouldn't have been half as embarassing for him if we hadn't already met in person, and he didn't already know I was a girl.)

8) About ten years later, I was a regular AOL chat junkie. In the chat room I frequented, we had one particularly snerty person who would come in and harass us on a regular basis. Once again, I let my fingers get me into trouble, only this time instead of asking me to step outside, the person in question threatened my life. He went into great detail about how he was going to hunt me down and kill me. Kind of an empty threat when you consider he had no idea who I was or where I was from, but still scary to think about.

9) I don't know how weird it is, but I've moved 6 times since June of 2001. Michigan to Florida. Florida to Utah. In Utah, I changed apartments once. Utah to Colorado. In Colorado, I've changed housing twice. Pretty strange when you think about the fact that from 1971 to 1995, I lived in the same house (other than going to away to college - but my legal address was still the same).

10) Being the youngest of five kids, and quite a bit younger than all of them, my siblings delighted in talking me into doing things. The strangest among these were: convincing me to eat dog food, convincing me not to drink root beer (because it was beer, and I wasn't allowed to have beer), wrapping me tightly in a blanket and watching me bounce around the room. If those don't at least amount to one of these ten things, I don't know what does.

Believe it or not, I'm a pretty sedate person. Not many unusual experiences in this life. Coming up with the last 4 were harder than I thought they'd be. So with that in mind, I'll leave the meme up to any of you who want to volunteer.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I spent another night working on that darned synopsis again. Thanks to my wonderful friends for doing a bit of critting for me. It really helped. I won't bore you all with the newest revision. It's tighter, it's cleaner and it explains things a bit better (I hope). If any of you want to be bored, and see the new version, leave a comment.

Thanks for your patience out there in blogreaderland. I should have some other post topics soon. (And hey, maybe one of these days I can post about publication contracts and release dates.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Synopsis - Caldera

I said in a comment a couple of days ago that I was going to post the synopsis out here for god and everybody to read.


I forgot that eventually I'm going to want people to buy this book, and if I give it all away in the blog, I'm going to lose sales. So, I decided to give an abbreviated version here - with all plot spoilers removed to avoid the reader-hate. (Because I absolutely hate when people spoil the plot for me, and I don't want to perpetuate that.)

If you're one of the people who'd like to read the whole unadulterated thing, drop me an e-mail and I'll shoot it over. Otherwise, here's the snipped version:

Every six-hundred, thousand years, the volcano under Yellowstone erupts. Right now, it’s way overdue.

When seismologist Dr. Myke Hughes confronts the government with proof the eruption is nearing, they choose to ignore her warnings. When Old Faithful explodes in a torrent of boiling water, they have no longer have a choice. Even though Myke knows no one can stop a volcano, she’s got the plans to control the eruption—to save the millions in its path, but at the cost of the nation’s most beloved national park. With nature at risk, eco-terrorist Fisher will use every nasty trick he can think of to stop Myke’s plan. Even if it means taking out a few pesky human lives along the way.

Driven by demons of her own, Mykaela Hughes poured everything she was into building Hughes Geologic Services. After years of monitoring the megavolcano under Yellowstone, she doesn’t need anyone telling her the data is correct. After devoting her life to finding a way to thwart nature, she doesn’t need a consensus to know her theories are sound. She just needs everyone to get out of her way so she can avert the disaster she knows is coming.

Decades as Yellowstone’s head ranger have given Gray Douglas comfort in the safety of his park. After all, volcanic activity has always been a part of its grandeur. He doesn’t see the danger growing under his feet. All he does see is a certain fiery scientist bent on using Yellowstone as her own private way to grab some glory, and he won’t let a woman like that hurt him or his park again.

Heir to a fortune he couldn’t earn, :spoiler snip: wallows in the achievements only the environmentalist movement could bring him. His wealth brings him the power he craves so he can finally rule the world he hates. Masquerading as the eco-terrorist known only as Fisher, :snip: believes men are only as valuable as his need for them, and he very rarely needs them. Fisher has money enough to do what he likes, but as the great-grandson of a land-raping miner, he hates his money almost as much as he hates mankind. Money only has one purpose for him now though—funding the fight against Myke Hughes.

After the geyser eruption, Gray realizes he’s spent years as a pawn for men like :snip: and his lackeys. His battle to stop Myke becomes a fight to help her save America from the threat growing beneath his beautiful park.

Finally Myke’s plans for a controlled eruption are moving forward. The drills she’s so carefully designed are on their way, and the government has stopped interfering with her plan to vent the lava into their national park. But sometimes when the road seems smoothest, it’s the most treacherous. Soon every path is blocked and at every turn they face another brick wall. It doesn’t take a scientist to know Fisher is behind it all. If only they knew who Fisher really was, and who was on the inside helping him.

Still, discovery of Fisher’s identity doesn’t make the work any easier. Even as he becomes a fugitive, his minions carry out his plans of sabotage and destruction. With every inch drilled closer to the lava, thousands of Fisher’s sacrificial lambs fill the park, hoping their bodies will guilt the government into stopping the project. Despite what Fisher and his minions think, though, a bigger portion of the populous is at stake. Thousands may die if Myke’s plan succeeds; hundreds of thousands will die if it doesn’t.

:The last three paragraphs are all about the ending, so I don't want to put those here. Sorry.:

It ended up at about a page and a half - or 757 words. Still short of the three pages the publishers asks for, but I'm hoping less is more. This sucker is still pretty rough, but I think I'm closer than I've been in the past incarnations of the synopsis. Feel free to comment as you like. Let me know if anything is unclear, or if I've made any gross errors up there anywhere. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.

(ETA: I accidentally left a plot spoiler in there. It is now snipped, but I apologize to anyone who read it. I shall now go immolate myself.)

The Last Harry Potter

I just finished reading HP7. No plot spoilers here. All in all it was a good read.

Now I need a nap and a decompression chamber. Marathon reading always tires me out, and sinking myself into a Harry Potter in particular drains the energy right out of me.

As always with a book of this caliber, I don't really want to talk about it afterwards, so I will leave each of you to judge for yourselves what you think. (And as always, any negative comments will be left unposted.)

Monday, July 23, 2007


Okay. I finally picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. I've been carefully avoiding hearing anything about this book, so if anyone talks to me about it before I've read it, they die. Knowing this, my daughter has graciously allowed me to read the book before she does, so she won't be tempted to tell me about it. Smart girl.

Unfortunately, I have some errands to run before I can sit down and read this... Ack.

Oh, and just so no one is tempted here, I've turned off comments on this post. If you have any comments, please hold them until my hallelujah post afterwards. Thanks. =o)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

That Darn Synopsis

The bane of the writer's existence... The Synopsis. It really ought to be a B-grade horror movie. The Synopsis That Ate New York. (Or maybe just made New York gag because it was so bad.)

But seriously. I just got a line on a publisher that might love Caldera, but they ask for the first 3 chapters and a synopsis, and to be perfectly honest my synopsizing blows chunks.

So, sitting here not writing, (and worrying over creating a zippy enough synopsis to make this particular publisher pant like a hungry dog over a much-prized meaty bone), I read a wonderful blog post by my new hero - Allison Brennan - called Book Proposals. In it she gives a very cut-and-dried method for creating a synopsis. It involves four key components:

1) Hook
2) "Back Cover"
3) Climax
4) Ending

And she says it should be no more than a page - "cut and refined for a query letter." Hallelujah! (Is it any wonder the gal is my new hero?)

So, as soon as I get out of this slump I've been in, I'm hitting the keyboard to come up with just such a synopsis. (And then I'm going to cross every dual part of my body - including kidneys and lungs if I have to - that this sucker will fly.)

Wish me luck.

Friday, July 20, 2007

More Reading

Okay, since I'm not burning up the pages writing, I might as well be burning up the pages reading. I finished Ender's Game today. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it yet. I liked it, but it had some problems. Still, I put it on my list of must-reads. It was very well written, the characters are sympathetic (to me anyway) and it made me cry. It dealt with some very important topics, but not in a heavy-handed sort of way. All in all an enjoyable read, and worth putting on your TBR list if you haven't already read it.

Now I'm working on The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman. I'm only a couple of chapters in, but so far it seems intriguing. We'll see how the rest of it goes. Next up, I'll probably read through some of my daughter's romances and maybe try Nora Roberts. (I hear you gasping out there, but no, I've never read anything by her in any of her guises.)


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Advice Taken

By overwhelming majority, I'm taking a break from writing and doing some recharging of my batteries. Namely, I'm reading. I just finished The Hunt by Allison Brennan, and I started Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

If you haven't read anything by Ms. Brennan, I urge you to pick up one of her books. She is an incredible storyteller. Her characters are believable, and for me, easily sympathetic. Her plot are engrossing. So far, her books have been such that I find it hard to put them down - even to eat or sleep.

Of Ender's Game, so far I'm finding it to be a very intelligently written and masterful work. I'll let you know more when I finish it - unless I ended up hating it, and then you probably won't hear a word about it from me. I don't think that's likely, but I've been burned before.

What's on your reading list right now? Anything good to recommend, or anything you're burning to read?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Jump Start???

Last week, I shut down my computer to get it ready for moving. Unfortunately, I accidentally shut down my gumption hump* while I was at it. Friday when the phones were dead, I didn't even bother to set my computer up. I didn't set the damn thing up all weekend. I was tired, sure, but I could've worked. I should've worked.

I didn't.

Now my computer is set up and online. I have everything I had before. Except gumption. I forced myself to work Monday night. I got 110 words edited out of Spectacle. (i.e. I hit the bare minimum of my promised work before I lost the inertia.) Last night I was home alone, and I still couldn't bring myself to sit here and work.

Maybe it's being between new novels, and in the middle of editing three others. Maybe I just feel like I'm in limbo now that AWJ is finished, and I haven't gotten into writing Bloodflow yet. (Or maybe it's that AWJ is currently so underfinished that I know I have a lot of work ahead of me.) *shrug* Whatever the problem is, it's dragging me down.

My husband thinks I just need a break. He may be right. It's been a busy year, after all. But I take a break and I feel guilty. So, this forced break is really guilting the hell out of me.

So, what I need is a jump start. A spark of some kind that will make working more interesting to me than the next rerun of CSI. I'm not looking for a push--my engine doesn't work that way--but maybe a bit of juice from a friendly battery.

What sparks you? Maybe your sparks will ignite my own.

*Gumption Hump: Like a camel's hump, only full of motivation instead of water.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Best Laid Plans

Well, you know what they say about those. Awry doesn't begin to describe my plans this past weekend - at least with regard to being back online by the 14th; the move went fine.

Got everything moved by Friday afternoon. Took a nap. Unpacked the phone and hooked it up. DEAD SILENCE.


Anyway, we spent the whole weekend without phones. It sucked royally, but there was nothing we could do. This morning a lovely lady from the phone company came out and after some investigation, found out the outside wire had been cut through. We're guessing death by weedwhacker. She strung a new line - up under the rafters where no mowers or trimmers can reach it - and I'm back in business.

Now, I'm off to take care of some much needed surfing.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Offline Until July 14th

No post today. I just wanted to let you all know that I will be offline until Saturday July 14th. Could be sooner, but doubtful it will be any later.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. =oD

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Editing Advice from a Pro

Lynn Viehl - author of 37 published books in 5 genres - has some wonderful advice on her blog today. It's a Virtual Workshop called Editing and Revising That Won't Drive You Crazy.

If you're writing ANYTHING, I suggest you take a gander.

BTW, if you haven't read anything by Lynn yet, I suggest you pick up one (or all) of her books. I just picked up my first Viehl SF - Afterburn - and it was so awesome I now feel the need to read the rest of them. I just wish I had the time. *sigh*

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rechaptering Pt 2

Last night, I finished the rechaptering of Spectacle. From the previous 15 chapters (plus Epilogue), I ended up with 27 chapters. I left the Epilogue alone.

I'm still not finished with the snipping and tightening, but I feel better now that the chapters are in somewhat more manageable lengths. I still have all the end-hooks, and each chapter flows into the next, so it's all good. There are about 5 new chapters that need quotes, though, so I still have some work to do.

All of that will have to wait for tonight. If I'm not too dead from shifting my belongings three blocks, I'll get more than just the quotes done. Send happy thoughts my way. ;o)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Rechaptering and Snipped Scenes

AWJ is not ready for editing, and Blink is waiting for my CP and BRs to send back their comments. This leaves Spectacle - or Fear Itself, according to the new filename. Being my first book, I was a complete neophyte. It's chapters are huge, some of the wording is ungainly, and I have rampant unnecessary scenes. (Not that they weren't interesting, but they did little to drive the plot forward.)

So far, I've been tightening the wording, but yesterday I tackled the rechaptering. Not a big deal as tasks go. I have plenty of scene breaks mid-chapter where I can simply plug in a page break and chapter header. The real task lies in the quotes.

Each chapter in Spectacle begins with a quote relevant to the text in the coming chapter, and since I am adding chapters, I now have to find quotes to match. I have a huge quote database, thank goodness, and so far it's been sufficient for my purposes, but scanning through hundreds of quotes to find just the right one is a little time consuming. I spent an hour and a half last night and I'm only a third of the way through the rechaptering process.

In addition to rechaptering, I took out a whole scene I really enjoyed writing and so far, everyone's enjoyed reading. It wasn't pertinent though. (And for those of you reading this who've also read Spectacle, it was the tow-truck scene.) It was one of my daughter's favorite scenes, and she's going to kill me, but it had to be done. That's where the editing hurts. I didn't want to do it, and maybe someday after it becomes a bestseller, the book will be republished with the deleted scenes. Until then, however, it had to go. For the sake of the novel as a whole. *sigh*

Since I'm between writing right now, I'll be hitting Spectacle every night until after I move. I should be able to whip it into shape by this time next week, and then move forward with something else. Maybe a new book, or maybe by then I'll be ready to tackle Blink or AWJ again.

How are things going in your neck of the woods?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

First Draft Done

Yesterday I finished the first draft of AWJ. This is not a cause for celebration, though.

Back when I finished Spectacle's first draft, I celebrated. I even celebrated after Caldera and Blink. Those, I felt, were complete. When I wrote "THE END" on those books, I knew I'd have to go back and edit, but I still felt like the editing wouldn't be too much, and nothing would essentially change about their storylines.

AWJ is incomplete.

Don't get me wrong. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. In that respect, the book is complete. That is the only respect in which AWJ looks like a novel. Looking back over the process of writing this one, though, AWJ is as far from complete as a first draft could be. Not surprising at all that the first draft is only 52K words. Whole chunks of the book have gaping holes in them. It's a Swiss cheese novel. I knew it when I wrote THE END, and knowing this made the whole first draft completion a little anti-climactic.

I'm going to be putting AWJ away for a couple weeks. It needs time to ferment, I think. I'll be working on some editing, finishing a couple shorts maybe, and dealing with the whole moving process. After that maybe I can sit down and shred AWJ. Maybe turn it into something worthy of being read by the general populous. *sigh* I still believe in the story, and I won't let it go, but right now it's not half the cause for celebration it ought to be.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

To Prologue or Not?

There seems to be something of a disagreement in the writing world about the dreaded prologue. From what I've read, prologues are a no-no. (Which is why I said 'dreaded'.) I've even had people tell me to drop the prologue from Caldera. But no real reason has been offered beyond the 'prologues are bad' argument. Oddly, one agent I queried loved the prologue and thought I should write a non-fiction piece based on the prologue. Unfortunately, he didn't like the premise of the novel itself. Ack. But I digress.

That's one side of the disagreement. On the other side, many of the books I've read lately have had... :drumroll: Prologues. Hmmm. Some of those books have been bestsellers. Now, you don't hear about those authors coming out in favor of prologues. They just write them.

While I'm sure people are out there writing prologues that do little more than give backstory or drag the beginning with unnecessary information, I don't think a wholesale ban on prologues is the right way to go about addressing the issue. Any more than a wholesale ban on slang or incomplete sentences would be appropriate. Just because some people use these devices improperly doesn't make them evil.

Having said that, however, I am considering dropping my prologue. Don't get me wrong. It's sets the whole book up rather nicely. It's only two pages, and I think it helps to be in there. How much it's helping, though, remains to be seen. And whether it's hurting Caldera's chances to be published remain to be seen as well. Right now, it's a coin toss. No one who has read the book in its entirety has had a problem with the prologue - or if they did, they never voiced their opinion about it.

So, I'm leaving it in the hands of my blog readers. The prologue is below. For those of you who haven't been reading along, the underlying plot of Caldera is about a scientist with a plan to control the impending eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano.


It has happened before.

Six hundred thousand years ago, death and destruction rained from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River, from the plains of Saskatchewan to the Gulf of Mexico. Seventy-five thousand years ago the sun disappeared beneath a haze of ash, killing the majority of the human race in the ensuing global winter. Fifteen hundred years ago, the most notorious of human eras—The Dark Ages—began in a shroud of gray volcanic dust.

Early in the 19th century, the center of a tiny island in the Dutch West Indies swelled and trembled and burst. Fiery boulders fell from the sky; ash blanketed both land and ocean for hundreds of miles as it spewed into the atmosphere. More than ninety thousand people died as the sky became clogged with soot—soot so thick that the year of 1816 was to become known as ‘The Year Without a Summer’.

Later in that same century, a mountain rising from the depths of the East Indies exploded and then collapsed. The sea rose twelve feet that day, pushed up suddenly as tons of rock dropped into its murky depths. Thundering walls of water swept toward Java, Sumatra, Bali; tens of thousands drown as the ocean broke over their homes and villages.

In each instance a caldera has erupted, and in each instance the world has born the brunt of its destruction.

So far, many of these types of events occurred before the ascension of man; so far, they have all occurred in sparsely populated areas. In the scheme of human disaster, these events remain insignificant. In perspective, the death toll has been minimal. But still, the tiny native children who shivered in fear as Tambora thundered down upon them thought it more than minimal. The tribal women who screamed their last breaths as Krakatau choked the sound away considered it from a different perspective. The peasants who endured The Dark Age’s endless years of starvation and suffering certainly thought it significant.

They all must have prayed for whatever god they knew to make it stop. They must have offered sacrifices and tributes to appease the wrath that cascaded upon them. But even amidst their fruitless prayers and hopeless offerings, they must have believed in their hearts that nothing could stop nature.

In the mountains of western Wyoming, a caldera lays in a fitful sleep—churning and gurgling and smoking like some great evil dragon—and mankind dances around it as if it has been caged for their amusement. The sparkling geysers and the boiling mud are merely an interesting diversion right now, but the dragon is bound by no man’s chains and it has overslept by twenty thousand years. When it awakens, no man will think it amusing, and no man with think of it as a mere diversion.

Pompeii was a firecracker. Mount Saint Helens, a birthday candle. When Yellowstone makes up its mind to blow, the people in its path will wish they’d been at Hiroshima instead.

Will they be praying on some sprawling ranch in Montana? Will they be screaming in some sparkling penthouse in Denver? Will they be choking under a layer of ash on the bustling streets of Houston?

Perhaps nothing can be done to stop nature. Or perhaps, just maybe, something can.

It has happened before. Perhaps it doesn’t have to happen again.

If it never gets published with the rest of Caldera, at least it's here. Barring any feelings about the writing style of the above excerpt, what are your thoughts on prologues? Do you use them when they're necessary, or do you shun them entirely?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Oh My... Who Me?

Well, surfing my morning blogs is certainly an interesting thing sometimes. This morning, Shannon over at A Writer's Journey gave me the Rockin' Girl Blogger Award.

I haven't rocked in years, and I'm not quite sure I'm a girl any more. (Can the mother of a teenager still be considered a girl? If so, cool.)

I don't know if I'm supposed to pass out more of these awards at this point or not, but I figure what the hey, why not. So, in honor of their supreme 'Rockin' Girl-ness', I'm giving the award to... Ack! I know too many Rockin' Girl bloggers. To save this from being the run-on post from hell, here's everyone I think is a Rockin' Girl Blogger:

Alexia Adams
Erica Ridley
Lynn Viehl
Karin Tabke
Maya Reynolds
Diana Peterfreund
Kristin Painter
Liz Fenwick
Wendy Roberts
All the gals at Murder She Writes
All the gals at The Good Girls Kill for Money Club
All the gals at The Manuscript Mavens

Ladies? You all ROCK.

If I forgot you, please remember that my memory sucks, and take one award for yourself if you've earned it. You know who you are.

And I think Shannon should get a reciprocal Rockin' Girl award. She rocks, too.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

News and Other Stuff

Due to packing and moving, my online bookstore "Books by BES" will be closed until at least July 16th but no later than August 1st. With half the stock in boxes and moved already, the whole idea of trying to find a book in order to ship it became too daunting. Everything will be fine once we've moved. I've even got a couple hundred new books to list!

The firm moving dates are July 13-15th, so I expect to be offline that weekend. Until then and after then, everything will be running pretty much the same - blog posts, e-mails, etc. I'll post something the night before I shut down so my regular readers won't miss a beat. (Thanks for being regular readers, guys.) And as soon as I'm up, I'll post a note to the blog, too.

This also means that my 100 words a day every day is probably going to have a burp that weekend, too. Never fear. I'll make the words up on another day.

I hope you're all having lovely days wherever you are, and that this godawful heat isn't getting you down too much.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day

July 4th is the anniversary of this country's independence from British rule, but to me, Independence Day means more than that. It means celebrating freedom, it means pride in our history. It means once more proclaiming ourselves as independent, not just as a country but as individuals.

America was founded by men and women who didn't want anyone else telling them what they could do, or what they could think. So no matter where you are, if you love freedom, join with Americans in rejoicing it today.

"America lives in the heart of every man everywhere who wishes to find a region where he will be free to work out his destiny as he chooses." - Woodrow Wilson

"I was born an American; I will live an American; I shall die an American!" - Daniel Webster.

The Star-Spangled Banner
—Francis Scott Key, 1814

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A Look at Editing

In the post before last, I discussed the fact I'm editing Spectacle AGAIN. What I thought I'd do today is show you the progression of Spectacle's beginning to give you an idea of how my editing works.

When I first began writing Spectacle, the working title was "The Comet" (original huh?), and it began like this:

“At 4:35am Mountain Time this morning, an observer at <…> in New Mexico identified a comet thrown off its normal orbit…”
“Sources say that the comet, that scientists have name Freya, is on a collision course with earth…”
“Freya will strike the earth on July 27th, 2005. The estimated size of Freya is x miles in diameter. That is roughly a quarter of the size of and is expected to strike with enough force to cause not only the extinction of life on the majority of the planet, but also to knock the earth out of its own Orbit – insuring the death of anything that remains…”

This was a total rewrite. (Please note the places where I left a spot for things I had to research.)

Then I renamed it and tried again. This is the opening for "The Doomsayers". (Don't ask. Let's just be happy the title changed.):

“Good evening, ladies and gentleman. It is Friday, May 1st. I am Alex McKenzie standing in for Craig Jamison, and this is GBC Nightly News. What would normally be a day of celebration for coming of spring has turned into a day of hopelessness and dread for coming summer months. Tonight, the news on everyone’s mind is that of Freya and her rapid descent toward Earth. At this time, I have no new reports of her course and I’m sorry to say, no new reports of anyone in the scientific community stepping forward with a plan to divert this disaster. The news tonight is on the catastrophic behavior of individuals worldwide. As we have reported, following the announcement that the comet, Freya, was headed toward Earth and that she would in fact be a global killer, terror became the norm and anarchy now reigns in many parts of the world. I am sad to have to bring you this latest piece of distressing news. Tonight, Paris is in flames. Over the past few days, a mob has been slowly moving across the city leaving death and destruction in its wake. Yesterday we reported their failed attempt to bring down the Eiffel Tower. This afternoon the crowd reached the Louvre, that most famous of the world’s art museums, and began with the destruction of the pyramid constructed in 1989. Falling shards of glass killed at least two members of the horde and several other people were trampled to death in the crush. The assault on the museum then escalated with the killing of three security guards who attempted to barricade the doors using furniture from within. Once the mob had gained entry, the carnage was overwhelming. Our crew on the scene reports that when historians attempted to save such famous artifacts as The Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, they were beaten to death by the screaming mob. I regret to say that neither artifact survived the initial melee, and we hold little hope that anything of value made it to safety before the Louvre was set ablaze. We go now to John Clanton on the scene in Paris. John?”

Single paragraph. The beginning paragraph from hell, right? If you start your book like this, please remember - you aren't Dickens.

The next incarnation was named "Scaremongers". (Don't bother. I know the word is supposed to be Fearmongers. I was trying something. Yeah, yeah. That's the ticket. Trying something...)

“Good evening, ladies and gentleman. Welcome to GBC News. It is Friday, May 1st and this is Alex McKenzie standing in for Craig Jamison.”
The woman in front of the camera sat rigidly for a moment looking as if she would rather be anywhere else than sitting there reporting the news. Slowly her professionalism took over and her harried expression was replaced by the steel gaze of a hardened reporter. Staring directly into the camera she began. “What would normally be a day of celebration for the coming of spring is instead a day of trepidation for the coming summer months. Tonight, the news on everyone’s mind is that of Freya and her rapid descent toward Earth.”
Briefly she closed her eyes as if she were fighting a twinge of pain coursing through her. “Unfortunately, at this time, I have no new reports to offer you on her course and I’m sorry to say, no new reports that anyone in the scientific community has stepped forward with a plan to divert this disaster. The news tonight once again is on the catastrophic behavior of individuals worldwide. As we have reported, following the announcement that the comet, Freya, was headed toward Earth and that she would in fact be a global killer, anarchy reigns in many parts of the world. I am sad to have to be the one to bring you the latest piece of distressing news.”

Finally I change to Spectacle - and I'm still not sure if I'm keeping that name. Over the course of many many MANY revisions, the beginning remained essentially the same, so I won't bore you with all those repetitions. Instead I will give you my 2004 draft beginning (when I thought I was really finished with the book).

“This can’t be happening.”
Looking down at the copy she had just been given for the night’s broadcast, she still couldn’t bring herself to believe the things she was reading—the same types of things she had been reporting for the past two months. She couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right about all of this and she ran a shaking hand through her hair as if the action would erase the unease in her mind. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a flash of movement and she turned to see the profile of a woman on a monitor just off the set.
“The woman looks tired,” she thought to herself.
Alex’s eyes focused on that image and, despite the fact that she could hear the music that signaled the beginning of her broadcast, all other thoughts were driven from her mind. Alex couldn’t seem to think of anything other than the woman on the monitor and how very tired she looked. In front of her, Alex could see the camera flicker to indicate that she was now on-air and out of the corner of her eye she could see the woman on the monitor straightening to speak.

And lastly, here is the current and hopefully actual beginning for Spectacle (aka Fear Itself):

“We’re on in two, Alex.”
Looking down at the copy she had just been given for the night’s broadcast, Alex couldn’t bring herself to believe the things she was reading—not that any of it was new. The world was falling apart.
Although she’d been reporting on the same types of things for the past two months, she still couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right about all of this. As if the action would erase the unease in her mind, she ran a shaking hand through her hair.
Out of the corner of her eye she caught a flash of movement and on a monitor just off the set, she could see the profile of a woman. Her long black hair was perfectly coiffed down to the last strand, but it hung limp around her pale face. Her slender fingers trembled over the papers in front of her, and the corner of her mouth quivered as if she were on the verge of tears.
At the edge of her consciousness, Alex could hear the lead-in, but she couldn’t seem to focus her thoughts. The camera in front of her flickered; she was now on-air. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the woman on the monitor straightening to speak.

I'm not saying the last version is perfect, and I'm not looking for critique at this point. This is merely to show a progression for editing from one version to the next. I hope it helps someone out there, and if not, you at least found the journey interesting.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Fahrenheit 451 - Misinterpreted

My CP just sent me a link to this article: Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted.

I'll let the article speak for itself.

The Six-Million Dollar Man-uscript

A while back, there was a movie - "Galaxy Quest" - and the main character had a sort of tagline. "Never give up. Never surrender."

That's me and my first novel. I still know it's a damn good book. My CP thinks it's a damn good book. My BRs think it's a damn good book. (See? It's not just me.) True, it has already been through about 30 rejections, but I think those were more a case of my not knowing what the hell I was doing, than about the quality of the book itself.

So, I'm editing it again. Deep editing it again. And while I am going through it line by line, understand that nothing essential is changing about the story. What I'm doing is akin to taking a magnifying glass to the writing and looking for ways to make it better - however minute they may be. I'm making it tighter, sharper, and more succinct. If I've said something in 10 words, I look for ways I could have said it in 8 without losing the style. Sort of a "We have the technology. We can make it better, stronger, faster." The Six-Million Dollar Man-uscript, so to speak. (Heh. If I got six figures for this, I'd be freaking out. I'm not even thinking about seven.)

I'm taking jewelers tweezers and picking out the pieces of lint. When I first finished Spectacle, I wrapped up at 137,000 words. Yeah yeah, it was huge. Then I did the edit. I took whole scenes out and ended up at 129K. I loved those scenes, and I still have them on file, but they're toast. I sat down again and did another edit. 126,000 words. Smaller but still not good enough. So, line by line, I'm de-linting. I've already chopped out 3000 words and I'm only through chapter 5.

Please remember from 137K to 126K took me three years of learning and multiple edits, Not to mention during that time I completed another book, AND wrote a third that just finished it's fifth round of edits, plus I wrote most of the first draft of a fourth. Each step along the way has been a learning process and each has allowed me to improve my craft, which is helping me improve Spectacle.

Now, I'm not an idiot. I know most people's first books never sell. I know a lot of first books are crap. If I had even an inkling Spectacle fell into the latter category, I would pat it nicely and put it away. Chalk it up to a learning experience. But I don't have any sense Spectacle is going to fail. I'll keep plugging away at it, and plugging away at my other books until something sells.

Never give up. Never surrender.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

From the Horror Files

Flipping through the channels tonight, I happened past CNN and the headline at the bottom of the screen read "Mother accused of microwaving infant". I didn't stop to see the rest. The headline was nauseating enough without having to hear the rest of the story. I don't want to know the details.

But even more so, I don't want to hear anyone making excuses for why any person would do such a thing. (And you know they always make excuses for these sickos.)

I don't want to hear about post-partum depression. Millions of women have children every day, lots of them get depressed. It's no reason to kill your baby. I was a single mother who had the bad sense to be with 'the incredible disappearing man'. It was depressing. The day before my daughter turned 5 months old, I was in a horrible car accident. After two months in the hospital, I came home to a baby who didn't know who I was, and I wasn't too sure I knew her either. You want depressing? That was depressing. I didn't kill my baby. Things were tough. Things are tough all over. You get over it or you find a safe place for your child - somewhere away from you. You don't kill it and you sure as hell don't put it in the microwave. I got over it, and my baby was always in the safest place she could be - with me.

I think part of it is the disappearance of personal responsibility. You have sex without protection, and you are going to get pregnant - maybe not the first time or the fifth or the thirty-seven, but the law of averages says sooner or later the egg will meet the sperm. As a woman, whether it's right or not, the baby is primarily your responsibility. The guy doesn't carry it around for 9 months. He doesn't get sick or fat. He doesn't get stretch marks or gestational diabetes. He doesn't get laid out on his back during the last trimester. If he's a good man, he loves you, he loves his baby and he provides nurturing support to you both. If he's not, he's gone or worse - you have to take care of him and the baby, too. But whether he's good or he's not, that baby is a little person depending on its mother to keep it alive - to love it, to shelter it, to feed it and to protect it. Being a mom means being the responsible party. Some people never learned to accept responsibility for their own actions, and so taking on the responsibility of a child is too much.

I say, too damn bad. If you're pregnant and you can't accept the weight of 18 years (or more) of responsibility, be responsible enough to give the child up for adoption. Or if it's soon enough by law, be responsible enough to abort the mass of dividing cells before it becomes a child. (But abortion is a topic for another blog, and I'm old enough to know I no longer have the energy for that debate.)

Either option is way WAY way better than using a microwave to solve your parenting problems. Sick freak. I hope they microwave her, but they'll probably just find her 'not guilty by reason of insanity'.


I'm ranting. I know it. If you want to refute me, feel free to rant about this on your own blog. Don't try to give a refuting rant here - I won't post it.