Sunday, December 13, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I did NaNoWriMo once. It was a wonderful learning experience that I thought I'd never want to repeat. I'm amazed that it's becoming a temptation once again.
That being said, I'm not at a point where I can take the month off from revising in order to write a new set of 50K words. So I have decided to set my own NaNo type goals for this month.
Garlic - revise 2 chapters per day for a total of 60 this month with the hope that the other 2 will get done somewhere in there as a bonus.
Of Mice And Little Girls - write a new chapter per day. 30 new chapters which might only be about 4K words since the first 10 chapters are only 2K words. This is my new experimental poetry/prose project.
I'm already behind. I was behind until the last week of the month back in 2005, so I'm not ready to throw in the towel.
Maybe next year, I'll try writing 50K words in a month, only I'd like to make that goal be 50K good words in an editable novel.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Driving to dinner tonight, I decided to take the scenic route because it passes a certain rocky hill that I love. As we drove past, I got to thinking about the small mountain under the school in Garlic. I want that mountain to look like Stoney Point. And it will be so - tomorrow.
Friday, September 18, 2009
The Working Writer’s Retreat is my favorite event of the year. It’s an opportunity to read to, and get critiqued by the editors and authors facilitating the critique groups. It’s an intense creative weekend. And a group of us usually have a chocolate and karaoke party in there somewhere. For me, it means very little sleep, writing until 1 or 2 am, and sometimes getting an editor or agent request for the full manuscript (but not this year).
A good friend and fellow SCBWI’er, Chris asked if I could share critique examples from the retreat. So here goes.
Thirteen Black Cats Under A Ladder
I read the first chapter to Arthur Levine.
On the minus side – it was purposely disorienting which was not to his personal taste. The overall tone was upsetting which meant he wasn’t in the mood to laugh when he got to the funny lines. And there was only one brief mention of the curse which was confusing. He wasn’t sure this should be the first chapter. He’d like to meet the main character in a slightly more neutral way – with a little more clarity for who she is. The line: Just because Marcus broke his leg – in thirteen places – when he turned thirteen… is an ‘as you know, Bob’ statement. This chapter comes across as dark and violent and the overall tone of the book is tongue-in-cheek.
On the plus side – the writing was Gertrude Stein-esque. It effectively conveyed the insanity.
Moving on from here (includes notes from other sources during the weekend): Fixes for this chapter include: lightening it up, making the curse more prominent, rounding out the MC more with letting us get to know who she is, building on the relationship between her and her brother through more dialogue – show that things have changed between them and a hint of what it used to be like.
I read the first two chapters to Martha Mihalick
On the minus side – The zit popping might be a little too gross. There are other spices than garlic. The second chapter needs more setting/atmosphere to ground the reader in where they are. The last line: What else did Mother not tell me? is confusing – why wouldn’t his mother tell him?
On the plus side – The characters are well rounded. The zit popping is probably spot on for the targeted reader. The garlic allergy is an interesting twist.
Moving on from here: I woke up the next morning and realized I could fix two issues. The transition from chapter one to two, and the sparse description of setting in chapter two. If I added a paragraph at the top of chapter two that showed him leaving home and how he got to the school, then I could describe what he sees and the transition from home to school is in the book rather than implied. The zits are staying as is, for now. And the last line fix came from another writer in my group who suggested What else did Mother forget to tell me?.
I’ve since gotten feedback that I need to show even more of what he’s thinking. Oy! The transition from 3rd person to 1st person fixed a lot of that, but apparently not quite enough yet.
Of course, now I think I should have switched what I read to which editor. Ah well.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I'm still slogging through the POV edits and have managed to sidetrack myself. You see, my poor Garlic MC is bouncing around a bit too much geographically. That means killing 4 chapters and replacing them with 2 or 3 new ones. And then another edit through the rest of the book to fix the references to those lost chapters. But that also means I'm almost done with major revisions. At least for now.
And no, I did not make the Labor Day deadline. I could've pushed to do it, but it would not be my best work and I'm not ready to shut down an editor by submitting this one too early (again).
Friday, August 14, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
I started editing then realized I was spending most of my time changing 'he' to 'I', 'him' to 'my', etc. Hours of tedious Find/Replace later, I am finally into real editing. And it's better.
I love being a writer. I love being a writer.
Actually, I do love writing. I wouldn't be willing to do all of this work with no promise of publication otherwise.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The submissions process is off to a slow start, but a start nonetheless. It will pick up steam soon, but I need one more weekend to have this manuscript where I want it to be for this part of the writing journey.
Submissions and responses can take a long time. The longest response time I've recorded so far was over 400 days. That's more than a year to hear back on a manuscript that was requested by the editor in question. Have to admit the time between editor's request and actual submission was much longer than a year. It wasn't ready and life happened a lot in the intervening time.
Writing - excellent practice at delayed gratification.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
There comes a time when I just have to make a change that I really don't want to.
Today was the day that I chopped, hacked and otherwise dismantled 5 chapters of Garlic. After those pages were put back together, they were only 3 chapters long. And the timeframe covered shortened from 2 weeks to 2 days. Editing is still required for the whole manuscript, but at least this one issue is resolved in a way that will, hopefully, make it more palatable to a reading public (but first - the agents/editors/publishers).
Note: Revised timeframe to 4 days. Gotta have some wiggle room.
Friday, May 1, 2009
I spent a week in boot camp. Not the military kind and this one was done on my computer while sitting at my desk. Erica Orloff ran a synopsis boot camp last week. I ended up with 1515 words of a Garlic synopsis - edited down to 1490 this week.
What I learned: A good synopsis is a short story in and of itself and not a string of "this happens" and "then this happens". Getting descriptions from your novel into the synopsis is a great way to add flavor. Synopses should not be boring.
Easier said then done, but it wasn't the impossible task I'd thought it would be.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
The Book Roast hosted a 75 word lucky pitch party for St. Patrick's Day. I thought it would be fun to participate, so I wrote a pitch about luck - bad luck. Moonrat chose my pitch as one of her favorites. And Thirteen Black Cats Under A Ladder got it's first words written that day.
It's a lot darker than I expected. That always surprises me. I think I know how a story will be as it travels from my brain through my fingertips and onto the computer screen. But it's like a game of telephone - what winds up on the page is different from what was in my head.
Maybe there are editors hidden in my elbows.
And the winning pitch was:
Curses are for princesses in books, not twelve-year-olds in Cranford, NJ. In THIRTEEN BLACK CATS UNDER A LADDER, Sasha inherits her brother’s curse and the cure he never figured out. She has to step on a crack, find a black cat, walk under a ladder, break a mirror, open an umbrella indoors and spill salt – in the right order, before she turns thirteen or her party will be a catastrophe and she’ll break a leg.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Whew! I'm finally done with my 30,000 word draft. And it's only 22,000 words over what I thought it would be. Now comes the concentrated editing time. We'll see how many words survive the cut.
How it all started:
I was sitting in a conference room at the SCBWI-L.A. Working Writer's Retreat in 2007, toying with my main character who was half-Vampire, half-Italian. He loved garlic but was allergic to it. He also had no story. The energy, the creativity flowing through those rooms that weekend sparked my imagination in just the right way and Garlic was born.
About halfway through writing it, the story line changed in a not too subtle way. My main character took off and the story went with him. Then I had to figure out how to get him back. I also realized the original idea of the main story arc would not work. It wasn't strong enough. New characters were born, a new conflict arose, and the growth of the main character took an abrupt turn.
So now I am cleaning it up, smoothing it all out and checking that the story line that came to be is clear throughout the whole manuscript. Wish me luck!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I write Middle Grade fantasy that's on the light side, but the underlying theme is anything but.
Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.
Stay tuned here for publication updates and appearance schedule.
But first - off to find a publisher...