Friday, July 31, 2009

Weekly Update

Last night I deleted 5000 words from my new WIP. Oh, the tragedy. They were good words, but they all related back to that little issue of the unopened box. They had to go or the story would suffer. Snippedy snip. Of course, while in the course of fixing this error, I did write a couple new scenes, so I'm actually only 3000 words down from the highest word total.

Still, 3000 words is 2-3 hours out of my life. :shrug: Stuff happens.

On the bright side, all the fixing is finished and I can now proceed with creating the story. I'm still finding all the right threads to weave the best pattern, but I still think this is going to be a good story. (Even if I read somewhere that paranormal is becoming passe with some editors. Don't get me wrong, it's still selling very well, but some editors are tired of it.)

Anyway, in keeping with my 'I write for myself' philosophy, I don't care. I'm going to write this book and I'll love it, even if no one else wants it. Not like that hasn't been the story of my writing career thus far. I'll keep trying. Not trying is the only way any of us really fails. Ya know what I mean, jellybean?

Other than the book fixing I've been doing, everything's been pretty SSDD (Same Stuff, Different Day). Darling Daughter is driving herself (and me) crazy waiting for news on the essay contest she entered in March. They were supposed to contact all the entrants by July 27th, but we haven't heard anything yet. If I don't hear from them by Monday, I'll be shooting off a polite WTF email. (And yes, we did get confirmation that her entry was received, so they can't claim they never got it.)

How're things in your little corner of the world?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Change Your Mind

One of my favorite songs of all time is Change Your Mind (in this video, the song is set to Veronica Mars clips) by Sister Hazel. This morning I got to thinking about the lyrics and what they mean to me right now. I've said it before - in fact I posted about it not too long ago - but before anything changes in your life, you have to make some changes in how you think about things.

So, here are the lyrics...

Hey, Hey
Did you ever think
There might be another way
To just feel better,
Just feel better about today

Oh no-
If you never want to have
To turn and go away
You might feel better,
Might feel better if you stay

Yeah yeah
I bet you haven't heard
A word I've said
Yeah yeah
If you've had enough
Of all your tryin'
Just give up
The state of mind you're in:

If you want to be
somebody else,
If you're tired of
fighting battles
with yourself
If you want to be
somebody else
Change your mind...

Hey hey-
Have you ever
danced in the rain
Or thanked the sun
Just for shining-
just for shining
Or the sea?
Oh no- take it all in
The world's a show
And yeah, you look
much better,
Look much better when you glow

Hey hey-
what ya say
We both go and seize the day
'cause what's your hurry
what's your hurry anyway


What's on your mind today? Anything need changing?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's Wrong with the World

Last week, we had a killer storm and while I was out battling the flood waters, a couple of my neighbors stood and watched me. Nice. I was doing what I thought was a civic duty - clearing limbs out of the street and getting all the gunk off the nearby storm grates so the intersection wouldn't flood any worse. Sure, the street department came by and checked them after I was done. If I'd waited, they would've done the job, but that's not the point. With a city full of flooding intersections and downed power lines, the more people who could help, the faster everything would get done.

When did people start standing and watching rather than doing?

Last I heard, parts of New Orleans were still waiting for someone - the government - to come rebuild for them. Funny, other parts have been finished for a long time, because people did for themselves. Hell, Greenville, KS was razed to the ground and it's already rebuilt. Yeah, it was smaller, so easier to rebuild, but smaller also means they had fewer people to help.

When did people start waiting for someone else rather than helping themselves?

With a large portion of Christians in this country, you'd think they'd remember that the Lord helps those who help themselves. Not the Lord helps those who wait around for help. Ya know?

Sure, I could've stayed inside and watched the road in front of my house flood. I could've watched the idiots trying to make it down one navigable lane. I could've laughed at the inevitable car accident as people swerved around the big branch outside my picture window. Instead, I got off my derriere and moved the damn limb. I waded in up to my ankles and pulled. My feet got wet and cold, but I lived.

I did it because I can't conceive of sitting and watching when something needs to be done. I was raised to get out there and do it. Nowadays, people would rather let someone else do the heavy lifting. Bah. (I also kept the neighbor kids out of the water and the street, but that's a rant for another day.)

Anyway, that's today installment of What's Wrong with the World. It may become a regular feature, or not - depending on my level of need to vent.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This n That

In case y'all missed it, Kristen Painter's got an interesting post over at Fictionistas. With books as with people, it's not the cover that counts, folks. I'm still looking forward to the day when everyone lives by MLK's example and judges men not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Someday.

Look out world, another Sanderson has arrived. Last week, one of Hubby's nephews welcomed a son into existence. From all accounts, mother and baby are doing fine. They live in FL, so chances are we won't be seeing them any time soon, but we're happy just the same.

This just in: According to my mother, her part of Michigan has gotten 3 inches of rain so far this month. Here, we've gotten around 6 inches (if you add in the 6/10ths we got last night). I never thought I'd see a day when the high desert was wetter than any place in Michigan, but there it is. And I say again... Global warming my ass.

Have you noticed they stopped calling it 'Global Warming'? I guess since that was proved false, they thought they'd try another angle. Now it's the ever-scary 'Climate Change'. :shrug: Keep at it, boys, but you still can't change reality. =op

Personally, the rain is totally pissing me off, but on a wider scale, this area is seeing a bumper crop in wheat and corn, so I guess that's a good thing. It'll be great if the price of bread goods drops, and if corn is plentiful, then meat prices should drop, too. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Groceries have become so damn expensive, any drop will help.

In other news, we found what looks like an awesome set of belly-fat burning exercises. They're supposed to be done 3 times a day in combination with 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. (That's two and a quarter hours. Who's got time for that?) We're only doing the exercises 3 times a day and the aerobic thing once a day. If it looks like it's working, I'll post the exercises here. We've only done them today and yesterday, but those 7 exercises are kicking my butt. Yay.

And now it's time for the thirty minute workout, which will be a brisk walk today. See y'all later.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday's Lack of Book Reviews

Short answer: I haven't finished a book since... well, whatever date it says in my 2009 Books Read list.*

Not that I haven't tried. I've picked up no less than four books over the past few weeks. The farthest I made in any of them was about a fifth of the way through Anne Rule's A Stranger Beside Me. I've also been trying to read Larry Elder's Ten Things You Can't Say in America. I still plan on finishing those.

I also started a Terry Goodkind I found at the thrift store, but silly me, it was like the fifth in a series, and I just can't get into it without knowing what happened in the previous books. I would like to read the whole series. We'll see if I can find the first at the library and work from there.

On a depressing note, I picked up a book by an author I remember loving when I was a teen. I read every one Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series I could get my hands on back then, so when I saw one I'd never seen, I picked it up. I just can't get into this one. =o(

I've got about five other books in my TBR pile right now. I really do intend on reading them, but... And it's kind of a big but. (No ever-widening ass jokes, please.) The but of the moment is:

I can't seem to muster the urge to read anything while I'm writing this book. I pick up what other people have written and I find myself thinking about what I should be writing instead. Not a bad thing, really. I guess my subconscious is telling me to get my buns in gear.

I've read a boatload of books already this year, so it's not like I'm out of the loop. I expect my reading addiction habit will come back after a while. I can never not read for long.

Meanwhile, tell me about a book you've read recently that you would recommend. My TBB (to be bought) list is ever-growing, but I can always use a few suggestions.

*I checked. The last book read was Marco Polo on June 27th. I guess it's been longer than I thought since I read a whole book. :sigh:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday's Super Site

Today's site is The Doe Network: International Center for Unidentified and Missing Persons. (Warning: The Doe Network site contains information that can be disturbing, so please browse at your own risk.)

"The Doe Network is a volunteer organization devoted to assisting Law Enforcement in solving cold cases concerning Unexplained Disappearances and Unidentified Victims from North America, Australia and Europe." (from their mission statement on the About page)

I first discovered this site while doing research for one of my novels. Not only is this a worthwhile endeavor - every human being deserves to be reunited with their identity, even years after their death - but... and I admit to being ashamed to say it... it's a source for story ideas.

Of course, by writing a fictional tale about one of these lost souls, we can share their story. We can give these unknown humans a voice. And maybe by writing about their deaths, we can help shed light on their deaths. (Or maybe I'm just finding ways to justify using these tragedies as story ideas... I don't know.)

If you browse through the Network's indexes, you will find information about these unknown persons - sometimes pictures and sometimes just basic descriptions and often just bare guesses about the physical makeup of who a person might have been based on the remains discovered. I never would've thought there would be so many...

I know this site isn't the happiest place to be, but I think it's necessary - and not just in a writerly sort of way.

There are literally hundreds of people listed in their 'Hot Case Index'. Each one was a person with a family who loved them and who wonders what happened. Just looking through the cases makes me want to do something to help these people, but I don't know anything. Maybe by posting about it here, someone else will know something.

Additionally, while browsing through the site, I came across their 'Missing Persons Checklist'. If you suspect a loved one has gone missing, it provides information on what to do and when to do it. Heaven forbid this should happen to anyone we know or love, but if it should, having this information will help those left behind deal with the disappearance and may help find the missing person.

Truth be told, I started today's Super Site post with the intention of just throwing this out for those of us who write suspense, as a place to glean story ideas and do research. While I've been writing this, I find myself horrified by the thought that there are people who've been missing for decades - and bodies without an identity for just as long. I'm disturbed by the images of clay models created to try and make a human face from skeletal remains. And I'm dismayed that mankind has not risen above this.

This isn't necessarily what one would call a Super Site. This is a series of tragedies, but it deserves to be mentioned. It deserves to be passed around so together we can maybe help some families find closure and some deceased find a final resting place.

Be safe out there everyone.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Weekly Update and Facebook

Well, I only accomplished 6500 new words this week, thanks to a niggle about a plot point. I'll start working on the fix tomorrow. Truth be told, it's somewhat daunting to go back a rework a story when I'm not finished with it. I might just chicken out and keeping moving forward. What's screwed up can be fixed later without affecting the plot from this point on. We'll see what I decide tonight.

I haven't mentioned it, but I do have a Facebook account. I'm sorry but to me Facebook is the weirdest thing ever. I only got an account because a friend of mine posted pictures he wanted me to see, and I needed an account to even browse his pics. Now I'm getting friend requests from all sorts of people. Don't get me wrong. I love the requests from people I know. When Karin Tabke friended me, I squealed like a little girl. Hell, I even got friended by an acquaintance from high school.

What's weird is when I get friended by people I don't know. Like tonight, I got a friend request from some guy in Washington state. No offense to him, but I don't make friends with people I don't know - either in real life or online*. :shrug: I'm touchy that way. It takes some time for me to feel friendly enough to 'friend' anyone.

Anyway, I was playing with Facebook tonight. I now have a picture up, but not much else. I really don't want too many exact details about me floating around the net. What you can find there, you can pretty much find here. I went to Goodrich High School and Northern Michigan University. I'm married. That's about it.

While I was playing, I went to my high school graduating class. Man-o-man, was that ever strange. The last time I saw any of those people was 1998 at my ten year reunion. Others I haven't seen since 1988. Quite a few of those people I'd never seen before in my life. The shocker was looking at picture of one of my old Quiz Bowl buddies. Wow. What a difference 21 years makes.

Anyway, if you're a regular visitor here and I know who you are, feel free to friend me. I might add more to the page once I have news to share. But then again, you'll find more recent and accurate information here anyway, so it's up to you.

On a slightly different note, I'd like to go on record as saying if we get ONE MORE storm, I'm going to scream. Last night's was a doozy, and another one looks like it's brewing even now. If you'll excuse me, I have to go shore up the basement before it hits. Stupid weather. =op

(*ETA (because I didn't think about this) - If you stop by the blog, then I consider you friend enough to 'friend' on Facebook. Like maybe not 'braid each other's hair' type of friend, but online buds, which is wonderful.)

Update @ 10:01pm: The storm went east of us. Yay!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Niggles

Today I'm piggybacking on a post over at the Crowe's Nest (agent Sara Crowe's client blog) by Alexa Martin called The Annoying Niggle. You see, I experienced the Annoying Niggle last night. (Actually I've been experiencing it for days, but I didn't know what the problem was until last night.) Something was wrong with my new book, and it was niggling (probably not the correct use of that word, but go with me here) at me something fierce.

After writing about a thousand words, and loving where the story is headed, I went outside for some quality thinking time (i.e. a smoke - which is when my best thinking gets done), and the Annoying Niggle jumped out at me. It slapped me around for a while until I saw what the problem was.

An unopened box would never be allowed into the evidence locker at any police station. How stupid would that be? Really.

Umm, duh. But I'd already done it. And the damn box has to remained unopened or a whole shitload of mayhem would ensue - too early in the novel.

I finished my smoke, and promptly came in here to work my way through the problem. I opened a new file and did a little free writing. (Basically me talking to myself in print.) After about a page of that, I hit on the way to solve my problem. Of course, the solution is going to require a near rewrite of about 15K words, but if I don't do it, that whole chunk - no matter how much I like it - is going to wind up sucking. I can write it better, stronger, more coherent! Yeah. That's the ticket.

Anyway, before I can move forward, I have to fix this.

Every have a time when the niggles snuck up on you? Alexa's right, they really can be like sneaky kitties sometimes. Annoying, pushy, but ultimately loveable, sneaky kitties.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sunset From Cedar Key

There's a little spot on the west coast of Florida called Cedar Key. It's a lovely little town accessible by causeway. On the way back to Tallahassee from my trip to Cape Canaveral, I took a side road out to this little piece of heaven. The sunset was so spectacular. I didn't really do it justice, but it's still an awesome thing.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Picking up the Threads

God, I love it when a story really starts to come together in my head. I just finished writing a couple thousand words, and I'm really getting excited about this book. I love love love it. Plot twists abound. Sexual tension is in the air. The subplot is unwinding nicely. Heh. The heroine and her hero are about to ring each others' necks. All is right with the world.

I even threw myself a curve ball which has the whole story leading into a new direction, but it's the right direction. Hehehe.

Oh, and I can see the potential for a series here. I've even got some of the next plots weaving themselves in my head. Weee.

I'm still keeping the premise close to the vest. Only my daughter and one of my beta readers knows about it, and so far, they both seemed jazzed about the idea. Darling Daughter, who lives for paranormal anything, says it's a premise she's never read or heard about before. Yay. She's even provided some interesting questions about where this is going that are helping me pinpoint what needs to go where.

Of course, it's still lacking a title. Details, details. ;o)

Wow. I haven't felt this jazzed about a book in a while. Feels great, actually.

And now, I'm going to go rest my fingers and catch a rerun of House. Have a great night folks, and I'll catch you tomorrow.

Peace out.

Cape Canaveral

Speaking of astronauts, years ago I went to Cape Canaveral. In keeping with yesterday's theme, I thought I'd share a few pics from that trip.

This is the image that greets you inside.



This is the Space Shuttle Explorer from the walkway to the inside.



And this is me inside the Space Shuttle.



I never did get to see a shuttle launch when I lived in Florida, but this trip to the Cape was pretty awesome. If you've never gone there, I'd definitely recommend it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Forgotten Men

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the first time man walked on the moon.

We just finished watching a documentary on the mission, and it was awe-inspiring to say the least. A group of human beings used their intellect to send three men across space to the lunar surface. Everyone involved with that day and everything that led up to that day should be celebrated - not just today but every day. They were and are truly great men.

Tonight I also found myself incredibly pissed off. Not about the fact that we've neither been back nor gone beyond the moon - that's pissed me off for years. What had my nose so out of joint was through 13 years of schooling, I was never taught anything about the space program.

Prior to the movie Apollo 13, I never knew we went to the moon more than once. Men actually walked on the moon during six different missions. (The Apollo Program Flight Summary) Oh, sure, I'd seen some pictures of the other missions, but I always thought they were part of the original landing. And since my teachers never bothered to tell me differently, I never thought to investigate for myself.

Bah and Feh.

During the documentary tonight, I saw footage I'd never seen before. I watched the same thing those people in 1969 saw. It's sad that forty years later I'm seeing it for the first time. I missed being alive for the landing by 10 months. There was nothing I could do about that. But this piece of history was too damn important for it to have been left out of my education. There was something someone could've done about that, but some reason, they dismissed it.

I knew about Leif Erickson's accidental landing in Canada, though. The marauding Viking who stumbled upon this continent by accident got more face time in my schooling than a group of men who deliberately risked their lives to reach the moon.

Hmfph.

When I saw the movie Apollo 13 for the first time, I was shocked by how little I knew about the space program. Those poor men who died in Apollo 1 lost their lives and because of them, we learned how to make the module safer so others could survive the trip. I never knew about them. The eighteen men who went back after the first moon landing risked their lives so we could learn more about the celestial object above us. I never knew about them either.

So, as I sit here in awe of those men who did the impossible forty years ago, I am filled with a sense of loss for all those years I sat ignorant of their achievements. At this point, all I can do is learn what I can and make certain my daughter has the knowledge I was never given.

Pass the history along. Make sure these men are never forgotten. They deserve at least this much from the country they served so long ago.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday's Super Site

Just a quick link today because I'm about to sit down to work.

Folktext - a library of folktales, folk lore, fairy tales, and mythology.

It's alphabetical, so easy enough to search through. It's also fun to just browse down the links and read what sparks you. Story ideas aplenty in there, and if you've already got an idea in mind along those lines, it can provide some good information.

I haven't clicked very many places in there, so as always, surf at your own risk.

Enjoy!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Weekly Update

Busy day here at the Sanderson household. Another bout with torrential rain. I thought this was supposed to be the high desert. Hmphf.

Anyway, since last Friday, I made some significant headway on this untitled paranormal thing I'm writing. With the just over 7700 words I wrote this week, I'm up to 14K - or 17% of the finished product. I expect this will first draft out at around 60-65K with a final word count around 80K.

Other than that, I haven't really done much else writing-wise. I spent a large amount of time thinking about this book. I know exactly who the MC is and what motivates her. I know her background and her history. There are still some things I have to research about the decade she grew up in, but since the book takes place in the present, it's background. I'm not sure how much of that is going to make the final cut.

Writing this book is immensely fun, though. The paranormal angle is sparking my synapses to no end. It's neat to create a new mythology for a known supernatural being, and figure out how they fit into this world. I think this has a great premise and based on everything I've read in paranormal, I think I've got a fresh take. We'll see what comes out between now and when I start submissions. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

On the homefront, I've been playing poker. It helps me turn the writer part of my brain off so things can gel. I also spent some time this week discussing career decisions with my almost adult daughter. Soon she'll be hitting the big one-six, and now's the time to think about what she wants out of her life. I'm feeling good about her prospects, and while she's no longer considering a degree in Chemistry, she's got a good head on her shoulders. She's shifted to thinking about a degree in management. (Personally I think she'd make an awesome lawyer, but if I mention that to her one more time, she'll explode. I'm hoping if I let her find the law on her own, she'll find out she loves it.)

Anyway, that's my life in a nutshell. How are things with you?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Right Way to Write

We've all heard this phrase bandied about. I've even touched on it before at my old blog. But what exactly is the right way to write?

Well, many people subscribe to the art of plotting. As I understand it, plotting is when a writer plots everything out beforehand. Sometimes they do it in outline form. Others use plot boards (big boards with different colored sticky-notes for each character or plot arc or whatever major means they use). Some use Excel while others have specialized programs for the job. For plotters, this is the right way to write.

Many people consider themselves 'pantsers', which basically means writing by the seat of one's pants. They write down the words, the paragraphs, the scenes as it comes to them, and they make sure everything ties together in the edits. According to some, this is the more 'organic' way of writing because the story grows on the page. Of course, for the pantsing community, this is the right way to write.

Personally, I call what I do Planstering, or basically a little planning or plotting and a lot of pantsing. I start with a general idea - a path to travel down wherein I have a starting point and an ending point - but I have no clue as to how I'm going to get from point A to point B. Along the way, I might map out the next few steps, but I never have the whole journey laid out. This means, sometimes I get lost. And sometimes I write myself into a corner and have to either climb out a window or backtrack. This is the right way to write... for me.

There are tons of books on the market telling you what the right way to right is. I've heard so many titles and so many varying opinions from each that I'm surprised anyone can read any of them. I read one. Once. Over the years, my process has certainly changed, but only because both the act of writing and my books themselves don't seem to adhere to one process or the other.

I wrote my first book strictly as a pantser. During the second book, I read somewhere that the right way to write was to plot, so I plotted the rest of the second. Looking back, neither of those processes was entirely right for me. Now I do this morphing thing, and I write how the story wants to be written. (And no, the story itself really isn't dictating a damn thing. It's all in my head, and I'm the one doing it, even if it isn't always conscious.)

Anyway, if you've come looking for an answer to the eternal question "What is the right way to write?", all I can say is that it's something each writer has to discover for themselves. If I remember correctly, Allison Brennan has called herself a pantser (although I suspect she plansters) and Diana Peterfreund plots. Both are awesome writers - intelligent, well-respected and successful. I don't think either one would tell the other she's writing books wrong.

In the end, there is no right way to write - except for the process that works for you. And if, somewhere along the way, that process stops working, change processes until you slip into a new groove.

And that, my friends, is the only right way to write.

(PS. You'll have to pardon some of the phraseology tonight. I was writing a dialogue scene right before this post, and one of the characters has an accent. Now Nigel's talking in my head. Silly git.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Quiet Blogosphere

Wondering why it's been so quiet around the blogosphere lately, or was it just me? I totally missed that RWA National is this week. The agents and the writers who blog have bugged to Washington, DC for the duration.

I'm still here, though. Writing a lot, but here. If you're also one of those left behind, Lynn Viehl is hosting her annual "Left Behind and Loving It" series of workshops. At the bottom of each post, she links to all the other people posting workshops during the conference.

I'm not a participant, but I was trying to get some meaningful posts out this week. Today was a wash for the blog, but I did get some good words out tonight.

Until I get around to posting, check out the workshops and I'll try to come up with something tomorrow. Or you could take this quiet blogosphere time and use it to get some extra work done. Lord knows if I worked instead of reading blogs in the morning, I'd add another hour of writing to my time every day.

;o)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fishing for Representation

I'm taking a quick break from writing, so I thought I'd write up today's post before my wrists give out.

This morning I read an interesting post at Jennifer Jackson's blog. In it, she takes minor issue with the phrase 'landing an agent'. I can totally see where she's coming from, but after thinking it through, I don't agree. You see, if you look at this whole thing from a certain way, you'll see how hopeful writers really are trying to 'land an agent'.

In essence, what we're doing out here is similar to fishing. I don't know how many of you fish, but the first time I went fishing was 1975. Thinking about it now, I can make quite a nice analogy from experiencing both the art of catching a fish and the art of securing representation.

First off, fishing isn't just dropping a hook in the water and waiting. If it was that easy, there wouldn't be tournaments devoted to the sport. You'd never have to teach a man to fish so he could eat for a lifetime. We'd all be rolling in bass and trout and walleye.

Nope, fishing takes art and skill. You have to know when the fish are biting. You have to use bait - and if you want a certain type of fish, you have to know which bait to use. You have to know how to cast, and how to set a hook, and how to reel it in just right so it doesn't break the line and get away. You have to have the right equipment for the kind of fish you're going after.

Sometimes you can forget all that and catch fish anyway. When I was a kid, my brother caught a huge salmon using rigging for perch. It's rare, but it can be done. That's where the luck comes in.

While luck does come into play, it's mostly skill that's going to get the fish in your boat. Whether you're trolling for the mighty muskie or using a bobber and hoping for panfish, you need to target your skills. The same holds true for whether you're trying to get an agent at SUPER HUGE AGENCY or the only agent at ONE MAN AGENCY.

You need to have your equipment - the query letter, the synopsis, the outline - ready to throw into the water. You need to know whether the agents are biting and whether your kind of bait is what they're hungry for.

And then of course, you need a little luck so you throw your hook in just the right spot.

Of course, with either, you also need a boatload of patience. Somedays the fish aren't biting. Somedays, the water is so full of other good things to eat, you're lucky if they even give your query a glance.

But when the skills and the luck and the timing are right, you'll hook a big one, and you'll be in for the ride of your life. It takes a lot of work to bring in a big fish, just like it takes a lot of effort to land a great agent, but either way, it's worth the effort.

Sometimes whether we land an agent or a fish is entirely out of our control, but just like you'll never catch a fish if you don't drown a few worms, you'll never get an agent if you don't get your hook into the river.

Happy fishing!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Combating the Can't-Do Attitude

Yesterday we had another bout of torrential rain. Hubby and I spent a couple hours playing tagteam against the growing leak in the basement. Good news: we kept the waters to a limited area and nothing was damaged. Bad news: I hurt like hell. As I was laying in bed, waiting for the Tylenol to kick in, my mind drifted back to fifteen years ago and I congratulated myself for doing a bunch of things I didn't think I would ever do.

If you've been around here long enough, you've heard this story before, so bear with me.

In 1994, I was in a car accident. A pretty nasty one that left me in a hospital bed for 2 months. It also gave me the questionable gifts of a broken body and a traumatic brain injury. Throughout it all, I ran into people who tried to impress the Can't-Do Attitude upon me and the other patients who were going through this at the same time.

Someone somewhere along the way told me I'd never walk right again. Several others implied I'd never think right again. One social worked encouraged me to find another line of work because I would never be able to handle management again. I ignored them all, and I fired the social worker. (Even fifteen years later, I'd still like to slap the stupid out of that bitch.)

Since then, I walk as well as any able-bodied person - except when the weather is bad or I'm really tired, then I limp a little. My mind is about 99% of what it was pre-accident and in some ways, it's better. I've learned memory tricks I never would've thought about if this hadn't happened. And since that twit told me I would be better off working with plants than people, I've worked my own territory as an Manufacturers' Representative, I've been shift manager for a major telemarketing company, I've worked as the Executive Assistants for both a VP of Operations and the President of a private school corporation. I've also written a boatload of novels. So there, Ms. Silly Social Worker Person. =op

But I wasn't the only one... A few weeks after I started out-patient therapy, a new gal was admitted to the group. She'd been hit by a car while jogging, and she had a lot of the same problems as me. One leg was smashed, and her head injury was causing both speech and thinking difficulties - which truly sucked because she was a lawyer. A few of the well-meaning staff told her she would never be a lawyer again - that she shouldn't even try because the certain failure would be a major set-back in her recovery. She told them to go pound sand, and last I heard, she was studying to retake the bar. There was no doubt in her mind she'd pass it, and there's no doubt in mine that she's practicing law today.

The point here is there are always people who will tell you you can't do something. When I started my first book, a so-called friend of mine laughed at me. His attitude was that I would never write a whole book. Until I did it. Then his attitude was that I couldn't get published. Well, the jury's still out on that one, but not for lack of trying. I didn't let his can't-do attitude stop me.

I can't let the same attitude coming from myself stop me either. Trust me, there are days when I feel like I can't do this anymore. Like when a particular rejection comes in and throws me for a loop. Or when I'm so friggin' tired from life's daily chores that I can't envision sitting here for ten minutes, let alone the hour or so I set aside for writing. Or those times, like last night, when I just ache. (Okay, last night's a bad example because I really couldn't do it then. Instead I rested and thought about where the story is going so I can write gangbusters tonight.)

In the end, we should all have a Can-Do attitude, but the reality of it is no matter how much we tell ourselves what we can do, there will be naysayers telling us we can't. Ignore them. Fire them if you have to (either literally or figuratively). Either way, give them the attention they deserve.

Which is to say, none.

Your turn. What's something someone else has said you can't do? Did you do it anyway? If not, what's holding you back?

ETA: I can't believe I misspelled the title. D'oh! I fixed it, but it stills appears as the filename. Sorry about that, folks. I blame it on being tired.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday's Super Site

Since I was working on a new story this week, and it's a story not quite like any I've done before, I had to do some name research. (As well as other research, but that's not the point of today's post.)

Searching for popular baby names of the 1920s... I thought I wouldn't find much, but I'm so glad I was wrong. After browsing through several such links, I came to the conclusion that the easiest one to use is put out by the Social Security Administration: Popular Baby Names.

I won't go into how ridiculous it is for taxpayer money to be used for such a purpose. (Okay, I realize that simply by saying that, I went into it. I can live with that.) Suffice it to say, the search loads quickly - even on my old computer - and the site is easy enough to use.

So, I looked up the names in the 1920s, and found a few I liked. Then I went to the 1980s, because I have characters born then, too. Then for grins and giggles, I went to 1886 - because you can look up any year past 1879. No big shocker there - John and Mary were the two most popular names.

Anyway, I got my US born characters appropriately named for the time periods they were born in because the SSA wastes money. Later I went to some privately held sites and named the foreign born characters. I should've gone private for the others, too, but I'm lazy and since the money was already wasted - part of which I'm sure I paid for - I might as well use it. You might as well, too.

Top names for the year I was born: Michael and Jennifer. What were the top names in your birth year?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Weekly Update

This has been a week filled with awesomeness.

First off, I finished the red-ink edits on Nano. The whole round, start to finish, took me two months - working mostly weekends. It started out with 100,495 words and ended up at 93,545 (net loss: 6885 words). It still needs a lot of work. The next round is going to be reinserting the scenes I chopped, so the villain's POV shines through, and then comes the down and dirty line edits. I don't expect a major loss or gain during the line edits, but when I'm done, most of the words will be reorganized into something tighter and more sparkly.

Next up for the week was the writing. An idea pummeled the crap out of me Sunday and would not be denied. Believe me, I tried. I told the damn thing I had other stories ahead of it in line, and it would have to wait it's turn. We bargained for a while, and I thought I could just write the major plot points in my trusty notebook. Doing that only encouraged the story. I fought with it over its place behind the edits for Nano. I won that round, but as soon as the edits were done, the story took over. Since Tuesday, I've written 6385 words on this new book (as yet untitled) - almost as much written here as chopped out of Nano.

Then Thursday (was it really just yesterday?), I got a request for full out of the blue. Really. I queried this agent on 4/19. After almost three months, I wrote the query off as 'rejected'. Then the full request shows up. Shocked the shit out of me. Hope springs eternal for Blink. Yay. Needless to say, I shot the full off within minutes of the request. It's always good to be prepared, and this full has been prepared since April when I got my first request.

Quite a week for writing, if I do say so myself.

Plus, on the home front, I declogged three sinks and kept up with my exercise regime. Which are always good. The drains are running wonderfully well, and I'm starting to get definition in my calves again. (I used to have awesome calves, then I became a lump of mashed couch potato and the legs got flabby. Eww, gross.)

All in all, I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now.

Now for the week ahead... I've promised myself to average 1500 words a day on this new book. So far, that's about where I'm at. If I can up the production, great. If not, I'm okay with it. I wrote RTL in six weeks, and I'm just as jazzed about this new story as I was about that one - which means I could have this book finished by the end of August. I'm shooting for the end of September, though, just to give myself some padding.

How are things going for you? Anything exciting happen this week for you? Do you have a goal for the coming week you'd like to share?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The First Blush of Love

Remember when you first met that boy or girl who made your heart sing? You felt like your chest was going to burst, your palms were sweaty... In some ways, it was horrible, but when you were together, you just knew how right it was.

It's been five years since I first felt that with my husband. It's been a few months longer than that with my writing career. Almost every day I'm reminded of that feeling with Hubby-dear, but it's been a while since I felt the rush of love for writing.

Until this new story came along. Now I'm totally infatuated. I think about it all the time. I lay in bed at night wondering where it is and where this new relationship is going. It's not quite love yet, but it's well on its way there.

And I don't even know its name.

Right now it's too early to tell how much I'll come to love the story, but if it keeps up the way it has, I'll be head over heels by the end of the book. :squee: I hope this is the one.

Keep your fingers crossed for the rest of the world to love this as much as I think I will.

If you feel inclined, share a little bit about your love affair - with your writing or not, depending on how comfortable and/or chatty you're feeling.

(BTW, those are the dogs I used to have. One day, they just laid down in what I've always thought was the shape of a heart. Fitting, I thought.)

Umm

Yesterday's post seemed fine when I wrote it, but looking at it this morning... Well, umm, bleh. It's gone now. Today's actual post will be up later.

Meanwhile, enjoy this...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

All In My Head

Ever have a time when you spent so much time thinking about doing something that in the end, you think you actually did it? I'm like that all the time.

And of course, that's where yesterday's post went. Off and on yesterday I thought about what I was going to write. I kept telling myself to sit down and write it, but then something would distract me. (Like sucking the water out of the basement, or unplugging the sink in the downstairs bathroom... You know... Life.) By the time I went to bed, I thought I really did write a post. I guess it was all in my head. Since that's where I spend most of my time, I'm not surprised.

Yesterday Jennifer Lyon wrote a post over at Murder She Writes called Waking Up Stupid. I totally get that, but for me, it's not just associated with being deep in writing a story. Like I said, I'm like this all the time. :shrug:

Of course, having a new story in my head doesn't help. I swear I didn't hear a damn thing my husband said last night because my brain was possessed by this new story. I can only hope I made the appropriate responses, and that if I didn't, he understood why I was acting like a zombie. It was the story, I tell you!

Speaking of which, I didn't start it Sunday night like I hoped. Thanks to a cloudburst, I spent some time trying to stem the flow of water into the basement. And thanks to plumbing difficulties, I spent some time trying to unclog a sink. (Neither of which worked, btw. Which is why yesterday was still occupied with those pursuits.) Last night I got 1500 words out of my head before another storm hit.

Here's hoping the electrifying weather holds off today so I can get some more of this story out and de-clutter my head.

Do you get like this when your brain is cluttered, or is it just me?

(btw, to get what the picture has to do with this, see my comments in Jennifer's post.)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ate My Veggies. Time for Dessert.

Okay. Remember how I said I wasn't going to write anything new until I got all my editing done? Well, forget that. This evening I got tackled by a story I'd never thought of, and I can't get it out of my head. I spent a couple hours on the couch world-building for this thing. It doesn't have a title, and the characters are sketchy at best, but the premise is knocking my socks off.

I love it when that happens. Problem was I promised myself I would finish this round of edits on Nano tonight.

You know how as a kid, you could feel the anticipation churning inside you the night before your birthday? This is pretty similar to that. I can't wait to get started writing. On the upside, knowing I couldn't start this new thing until I kept my promise lit a fire under my ever-widening ass. I got through the red-ink edits a few minutes ago. Yay me!

To mix metaphors, I ate my vegetables. Now I can have dessert! Of course, I might be a little full of typing on this computer tonight, but that's okay. I've already got a great thread of the story, and I can always start typing tomorrow.

Ya know, I haven't been this jazzed about writing since I got the idea for RTL, and I cranked the first draft for that one out in 6 weeks. If this goes as smoothly, I could have this written by September. Oooo, wouldn't that be sweet?

Oh, and just so ya know, this new story is my first foray into the world of paranormal. I've never done it before, but I love reading it, so maybe it will be as awesome as I hope. Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Saturday's Super Site

In honor of this holiday, today's Super Site is Cyberfireworks.com. If you happen to be somewhere that doesn't have fireworks, or you just can't make it this year. Or if you're like me and don't like the noise... Here's a way to celebrate at home.



Happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Weekly Update, etc.

Hmmm... What to say about this week? Well, I edited seven chapters of Nano, during which I tweezed out almost 1900 words and added in about 400. This leaves me with a negative 1500 for this week, and the whole novel at around 93.3K. Of course, the majority of the words I snipped will probably be reworked and added back in. I'm still not sure how much of this one villain's viewpoint the book needs.

Except he's crucial to the rest of the book, and without his POV scenes, the reader can't really tell why the hell people are dropping like flies. And then, he's also the most sympathetic villain I've had yet. He's got a helluva a good reason, but his premise and therefore his actions to correct what he sees as injustice are wrong.

Once I get done with all the major edits - another 8 chapters or so - I'll go through all his scenes and see what needs to be kept. Then I'll have to weave all that back in.

I know some of you are probably thinking I'm batshit. Editing the villain scenes along with the rest would've been easier in some ways, but I needed to pull him out of the picture so I could get a clear view. Kinda like throwing two jigsaw puzzles on the floor at the same time. I couldn't put together the main picture without removing all other pieces first. Once I did that, I could step back and see where everything needs to go - in both pictures.

Other than editing, I didn't get many other writerly things done. At least not for my own work. Not directly anyway. You see, I spent some time this week critiquing query letters over at The Public Query Slushpile. I don't know how much I'm helping others. I'm really trying to be helpful. I do know I'm helping myself while I do this. Looking at other peoples' query attempts seems to be sharpening my own editing skills. We'll see how much when I get Nano finished, and send it out into the world.

If you haven't been over there, I highly recommend it. It's a good exercise to help out other writers, and it's a little payment for all those writers who helped me. And besides, it gives me books to look forward to. After reading the queries for a few of these, I'm really jazzed to see them in print.

So, how're things in your world?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Decision

I came to a decision yesterday. Recently I've been thinking about the books I've written and the lessons I've learned since I first finished Spectacle. I've also been looking at what I'm currently writing. Over the past few days... weeks... months, I've been considering whether anything is going to sell and how I'm going to get from unpublished and hopeful to published and successful.

The great Hubby and I have talked about it from the standpoint of what do we expect to happen in our careers in the next seven years. If all we can expect is more of the same, should we continue to do what we're doing? Seven years from now, will we both look back with regret that we've wasted all that time, or will we look back and be satisfied with our progress? Since neither of us can see the future, the only thing we both know for certain is that the best way to change the future is to change our actions in the present.

Or in Hubby's words (quoted from somebody somewhere): If we always do what we've always done, we'll always get what we've always gotten.

So... When I think about change in my own career, I have a limited number of options. I can 1) quit writing and get a job with a paycheck, 2) write something more in line with what's 'popular', 3) change the way I approach the task of writing and getting sold.

Of course, number ONE is out of the question. Aside from the fact that I won't quit writing, getting a job outside the house would a) be difficult in this economy (and Hubby is against me taking a job that doesn't utilize my skills - like at the grocery store or the hardware store), and b) totally screw up the whole homeschooling thing when we have two years left to go.

Which brings me around to number TWO. In a way, I already did that when I wrote Dying Embers (aka Manhunter). Beyond that I suppose I could write a paranormal romance or an urban fantasy or something else that's hot. Problem is... Even though I like to read those kinds or books, I'm really not jazzed about writing them. I like writing speculative fiction and suspense. I like taking a 'what if' and following it to its logical conclusion. I could probably write one hell of a paranormal something if I set my mind to it, but the urge just isn't there. I could force it, but then it would suck because it would feel forced. I can only write what I write.

So, that leaves me with THREE - Change the way I'm doing what I'm already doing. Basically the way I see that option is: Take the lessons I've learned and work harder to apply them to what I'm writing. Additionally, use those lessons to make the novels I've already finished worthy of publication.

Work harder AND smarter.

In keeping with the best option, I've decided to lay off writing new words temporarily while I work on re-polishing what I've already got. I still believe in Spectacle and Caldera and all the rest, so I can't fathom why I wouldn't work to get them published. I put a lot of effort into those suckers. So what if I need to put out some more effort?

This means I'll be editing and reworking the stories. It also means I need to rework and edit all the submission materials that go with each of those novels. I know it'll take a lot of work, and I know that afterwards they all could still be sitting on my harddrive gathering virtual dust. But I have to try.

Now I just need to choose which one gets attention first.

Of course, this is only one step in the process. I have a few other things I need to work on, too, but I'll share those in another post. This one's already too long. ;o)

Anyway, wish me luck. I'll probably need it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In the Mood for a Rant

Yep. That's right. I'm in the mood to rant. The problem is, there are so many things to rant about, I can't decide which one to pick this morning.

I could rant about the news that Obama plans on creating yet another government department. "The country's in recession... I know, I'll create a new way to spend the taxpayers' money!" Umm, Mr. President? No thanks. And if you ask me, I could show you some other departments we taxpayers can do without.

Or I could rant about the heat. Yeah, I know it's summer, but I'm not big on winter either. Extremes in either direction suck. I'm a fan of Spring and Fall. That's why I dreamed of living in Seattle when I was going to college. I heard somewhere that the temperatures are mid-range there all year. Yay.

Then again, I could spend some time ranting about the overwhelming press coverage of Michael Jackson's death. He was an icon. He died. Get over it. I'm not trying to be cruel. I liked Jackson (pre-freakazoid stage). But if I see the Thriller video one more time, I'm going to scream. If you watch TV during the day, it's been on at least a dozen times since he died. The first dozen times I watched it in the 80's was enough, thank you very much. Add in the stream of Beat it and every other song he ever sang, and I just want to crawl into a hole.

And what about the other four celebrities who died recently? David Carradine was a cultural icon. (Ahhhh, grasshopper. Take the pebble from my hand.) So was Ed McMahon. Farrah's getting a bit more press after her death, but then again, the world knew that was coming. And Billy Mays? Okay, well... sure, he wasn't as famous as the others, but he's in every television-owning home every day. His fame was more recent. Shouldn't he get some face time?

And another thing. What the hell is it with death this year? The Grim Reaper's been busy. He took my good friend back in May. He took my brother-in-law's grandfather yesterday. Take a break, big guy. Hell, he even took my favorite stray - yes, it was Mama Kitty who was killed. Asshole.

Now that I'm rolling, I'd want to take a moment to refresh my rant about noisy people. Turn the damn radio down! I mean, seriously. Do you really need to pump out the bass on your way to work? I'd think you'd all be too hung over to want the music that loud. :snerk:

Can I take a moment to vent about personal space? If you're in a store, give a woman at least a couple feet, will ya? Sure, I was chatting with the cashier while you were behind me, but she was still scanning my items. Creeping up my ass isn't going to get her moving faster, and it sure as hell isn't going to hurry me up at all. If I'd thrown an elbow, you'd have been toast. (I think about doing things like that, but I'm never actually going to do it. Unless I snap, of course.)

And please PLEASE don't brush up against me. That's just creepy. Accidental touching is okay, but if there's room enough to get around me in the grocery aisle, do so. Turn sideways like normal people. Or say 'excuse me'. I'll move. Really I will. Don't just push your way through. I don't know where you've been. Eww.

On the other hand, if you're taking up the whole damn aisle, and I say 'excuse me', don't just stand there, ignoring me while you look at tomato juice. I only want to get to the apple juice two feet past where you're loitering. I'd love to give you an elbow to the breadbasket, but I'm too nice. Instead, I will walk all the way down another aisle and back up the aisle you're standing in to get what I want. And I'll bitch the whole way. So there. =op

:deep breath:

Ahhh, that feels so much better. Anything you'd like to get off your chest today?