Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fall Lineup

Not that I have time for TV, but I tried one new show this year: Chuck. The ninja girl is COOL, but the premise is a little weak.

To explain quickly, regular-nerd Chuck had a super-smart roommate in college. Super-smart roommate went on to become a kick-ass, ninja-warrior, leap off of tall buildings in a single bound sort of guy. (No kidding. You actually get to see him leap off of tall buildings from the fifth floor and land on his feet. OKAY, it was the second floor. But COME ON!)

Before super-spy-roommate got shot, he sent an email to Chuck containing all the images a super-duper CIA/NSA computer had compiled.

Chuck watched them for twelve hours straight in fast motion, and now they are all stored in his head for perfect recall whenever an emergency happens.

I think they should have some reason that Chuck recalls the images he watched for twelve hours straight. It’s not like that’s possible, unless he’s pretty damn smart with a photographic memory. They’re portraying him to be a bit of a dopey normal guy, but ... if he were, he wouldn’t be able to recall all those images.

Okay, it’s spoof-y. It doesn’t really bother me. It’s just that between 24 and Chuck there are no spy shows on TV that bother to suspend your disbelief. It’s like they don’t care anymore. They expect the watcher to blindly accept it as is, to make those leaps without explanation.

Or is this a new trend I missed? Sheesh.

I have been watching M-15. Yikes. Is it M-16? 14? Oh, for crying out loud.

I MISS ALIAS, DAMNIT!

So how’s the fall shaping up for you?

Read more...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Q, Star Trek, and the Orchestra

From Peer Gynt:

Up till now, you have never been yourself,
so it’s all the same if you die completely.

The translation they used at the orchestra tonight was much better, but no amount of searching online will find the exact words they said tonight. (Of course, they were perfect!)

I’m pretty sure the above quote sums up the entire play, LOL. It’s all about being true to yourself -- exactly what I needed to hear tonight.

Basically, if you aren’t true to who you are, then you get melted down into a button, LOL. A different sort of hell, I suppose ... I missed the first half, but I’m pretty sure the symbolism goes back to a materialism thing.

Life is too short not to do exactly what you want, to not live your dream life.

Peer Gynt (Grieg’s music) was directed by Vladimir Ashkenazy, and the Cleveland Orchestra sounded like the old Cleveland Orchestra, like they did ten years ago! I loved hearing that sound again! Even though I certainly love the ... European sort of style Welser-Most brought to the orchestra. It was a nice change.

The narrator and button-molder (played by the same person) sounded SO familiar. I couldn’t place it, couldn’t place it ... and then I looked it up.

It’s Q!!!!!!!! I almost fell out of my chair! Star Trek’s Q!!!!!!!! Can you believe it? I remember hearing him sing, but I had no idea he was an opera director, that he’d written ten symphonic plays, that it was him up there!

SO cool. I wanna go again tomorrow night.

Being your true self. I love that message. If you’re not yourself, what’s the point? God, I really wanna see the whole thing tomorrow night. We were late and missed the first half. Damnit...

Read more...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Playing for Pizza

Yesterday, I read Playing for Pizza, by John Grisham. I was supposed to be writing, but I like pizza, so I picked it up during my wanderings and looked at it. Then I was hooked.

And what’s funny is I don’t like football, but I loved it. (I did skim the play-by-plays.) I’m not a huge Grisham fan, but I loved it. I hated how he used cliches to portray Italian culture, but still I couldn’t put it down. I hated how some of the characters acted in puzzling manners without motivation, but I still read it in one sitting.

I loved his description of the meals. Boy, was I hungry!

Here’s the inside blurb:

Rick Dockery was the third-string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. In the AFC Championship game against Denver, to the surprise and dismay of virtually everyone, Rick actually got into the game. With a 17-point lead and just minutes to go, Rick provided what was arguably the worst single performance in the history of the NFL. Overnight, he became a national laughingstock and, of course, was immediately cut by the Browns and shunned by all other teams.

But all Rick knows is football, and insists that his agent, Arnie, find a team that needs him. Against enormous odds Arnie finally locates just such a team and informs Rick that, miraculously, he can in face now be a starting quarterback. Great, says Rick--for which team?

The might Panthers of Parma, Italy.

Yes, Italians do play American football ...

So I highly recommend a flip-through, I bet you’ll end up reading it. It’s funny how compelling it is, how it draws you in. Both my stepfather and stepbrother would probably love it (being Browns fans, football fans, and Italians who enjoy a good story about Italians), but they’re not big readers. They’d love the movie, if it was done with good actors.

I hope they make a movie out of it, because then they’ll smooth out a few of the character issues, you know? Sometimes the movie is better than the book. Tighter.

What do you think?

Read more...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My Brain Is Full.

My brain writes things "ahead of time." So, when I’m writing current WIP, my mind wanders ahead and fleshing the next WIP. It’s easier that way. Then when I sit down, the world and characters have already "stewed" and it’s mostly written in my head, just gotta write it down.

But I’m a bit on overload.

I’m re-writing the ending of the WIP that was bothering me, remember? And then I’m writing two short stories, another long novella, considering another sequel after that, trying to keep my mind open for a "real-name" novel, AND come up with an idea for a non-fiction essay.

Not to mention several life-planning issues that call for my thinking time, and my students (you have no idea how much worry-time they take up!), organizing and being creative about planning the studio year, and dealing with the piddly stuff.

For two days, I spent a whole hour playing a computer game. I think I just needed to zone out.

Does your brain ever get messy and cluttery and disorganized?

Read more...

Take Out the Damn Adverbs!

I accidentally re-read something I wrote awhile back.

Found a few phrases that make me cringe, and every single one had an adverb. Worse, every single one was a cliched adverb.

Ugh. What was I thinking?

Sheesh.

Do you ever read your old stuff? Why or why not? (Oopsy, I can’t remember who, but someone asked that question recently. LOL, could’ve even been me!)

(Sorry so short. Tired. Have lots of work to do.) How are things going for you? Writing? Non-writing? Life?

Read more...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Randomness.

Do you ever have days where your head is writing, and the real world is a major bother? Like you have difficulty focusing on what’s in front of you, because you’d much, much rather be in the fictional world you’ve created?

Do you ever not want to read, because you’d rather close your eyes and visit the people in your fictional world, watch and see what’s going on? Live in it?

I’m having one of those days where my hormones are wacked out, and sound just makes me insane. Not sound, but wrong sound. I’m told it’s due to a magnesium deficiency, not an insanity bred by years of perfecting and memorizing. Go magnesium, I’ve doped up on it, LOL.

Emotions are such weird things. They can get so whacked out over simple hormonal imbalances. I think it’s some inbred way of nature punishing you for not having kids. Or not having one every year since you’re 16 or something. I don’t know.

I’m irritable. And it irritates the heck out of me that I’m irritable for no other reason than hormones. Hence, I’m doubly irritated today.

And, thank you very much, I’d just as soon like to lay down and escape to my fictional world today. Ever have days like that?

Read more...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Talents.

I had a drink with a writing friend tonight. You know, no matter what we’re good at, there’s always that one thing that we think would be so cool to be able to do, but that we know we’ll never be any good at.

She’s good at telling stories. She can go on and on and tell a ton of stories, and it just awes me. First, I don’t think I have that many stories, LOL, and second, I don’t think I could remember that much!

But most of all, she can on-the-spot and orally put them together into something coherent, paced, and interesting. I just find that talent amazing.

I’ve always loved those people who can tell long stories around a campfire. I was just reading about how in Iran, people have pages and pages of poetry memorized as part of their oral storytelling tradition.

It’s definitely a dying art, but I suppose movies and TV are taking its place. So cool, though.

So what’s a talent that you know you will never become skilled at, but that you wish you were good at? That you enjoy watching someone else who’s good at it?

Read more...

Friday, September 21, 2007

This Stuff, Fiction. Life.

Finished a book tonight that made me think, made me want to talk about an experience of mine, but ... it’s not a blog thing.

It’s not a blog thing because I can’t just tell it. I can’t just say it like it is. In order to tell the truth of it, to get to the real experience of it, I have to surround it with a world and backstory and a perspective.

To just report it, it would lose its power, its feeling, and, mostly importantly, the reader’s ability to empathize, to live it, to feel it, to really know it.

So why do we writers have an obsession with getting the world to listen and understand, not just about ourselves, but about humanity? Sometimes I think every story, or at least every good story, is about understanding some facet of the human experience.

One thing I love about working with kids is they’re so real. So many people think they’re "just" kids, but really ... think about it. We felt our oldest growing up. I talk to fourth graders about how the first bits of adulthood are growing in them, to fifth graders and tell them that they’re really adults now, tell them that in another age they’d be fathers and mothers in a year or two. They understand I’m telling them like it is, not trying to elicit some behavior from them, and they just look at me frankly and tell me that this is true.

Maybe it’s a tad amusing to hear a ten year old tell you he’s an adult and believe it, but ... it’s true, too. I don’t think people respect that enough. There’s not some great divide. They’re stronger than us older adults, you know. Much stronger. (Oopsy, off soabox, back on topic.)

I love that age because they’re on the brink. As they grow older and older, they learn to pretend more, to worry more, to look outward more, to grow all those adult insecurities and complexes we have.

I think we have to find how to return to that brink, to that age before we let our worries freeze us up, to that age where we just look at everything with curious acceptance to understand, to that age when we’re real.

To that age when we can still go to school without taking a shower or putting deodorant on or combing our hair. Because if your story’s dressed up and slathered with cosmetics and deodorant and perfume, it’s not real.

Um, was that coherent? I’m kinda sleepy, LOL ... any thoughts?

Read more...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

13 Strange Truths and Neurotic Whisperings

Thirteen Strange Truths and Neurotic Whisperings About Writing

The winner of the last Thursday Thirteen contest, thanks to random.org, is Commenter #21, Liz Wolfe. (Yes, I know that last time random.org selected #21. Kinda fishy, huh? But I swear, that’s what it said!) Will you please email me your address if I forget to email you, and I’ll send you Cherry Addair’s Edge of Darkness? Or I’m sure we’ll chat soon ...

This week’s book-to-win is Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells. To win, just leave a comment. I bought a copy the other week, and when I finally finished unpacking my books from RWA, discovered I had an ARC. (That’s when DH declared I was not allowed to buy any more books until January. Yikes!) I’ll send you the ARC, because it comes with the cutest little packet of garden seeds!

On to the Strange Truths and Neurotic Whisperings of this Writer ...

  1. Strange Truth #1: The more you’ve polished and crafted a book, the more you think it’s one of your most well-written works, the less reader reaction you get.
  2. Neurotic Whisperings: Oh shit, I worked really hard on this story, I think improved on this one, I tried this, this and that, and I was sure I improved, so ... does that mean this is going to be a flop? A bore? Maybe I should make sure I hate it, force myself to hate it, so that the rule of opposites will kick in? Yikes! I shouldn’t admit I love this story ... will that curse it?
  3. Strange Truth #2: On the other hand, the more you hate and feel a work sucks, the more readers seem to like it.
  4. Neurotic Whisperings: But, really, I loved this story before. Halfway through I thought this was one of my best stories, so does that mean it’s going to fall under strange truth #1 or will it be under strange truth #2? Must hate it more ...
  5. Strange Truth #3: The tiniest niggle in your brain about your work, the tiniest little, seemingly minor issue you decide is not really a problem, will be a BIG, OBVIOUS thing to a reader or editor.
  6. Neurotic Whisperings: But it’s just a tiny thing. Readers are going to read so fast they won’t even notice it. Maybe this is just my perfectionism surfacing this time, maybe it’s nothing ...
  7. Strange Truth #4: Fixing those niggles always makes it better.
  8. Neurotic Whisperings: Ohmigawd, what if I change the story and the story gets worse? What if taking out this part or adding in this part ruins the pacing and the flow?
  9. Strange Truth #5: Blog friends are always right when they point out that you seem to be explaining away a niggle, and are right when they gently suggest that perhaps you should consider fixing it.
  10. Happy Whisper: (Edie, I always smile and think of you whenever I write the word ’happy.’ I swear, it cracks me up. You’re infectious!) I get to go past 40,000 words and write my originally-planned ending!
  11. Strange Truth #6: If you want to convey any emotion to a reader, you must go ten times deeper inside the skin of the character, ten times deeper into the emotion.
  12. Strange Truth #7: When you turn yourself inside out with the drama of a scene, with some emotion that just depresses you for several days, you will have created a nice, entertaining read for the reader.
  13. Neurotic Whisperings: So please tell me I don’t have to go there today. Please tell me I don’t need to go that deep here. Just let me write, let me stay up here on the surface. Or ... oh, man. I cried, I made myself sick to my stomach with the emotion of this character. And the reader writes and tells me it was funny? Entertaining? I suck as a writer!

Join in the Thursday Thirteen fun!

Read more...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Think, Don't Think

//static.flickr.com/1176/1408973118_48c2dca307_mWriting is such a strange thing, because we have to think hard, think deep, and figure out why we think what we do and what motivates us to do this or that or this or that.

It can make one crazy.

Personally, the universe has been telling me to stop thinking so much. There’s a point at which we really can’t get to the bottom of everything we feel, think, and do. Sometimes we just feel one way or another, for no reason other than maybe the moon cycle or hormones or even what we ate.

Lately, I’ve been trying not to think so much, but I sometimes trip over into self-absorbed analysis of every thought and feeling.

On the other hand, sometimes our feelings are real clues to what we want or need to do. And sometimes they are intuition speaking.

But sometimes, they’re just self-absorbed gunk that just muddies everything up.

Back to the other hand, close scrutiny in how we tick is important for our writing. We need to understand why people do what they do, when they do it, and what triggers there are. We need to understand motivations and feelings and thoughts, and how they all define our character. Why do we feel this way? What caused us to make this statement? What motivated us to take this action? It’s all important stuff to know about humanity, so that our writing can be truer, more honest, and more real.

So there’s some strange line there, you know?

Think, don’t think. Where’s the line? What do you think? How do you know when to turn on the thinking and when to turn it off?

Read more...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

OH! It's TODAY!

Ohmigosh! It’s here! Our friend and awesome blogger, Bernita Harris, a writer I admire for her ability to remind me how much I love words through her poetic prose, has just had her story, Stone Child, released TODAY in Weirdly, a collection of "strange stories."

Cocktail reviews said this about Bernita’s story, Stone Child:

A haunting tale in some ways, Stone Child has many aspects that I admired. I loved the introduction of people/beings other than humans-plausible ones at that-and the whole ‘feel’ of the piece. Strong voice, very well written, I enjoyed this story a lot. Fabulous!

Strong voice, indeed. I don’t have to have read it to know for certain it’s true. Head over to Bernita’s blog, and you’ll see what I mean. Daily delights. She can blog about her grocery list and make it both interesting and sound beautiful.

I am SO excited for her! I can’t wait to order it. Good thing I don’t have long to wait, LOL ...

Read more...

Missing the Story

My reaction to my latest is just bizarre, completely unlike me. I’ve never quite had such a strange reaction to one of my stories before. First, I procrastinated sending it out three days after it was done. When I finally sent it off, I actually teared up.

And it’s not that time of month.

I had to change my ending, and I really wanted my old ending, but there just wasn’t room. My mind did a novel, and I had to shorten it to 40,000 words. Maybe I cared about improving myself more on this one, and somewhere, I feel like I wish I could have done better. I put a lot of pressure on myself on this one.

Or maybe I just miss my hero. I love him. And my heroine. It’s like, I’m just not ready to give them up.

The first time I finished a story was the first night I slept like a baby. I could get all that gunk out of my head, on paper, and I could sleep.

I didn’t get all of this story out on paper.

And now it’s gone stale, you know? After I read something so many times, my bit of ADD does not let me read it again. I can barely skim. It’s my limitation, and I’ve got to work with it.

But now the story’s done, and I can’t write more, and I can’t enjoy reading it. I liked that world, I guess.

I gotta tell you, this is just bizarre. I do not have this sort of reaction to my stuff. I send it out, get to work on the next one. Oh well. Shake it off. I’ve got another hero to fall in love with. And I’m really hoping to have time to squeeze in a thriller-ish short story before the novella I’m writing for October! In November, I’m shoving out my thriller if it kills me. I swear. (I know you’ve heard it before. Well, I mean it this time.)

So. Have you ever gotten nostalgic about a world or a story, even when you can’t bear to read it again, even when it’s all done? Do you ever just wish you could do it all over again?

Read more...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Post Writer's Block?

Okay, usually I finish something, send it off. No biggie. No thought process. The conversation in the car with DH has given me all sorts of fears, and I’m freaking out.

It’s finished. It’s mostly revised. It just needs a tweaking and a re-read.

But I’ve been procrastinating it for two days now. And I’m running out of time to do it today! Grrrrrrrr. And the laundry needs done. And I just need to send the darn thing off.

DH has failed in his duty this time, and I’m frozen.

I am terrified it sucks. I know that once I send it off, it will be out of mind. But here it sits, waiting for me to just sit down and read it and reassure myself it’s not the most terrible thing ever written. It’s hard to believe that a few days ago I was telling myself I’d written this better than anything I’d written before. Hah!

This is just silly. I’ve never had writer’s block after I finished a story.

And I’m off my rhythm. DH went away for work today, and I had to drop him off at 5:30. So I came home and went to bed instead of going to Borders. (After I wrote a thousand word start on a story that wrote itself in my head on the drive. Loving it.)

Must read it now. Must send it off tonight. We are way beyond needing the money.

Ever have postpartum writer’s block? Any tips beyond just suck it up and get it done?

Read more...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Raw Talent

Check this Ebay Auction out.

No, really. Check it out. I laughed myself silly!

It doesn’t appear that she’s actually an aspiring or professional writer. But, she got $147 for $10 worth of merchandise. Even though she said, after the price went up to $40, "And $40.00??? What are you guys nuts? There’s nothing special about these cards. Are you bidding on them thinking I’ll be a famous author someday? :::laughing like a crazy lady over that one::: "

Some people just have that special voice, some raw gem of something.

Read more...

Desires. And Writing.

//static.flickr.com/1409/1392620561_fe4fb24425_mMan, I’m watching The Wedding Date. I couldn’t tell you if it’s a good story or not, but characterization of the hero is amazing. Dermot Mulroney has me all hot and bothered.

Even before I wanted to be a writer, before I was writing, when it was just this thing in the back of my mind just waiting for me to consider it, I read a short story by Robert Heinlein, evidently written when he boasted he could write a story to please any reader and he was challenged to write a story for girls.

The story worked, at least for this girl.

There was a lesson in that. If you understand the hopes, dreams, desires, and fears of your readers, then you’ve got a story that will work for the reader.

Sometimes, your readers are very much like yourself. That makes it easier. Sometimes, they’re not. That makes it harder.

Anyways, The Wedding Date? Someone understands this girl’s heart. Man. I could watch this movie over and over and over and over. The only other fictional character who can give me this kind of fever is Stephanie Plum’s Ranger.

Read more...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Finished.

The day before finishing is exhilarating. No matter how many stories I finish, I’m always afraid that I won’t finish. It doesn’t matter that I’ve finished all of them. There’s always that fear.

Well, the day I finish?

There’s relief. I close the lid of the laptop, relieved, exhausted.

And that’s when panic starts setting in. Is it too this? Did I tie up all the loose ends? Did the character’s motivations make sense at the end? Were they believable, or did I just shove them together? Is this going to be my worst story ever? Was my language too flowery? Too much description? Too little?

It’s DH’s job to encourage me at this stage, but it’s also his duty to NOT LET ME SEND IT OUT IF IT SUCKS.

Now, I’ve always suspected he’s taken a honey-does-this-make-my-butt-look-big approach to these questions. I’ve wondered if he wasn’t a tad more concerned about the check coming in than caring if I let down my story.

Well, tonight, ride home from Borders:

As I’m grilling him, he finally relents and says, "But you’re planning a sequel, right?"

"Um, no, not really. Why? What wasn’t tied up for you? The ending didn’t feel like an ending?"

"Well, I think your readers are going to want to see the girl and the guy get together."

(Note: this is pretty much a romance. So, guy, girl, getting together? You know, the whole REASON THE STORY EXISTS.)

So you can understand why there was a full minute of silence in the car. Then a strangled, "What do you mean? You didn’t get the ... the ... um, marriage ceremony thing?"

"You mean that little ritual?"

(It’s a fantasy, different world rules.) "Yeah, the ritual."

He backs off. "Oh, right."

I sense that my butt is looking too big in this book and he doesn’t want to say. I mull this over. I try again. "The marriage ritual. I presented it at the beginning of the book, I presented it here, and then finally at the end again with the guy and the girl. You didn’t get that the guy and girl got, um, together?"

I mean, if he doesn’t get that, it doesn’t matter if it’s there or not. It only matters that he didn’t get it, because if he didn’t get it, then I have majorly failed!

More grilling and more questions. He suddenly breaks out in this sheepish grin he has. We discover, together, that he had gotten to the second ritual, and had STOPPED READING. Because that was the end of the chapter, and he saw the blank space, and figured it was the end.

One chapter BEFORE the end. He didn’t read the last chapter.

And he’s telling me it’s fine to send off?????? That, yes, I DID tie up all my loose ends????

LIAR!

Read more...

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Irrational.

Some days, I head into irrational territory. Like today. I’m at Borders after lunch, trying to write. And I LOVE that DH comes with me and reads while I write. Please know that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and appreciate that he keeps me company. He is my muse, if I have a muse. :-)

I also love the noise and movement of the cafe, and I feed off the strange energy books give me.

But then, some days, there’s the irrational. Like now, I’m sitting and praying that DH will please not take one more swig and start crunching on one more piece of ice. Oops, there he goes. One crunch,
two crunches,
again,
crunch,
crunch,
CRUNCH and how many crunches does it take
to chew through one tiny piece of ice?

One inch of ice in his cup. Can you please explain to me why it hasn’t melted? Why there seem to be endless numbers of ice cubes in that little space?

And pllleeeease don’t get a refill ...

There’s some weird connection between
his mouth and my ears,
like the chiming,
relentless
crunch
from his mouth
travels directly into my brain,
amplified,
knocking around my head,
a buzzing,
frantic,
frenzied,
furious,
stinging
fly.

And then there’s this strange squeaking by the table with the caps. I’m not understanding this squeaking, why it takes endless minutes of chalkboard-scratching with screeching fingernails to get one cap on one cup.

One cap.
One cup.

Hour-long MINUTES!

And did you know that sixty percent of coffee customers do not possess the ability to face a selection of lids and decide which one will fit on the cup they hold in their hand?

Blocks,
shapes,
kindergarten,
we must revolutionize the teaching in this country ...

Do you have a lid that fits this?
This lid doesn’t fit!
Excuse me, but I need a lid.
Which lid do I use?
There’s no lid for this cup.

And then squeak, squeak, squawwwwwk. Squawwwwwk, squeak, squaaaawwwwk, squeak, squaaaawwwwwwww--

Nasal voice
This lid doesn’t fit!

The lids twisting and turning and squeaking and squawking and the crunching in my head ...

It never stops!

The insane.
The irritating.
The irrational.

Some writing days do not go as planned.

Read more...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Final Stretch.

Tomorrow. The day I finish my latest WIP. I can’t wait. I’m not sure this is taking the turn my editor hoped for, but who knows. I hope the little Angel on my shoulder will approve. No, I hope the real Angels out there will find it ... what’s the word? Fulfilling? Special? Satisfying?

I wrote the black moment tonight, that lowest point in the story when all seems lost. Tomorrow, I’ll start at the beginning and make sure that everything heads in that direction believably, and that I didn’t miss any stray strands or leave out any foreshadowing opportunities. Or that I didn’t foreshadow a twist that I ended up not taking.

My timeline is a little crooked, and I need to insert more time passing in order to let the climax and the ending have believable roots. I need to flesh out a few scenes, color in between the lines.

Now I get to write the happy ending. I just love this dark hero and I can’t wait to let him have what he so desires, but cannot pursue. My heroine has no hope, but out of no hope, I get to give her things she hardly dared dream of. I can’t wait for that, either.

And, I discovered that I have some symbolism! I didn’t mean to, and I was bummed because I really wanted to experiment with it. I just need to make sure it always means what it seems to mean. Is that right? Maybe I’ll trip across another symbol, who knows. I don’t usually think of symbolism, so maybe Erica’s daughter and Erica are both right. :-)

But it’s always better to be aware of what you do, why you do it, how you do it, and the effect it has.

I’m not sure what this post is except a to-do list for tomorrow, LOL, but ... here it is. That "must write better" voice in my head has been particularly fierce during the writing of this story, and I’ve really pushed myself.

The one problem with improving, however, is that your past failings seem all the more glaring, all the more evident, all the more cringe-worthy.

Saturday will be a new story, a new list of skills to work on. I’ve noticed that my favorite writers don’t describe things with description, but describe things with a story. Telling a story with stories. I don’t play with that enough. I have enough trouble with one story, let alone a whole story’s worth of stories. And I want to work on my close shots, and my details.

So what are you driving at improving with your current WIP? Or do you not think of that until revisions, or ... gosh, I don’t know how other people write, LOL. :-)

Read more...

The Angel on My Shoulder ... and Voice.

Do you remember, in the old cartoons, how they used to portray one’s conscience as a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other?

I say I always write to my readers, or with my reader in mind. I guess I don’t write like I’m talking to my readers, because I’m in my character’s skin living her life.

It’s more like I feel my imaginary reader sitting on my shoulder. She’s like my conscience. When I start feeling lazy, when I just don’t feel like pushing myself into the problems of my character, when I don’t feel like descending into all that feeling and stress of that point where it looks like all will fail, my mind sees that reader on my shoulder, waiting for my story.

I go where I need to go emotionally, because I don’t want to let her down.

Believe me, without her, I often wouldn’t. I can get lazy. :-)

Anyway, I picked up a deliciously sexy, dark paranormal the other day. The opening was dark and suspenseful and beautifully written, with demons or vampires and a brooding, sexy hero hundreds of years old.

And then, all of a sudden, there was a chatty chick-lit-voiced email in it.

Totally threw me from the story.

Voice, mood, tone ... I’m not sure what you’d call it. But it must be consistent, you know? It can be fun, light-hearted comedy, or it can be a dark, suspenseful novel. But both?

When we pull a reader into a world, we can’t suddenly change the environment around her. How would you feel if you were standing in a haunted house at midnight, enjoying the spooks and the fog and the ghosts, and you blinked, and all of a sudden you were on the beach of a bright, sunny day?

Freaked. Jarred. Confused. It just doesn’t fit.

What do you think? Maybe it’s a paranormal practice, lately, and I missed the boat.

Read more...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thug-a-licious, Babies in Cars.

I glanced over at a fellow reader in Borders, and the title of her book was Thug-a-licious.

On a completely unrelated note, there was a Miss Snark sighting, yesterday.

And, I have HOT WATER!!! My hot water heater has been broken for two months. Two months! I got to soak in HOT WATER and take a HOT SHOWER!!!!! With Baby Vapor Bath and Shower Soothers. I want to breeeaaathe, dear gods and goddesses, just let me breeeaaathe!

It was utter bliss--pure joy--to splash around in the bubbles. I had the hot shower running while I sat in a bubble bath. The best of both worlds! The cats were looking at me funny as I splashed and giggled. I’m sure I’m too old, but ... the only thing missing was a rubber ducky.

Think me silly? You try going without hot water for two months, and see if you don’t do the same thing, LOL.

Thug-a-licious. Now that’s some title. I’m gonna have to go see what that’s about, LOL.

Did you know that 36 kids die of hyperthermia a year, forgotten in their car seat in a hot, locked car? Murder She Writes discusses. It haunted me all day, yesterday.

Where would the story be, for you? I keep wondering how one could ever move on, ever forgive oneself. How could one go on living? How could a spouse ever forgive? A sibling?

Remember Sophie’s Choice? That movie still haunts me, and I haven’t seen it for years.

On a semi-related note, apparently Agent Zigzag offered to assassinate Hitler for Britian’s M15, and was turned down. He couldn’t’ve done worse than the Russians and what’s-his-name.

Read more...

Vulnerable Musings

Somewhere in my thirties, I suddenly became obsessed with heroes and heroines that were "flawed." And people, too.

I read Laurell K. Hamilton’s blog every day, and let me tell you, maybe its just how she comes across, but that lady is depressed. And I love it. I love that she gets out there every day and spits out what is real, what is raw.

There’s such bravery in that, you know?

In some strange quirk of fate, I don’t really connect with someone until they are real. I’ve known people to be chipper and positive and say all the right things and do all the right things, and they kind of mystify me. But I don’t trust them until they let their guard down and say something real, show some raw emotion, or maybe just reveal a vulnerability.

In a group of ladies I know, there’s one of those women who, when she talks, everything comes out negative and contrary. That’s just the way she is, she’s a good person at heart and I really like her.

In everyone, I believe there’s one small place, one raw, vulnerable place. Some spot you go, where if someone just pushed their finger with the slightest pressure, you’d be undone, be unraveled and could only cry in utter submission to the pain.

Or sometimes it’s a hope. A little, scared kernel of desire that you’re afraid to admit to anyone.

When you can share that place with a really close friend or lover and they can love you for it, it’s special. And it’s a treasured gift to receive, when someone shares their place with you.

Sometimes when I write, I imagine that raw, vulnerable place in myself or my imaginary reader-friends. I want to reach toward that place, open up that place, and then gently massage it.

(Sheesh, what’s with the deep thoughts today?) Who do you think of, when you write?

Read more...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Reading by Osmosis

I don’t have time to finish reading anything, lately. Before DH came home, I was sleeping with a pile of four books that I desperately wanted (still want) to read. I’d read a page or two, but after a fifteen hour day, no story could keep me up.

DH took all the books that I’d stuffed on his side of the bed and in his nightstand and shoved them on my shelves, so the other night I desperately wanted one. It took me an hour to find it, and then I suddenly had to read John le Carre. (His books and I have a bizarre relationship. I would say I don’t like his writing style or the way he tells a story, but obviously I very much do because I can’t put him down. Unless it’s the first seven chapters of one of his slow-starters. Still, his writing somehow irritates me, rides some weird nerve I have. It’s just ... crazy. But I respect that he can make me crazy, LOL.)

And every day I go to Borders, I grab a copy of The Reincarnationist. I want to read it, but it just sits there keeping me company, because I’m behind on my writing. I touch it. I open it and read a page. Or I just stare at the cover, wishing I could write as well.

But The Reincarnationist appears to be flying off the shelves, if my local Borders is any indication. It came out, what, a week ago? They had a big stack on the front table, but within a couple days they only had one left. They found (ordered?) two more, so there were three on the shelves. Now there’s one.

So I’m trying to imagine how I could get them to order more. "Um, no, I can’t buy one until October, maybe November. Maybe not until December, but, um, yes, I think you should order more. No, not for me, just a bunch for your shelves. See, look, you had eight or ten or twelve last week, and in one week you’ve sold all but one. Don’t you think you need more to fill the empty spots on the shelf? This is the next DaVinci Code ... you’re gonna want people to see it on the shelves, because they’re gonna buy it once they pick it up and look at it."

They’d look at me like I had two heads. Me, a customer, trying to tell them how to run their business. Right?

Maybe I’ll just carry it over around the reference desk, say hi, and get to talking. Then casually insert into the conversation, "Wow, this has just flown off the shelves since last week, hasn’t it? There’s only one left! Have you heard? I hear it’s going to be the next DaVinci Code, but much better. It’s too bad it sold so quickly that it was only on the front table for a day or two. People would love to discover this book!"

Um, but, another problem is that I’ve all but lost my voice. So it would come out in weird squeaks with syllables missing, LOL.

It seems books are my security blankets, lately. Without the time to read them, I’m carrying them around everywhere, holding them, piling them up, and even sleeping with them. The only thing I’m not doing is finishing them.

Do you ever go through weird periods like this? What are you reading, now? Or, if you’re having a phase like me, what book (books?) do you wish you had time to read right now?

Read more...

Monday, September 10, 2007

One of those days ...

Back to writing, but not feeling the best, yet. I guess I’m gonna have to go to the doctor and pay a hundred bucks for him to look at me for one minute and write a prescription for antibiotics. I can usually fight it off without them, but I need to get back to work. Can you tell I’m not crazy about doctors? In my experience, they charge a lot of money, but they don’t fix anything. And god forbid they actually admit they can’t fix something. No, they just keep--|| *insert stop to rant*

I had one of those days where I’m just filling in words from snatches already written. And I’m at that stage of the WIP where I’m feeling like it all just sucks, LOL. And it can only be 10 - 12 chapters. I’m on Chapter 7, and I’m just at the first turning point.

Hopefully I’ve got a turning point back somewhere that happened instinctually, and this can be the midpoint. Actually, I think it will make my ending richer and stronger. My plotting of the ending was a bit weak.

But I want to play more with details and symbols, but they just aren’t coming today. I should stop thinking about them, then they’ll magically appear, LOL.

It’s funny how, when I start a story, I’m always afraid I won’t have enough story. It always ends up that I have too much. When am I going to trust myself?

So how’s your writing going? Good day? Bad day? Regular day? Where are you in the WIP? And what part of a story is your favorite to write?

Read more...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Reviews, Sex and Writing

There’s a debate that seems to lurk around writers, about whether they write for themselves or for their readers. I suspect there’s a balance in between, but boy, some of us come down hard on one side or the other.

I’m not a huge fan of reviews, unless I can learn from them. Regardless of whether or not I’m interested in--or will ever pick up--the book, at least I’ve learned something. Walter Kirn of the NY Times has outdone himself this time, comparing sex and writing.

All novels end, but not all novels climax. That’s fine. Here’s to subtlety and uncertainty. But there is another type of ending that delivers pure humiliation by letting the author climax but not the reader. That’s partly because such endings are predictable but mostly because the foreplay leading up to them is so prolonged, insensitive and strenuous that most readers will feel too drained to spasm by the time the writer needs them to.

Or maybe I just like comparing art and sex. Spent a good part of my time in conservatory comparing music and sex, LOL.

I’ll have to take a gander at the book, but Kirn’s point is definitely something to keep in mind while writing. And there’s another check on the "for the reader" side of the debate.

What do you think? And which side of the debate do you come down on?

Read more...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Comfort Foods

Double Jeopardy is a really cool movie. I’m just saying. I’m trying to write at home (going real well, yeah, uh-huh), and DH has it on, so I’m trying not to listen to it (also going real well).

And I’m checking my email. And looking at Log Home Plans. (No, not buying a log home, or building one. It’s just something I do when I start surfing mindlessly.)

Anyway, what is on your list of comfort food? I love talking food.

When I was sick, growing up, my mom would make jello, then serve it in a cup to me, steaming hot. Yummy! I’m drinking it as I type, but it’s kinda silly. It’s drinking pure sugar, which lowers the immune system, right? But ... it’s yummy.

She’d also make Campbell’s Chicken Noodle (I hate it now), but my best friend’s mom always made Mrs. Grass’s Noodle soup (love it now).

When I’m feeling depressed, nothing will do except a pint of ice cream, preferably Ben & Jerry’s or the new Dove pints.

When I just want a feel-good night out, I go to The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant, and my very favorite restaurant in the whole world. Except for the old Spice Market Buffet at the old Aladdin’s Casino in Las Vegas.

Then there’s CHEESE. Yummy! Chocolate goes without saying, right? So what are your feel-good, emotional-eating foods?

Read more...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Will you Haiku?

You know how I love haiku. I don’t know what it is about the form, except that it has no pretension, no ambition, no striving. It just is. And it is nice and short, suitable for my attention span.

So, when I’m feeling emotionally distressed, I haiku. I should add, I haiku badly and often melodramatically, LOL. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s haiku.

Last night, I had a little bit of an asthma attack (a new sort of thing for me, so it still feels a little distressing even though I know it’s no big deal), so I sat on the front porch at three a.m., composing haiku in my head, LOL. Here they are, breaking all the rules, btw.

Breathing, breathing,
In, Out,
in and out.

And then, post-inhaler, LOL:

Airways open
Never panic, never fear.
Breathe. Breathe.

Easy breeze, soothing dark.
Praise the Goddess and the God,
sweet, breaths of life.

And then as I listened to the night (I love the sounds of an Ohio night):

Crickets chirping glaze the night
Major third, minor third, unison.
Perfect harmony.

Will you lend a haiku? They cheer me up. :-)

Read more...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Stuffing It In My Head.

My brain isn’t exactly known for holding information. Writing a novel sure seems to need that skill, though.

It’s not that I just need to remember all the information, but I need to remember where all the information is. And I need to remember the character arcs, where they are in their arcing, where the plot is in its arcing, and whether the pacing is hitting the right points in the structure.

I’m not much of a re-writer, so when I hit a certain point, I have to start re-reading and re-reading and re-reading until it’s all up there well enough for me to move forward. I can’t do the outline thing and stuff.

To me, it all has to feel right and flow. I have to be in the words. I’ve always been the type of learner who has to know something so well, I don’t have to think about it. I can just feel it and do it.

Am I making any sense? I’m exhausted, LOL. I’ve re-read the first two-thirds of my manuscript four or five times today, and added a couple thousand words. And worked.

I spun my story all the way up, and now I have to let the rest spin out. Please, please, please, don’t let it fall out while I sleep.

So, tell me, please, how in the world do you hold it all in your head?

Read more...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Oh boy, I'm slow ...

You know how some sites have promo codes and coupon codes you can enter, if you have one?

I never have one.

Well, um. I just now figured out that you can google, for example, "midPhase Hosting promo code," and what do you know?

There’s sites that keep track of these coupon and promo codes.

And they work! I just saved $30!

I feel like an idiot for not thinking of it the past, um, ten years.

Anyway, back to writing. I’m gonna be kinda scarce for a few days, week or so. Ms. pseudonym needs some love and care and--here’s a novel idea--marketing, LOL. I do read your blogs religiously in my reader, though, and I’ll still try to blog everyday. :-) You know me! I’m just gonna be a little behind in commenting around town. :-)

Read more...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Holy shit!

I started reading one of those novels whose first chapter is so good, so original, that my heart did that fluttery thing and I thought holy shit! Think The Da Vinci Code but with writing so beautiful it makes you want to weep, writing so vivid and evocative it makes a straight thriller feel erotic, and storytelling so graceful the world around you just disappears.

MJ Rose’s voice is beautiful. The Reincarnationist reads like one of those movies with gorgeous cinematography, setting, costumes, everything. Like the ones to which words such as epic and grand and expansive are applied.

And I’ve only read the first chapter.

I suppose you might think that means to take my raving with a grain of salt, but I’ve read enough books of hers to know that this is something really special.

Next time you’re at the bookstore, just read the first few pages. You’ll see what I mean. Better yet, check out this excerpt on her site. If you do that, I really needn’t say a thing.

Read more...

Midnight Ramblings

It was one of those days where, after I came home from writing, I can’t wait to get back to it in the morning.

It’s like my character has my heart, and I gotta get back to her.

But right now, sleep has my brain. When I sat down, I actually had interesting thoughts to share. Ah well.

Oh, right. I’ve never made the mistake of picking the wrong POV character before. Erica Orloff was talking about Shiny New Idea Syndrome, and I was missing that buzzy feeling one gets about some ideas. I went Borders wandering the other night, just trolling for ideas because I missed that feeling. (I don’t let myself bring my laptop.) It occurred to me that in this one idea I’ve been struggling with, I kept hating that the main character took me away from this set of characters I’d developed in my head.

There was one particular character who seemed so intriguing to me, that I felt I had to leave her mysterious, so that she would elicit the same fascination and mystery to the reader as she does for me.

Then ... what if she was my main character? The key is diving into that mystery and exploring it. I’ve struggled with this idea forever, but I’m praying this is the key. I hope, dear God, I hope.

But I’ve shoved it in the corner of my brain. I try to always be a couple ideas ahead of what I’m currently writing, but I can’t live in them, yet. Have you ever worn out an idea by thinking about it too much before you could get to the writing of it?

Read more...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Two More Hours!

I can't wait! It's so weird. We've been together for years, but I've got this silly little nervous feeling in my stomach. I don't feel nervous, but my stomach does.

Or maybe I'm just so excited, it feels like nervous, LOL.

I pushed out 1,000 words, but I can't seem to focus. Don't feel like cleaning. I just wanna go sit at the airport and wait for DH. Two hours at baggage claim. Why not?

Speaking of the cats, did I tell you that every day I hold the phone to each cat's ear, and let them hear DH's voice? His cat (the one that is his baby in every way), turns her head to hear it, rolls over in happiness, rubs her cheeks against the phone, and purrs like crazy. She even butts her head up to the phone, as if he can pet her through the phone.

So the answering machine thing and pets? Definitely not silly pet-parent behavior.

Read more...