The time has come for I-shrugged to bow out of my writerly existence. It's served me well these past few years, but as I was laying there thinking about my career and my future as a writer, I realized that it's not pertinent to what I am as a writer.
So, as i-shrugged.blogspot withers into nothingness, a new Writing Spectacle is born. If you enjoyed reading what I had to say here, please follow me over there for more musings, rants and daily affirmations of my sanity (or lack thereof).
Fear not, though. This blog will remain (it has to - I'm linking to it) in perpetuity - or at least until Blogger tells me I can't have it anymore. The Agent Sites post will still be there for those who need it, as well as all the other important stuff. I'm just switching locations to give myself a better - and more writerly - place to live.
I'm also going to try and give you more intelligent and useful posts than I have in the past. I'm going to try to get out there and network more. And who knows, if my readership grows, I may even try to get some guest bloggers every now and then. (Time will tell about that.)
In short, what I'm trying to do here is give myself a jumpstart. A new blog and a new attitude for the rest of the year and the years to come. Come along with me and see what the future holds.
Well, if that wasn't an adventure, I don't know what is. After a mistaken belief that I was over the worst of it on Tuesday, Wednesday arrived and showed me what the worst of it could be. I wouldn't wish that crud on my worst enemy. (Well, maybe... I know that in my illness induced daydreams I did consider going over to a certain person's house and licking his doorknobs. If anyone deserves this, he does.)
The only upside to laying on the couch hour after hour, trying not to wish for death, is this:
It gave me a chance to think about things. Perhaps all that thinking has shaken some things loose. Hard to tell as I'm still a little muzzy-headed. I do know that things haven't been right with the writing yet this year, so I think I need to shake things up. (If that makes any sense.)
I'll reveal all in the days to come. (Or as much of 'all' as I have figured out at this point.)
Hope all of you are well, and things are peachy-keen in your worlds. =o)
Sorry about the silence, but whatever my family has, I got too. (Though nowhere near as bad. Yet.)
So, between taking care of them, and trying not to cough up a lung, and taking over my daughter's dish duties (without which we wouldn't have clean bowls for soup), and laying on the couch storing energy for the next task, I've been lax online.
Of course it doesn't help that I can't think of a damn thing to say that doesn't involve whining. You don't want to hear it, and I don't want to either.
Hope y'all have a great day, and here's hoping I'm somewhere near normal soon.
*Ever see Muppet Treasure Island? It's from the "Cabin Fever" production number.
Overheard just now. Three teenage girls walking down the sidewalk. Before I can even see them I hear one talking on her cell phone...
"I miss you already... What do you mean you don't care that I miss you?... Tell me you miss me too... I'm not hanging up until you tell me you miss me... Tell me you miss me... Tell me you miss me!" (Keep in mind this started halfway up the next block and was still in progress at the other end of my block.)
Is it just me or should she have done consulting for the movie "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days"?
Greetings from what I am jokingly referring to as 'The Plague House'. Whatever crud is making its way across the continent has landed here.
I don't have it. Yet.
Hubby does, and dearest daughter came down with it this morning.
If you have it, you have my deepest sympathies. In honor of this situation, I am making chicken soup. (And with all the flu supplies I bought, the pharmaceutical companies should be sending me a gift basket.)
Yesterday when I was at Borders, I was approached by an employee with a book in her hands. Now I was in the middle of using their computer to find some of the books on my list, and at first I thought she was going to be the third person to ask me if I needed any help. Instead she started talking to me about the book in her hands. (Sorry, I don't remember the title - but it was women's fiction, and I'm just not that into it.) After I gave her my standard 'thanks but no thanks', I started thinking about what it was she was doing.
And even if it started out a little annoying, I realized it was a great idea. I thanked her for the effort (nicely, of course) and she said it was a new thing they were doing at their store - choosing books they liked and talking to patrons about them. Afterwards we got to chatting, and she brought me another book she liked - because she asked if I'd heard of it, and I had. I didn't end up buying that book either, but I did end up buying a couple more books because of her and her co-worker. They were both so helpful and friendly. Well frankly it shocked the heck out of me.
Those two gals brought customer service back to a big chain store. Usually when I hit Borders, I just want to get my books and be left alone. After ten minutes I feel typically like every employee has asked me if I needed help - in that 'I really don't want to help you, but I have to ask' way they have. These ladies were serious, and they were helpful. The other gal - not the one with the book recommendations - actually went into the back to find me two books that were in stock but hadn't been shelved yet. She and I got to talking about The Dresden Files and she recommended a similar series I'd never heard of (and plan on buying on my next go round).
If I remember correctly, Borders is having troubles right now. Last year there was talk of them going out of business, and in a way, I can see why. They don't stock nearly as much as B&N and as I said, their employees are usually annoying. It's hard to stay in business that way, but if they can just up the number of helpful, friendly employees, they might just make it through this economy.
They just need to clone those two ladies, or at least have them give pointers to everyone else.
Oh, and I do need to give a shout out to the cashier there as well. She was just a friendly and helpful, and she made my daughter's day by complimenting her on her dagger necklace.
Wouldn't it be great if people like that were the only kinds we ran into when we shopped?
I did it. I admit it. I bought too many books today - and I didn't even scratch the surface of my list.
Okay, so I'm not exactly contrite about it. I love books. If it wouldn't destroy the pristine covers, I would throw them on the floor and roll around in them. (And I like to keep my books as pristine as possible for as long as possible. I'm demented that way.)
Anyway, I loved the shopping, hated the driving, and had a nice lunch while I was in a real town with real restaurants. What I didn't love was the fact that Borders was out of several titles I wanted. If I'd driven another half-hour, I could've been to B&N and gotten them - I just know it. (Mainly because I saw some of them there on my last trip.) I'm currently working through the backlist for Lynn Viehl's StarDoc series, and while I have read the last two, I've only read the first one. Totally chaps my hide.
On the upside, I discovered a new (to me) bookstore, and found a couple books I didn't know I wanted. And it was only five minutes from Borders - toward home - so no extra driving. Yay.
So now I'm pooped, but satisfied. In my TBR stack now are:
Highlander Outlaw by Monica McCarty!! Finally. I almost screamed because I thought Borders was out. Then I realized it was shelved with the new fiction instead of the rest of the series.
The third book and the newest book from the Dresden Files. (Working through that backlist, too.)
Two books by Anton Stroud. (I don't remember who recommended him on their blog, but thank you.)
The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance
The Killer Year anthology
Just to name a few. There may be more, but the titles escape me and the bag is in with my sleeping husband.
What are you reading right now, or what are you waiting for the release date of?
It's that time again, ladies and gents. Time to turn your clock ahead one hour.
Personally, I hate this daylight savings thing. It had its purpose when the business of America was primarily agriculture. Now it's just outlived its usefulness. I mean, really, what do we need it for anymore?
This one is always worse for me than the Fall one. Something about getting up an hour early every morning and trying to go to bed an hour early kills me. I'll be dragging ass for a week or so. *shrug* Stuff happens, so I need to just get over it.
How does your body adjust to the time changes? Everything go fine for you, or are you like me? And what do you think about the idea of getting rid of the daylight savings thing all together?
I took the plunge (as well as Kristen's advice) and joined the Romance Divas forum yesterday. After spending time both last night and today reading posts and acquainting myself with the site, I jumped in and posted. So far, so good.
Seems like a nice group of writers, and sans flaming or crabbing or general snertiness. Yay. If you haven't been there, check it out. Lots of interesting information, and camaraderie, and writerly-ness.
Considering how my last two forays into writers' forums turned out, wish me luck. Although I don't think I'll need it. I'm just going to be good and not get involved in flame wars (not that I think there will be any - the mods keep a tight rein from what I see).
First off I'd like to vent a bit about the book distributor for my area. They went belly-up and I haven't seen new books at the local stores for weeks. Weeks without new books! I'm seriously jones'n. This means that despite the fact Monica McCarty's latest hot Highlander book has hit the bestseller list, I haven't gotten a copy yet. Wah.
In happier news, I'm going to a real bookstore next week, and Borders should have a copy. It's on my shopping list along with eight other titles (so far - I may not be done writing the list yet). By this time next week, I should be happily surrounded by new reading material. It's just a shame I have to go out of town to buy books*.
As for writing, a read an interesting post this morning over at Karin Tabke's blog. She had a guest blogger by the name of Charlotte Featherstone, who wrote about staying true to yourself and to your characters. The hero of her recently published book Addicted could be considered unsympathetic (because he's an opium addict), and because of this I have no doubt she had one hell of a time getting it published. But she had to write him that way in order to remain to true to the story. Good reminder to us all, and a very positive note for those of us yet to be published. Gives me a bit of hope that maybe someday someone will want to read Caldera even though Myke's been called unsympathetic. (Which I totally don't see. I love her personality. Not that she's an addict or anything like that. She's just focused, and driven, and she doesn't suffer incompetence lightly - which can come off as bitchy sometimes.)
Another happy note: I got the last edit notes from my beta reader this morning! Yay. Her comments really made my morning. Nothing like hearing she had a tough time reading for edits when the story kept sucking her in and making her forget she was supposed to be beta reading. I'll be working on her suggestions this weekend, in addition to trying to get the synopsis written. With any luck, I'll be ready to start submitting soon. And this time maybe getting an agent.
Wouldn't that be loverly?
What are your thoughts on this fine pre-Spring day? Ever written or read a supposedly unsympathetic character that you just connected with? Any positive news to share?
*Yes, I can buy books online. I just love the bookstore experience too much.
You may have noticed I changed my word meter to reflect pages edited rather than chapters. The reason for this change is simple.
Nano is giving me fits.
Usually when I sit down to edit, I do it chapter by chapter. Sometimes I get more than one chapter edited in a night, but when the editing is slow, I just get one finished. With Nano, I'm lucky if I get a partial chapter done in an editing session.
Take last night for instance. I got eight pages done, and even those I'm not completely happy with. Chapter Four is the chapter where I really introduce the hero. (He's mentioned in a couple other chapters, but he doesn't make his POV debut until #4.) And I don't think I really have him down yet. I'm getting there. He's becoming a real person in my head. But I'm not there yet.
So anyway, I'm having to rewrite whole paragraphs and scenes to make Jack more alive on paper. Which is slowing me down to page by page editing. Maybe on the next round of edits, it'll all be easier again. (God, I hope so.)
I didn't get anything done last night. Nada. Bubkis. I wish I could blame it on the dirty trick Biggest Loser played last night at the weigh-in, but that would be lame. Not that I wasn't irritated, but it wasn't to the point where I couldn't work. (I like Biggest Loser, but I'm not that addicted.)
After the show was over, I did sit down to work on editing Nano. I made it through approximately three paragraphs before I admitted to myself that I was just phoning it in.
Could be that I took an Aleve earlier in the evening, and those things make me all loopy. Could be that I twisted my knee falling off a step yesterday afternoon (only hurts when I use that tendon to stand up and sit down, though). Could be that I just wasn't in that place I need to be in to accomplish worthwhile work. Hell, it could even be hormonal. (Look out! She's gonna blow!)
In the end, I closed the file and went to bed.
I guess sometimes that's okay, but I still feel guilty about it.
This morning Alison Kent has a wonderful post over at GenReality about critique groups and crit partners and such. It really got me thinking about this lonely business of writing, and whether I'm doing enough to connect with other writers. I mean I don't belong to any writing organizations, I don't network on writing forums or other such sites, and I don't go out into the world to visit trade shows or writers' groups or conferences.
In some circles, this inactivity would be the kiss of death for a writing career.
Sometimes I consider doing some of these things. I've even joined a couple online writing things. I was very active in two of these, and if you've been around this blog long enough you know how those turned out (which is to say, not well). I still belong to a couple that I haven't really been active with, but probably should (if I can even remember my passwords after all this time). I've thought about joining RWA or ITW or something like that, but I just can't seem to muster the interest necessary to fork over all that money.
Instead I blog. I visit dozens of writerly blogs every day. I communicate via comments, and on occasion email, with other people in the profession. But is that enough?
You know every time I think this through, I ask myself that question. Sure, I have a couple of awesome beta readers (Hi guys!), but that's as far as that goes. I had a crit parter I met at one of the writing communities, but she disappeared last year. (Literally. One day she just stopped replying to my emails. No reason why. No 'it's been fun, but it's over' note. Just silence.) My BRs are doing an awesome job, but listening to everything around the net, it just seems like I should be doing more.
And then I look at Lynn Viehl. I don't know how many books she's published now (seems like it was around 35 the last time I looked), but she seems to do very well sans the whole 'getting involved' portion of the biz. She doesn't attend conferences, or trade shows, or participate in writing groups. She just writes - and very well I might add.
So what's a girl to do?
I guess I just keep on keepin' on. I write, I edit, I learn from my mistakes. I read other people's blogs and learn from their mistakes. Sure I'd like to have a half dozen people I can trust to read and comment on my work - if only for the sake of validation. (And yes, even hermits like me could use a little validation once in a while.) I love to have an awesome crit partner like I used to have - someone to bounce ideas off of, and kvetch to, and sympathize with - but in the whole scheme of things, it's not necessary. Because in the end, the only person capable of writing my books is me. Connecting with other writers would be fun, but when the books ever get published, they're my responsibility.
Anyway, I still have the blogosphere and all the wonderful people I've met here. You're all helping me whether you know it or not, and I'd like to thank you all for that. Hopefully I'm helping in my own way, too.
What do you do to connect with other writers? Do you have live people you connect with, or is it all online?
I don't know if you're familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test, but it's an interesting way to get insight into who you are. Not that some quality introspection and a thorough knowledge of yourself can't give you that, but it's nice to have hard data - even if it only underscores what you already knew.
According to the above test - which I just took - I'm what they refer to as an ISTJ (heavy on the I and T). Which basically means I'm an introvert who relies on thinking rather than feeling. No big surprise there. Usually when I do this test, I end up as a INTJ, but these past few days I must be leaning more toward the S (Sensing) than the N (Intuitive).
A problem area with the ISTJ type is the tendency to downplay their own accomplishments for fear no one else will find them of value. This little do-ma-hicker jumped up and slapped me upside the head last night. (Don't ya hate when psychological baggage ambushes you like that?) Not a good trait to have when you're trying to get people to read your work, and even worse when you're trying to convince an agent to represent you.
Since I'm a firm believer that knowing what's wrong is half the battle, I should be back to semi-normal soon.
(And to that person who got that email last night, I'm not a complete freak - really I'm not. The ISTJ made me do it.)
Anyway, that's what I've been up to this weekend. Gotta love the fact that in order to use TurboTax this year, I had to download Firefox - because TT doesn't work with IE on this old an operating system. =op---
So now I have Firefox. Uhh... ok. I don't really care which browser I use. I don't need bells or whistles as long as it gets me where I need to go, when I need to go there. I'm still using IE for everything else (if it ain't broke, don't fix it).
As a related side rant, why the hell do people think they need to keep fixing things that aren't broken, and breaking things that work fine? That's messed up. Seriously.
Now I really have to get back to work, so maybe one of these days I can show income under Novelist. Ya know what I mean?
Over at the Fictionistas today, they posted a list of books put out by the BBC. The BBC's guess is that most people won't have read more than six books out of the 100. My total was 24.
Now I already have a list of what I would consider books everyone should read at least once in their life. (And yes, there are a slew of those books I've never read myself. Just because I should doesn't mean I have.) Please note that I said 'should read' not 'must like' - because some of the books are on there for learning purposes, not enjoying purposes. There are a myriad of books I really don't like, but I read them anyway so I could learn from them - like The Good Earth, for instance, which has a crappy sense of life, but good writing. (The same can be said for Steinbeck, or Hemingway, or Irving.)
You may notice there are books I didn't put on my list that are on so many other lists of this type. Like, for instance, Catcher in the Rye (which is on the curriculum for most public high-school English students). I really don't see any purpose to suggesting anyone read that book. The only thing I got out of it was a feeling that life was hopeless. And is that really what we want any teenager to experience from reading. (Yes, I know. Teenagers already feel that way - so why compound the problem.) I'm sorry my teacher made me read it, and I wish I could scrub the memory out of my head. Same goes for Lord of the Flies.
You'll also notice that I have books on my list you won't see on some of the others. One glaring example is Ayn Rand. I have my own thoughts on why she's left off the lists of important books (even though Atlas Shrugged is second only to the Bible as 'most influential' to its readers), but I won't rant about them now. Love her work or hate it - your choice - but don't deny its place in literary history. (And if you can't fathom reading 1168 pages, read Anthem instead of Atlas Shrugged.)
I've also placed some more commercial works on my list, because they are important, too. The Mummy, for instance, is a wonderful story - very well written with a positive sense of life. Or take Ken Follett - with his excellent writing and interesting storylines. Or Michael Crichton - who created techo-thrillers, and proved that science can be thrilling here on Earth.
I guess what I'm saying is: People find different things valuable in books. Books that I loathe and make me want to scrub my brain with steel wool, others may hold dear to their hearts. The important thing is that people read. Preferably something of value to them in some way. (And yes, even the trashiest of commercial novels can have value - hell, people find value in James Joyce, don't they? Personally I can find more value in a bodice-ripper than anything he wrote.)
So regardless of what I or anyone else tells you to read, just read something. And if you're short on time, read a kid's book.
Are you reading anything right now (I mean other than this blog, smart aleck)? What's on your nightstand, or what's next up for you? I'm between books right now, but I think I'm going to read some Roald Dahl next.
Yesterday, I was reading Janet Reid's Query Shark and in #100 she brought up a point I know I know, but forgot. Avoid cliches - especially in your query letters. And the instance she pointed to was exactly the one in my own letter. "Discovering the truth..." Ack.
So, that's been chopped. Along with several other unnecessary words and phrases. What I now have is a tighter, cleaner, and more hook-like paragraph (I hope).
In a world where the Union rules everything, Mary Jones was raised to believe she’s nothing. When an underground society known as The Order chooses her for a mission to escape the city, she’s suddenly more important than she’s ever been allowed to know. On the run from the Union Guard, it’s either chancy survival beyond the boundaries of home, or certain death within. Protected by a man she’s not even sure she can trust, she travels through land ravaged by a long-forgotten war, discovering a history the Union wants everyone to forget and an idea worth risking her life for. Mary never promised the Order she’d return, but she can’t be free while the others in her city remain trapped. She just never dreamed they wouldn’t want her help.
I implemented some of the suggestions given in previous comments, but in the end, I just couldn't make some of them work. (btw, I don't have your email addy, Kristen.) With the third limited POV and the voice, giving the hero his own paragraph seemed odd. Everything is from Mary's perspective, and he's more like a 'best supporting actor' than a star.
Anyway, my beta reader is working on Blink (Thank you!), so I won't be sending this out until that's finished. Which gives me time to let this simmer. Meanwhile, I did chop those chapters out of Nano last night, and this morning I resurrected my word meter. (I actually snipped more words, but then added some into the new Chapter One.)
Okay, off to start the day. Can't sit around forever in my jammies. (Well, I could but I won't.) Have a great one, everyone.
By now I'm betting you're wondering why I'm so stressed about this damn query copy thing. I mean, geez, that's all I've talked about lately. That's all I've been thinking about lately, too. When I wake up in the morning, I sit down and work on the damn thing.
Well, I was thinking about it yesterday. The reason I stress so much over the query letter copy is simple. I spent untold hours writing a book, and all that work either stands or falls based on one little letter. I know I've talked about this before, but it bears repeating. 94K words lives or dies based on whether 250 words can entice an agent enough to read more.
So, I'm sorry if my posts have been a little irritating lately. I'm sure you're all sick of reading about it by now. I know I'm sick of thinking about it. In fact, I've been at this so diligently for so many days that now it seems like each subsequent draft blows chunks worse than the one before. But even the older drafts still aren't right. I thought I had it yesterday, but in retrospect, I missed again. :cue Phil Collins: Missed again, Ohh-oh-oh-oh. I think I missed again. oh-Oh-oh.
Anyway, whilst in the midst of this battle with submission materials, I am doing other things. I finally got around to working on the edits for Nano. The first bit - a sort-of prologue - still looks good, but I think the entire first chapter has to go. Snippity-snip. It's interesting and gives some important info, but it's not crucial and the info can be woven in later. Ba-bye words.
And as for C&D, I'll get back to Jordan later. Don't worry. The book is getting used to being put off, or at least it should be by now. Thank goodness it's not a time sensitive piece.
In other news, I got the first chapter of Blink back from a beta reader last night, and she likes it. Always a good thing.
In a world where the Union rules everything, Mary Jones was raised to believe she’s nothing. When she stumbles across an underground society known as The Order, and they choose her for their mission to leave the city, she’s suddenly more important than she’s ever been allowed to know. On the run from the Union Guard, it’s either a chancy survival outside the city, or certain death within. With a man she’s not even sure she can trust as her protector, she travels through territory ravaged by a long-forgotten war, and discovers the truth about the Union. Returning could mean either her death or a chance at freedom for them all, but it’s worth the risk. She just never imagined she might have to force people to want to be free. And she never counted on losing her heart to someone who could betray her.
Needs work. I know. I've been at this off and on for days, though, so all I'm wondering is if I'm on the right track.
Uhh, yeah, I scrapped the other one. I know, I'm a freak. My bwain is dwaining froo my ears.
It's the writing... the writing, I say...
:trails off into maniacal laughter:
If anyone needs me, I'll be donning my 'I love me' jacket and drooling over there in the corner.
btw, if i get one more piece of spam telling me how much oprah loves acai berry, i'm going bat-shit friggin whacko
Writing a query letter is much like walking a tightrope. You have just so much space, and falling to either side of that space can be disastrous. (And part of the problem is you don't know you've fallen until after you're already smushed on the rejection concrete below.)
Yesterday Kristen asked if Blink has any romance, since I didn't hint at it in my last pass at the cover copy. It does. I mentioned it in one of my other drafts, but I eventually elected to delete that information. Why?
As I said above, there's only so much space. You have to make a decision on each story element as to whether it's crucial enough to stick into that space. In the case of the romance angle, I decided it wasn't germane to the crux of the story. It's like the suspense angle, or the betrayal angle, or the mystery. It's there, and it adds conflict for Mary, but the real story is her journey from crawling to fighting.
The urge is there to put in a snippet about the hero. I'd also like to mention the villain, but in the scheme of things, it's enough to use the Union and not mention the man who heads it. If I had the space, I'd talk about the grandfatherly Russell who introduces her to the Order.
I could delve into Mary's search for identity, because as a 'foundling' she doesn't really know her past or her family, and it's key to discovering who she really is as an individual.
See why writing a query blurb is so damn hard? It was actually harder for this book than any other so far. There's a lot woven into those 94K words.
Anyway, I think I hit the right balance. The book is broken into three parts, and each is represented in the three paragraphs - albeit not in any encompassing way. Time will tell if I got it right or it fell off the tightrope into the abyss. I just need to hook them, so they'll want to read more.
Now I have to write the synopsis (something I neglected to do last year for my aborted query pass). There's where I can let it all hang out - in five pages or less.
And here we go again, with extra query verbiage added:
A foundling raised in a state home, Mary Jones should be a meek servant under the Union’s dictatorship. Instead, she has a tendency to wander where she shouldn’t be, and this time it’s straight into a forbidden store run by a member of a secret society—The Order and they need help. Before she can blink, they decide she’s perfect for a mission they’ve planned for decades. Now, she can either stay home where the Union Guard already has orders to kill her, or she can escape the city to search for traces of mankind outside.
If she survives long enough to return, that is.
Beyond the ravages of a long-forgotten war, she learns freeing her city means eradicating the Union—by herself, if necessary. The problem is: when she promised to free her people, she never dreamed they wouldn’t want her help.
Blink of an I is a 94,000 word speculative :or other pertinent genre:novel set in America’s distant future.
After reading :personalization:, :more personalization:. Almost four years ago, I quit the big city and my life in corporate America to write full-time in the relative solitude of tiny-town Colorado. Since then, I have five completed novels under my belt—Blink of an I being the most recent work.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
(BTW, I don't really space between paragraphs - that's a no-no - I just can't get the blog to indent text without becoming a huge pain in the hiney.)
This was originally called Blurb7 - out of like 15 - and was written before I rewrote the middle and revised the beginning. I revised this to meet the changes I'd made to the book, so I can maybe hit the mark a little closer.
Let's see if this is an improvement.
Raised in the strangling embrace of the Union, Mary Jones was supposed to be exactly what they wanted her to be, to think what they wanted her to think, and to live how they wanted her to live. She failed. Fired from her job and denounced as incompetent, she wanders into a curious old store, and into the arms of a secret society known as the Order. Before she knows it, these strange people have chosen her for a mission no one else has survived. Unless Mary wants her life to remain the same, she must accept their plan to escape the city and discover whether other people still exist in the world—if only to prove life can go on without Union control. What she finds beyond the ravages of a long forgotten war will force her to accept the only way her city will be free is to eradicate the Union, even if she has to do it herself. But when she made the promise to free her people, she never dreamed they wouldn’t want her help.
Seems a little wordy to me, but it says what I need it to say. I think it addresses some of the concerns Kristen raised in her comments on the previous post. (Or maybe I'm just too close to see how I'm missing the mark.) Any help anyone can provide will be appreciated. In fact, if you leave a help-related comment about this blurby thing between today's posts and the time my poll closes, I'll enter you into a drawing for a prize - just as a thanks.
Well, after all the work I did yesterday, I scrapped everything this morning and went back to a draft I did several weeks ago. Not that what I wrote yesterday was crap. It was actually pretty good as cover copy goes. I was even prepared to go ahead with it, but when I looked at it this morning, I realized it didn't have the right tone. It wasn't in keeping with the voice of the novel.
So anyway, here's the latest incarnation. There's still something off about it, but I'm so brain-fried I can't figure out what. If any of you want to comment, feel free.
Raised as a foundling, Mary Jones was taught to believe she's nothing and no one. As castes go, she’s just one step above servants and slaves, and she’s lucky the Union allowed her that. But after she wanders across a secret group known as the Order, she discovers she’s more special than she’s been allowed to know. The Order sees something in Mary, a chance for success where so many others have failed. Mary’s only task is to escape the city and find others who may still be free beyond the wastelands, but after learning she’s always been a tool for the Union, she makes plans of her own. She’ll return to see her city free from the Union’s control, whether it wants to be free or not.
*shrug* It's close, but I don't want to touch it anymore for fear I'll screw it up. Like making spaghetti sauce - sometimes you know it's missing something, but you can't figure out what, and then the next thing you know you've added too much thyme and ruined the whole pot.
Write, rewrite, edit... go back to previous draft... Edit, tweak, revise... Start over fresh... Revise, rewrite, edit, tweak...
Can you tell I'm trying to write the 'cover copy' portion of my new query for Blink? I feel like a friggin' hamster, running in his little wheel. Round and round. Never getting anywhere. I've been at it for two hours this morning already. Every time I think I've almost got the jist of it, I look at it and realize, something not right. It's driving me fruit-bat.
:sets hair on fire and runs down the street screaming:
Ok, not really. But that's what I feel like doing sometimes, ya know?
And it occurred to me this morning that I started this book over two years ago. For some reason I was sure I started this in '07, but no. First file date? August 2006. Yuck. I started it in August, finished the first draft in December, redrafted a couple times and then sat on it for a year. I re-redrafted it, and in January of '08 I sent out a couple queries. No nibbles. Then I got distracted again writing another book, and another book. Editing each of those, querying each of those... More Hamster Wheel activity... And finally, here I am with Blink re-written - yet again. And yet again, I'm rewriting the submission materials. First the query, then the synopsis.
Hamster Wheel. Run little furry guy, run.
Ever see a hamster get running so fast that when he falls, he just rides the wheel all the way around to the bottom again before either falling off or getting a fresh grip? Pretty funny stuff. Unless, of course, you're the hamster.
(Okay, so it's pretty funny even then.)
Of course, as frustrating and irritating as this writing business can sometimes be, I wouldn't trade it for any other job. And for all my occassional whining, I do love this endeavor. I just wish it was easier sometimes. Know what I mean?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have miles to go on before I sleep (considering it's only quarter after nine and I'm only really running in circles). ;o)
When I get it to a version I don't hate, I'll post it for y'all. Then you can tell me if you think it sucks or not. Maybe I'll make it an anonymous poll. LOL
Last night I finished Blink's rewrite. All told, I ended up about 1000 words lighter than it was. There's no way to know for sure how much I actually snipped out because I added some along the way. One thing I do know is it's so much better now.
I also read Unwind by Neal Shusterman yesterday. It's a YA speculative with an interesting - if flawed - premise. It's tight and well written overall. Good stuff. One thing about it, though, made me want to talk about the book here today.
The premise flaws.
Well, not the flaws themselves specifically, but the fact that they are there. You see, I try really hard to make sure the premises I put forth - however wild - don't have any major, glaring flaws. The thing about Mr. Shusterman's book, though, is that it's well written enough that even with those flaws, he gets his point across and the story doesn't suffer for it. In fact, one major flaw didn't even jump out at me until after I finished the book and was trying to sleep last night. It may be a plot spoiler, but here's the niggler: you can't trade body parts between people with different blood types. (And it wouldn't have been noticeable at all if he hadn't made such a big deal about one of the characters being AB neg.) Simple stuff, really, and something that would probably be overlooked, but it got me.
Anyway, like I said, the writing was good enough that the flaws fell by the wayside. They made the first few pages hard to get into, but beyond that they were negligible. All in all, that is a really tough thing to do as a writer - make your writing strong enough to get the reader to ignore the flaws. (Of course, IMO, it would be better to have good writing and no flaws, but you get the drift.)
As I sit here this morning writing this, I'm wondering though. Is 'good enough' really good enough? Shouldn't someone somewhere along the way have pointed out that either an explanation is needed for why the flaw is possible or the flaw needs to be rewritten?
Agents say good writing trumps all. Does it? I guess in this case, it did. And really, the writing was excellent. I'll give Mr. Shusterman that.
Or am I being too anal this morning?
Oh, and once again I'm asking for readers. If you'd like to beta read Blink for me, I'll be happy to exchange crits or throw in a free book from the store. I just need some extra eyes to make sure I'm not committing any unforgiveable sins (like those flaws that drive me nuts). If you're interested, shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thanks.
I may have mentioned before (or maybe not) that I'm a fan of the show Biggest Loser. I got hooked a couple years ago after watching a marathon of it on Bravo. Seeing those people push themselves to lose weight, many of them after years of not being able to so much as eat smaller portions, was heartening. Seeing those people, who thought they could never do it, find the motivation to at least try is heroic. True, this time it's the lure of money, and since money is a great motivator, I say more power to them.
Now, I'm not overweight by any stretch of the imagination. (Although I am trying to lose weight, that's because the more pounds my bum leg carries the worse it feels. 140 is best; 163 was too much.) So that's not why I'm watching the show. I can't empathize with those people. I can sympathize because I've had some difficult things I had to get through myself, and because my sister's been battling her weight for 25+ years.
The main reason I watch is to see people doing difficult things and succeeding. It's the same principle behind watching Top Chef or Project Runway. Given a set of things to overcome, these people put their shoulder to the wheel and get the job done.
And what I hate about any of these shows are the whiners. With Biggest Loser this season, we had Joelle, who kept whining about how she was doing her best - but you could tell she wasn't. Even her own partner yelled at her. Even Bob the trainer (who has never flown off the handle in all the seasons of Biggest Loser) lost it and screamed at her. And still she went along her lazy way. If all the rest of the people were working out, she was sure to be seen sitting and watching - unless Bob jumped all over her. Now she's gone - voted off the ranch - and no one was sorry to see her go.
Another person I couldn't wait to see go, even though she was only back for a couple weeks, was Shanon. She and her mother were a team, and every week her mother (Helen) busted her butt to lose weight, but Shanon didn't seem like she could be bothered. In the end, she asked to be voted off because she was sure she could lose weight better at home. From the glimpse at her after she left, she was right. Unfortunately, in that mother-daughter relationship, it was clear she was going to do better without her mother around, because Helen was an enabler. Sad really. In trying to improve her daughter's self-esteem, she actually was crippling her ability to work through difficulties by herself. I didn't think Shanon was going to be able to lose weight, and I'm glad she proved me wrong.
Heh. There was a point in all this... Somewhere.
Ah yes, achievement. I like to see people achieve. I want to watch them succeed at their efforts. That's part of the reason I like sports. I need to see people taking that spark inside themselves and putting forth the tremendous effort it takes to win, and then doing winning. No whining involved.
It's also the reason I celebrate the launch of new books by people I know have busted their asses to see their books in print. I know how hard it is to write a book, and how hard it is to get something published. Seeing these hard-working people get it done, make me happy. (And conversely, seeing someone fall ass backwards into it, kinda ticks me off - but shit happens.) Sure, I'm jealous, but that just spurs me to work harder so I can achieve that success, too.
Without whining. Without complaining. Accepting the obstacles life sometimes puts in our way, and succeeding in spite of them.
Now if I can just get Biggest Loser to move to Thursday night, when nothing else I want to watch is on. This coinciding with NCIS thing is the pits. ;o)
Today's installment of Overheard on the Street is brought to you by a group of teenage boys. From the looks of it, one of them was playing something on his cell phone. As they walked past me, I heard the boy say to one of his friends:
"Dude, I tried for like ten hours. Seriously, from like 10 to 6."
Umm, yeah. Today's youth, inspiration for the future.
As I forge through the rewrite of Blink, I thought I'd take a break and thank those people who told me the beginning needed to start from somewhere else. Of course, that was over a year ago, and I wasn't in a place where I could SEE how right they were.
And how wrong I was to not see it.
It may take me a while, but I can admit when I'm wrong. The problem here is I was too close to Blink to see it. I loved the beginning. It said all the things I wanted to say and got the book moving. Or so I thought.
You see, I was so entrenched in making that beginning work, I couldn't see how badly it wasn't working. Hell, even after I knew it wasn't working, I had a devil of a time rewriting it. As I said before, the old words kept getting in the way of making a new start. I understand... They didn't want to die. But they had to, if the book was going to survive.
Now that they're gone, the story is so much better. A new start made a world of difference. I'm just sorry it took me a year to learn that lesson. And I'm sorry I didn't listen when people told me that truth whether I wanted to hear it at the time or not.
Don't get me wrong. I'm open to advice and suggestions - unless they seem like they're totally out of step with where I want my story to be. In this instance, that was the case, and I was wrong.
I didn't take 100% of the advice, of course. (It's the rebel in me, I guess. heh.) Back then, the idea was put forth to start the book at X point instead of Y. Instead, I threw out Y and created a totally new beginning to lead to X.
Starting at X would be too weird, IMO. And yes, I did try it. It really didn't work. Or at least it I couldn't find a way to write it so it would work. (Still can't. Starting at X seems too jarring - like throwing the reader in at a place where nothing makes sense. If that makes any sense.)
Anyway, the new beginning is finished, and I'm almost done weaving the new ideas into the original story. In deleting the old beginning, I had to snip a couple very minor characters, and now I have to get rid of the only other place they reappear. Plus, in the new beginning, I added some information that has to be worked in to later chapters. So far, it's all weaving together wonderfully well.
So, to those crit'ters who offered advice last year, thank you. I apologize for having my head up where it doesn't belong and not taking your words to heart.
Have you ever not taken someone's advice only to find out later they were right all along?
Call him Old Man Winter, or maybe Jack Frost... Whatever name he goes by, he is my arch nemesis and he returned with a vengeance last night. Bastard.
I used to have a fairly amiable relationship with him. I loved him when I was a kid. The snow days he gave me were a joy. The huge mounds of powdery white stuff that I could use to build a friend or a fort or a wicked sled run, those were wonderful presents when I was a child.
As I grew older, he began to wear on me. Still, it wasn't horrible. He did his thing and I did mine. Hell, I lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for four years. You can't survive up there if you spent your time seething over his effects. For one thing, you'd never get anything done. And I have to admit, the traces of his passing are always pretty to look at.
Over the years, though, the relationship has definitely soured. I mean, I moved out of Michigan to get away from his annoying games. (Florida was wonderful for the short time I lived there. Winter was a little chilly, but Jack really doesn't have more than a passing acquiantance with the area.) How I ended up back in his realm is a long story, but here I am. And I returned to find that Jack--my childhood friend turned arch nemesis--is still up to his old tricks.
After more than a week of unseasonable warmth, I awoke this morning to three inches of snow with an anticipated four more on the way. Yesterday it was in the fifties, for cripesake. It was sunny and beautiful. Which makes this just so wrong.
This isn't over Jack. You've won this time, but I will defeat you yet.
Maybe with a beach house on the Gulf. That'll show him.
Just a quick wrap up before I cruise off to bed. I know I took my word meters down. (Had to. The pressure was killing me.*) But I got 1200 words out on C&D tonight. Yay me.
I also sent a snail mail query off today. Just testing the waters with an agent I hadn't heard of - with a reputable agency, so no worries. We'll see if she likes RTL. If not, she might be a good one for Blink. We'll see what she has to say. Over the next few weeks, I'll be sending out others - and for other books as well.
You see, between the comments from my lovely blogpals and this book I'm reading, I got the kick I couldn't give myself. I'm going to publish. I'm going to get an agent. I will see my books in print. (And not just off my own Lexmark.)
In other news, I'll be taking the hubby's computer in for service tomorrow. Not a yay, but if it fixes the problems, it's worth the lost work time. Here's hoping Walmart has Monica McCarty's latest Hot Highlander novel. Kill two birds with one stone. ;o)
What are you up to? Any progress in what you're doing? Any good things to report? Have you read Monica's new book yet? (If you haven't read her others, they are hot hot hot - and the stories are awesome, too.)
*Kidding. I just got bored with it. They might come back later.
Stir thoroughly. Chill overnight for best results. Serve with lowfat crackers or chips or veggies - whatever blows your skirt up. They way I figure it, it's about 9 calories per tablespoon for the dip (check the package for calorie count on your dipable substance of choice) and none of those calories are from fat. Yay.
Next time, I'm going to try creating a sweet dip for rice cakes. I'll let you know how it goes - unless it's really nasty, in which case I'll carry the recipe to my grave. ;o)
You've probably heard all about the plane that crash landed in the Hudson River last month. Thanks to the skill and cool-headedness of Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger, all 155 people aboard lived to spend more time with their families.
Tonight on 60 minutes, they aired an interview Katie Couric did with the courageous captain (read an article about the interview here). Everything I've seen of the man has impressed the hell out of me - starting with the amazing landing, and continuing with every appearance he's made on TV. He's a rare human being. A hero who doesn't apologize for being heroic, and neither does he trot out a load of hubris. He's not even comfortable with being called a hero, because he knows he was just doing his job.
In my book, that makes him even more heroic.
Hell, the guy is still wracking his brain trying to figure out if he could've done the whole thing another way. Maybe he's thinking there was some way to avoid those damn birds, but I don't think there's anything else he could've done to make that landing any sweeter than it was. They showed a video caught by some security camera, and damn if he didn't set that baby down like he was sliding into home.
He gets hero of the year, if you ask me.
Of course, I could've slapped Couric, but I never liked her anyway. It was almost like she was trying to take away from man's accomplishment. Feh. I know she was going for the whole 'human interest' thing, but I think the story has all that without trying to pry weakness out of a man who had better things to do than cry or pray or shiver in fear. If he had taken the time to do those things, we'd be mourning the loss of 155 people instead of celebrating the fact that they're alive. Thank goodness a cooler head prevailed.
Well, I finished Nano's first draft today. I don't remember how many first drafted books* that is now - I have at least one I never finished beyond that - but if I get this one through the edits, I'll be at #6. Five years, six books... not too shabby.
Spectacle Caldera AWJ (never finished beyond first draft) Blink RTL Manhunter Nano (*okay, now I remember)
Of course, there are several I never got all the way to THE END on. C&D is one of those, along with one I call Redemption, another known as Be Careful (short for Be Careful What You Wish For). Add to that several shorts: Fire, Mirror, Haudego, Pigwell, Bad Fluffy Bunny, etc. - and that's something to be proud of.
I haven't sold yet, but I am proud. I'll be even more so when I'm published, but for now I'll bask in the glow.
As for completing Nano to the point where it's ready for other people to read it, I probably should take some time before I edit, but after so much time away already, the only parts still fresh are the ones I did recently. With that in mind, I'm guessing I've already taken my gel time on this project and should just get back to work.
Which, of course, means shifting either Blink or C&D to the back burner again. Hmmm, I wonder if I can work the schedule and do all three.
Time will tell. All I know at this point is that it just feels good to get back to work.
Back in Utah, I bought this book - not because I thought I really needed it, but because I respect the author and I figured I could read it later. Problem with that was, I never did. As I was sorting through my store earlier this week, I noticed it again and decided to take it out of the store (can't remember why I even put it in there) so I could actually read it. At this point, I could probably use a little kick in the ass anyway, right? Lord knows kicking my own ass hasn't done me much good this time around. So between store work and school work, I started reading it again. And you know what?
It seems to be working.
Oh, I forgot to tell you what the book is. It's Grow Up America! by Dr. Michael Hurd. If you're not familiar with Dr. Hurd (and you're probably not), he's a psychotherapist with some decidedly new ideas on how to help people the rational way. I used to visit his site on a regular basis, read his 'Daily Dose of Reason', and soak up his knowledge like a sponge.
Anyway, one thing I got just from reading the first couple chapters is a reminder that A is A. Or basically what is, is - and that's all that there is, so make the best of it. Control the things you can control, and get over the rest of it. Sitting around wishing I had an agent isn't going to get me one. I can't control any of them or their reactions to my work. All I can do is write the best stories I can write, and sooner or later the rest will follow. I can't make it happen any sooner by sitting on my ass, whining about the unfairness of it all - or how hard it all is, or how unfair. Neither will pouting over how much I suck. If I think I suck, the only thing to do is to try harder not to suck.
Another thing Dr. Hurd points out is to look at life with optimistic realism. Start every situation with a positive outlook, and adjust to reality as necessary. Negative thoughts only perpetuate themselves. (I'm going from memory here, not quoting - so if I missed the point, correct me, please.) Which means if I think I suck, I will suck. If I hold the thought that I am a good writer, until reality proves otherwise, then I will continue to write well and continue to improve as I receive more information.
Well, duh. I knew that, but I forgot about it. I was spending so much time wallowing in my rejections that I couldn't see what was staring me in the face. I'm a good writer. I know that. I also know there is room for improvement - there's always room for improvement - but those things I need to improve on don't make me a horrible writer or a horrible person.
:grin: Sometimes all it takes is a nudge.
Dr. Hurd doesn't fix people. He shows people how to fix themselves. And I need to work on that just as hard as I work on everything else - harder even because sometimes I can be a slacker.
And on that note, I have to say I wrote 1600 words last night - 1000 on C&D and :drumroll: another 600 on Nano! I might actually finish this book now that I don't think I suck.
Here's hoping all of you have a productive and successful weekend.
So, it's been a half a decade now since I started writing seriously. As you might have noticed from my post a couple days ago, sometimes this fact hits me like a sack of wet cement. (Almost like my 30th birthday and my upcoming 40th in another 16 months.) Sometimes it just gives me pause, and I look back at the things I've learned over those years. Today is one of those look back and ponder days.
Yesterday, Jessica Faust over at BookEnds wrote an excellent post called Rolling with the Punches in which she says: "Give It Five Years... In my opinion, five years is the time you need to really be able to judge whether or not your business is working.". At first this statement about derailed me. Since it's been that exact amount of time for me, I wondered whether this particular tip was going to indicate I should probably chuck this business of writing and take a job at the local grocery store. (How hard can scanning food into a cash register be?) Lucky for me, that isn't what she was trying to say at all. In the second paragraph of that, she goes on to say that at five years look back and evaluate your progress.
Have you learned anything or are you still in the same place you were when you started? I've learned a bunch. I've learned that this isn't anywhere near as easy as I assumed when I started (not the writing part, but the publishing part). I've learned that not everything I want to write is going to mesh with the market - and that sometimes that's okay because writing with the market in mind may mean not being true to myself. (Tried to write for the market - failed miserably.)
True, in some ways I'm still in the same place. After all, I'm not published, I'm not agented, and I'm still adding to my rejection collection. But for the most part, I've grown as a writer. My work now is much tighter and cleaner than it was five years ago.
Additionally, I've grown as writer as it pertains to the business side of this enterprise. My query letters and other submission materials are much better than they were when I started trying to get someone interested in Spectacle. I'm receiving partial requests and full requests. So I must be doing something right. Right? Another thing Ms. Faust mentions is a change in my publishing network, which has certainly happened. (Many times over, as a matter of fact.) I still don't belong to any writerly groups - well, I used to, but that didn't work out - but I have people I can connect with in this business. I have this blog, for instance, and I have a wide range of blogs I read and comment on, which is sort of like a big amorphous writerly group.
So all in all, I'm moving ahead. Not at the rate I originally assumed I'd be moving at, but forward motion shouldn't be discounted even when it's baby steps.
As for the accomplishments of the past five years, I've:
- Written five books (Spectacle, Caldera, Blink, RTL, Manhunter) to THE END. - Revised and revised and revised all of the above. - Gotten book six to almost THE END, and I've restarted a series I've been meaning to write for the past three years. - Written umpteen query letters, synopses, outlines, bios, etc. With each pass getting stronger. - Had a great CP - Lost a great CP (has anyone seen my missing CP?) - Made some awesome new friends (some of whom have also become beta readers - thank you) - Started and maintained this blog. I've even had some notable people stop by. - Guest blogged for another blog. - Wrote and entered a few shorts to competitions and lit journals. - Started two other blogs (although posting has been sporadic at best)
During all this, I also started homeschooling my daughter, and we've been at that going on four years now. Who knew I could re-learn Algebra, and teach myself enough Chemistry to point her in the right direction?
Looking back, I guess I really don't have anything to bitch about. I'm sure I could've done more to get my career off the runway. I could've sent more queries. I could've learned about the business more before I sent Spectacle out into the world, so maybe it wouldn't have failed so miserably. But what's past is passed, and as much as we might like to, we can't change what's gone before. We can only learn and move forward.
Thanks to Jessica Faust for reminding me about that part. She really is an awesome person - whether she knows how much she's helped me over the years or not.
Your turn. How long have you been writing? What are some of the lessons you've learned over your time in the business? Do you feel like you've grown or are you in the same place you were when you started?
:imagine this in whispers: I don't want to jinx anything, but I wrote some new words last night. Not a lot of words, mind you, but enough to get C&D rolling again. yay. :end whisper:
And on the subject of being quiet, can anyone explain to me why the level of noise seems to be rising? Is it just that I'm creeping up on 40, or is a large portion of our populous really looking forward to being deaf some day?
Years ago, I read a really great article on this noise thing, but right now I'm at a loss as to the name of the writer or the article. He theorized that it had something to do with people wanting to shut out reality and/or their own thoughts by turning their stereos up. (You know, it's really hard to think with the bass booming and some person/band shrieking in your ears.) Made a lot of sense to me then, and it still does.
Not that it's just stereos, iPods, CD players, MP3 players, etc. (You'd be surprised how many kids in this little town blare their iPods - like loud enough to hear across the street.) People seem to be talking louder, too, but maybe that's just a function of the self-induced hearing loss. :shrug:
While I pull my head out of whatever orifice it's jammed into at the moment, I'm reading and working on my bookstore. (If you weren't already aware, I sell used books through Amazon. I'm not going to get rich, but it feeds my book-buying addiction, and I hope gives some people who can't afford new books a chance to read.)
Anyway, that's what I've been hip-deep in for the past few days. After we moved in October, I never took the time to reorganize my stock. Around 1500 books in no particular order, spread through three rooms. Ever try to alphabetize that many books? It ain't pretty. Still, considering what a pain it was to find anything, in the long run it'll be worth it.
Oh, and the unhappy circumstance that while I was moving about a third of my stock dropped out of my listings... Well, now that I have them organized and sorted, I'm in the process of relisting those 500 or so books. Weeee.
On the upside, it's keeping my mind off my recent slump. Here's hoping all that physical labor shakes something in my head loose. (Not that there aren't already a lot of things loose up there. They're just the wrong things.)
As for the reading front, I just finished book #13 for the year so far. (If you haven't read G.A. Aiken's dragon books yet, get thee out and buy both. You won't regret it - they're hot.) That's way ahead of last year, and if I read at this pace, I'll be looking at around twice the number read this year than last. I'm hoping I don't have this much time to read all year, but I'm trying to look on the bright side.
How's your life going? Read any good books lately?
A couple days ago, Karin Tabke asked what challenges her blog readers face for the coming year, and my answer is - as usual - getting an agent (and all the stuff that comes after that). Karin's reply was simply: "Are you sending stuff out?"
Umm... :hangs head in shame:
Not at the moment.
You see, everything I have ready to send out has already been rejected by damn near everyone on the planet (or at least it feels that way). :cough:loser:cough: Which is why I'm reworking Blink - which hasn't been rejected because it was never queried - and trying to write that cute mystery series I've always wanted to write.
Still doesn't make me any less of a loser. I mean, seriously, five years? (Officially, five years last week was when I typed the first words of Spectacle.) And not five years of working on one book, either. It wasn't even five years where I had to compete with a day job for writing time.
Of course, some days are better than others. Some days I hit the world with a bright outlook and cheerful optimism (no, really... I do). Other days are like today when all I can think of goes kinda like this quote from Shelley:
I could lie down like a tired child, And weep away the life of care Which I have borne, and yet must bear.
And then I get totally pissed and sick of myself. (I can only wonder whether you're sick of me yet, too. Wanda Whiner that I am. Boo fucking hoo.)
So, coming back around to the question of the day: Am I sending stuff out? In truth the answer is: No, I'm too much of a big baby to send anything out lately. "What if they don't like it?" "What if they stomp all over it (and by it, I mean the story and therefore my chest) again?" Wah.
I know I can't sell anything if I don't send it out. I know if I never try I'll always fail. I've heard all the maxims. I know all the rah-rah'isms. I've tried all the tricks to get myself out of this slump. Unfortunately, it all comes back to this.
Two days from now, good ol' Punxsutawney Phil will be pulled from his hole to tell the world whether Winter is over. What a crappy job, and for what? He's only right 50% of the time anyway. (And in any given situation where you have two answers to chose from, you're going to get the same odds.)
For me, my sure signs Spring is near comes from my feathered friends. First off, the finches are eating at my feeder again. No finches all winter, and then a couple of days ago, I get finch-a-palooza.
But the real kicker was that this morning, I saw the first robin of Spring. Not only saw him, but he started singing from his perch at the top of our neighbor's tree. Huzzah!
Regardless of whatever anyone else says, the birds are usually right. They don't begin to migrate until whatever internal sensors they possess tell them they're going to find food wherever they're headed. God, I love evolution.
Sure, there could be one stupid robin who jumped the gun. I've seen it before. He arrives way too early and either starves or freezes. If it was just one bird, I wouldn't stake my reputation on it. But, the finches - and a whole flock of them - followed by that one robin pretty much nails it for me. Add in the fact that he was singing - which they don't do unless there's a fairly good chance a mate will be arriving soon - and I'm predicting winter here will end with a whimper this year.
If I'm wrong, you all can come back and laugh at me later.
So, Phil? Sleep in on the second. The birds have got your back. ;o)
As you may know, I've been trying to work on at least two unfinished projects - Blink and C&D. The problem is I still have Nano to finish. AND my brain has been skipping to ideas for other projects I either haven't started, or completely new stories I haven't even plugged into my Ideas file yet. I can't seem to get my brain centered on one thing long enough to keep at it.
And it's making me so scattered I'm unable to get a firm grip on anything.
For instance, in the middle of Manhunter, I got the idea to write it as one of a series - each about a serial crime of some sort. (Since the organization behind Manhunter is a serial crimes task force.) Manhunter deals with a different kind of serial murderer. The next book deals with a bizarre serial rapist (not bizarre as in those things normal society sees as deviant acts of sexual behavior - beyond the raping itself, that is - but bizarre in what drives him to do what he does). A third is also a serial murder story, but with an interesting twist. Those two books after Manhunter are ones I've been thinking about for a while, but I just got the idea for a fourth in the series - having to do with a serial arsonist this time.
And then there is the fact that C&D is being written as part of a mystery series. Same problem. I have the first book. I have a general premise for the second and third. Just now, the idea for a fourth popped into my head.
(Don't even get me started on the 9 pages worth of other ideas I already have in my files.)
No wonder I can't get my brain to focus on the two... okay, three books I already have on my plate to finish. I'm thinking there's some psychological reason behind all this, but I'm stymied as to how to fix what's going on in my head. I mean, all this could be my brain throwing new ideas out as roadblocks - because if I can't finish something, I won't have the opportunity to get rejected again. Could be.
Anyway, I'm scattered, and it's making me stuck. I try to move past it, and you know what happens? My brain throws more things at me while I'm trying to fall asleep. The other night I made some real progress on getting back into C&D, and as soon as I went to bed, the muse barfed up a new plot line for a book I'm not even planning on writing (at least not in the foreseeable future). Dirty rat bastard.
I guess I just need to sit still for a while, figure out what in the hell is going on in my subconscious, and get my ever-widening ass back to work. Or if not the former, definitely the latter.
Ever run across this type of thing in your own world? Ever have your subconscious attack you when you think you're trying to get something done? (I think it's akin to when you know you have to clean the bathrooms, and suddenly you find yourself doing laundry, or vaccuuming, or baking... anything to avoid the chore.) Any thoughts?
I've been a voracious reader for most of my life (except for those years in the '90s when I had my head up my... ummm... yeah), and I've found that once I find an author I like I tend to stick to those books. After a while, though, I run into a major problem: some of those old favorites are dead and I've read everything they wrote.
For a while, I just started reading everything I could get my hands on. Unfortunately, that led to buying some real stinkers, some well-written but irritating things, and some that were just bleh. Needless to say, I got burned enough to stop buying books unless they were recommended by someone I knew and trusted. That can be problematic when the people you know aren't readers like you are, and I burned through whatever recommendations I got rather rapidly. (And I got burned by a few because our minds weren't on the same page, if you know what I mean.)
Nowadays, I really have a tough time picking up new books, unless they're by someone I know is good (And those people really need to write faster, darn it all. :smirk:) OR they've got a cover blurb by an author I like.
Say, for instance, Allison Brennan has a quote on the cover of a book. That's one sure way to get me to shell out my cash. So far, she's only steered my wrong once, and the books in that series weren't really that bad - just not Brennan caliber. There're probably about a half-dozen writers who I respect enough to buy based on their word.
Without those recommendations, I'm pretty lost. I hate reading back cover copy - because I don't want the copy to spoil the excitement of reading a story blind. I don't read the first few pages - because it's like eating grapes at the store: If I didn't pay for it yet, I'm not consuming it. Basically, when I'm looking for something new to try, I rolls the dice and I takes my chances - so to speak.
I hit about 50/50 doing that. Not a cost effective way to work this reading thing I do, but since I look at all books as research of some sort (even if it's only researching what NOT to do), it's not a big loss. And really, when I think about it, in the past few years there's only been one book I started and stopped reading only a few pages in. That was a real gag-fest of crappy writing. I didn't chuck it against the wall, but the urge was there. Yuck.
Anyway, I guess there really isn't a point to this post. So far this year, I've liked everything I read - some more than others, but that's expected. I'm just waiting for the next time I plunk my money down for an untested title and end up wishing I had my $7.99+tax back.
Tell me: Do you try new authors out? How do you decide what to try?
First off, let me just say... IT'S FRIGGIN' FREEZIN'!!! I just walked in from shoveling snow, and I had to get that off my chest. I mean, four degrees and snow?? Who's idea was that? Yuck.
Now, for the real post...
This morning as I was skipping through the blogosphere, I came across some interesting posts I thought y'all might like. For instance...
At BookEnds, Jessica shares a letter from a reader that I think any writer can relate to. Some days this business of trying to move from unpub to pub can really suck. I feel bad for the teen who wrote the letter. I mean, I started doing this at 34 and even with my self-worth firmly set, it wasn't easy. I can't imagine what it would be like at 17, when you're still pretty unsure of yourself anyway, to be getting rejection letters. Ack. All I can say to the writer of that letter is: Hang in there, kid. Oh and: Don't let the bastards grind you down.
In other news, Monica McCarty's latest hottie Highlander novel releases today. I'm not usually a fan of historicals, but this series has me wanting to inhale them all. I'll be panting in line to buy in today (if the local store has it, that is - otherwise, it'll have to wait until my next book trip).
If you haven't seen it already, there a new blog in town. Last monday was the launch post of a writerly blog called Genreality. Plenty of good authors are hanging out there, including one of my favs: Lynn Viehl (aka Paperback Writer). So far they've had some interesting posts, and I'm guessing it'll prove to be a valuable source of information in the days ahead.
Over at The Fictionistas today, Kristen Painter discusses the various words and phrases coined by The Bard himself. I don't know about any of you, but I love Shakespeare. As I said in my comment on the site, 'he's da man'.
Otherwise, I'm just reading and trying to write. In the reading category, I've got my hands on the second Dresden Files novel (or is the third?): Fool Moon. Like the Dresden books I've read before, this one is a good read. Not only that, but it's also good research (on how to write an excellent mystery) and it's good inspiration. Reading it has led me to revisit my own mystery series.
Which means I'm back to re-re-reading Cut & Dried. While it doesn't have any paranormal or fantasy elements like the Dresden novels, it has that same quick wit and gritty reality you see in the works of Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and Erle Stanley Gardner. I'm thinking of billing Cut & Dried (the first JA mystery) as what would happen if Mickey Spillane and Rita Rudner had a love child who was then raised by Janeane Garofalo (without her politics, of course). So far, it's pretty funny and, I hope, fairly hard-boiled. Time will tell.
Of course, I'm still working on revising Blink. I think I'll leave it for the weekends, though, and get back to my old schedule: Write on weekdays. Edit on weekends. (Since I'm only 84 pages into C&D, it counts as new writing.)
Wading through pages and paragraphs, trying to find the path that will make this book better... Well, it ain't easy. Blink is giving me fits. It haunts my brain, especially while I'm trying to fall asleep. It whispers to me in the shower, and while I'm outside smoking.
The old words are still there, and while they aren't right, they're trying to claim some strange type of seniority. "Well, we were here first," they say in a somewhat whiny voice. "How could you try to replace us with new words?" Entitlement mentality for the verbage, I guess. I know it's wrong, and I suspect, so do they. But there they are, staring back at me every time I try to re-write chapter two. And they aren't the worst of it. During this re-write, I'm deleting a few minor - and wholly unnecessary - characters. They aren't doing more than taking up space. They only have a couple of lines at most, and they aren't driving the story forward.
But they don't want to die.
Of course, it doesn't help that the one named character I'm going to delete was named after my grandmother. Silly me. I have to delete my grandmother. Good thing she's already gone, or she'd chew me out for certain. (Let's just say she wasn't a cookie-baking, soft and cuddly grandma and leave it at that. I don't want to speak ill of the dead.) Don't get me wrong. Grandma was a great character. She may make an appearance in one of my other books someday. But not here.
Anyway, to get around the words on my screen, and stop their incessant whining, I decided to print them out and get rid of them that way. I'll just take them over to the couch, do the necessary snipping and when I have a new chapter two, I'll bring it over here for the finally dirty work.
For today's question, let me know if you've ever named characters after relatives/loved ones, and whether you've ever had to kill off or delete someone you knew (in your writing, of course).
Heh. After my post about intentions, the writing gods have been conspiring to put me in my place. I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say my intentions really have been for shit lately.
Okay, one detail... An unexpected trip out of town yesterday led to a book-buying extravaganza. Eight new books for me, five (I think) for the daughter-person. My TBR pile is now officially huge (for me). I love Barnes & Noble - even more than Borders, because B&N has a better selection of both books and music. Of course, there were still two books on my must-have list that were out of stock, but all-in-all it was a successful trip.
Of course, having so many books to read gives me an excuse not to write. Must... fight... lame... excuse. Last night, I started in on the last book in Lynn Viehl's Darkyn Series, though, so the fight is on. I should've been writing instead. I need to keep my reading down to those hours during the day when my computer is unavailable. No reading at night. Damn it.
Anyway, I've got plans to get back to work on Blink tonight. (Note to self: As much as you love the title, change it. It's not working.*) We'll see how those plans go.
In other news, the books I picked up yesterday as full of awesomeness. They are:
Oh, and I forgot I bought a book locally last week: Whisper No Lies by Cindy Gerard
Which brings the grand total of new books to nine. The first five books are from series I've been reading (although with the Stardoc series, I'm clearly reading out of order - since I read the last two in the series first, and Stardoc is the first in the series). The last two I got yesterday are reference - one for school and the other for writing. The funny thing is, the only romantic suspense I bought was the one I picked up last week - and that was because it had a quote from Allison Brennan on the cover.
Eh, I look at it this way: Everything I read is research, even if it's not in my genre. There are things to be learned from every writer, so even though I'm not writing SF or paranormal or fantasy, I still can pick things up.
Or at least that's what I tell myself when I see how much I spend on books every year. Ugh.
Reading anything good? Or are you writing like you're supposed to?
The new beginning? Well, it's been snipped. This morning I woke up with a better idea in my head and went to work. All told, Blink is 1652 words shorter than it was, but it's tons better already. I just have some new things to weave in the rest of the story to make it all more believable.
And that's what this is all about, right?
Whether we're writing about today or a thousand years ago, here or some distance galaxy or a made-up world of our own imagination - it's all about making it believable.
To illustrate let me use some examples from the film industry. Take, for instance, the movie Volcano. Premise is simple and a little outlandish - a volcano sprouts up in the middle of LA. Probable? No. Plausible? The way they wrote it, yes.
Around the same time, the movie Dante's Peak hit theaters. A dormant volcano wakes up and takes out a town of disbelievers. Both probable and plausible.
Of the two, though, the more believable movie was Volcano. Why? Because the writers put some thought into the little things that would make the moviegoers forget the implausibility of the premise. Little things like the immense heat from lava can and will kill people. Volcano lost a few characters - like the guy who played Drew Carey's cross-dressing brother - because lava kills (awesome scene, btw... I cry every time I see it). Dante's Peak? The MC drives his truck through a river of molten rock and the only thing that catches fire are the tires.
So these are the types of things I try to catch when I'm creating a world. Right now it's a little more difficult because I'm dealing with the future, and as long as I stick to the laws of reality, I can play with the world. Just how to make each piece work with every other piece... Well, that's what's making this so tricky. And those are also the places where I'm catching the little inconsistencies that will trip the reader up.
I hate those little trips.
Almost like when you're reading along and a character's hair color changes, but worse. I ran into theis very problem when I had to rewrite the middle at the end of '07. I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong, and then it hit me upside the head. It was one of those "DUH" moments. Like "if the other guys have all this technology why wouldn't they have wiped out the bad guys decades ago... duh." I tried to wiggle my way around it by creating a lame excuse, but in the end, that's all it really was - LAME.
So I rewrote it, and it's really so much better. Only problem is, I didn't see I still had flaws earlier on. I see them now, and I'm fixing them. It just takes time.
As for Nano, until I've taken Blink as far as I can go (or I get her finished - whichever comes first), I'm putting Nano on hold. It'll still be there when I get back. So will all the new notes I made trying to put it back together again.
*shrug* Such is the writing life.
Ever have to do something like this with your story? If not, just tell me about an inconsistency you saw or read that totally tripped you up.
Well, after days of worrying and wondering and trying desperately to find a spark that would light the way, I did it. I finally have the makings of a new beginning for Blink. I'm still not sure I'm on the 100% track, but it's something. 660 words of something as a matter of fact, which is more words than I've written in the past month +.
So, to recap, I rewrote the entire middle of Blink last year. Now, I'm recreating the beginning. If I decide to the end needs to go, I'll have written an entirely new book - only with the original premise shining through more completely than before.
Ever had to rewrite something - especially something that on first (or tenth as the case may be) pass looked pretty damn good to begin with? It ain't easy, let me tell ya.
Oh well, no one said any of this gig was going to be easy. And hell, something of the best things in life aren't easy. ("So get over it already," I say to myself.)
Since I'm a bit scattered... I wish I could claim revision brain, but I'm not there yet... I decided to give you some totally useless trivia.
For instance, did you know that...
Oldsmobile Achievas, without fail, will blow a gasket between 50-60K miles. Yep, something about the fabulous design of the Quad4 engine and antifreeze getting into the oil. Mine blew at 56K. Nothing like $1500 for repairs. And now we know why the Achieva was discontinued.
The sperm whale has a penis that's 12 ft long and 2 ft in diameter at the base. Something I heard on a nature program back when I was in college. It led to several interesting discussions, let me tell ya.
There was once a war in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My college resident advisor was doing her Masters thesis on it. It was between the Finnish immigrants and the Italian immigrants. Several people were killed, if I remember correctly.
And of course, a skirmish occurred between Ohio and Michigan over the strip of land that is only notable because it held Toledo. I don't know who won. LOL
Jack Benny was married to Mary Livingston. She was on his show, but they didn't really talk about it. (Caught that on a PBS special the other night.)
Speaking of TV, did you know that Star Trek was the first show to show an inter-racial kiss? Kirk and Uhura.
Oh, and even though you probably don't think that rabbits make noise, they do. They have the most horrific scream. I'd tell you the story of how I know, but it was upsetting 23 years ago, and I'm still not over it. Silence of the rabbits, perhaps?
People used to believe that you could see ghosts by looking at them through the space between the ears of a cat. Try and find a cat who'll hold still long enough for that. They also thought you could see them by looking through the hole in your wedding ring.
If you're into football, did you know QB Ben Rothlisberger now has a punt to add to his stats? Last weekend, he kicked one. I don't remember how far it went, but probably far enough to get him into the record books. (QBs don't kick... at least not any more. I think they might've back in the old days, but I don't know.)
Okay. Your turn. Have any totally useless trivia? Who knows when it might come in handy.
Oh, and one last one. Do you know how a fly lands on the ceiling? I once spent an afternoon in college watching to find out. They hover just below the ceiling and then reach up with their front legs. Once their front legs touch, they swing the rest of their body around. Heh. I told you it was totally useless.
WTF? Who got coffee on my Caps Lock key?* :grumble: Umm, it was me, but I don't remember doing it, and it's irritating.
In other news, I've restarted my mission to get healthier. I'm back on my 1300-1400 calorie a day diet, and I'm exercising again. This means: A) I'm hungry, and B) I'm sore. On the upside, my jeans are already starting to feel more comfortable. Yesterday's workout was a killer - for me, anyway. We (my daughter and I) only exercised for about 20 minutes, but we went through a range of things, and now I'm feeling the burn. Push-ups are evil, btw. And if you've never walked up and down stairs for a few minutes straight, you probably aren't familiar with how necessary your quads are for things like standing up and sitting down. Somebody slather me with Aspercreme.
Did anyone else get the Dilbert daily desk calendar for Christmas? I love Dilbert, but so far this year, the comics are lame. Last week was all about Scott Adams getting trapped in the strip, and while it should've been funny, it just wasn't. Here's hoping they pick up later in the year. I still have pages from a Dilbert calendar I had back in Michigan - they were that funny.
Due to hubby's ongoing computer problems, and daughter's online classes, my computer time is seriously curtailed. First thing in the morning and late at night are the best time slots for me to accomplish anything, which means if you don't see a post here in the morning, you may not see one. The limited time at night means I need to utilize every bit for work.
Which is my way of saying that, yes, I am writing again. Not new words, but I am working my way through Nano. Still loving the story, but as I go through the story trying to pick up where I left off, I can see some things that I definitely need to fix. Right now, I'm just making notes in red whenever I find something, as well as changing typos as I see them. I'll reserve the real editing for when I finally finish the book.
You know, the last couple autumns I burned up the keyboard. First I wrote Blink in the fall of '06, and then I wrote RTL in the fall of '07. The fall of '08? I got partway through Nano. :grrr: I'm such a slacker. And spring is usually my slow time. Not this year. I got work to do. If the mid-winter blahs try to catch me this year, I'm just going to have to kick the shit out of them.
Speaking of Blink, I still need to re-write the beginning, but after I get done with that, I'm going to be looking for readers. It's a speculative (i.e. dystopic, futuristic - think Hunger Games or Fahrenheit 451 or Anthem) that should appeal to YA as well as adult readers. And I'll be looking for Nano readers as soon as I get this sucker finished.
Anyhoo, work calls. What random thoughts do you have today?
*Turns out it wasn't coffee. It was grapefruit. Daughter dear ate one when she was doing Physics and it squirted. She's been properly chastised. ;o)
So, I am trying to get back into the swing of working on Nano again. It ain't easy, lemme tell ya. Of course, it would've been a whole lot easier if I had done one simple thing while I was first-drafting.
You know, like put in chapter breaks.
Sitting here looking at where to begin catching back up with Randi and Jack and Vic, I was faced with the daunting size of chapter 15. (Hereafter known as The Big Chapter.) You see, way back when I wrote chapter 15, I must've been on a roll. I just kept typing and typing, and before I knew it chapter 15 was fifty-plus pages long. Never one to heed my own inner warnings, I forged ahead.
And then I stopped writing. After which, I came back to find myself thoroughly lost, without so much as a bread crumb to guide me back onto the path. It was either start over from the beginning (actually, in this case, the midpoint) or tear my hair out trying to figure where I went astray.
Usually reading a last chapter shakes something loose, but in this case, the last chapter was 192 pages long. Just the sight of that huge sea of text looming over me was enough to send me running back to my notebook. :shudder:
Tonight, I waded in and decided to tackle the beast by doing what I should've done in the first place. I put in chapter breaks. I didn't much care exactly where - except for the obvious fact that each was placed at a scene break. It doesn't really matter where they are, just that they are.
Heh. The little hang-ups we writers get ourselves tangled up by.
This done, though, I feel much better about wrestling the story into place. Even scanning through the pages tonight, I got a better sense of who my characters were and how they all fit together. I even saw a few places where I had changed the gist of a minor character, and realized I now have to go back to the beginning and make him who he really is. Good stuff wandering through pages.
And if I'd done this sooner, I could already be deep in the fixes rather than trying to write the end so I can get to the fixes.
Some days I could just throttle myself. Know what I mean?
Well, I'm still battling the crud from hell on hubby's computer, but tech support is being awesome, so I can't complain. It seems that this latest batch of boredom-induced, geek-vengeance is the very newest of its kind. (BTW, way to take geek-vengeance on a self-avowed geek. Thanks you moron.)
Anyway, in the midst of this severe PITA, I have managed to get some things accomplished. Since we're sharing my computer, I've been working with my handy-dandy notebook and nifty ink pen. It's not so bad, really. Sometimes I shift over to the by-hand method to shake the muse loose, and it seems like it's working for me.
First off, I started by working on the story idea I got the other night. Not much actual story on paper yet, but I have a lot of worldbuilding I need to do before I know who my MC is and where she's going to go.
Then, I shifted my brain over to Blink. I thought about some things that might need changing - like the entire beginning of the book - and I brainstormed for ways to dig out of that hole.
Finally, after over a month, I took a look at Nano. I still think the beginning is awesome, but I can see where some of what I wrote in the first few chapters clashes with what I wrote near the end. Lots of stuff to fix, but that's what editing is all about. I do have some good notes to work from to fix the beginning, and I'll be working as I go along. I know I haven't finished the book yet, but I have to start from somewhere after all this time away, and the beginning seems like the best place to go. Maybe I'll get partway through this edit and remember how exactly I wanted everything to come together at the end.
All in all a frustrating weekend, but productive.
How are things in your neck of the woods?
PS. Oh, and to put a little perspective on things: If you haven't heard about it by now, writer and blogpal Travis Erwin lost his house to a fire last week. I meant to post about it earlier, but as with everything, it slid through the sieve I call my mind. Travis really is a good person and a good writer, so if you have any way you can make his life just a little bit better, please help. (Even if it's only to pass the message along by posting about it on your blog.)
Writer of suspense, speculative fiction (aka dystopian, futuristic, post-apocalyptic... pick one, they all work), and urban fantasy for the adult market. Minor conspiracy theorist and major hermit, armchair Jeopardy! champion and fount of useless knowledge, pessimistic optimist and hopeful romantic, B.E. Sanderson spends her time reading, writing, gardening, and generally enjoying life with her husband and their cat.