Friday, November 30, 2012

What's Up?

I've been busy.

I wish I could say I've been busy on writerly things.  I do have a new story I've been working on, but since I'm still over there on the couch hammering the story out in red pen on my trusty notebook, it's slow going.

No, I've been busy cleaning.  (Yeah, shocked the crap out of me, too.)  I know it's totally because I'm avoiding work.  I mean, why else would I get the sudden urge to rearrange the living room furniture?  Sure, I told myself I needed to move things around so I could decorate, but I decorated the house as it was last year with no problems, so I was just fooling myself.

Why, other than sheer avoidance, would I have tackled cleaning the vent hood on my stove yesterday?  It's a totally disgusting job.  And I know my landlady never bothered to soak the vent filter, so it was probably full of grease from past renters.  :gag:  Well, not anymore.  It's all clean and sparkly now.

So, the house is clean - mostly - and decorated for the holidays.  See?

Other than that, not much is up here.  I do have one piece of news that I'm not quite ready to share yet, as all the deets haven't been hammered out yet.  And, of course, there's the new blog: The Unpublished Writers' Guide to Survival.  I wish I had NEWS - like an interested agent or a publishing contract.  Maybe in 2013.

How about you?  What's up in your world?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #9

And we arrive at the last of my NaNo Pitfall posts... I hope you enjoyed them all.

:cue tightrope music:

With tomorrow fast approaching - a little too fast, if you ask me - we come to the ninth and final pitfall of the year...

NaNo Pitfall #9 - The Fine Line

Sure, you've written loads of words.  Hopefully they've worked together and made a somewhat cogent story with coherent characters.  All this time you've been creating, though, you've been walking a fine line between needing to get x-number of words on paper and making those words work as a logical story.

Maybe you plotted the story out ahead of time.  If you did, you probably don't need to read this post.  Your word count and your storyline are probably running parallel.  Congratulations. 

Me?  I rarely plot out anything.  Therefore, the fine line I walk sometimes isn't any thicker than frog's hair.  I'm sure when I look back over those scenes, I'll be asking myself "What the hell were you thinking here?"   Sometimes I'll be able to figure it out.  Other times I'll read a scene and never be able to discern what I was going for.  (Here's hoping this book has more of the former than the latter, eh?)

Why is this a pitfall?  Because as we reach the final words for NaNo and thus the final scenes for our books, we need to be able to remember all those threads we created over the past month and weave them to their natural conclusion. And that, my friends, can totally stop you in your tracks.

Hence, the Pitfall.  See?  I knew I'd wrap it together somehow...

As I was laying in bed last night, once again battling my subconsious for some snooze-time, my brain was racing through all the threads.  With only a few thousand words left, am I absolutely sure I wrapped up the thread about Nigel?  Am I bringing the whole thing with the dog to a logical conclusion?  Is the dastardly killer getting what he deserves or should I insert another twist that will carry through to the subsequent books in the series?  And what about that weirdo being who crept into the fight scene?  Did I really introduce a hint of romance, and what the hell am I going to do about THAT?

Needless to say, my brain was on overdrive and I woke up this morning not knowing what the hell to do with the next few scenes.  I could wrap it all up with a pretty bow for now and fix it later.  On the other hand, I could write a dozen more scenes to explain...  Bleh, I hate reading pages of things the writer should've already explained.  Or, I could stop what I'm doing and go back - rereading and editing until I can finish the end.

See?  This could conceivably stop me in my tracks inches from the finish line.  Will it?  Nah.  I'm just using myself as an example.  If this is happening to you, though, you might not be able to get past this Pitfall without a litte nudge.  Here's what I'm going to do.

Take the bit in my teeth and run like hell.

Probably not the advice you were expecting.  Definitely not the best advice for writing the end of your story any other time of the year.  This is NaNo, though.  Right now, thinking about loose ends is only going to stall your progress.

Am I advocating writing 5000 words of nonsense??  Certainly not.  I mean, it's still going to be part of your story.  What I'm saying is, get the words out and worry about tying it all up later.  That's what editing is for.  So what if I introduced some threads five chapters ago that I now realized I never fully finished?  I'll catch them all when I sit down to edit. 

Sorry if this wasn't the post you were expecting.  I didn't edit this any more than I'm editing my work right now.  Plus, my brain is the equivalent of pumpkin puree.  Maybe soon I'll write a post on the mush my brain turns into after writing so many words in one month. 

Have a great day, everyone.  Tune in tomorrow for what I hope will be a less meandering post.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Write or Die?

In the past week or so, and over the past few years, I've had people suggesting the Write or Die site to me.  Umm, thanks, but it's not for me.  Not that there's anything wrong with the concept.  Many people need just the goose in the ass that place provides.  It's just not going to help with my particular problem.

You see, I don't have a problem writing once I sit down to write.  My problem comes with the act of actually sitting down to write.  I have a feeling no program is going to poke me into doing that.  I'd have to get up off the couch, come over here and implement the program - which means I'd already be sitting at my computer with the means to write. 

I'm lazy.  I get that.  Given the choice between sitting here working and sitting over there frittering away my time watching some asinine television show, I'm more inclined to fritter.  Unless I've given myself a deadline.  Then it's easy to drag myself out of my general malaise.  With a deadline - real or imagined - I can crank out the words.  Write or Die won't help me with that.  It'll just put undue pressure on me when I'm already putting enough on myself.

Another thing: I don't write well with someone staring over my shoulder.  I know the instant the Kid walks up behind me.  My brain stalls and my fingers get all stupid.  Same thing happens when the Hubs is watching.  Total paralysis of the writing muscles.  (Even when all I'm doing is typing a short email.)

Not every tool works for every person.  I've said that time and again.  And the whole different strokes thing is okay.  God, if we all wrote the same way, life would be pretty boring.  I do it my way, you do it yours.  Sometimes we can learn from each other's process, and sometimes we can't. 

Yeah, I was open to the Write or Die thing.  I just evaluated it and decided it wasn't my thing.  Which is probably what we all should be doing with every piece of advice, come to think of it.  Don't toss away advice out of hand, but evaluate it.  Who knows, something you never thought would work might just be the thing to get your book finished or published or at least get you over whatever hump your currently facing.

So, what do you think of Write or Die?  Is it your thing?  Why?  And if not, why not?

(And to those awesome folks who have suggested the Write or Die site - thank you.  I treasure your input always - even if I don't always follow it.)

Also, if you haven't dropped by my new endeavor - The Unpublished Writers' Guide to Survival - please do so.  Today's post is a link to advice by author Jeffe Kennedy.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #8

We're starting the home stretch toward December 1st.  (Where did the year go?)  Time for another installment of my 2009 NaNoWriMo Pitfalls posts. 

NaNo Pitfall #8- The Physical Wear and Tear of Writing

Today's Pitfall is less mental and more physical...

NaNo Pitfall #8 or "Something so good shouldn't hurt so much"

Yesterday I banged out over 4K words.  Yay!  The only problem with that is this morning my hands are lumps of meat with ten tubes of overstuffed sausage attached.  Not that I'm complaining.  Hurting hands mean I got some real work done, but...

Unfortunately, my brain is still on a roll and my hands don't want to cooperate. Type two words... ouch ouch ouch...  If typing this post is killing me, what's my manuscript going to do?

Hang on a sec, I have to slather myself in Aspercreme™.

Okay, that's better.  I guess what I'm trying to say, especially since this week marks the home stretch of NaNo is: The more you write the higher the probability that something somewhere in your body is going to protest.  Maybe your ass becomes flat and numb.  Maybe your back becomes a tangle of tension. Perhaps you're like me and your fingers balloon up to Mickey Mouse proportions.

Take a pain reliever.  Rub on some creme.  Break out the heating pad or the ice pack.  Promise yourself a long, hot bath after your writing session is over.  Whatever you choose do, though, don't let the pain in your body stifle the story in your head.

And now that the Aspercreme is kicking in, I'm off to write.  Have a great day, everyone.  =o)

(Cross-posted to The Unpublished Writers' Guide to Survival)

Friday, November 23, 2012

A New Endeavor

When the creativity gets rolling, it really gets rolling.  In the past few days, I got the idea for a new book and for a new blog.  I started the book yesterday.  The new blog rolled out this morning.  So, if you get a chance, please stop by The Unpublished Writers' Guide to Survival.

Also, if you have any tips, hints, suggestions or an idea for a guest post, let me know.  It's going to be a 'pay it forward' kind of thing.  We've all been through it and we all have ideas to help others survive the way we're surviving.  (Even you published authors out there are welcome to join in.)

And don't forget to join the Survivors (which is basically becoming a follower of the blog).  I'm thinking of some neat benchmark prizes - like after 50/100/150 followers, etc.  Maybe I can coax a published friend or two to cough something up toward the effort.

To borrow a phrase from Christmas Present: "Come in and know me better!"

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I don't usually do the whole 'I am Thankful for...' thing.  I've got a great family I love, no one is ill, and we're financially stable.  All in all, life is pretty good.

This morning, though, I'm especially thankful because my screwy-ass brain - which has NOT been playing nice with regards to all things writerly - coughed up an awesome story idea this morning.

So, while the Husband is slaving away in the kitchen, I'll be over here trying to get a bunch of words out on this thing before the shiny wears off.  Hopefully, I'll have a couple thousand words knocked out before our dining room table looks like this:

Thanksgiving 2007

I hope all of you in the States have a lovely Thanksgiving.  And for those of you in other countries, have an awesome day, too.  Just because you aren't here doesn't mean you can't join us in pigging out and enjoying the fruits of your labors.  ;o)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Turkey Pot Pie

Yeah.  I know it's not Thanksgiving yet.  The real turkey isn't due to make it's appearance in my belly for another couple days.  So what did I go out and buy last week?  Rotisserie turkey breast.  And what did I do yesterday?  I used the leftovers to make my first ever turkey pot pie.

It was awesome, btw.

I hadn't even really planned on making it.  Instead I was sitting around the house when the thought occurred to me that Hostess is gone and I may never get a chance to buy Raspberry Zingers ever again.  I snatched up my purse, drove to the store to find... totally empty shelves on the Hostess rack.  Someone had beat me to my idea of hoarding whatever Hostess goodies were left.  :sniffle:

I could've walked away.  But then I got chatting with a friend of mine who works in the produce section.  And after keeping her distracted for ten minutes, I felt honor bound to at least buy something.  As I pushed the cart past the pre-made pie crusts, the idea blossomed.  I threw the crusts into my cart, snagged a bag of frozen veggies, and a jar of turkey gravy.  The rest is history.

What does any of this have to do with writing?

Well, part of it has to do with yesterday's post on procrastination.  But digging a little deeper, I see that I can turn this into a lesson.

- I went into my excursion expecting one thing but when disappointment hit, I turned it into a positive.
- I tried something totally new and it worked out great.

Oh, and not everyone thought my pot pie was awesome.  The Kid turned her nose up at the mere thought of what I'd made for dinner.  I even made her try some.  She hated it.  (Of course she did.  She hates pot pie.)  And even though it hurt my feelings a little, I survived.  Which leads to another lesson for writing...

- Sometimes you can work really hard creating something you're sure everyone will love - even those who don't love the concept - but no matter how hard you work, different people have different tastes.  And that's okay. 

Eating, like reading, is a subjective business.

So, how's your turkey pot pie coming along? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #7

Good morning, Everyone!  Today repost of old Pitfalls seems particularly poignant - even if you're not participating in the sprint to 50K.  Procrastination (aka lollygagging) can crop up anywhere.  Don't want to face the mound of dishes filling your sink?  Procrastinate.  Unsure of where your story is going?  Procrastinate.  I know I'm a master procrastinator from way back.  If it can be put off, I've put it off.  Hell, I'm probably doing it now...

And on that note, here's a link to the old 2009 post (if you want to read the comments) and here's the real thing:


As I may have said, Darling Daughter is also doing NaNo.  These posts are as much for her as for anyone.  Like any writer, she has her stumbling blocks, and like anyone new at anything, she thinks she's the only one.  After reading my Pitfall #6 post, we talked about the various things that can make a writer stumble during this race to finish a novel - or during any writing time - and she was dumbfounded to discover these Pitfalls aren't just things I thought might happen to someone else.  These Pitfalls have happened to me - this month even.  So, as you're reading this series of posts remember: You're not alone.

Now onward to NaNo Pitfall #7 - aka "Wow, I just remembered that I have to :insert procrastinatory item here:!"

We're writers.  We also have a million other things we have to do as human beings.  Laundry needs to get done.  We need to cook meals.  We have shopping and errands.  Some people have day jobs and others, like me, have internet businesses to maintain.  Add in homeschooling or kids' events or homework (either to do if you're still in school or to assist with if you're a parent), and the list of non-writing things requiring our attention can be staggering.

This month is no different.  Except when you're using those things to put off writing.

For instance, I had some stuff I legitimately had to do for my Amazon store.  True, it was stuff I'd put off and I should've done it sooner, especially since the deadline fell in November.  That was last weekend's blip in my writing schedule.  This weekend was another story.  You see, doing all that stuff made me realize that I had a bunch of other stuff I needed to do to make my store easier to work with - for me, not my customers.  Yesterday, I spent a good portion of my day screwing around with that.  It needed to be done...  Just not right this moment.  Certainly none of it was so crucial it couldn't wait until NaNo was over.

As I lay in bed last night lamenting my lack of words, it came to me.  This was yet another pitfall - not only in NaNo but for any writing we're trying to accomplish.  There's always something you can find to take the place of writing.  There are so many, in fact, I used to have a link to a site that listed all the things one can do instead of working on one's book.

Thinking about it now, I'm wondering if I should've made this a corollary to the other Pitfalls.  You see, the reason this push to do something else came up is because my brain is currently scrolling through the other Pitfalls.  Right now, I'm bouncing between "OMG, This Sucks!" and "Ack! I'm Lost!"

Enter "Wow!  I have something else I really should be doing!"

So, I've slapped myself around.  Today I will not being mucking around in the store, cleaning the house, doing yardwork, alphabetizing my socks, sorting my recipes, baking cookies, organizing my bookmarks...

Or sitting here thinking of other things to add to that growing list.

Today, I will write.  It may be several thousand crappy words and I may only succeed in getting myself more lost, but I will accomplish something writerly if it kills me.

Writerly?  Hmmm.... I never did sort through those last submissions and enter them into the database...

What's got you procrastinating today?  And what are you doing during this time of procrastination?

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I'm taking a brief break from the Pitfalls posts to talk about a topic that came up in an email conversation recently.


Our expectations for our books.  The expectations we have for our careers.  What we perceive other people's expectations are.

When I wrote my first book, I had expectations.  The first and the worst (at least in retrospect) was the expectation this book would be snapped up by agents and publishers, and it would hit the shelves within a couple years.  I never expected it to fail.  I had nightmares that once it did hit the shelves, people would come after me with torches and pitchforks - but that's a post for another day.

After my expected success fell apart, I expected my next book to fail just as miserably - so I tried to write it according to how I perceived other people wanted me to write a book.  (i.e. I plotted.)  That awesome idea for a novel failed before it even got out of the gate.  Took two steps and broke its leg.  No Derby win, no Triple Crown.  Just a lot of thrashing in the track dirt.  Can ya say 'self-fulfilling prophecy'?  Knew ya could.

Anyway... expectations.  They're not always bad.  Sometimes they work out the way we want them to.  More often than not, though, we fall short of the things we expected.  Getting rid of them entirely, though, is impossible.  As long as there are humans and a future, people will have expectations about what will  happen in that unknown future.  :shrug:

I don't know what the answer is.  Perhaps we all should just learn to adjust our expectations instead of letting them crush us.  My first book didn't get published, so I adjusted.  My second book flopped, and I adjusted again.  In some ways, over the past almost-nine years, I learned to squash that glimmer of expectation when I send out queries.  (For the most part.  Sometimes it still pokes it's little head up and gets slapped.)

And maybe that's why I haven't gotten much done in the writerly pursuit area.  Sneaky expectations have been bombarding me.  Only this time they're "I expect this idea won't work" and "I expect people are just going to reject this".  Ugh.

So much for squashing the glimmers.  Better luck next time.

How about you?  Do expectations build you up or break you down? 

(I screwed up and posted twice this morning, so if you missed the earlier post, please go read it:  NaNoWriMo Pitfall #6.)

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #6

I don't know if reposting all these is helpful to you out there in blogland, but I started it, so I'm going to finish it.

Here's the next Pitfall for all you NaNo racers - reposted from 11/17/09:

NaNo Pitfall #6 - Writing Yourself Into a Corner

A thought occurred to me as I was about to write today's pitfall: Any new writer who stumbles across this series could be seriously freaked out by all the things to make a writer stumble through the process of NaNoWriMo.  This is not my intention.  I'm just trying to show you thinngs that may and can happen, and hopefully point the way out of these pitfalls.

Also, it should be noted that writing for NaNo is not necessarily the way one should write all the time.  This is a race, and while it does help build skills - like writing faster to meet a deadline - it might deepen some bad habits.  I'm going to try and have a series on editing NaNo mistakes after this month is over, so bear with me.

As for today's NaNo Pitfall, the picture pretty much says it all:  "I've written myself into a corner and there's no way out."  (Of course, the flames* are all in our heads, but you get the gist.)

So, here I am, writing along and I've reached a point in the story where I feel like I've written myself into a corner.  My MC is stuck and there doesn't really seem to be a way out.  Which is why my word count for yesterday was so low I didn't even bother to post it - I just wrapped it into today's count.

Yes, this is similar to the Pitfall "Ack! I'm Lost!", but I'm not lost.  I know where I need to go, but getting there might be a bit messy.  Other than stepping back across the fresh paint and not only messing up what I've already covered, I could fall and go splat.

This isn't the first time this has happened.  In fact, it's happened so many times now that I look at it as a challenge.  My subconscious painted me into a corner, and now I have to find a way to extract myself without ruining my work.  Or to put it another way, I have to find the window to climb out of.

No matter how tight your corner is, there's always a window.  Like the video game pictured above, there's always a way out.  (Although I'm not sure how one would get the guy across a flaming pit of doom, but there has to be a way, or the programmer wouldn't have put the challenge there.)  Of course, the only way may be something so off the wall, you might balk at writing it.  Write it anyway.  At the risk of boring you with repetition: Write it now, edit it later.

And then, there's always the chance that no matter how bizarre it might seem before you write it, it'll work once you finish it.  I've had that happen before.  Sometimes weird stuff happens - not often unless you're writing SF, F or P but hey, look around the world at the strange shit going on every day.

As always, for November, it's not whether every word in your story makes sense.  It's getting those words out so you have something to work with later.  So, open a window, crawl through a mousehole, open a rift in the time/space continuum if you have to, but get 'er done.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a ladder to fashion so I can crawl up through the ceiling.  The smell of all this paint is making me dizzy.  ;o)

*Picture deleted due to potential copyright infringement.  The image was from the old Pitfall video game and showed the main player character at the edge of a fiery pit he had to get across.

Friday, November 16, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #5

Just a reminder: These NaNoWRImo Pitfall posts are being re-posted from the series I ran back in November of 2009.  Any problems mentioned therein are not problems I'm currently having.  The Editing posts (seen on the left as E1, E2, etc.) are the problems I'm having now.

Anyway, without further ado, here's #5 or ACK! I'm Lost!

See the look on that guy's face*?  Heh.  If you could see me now, you'd see that same look.  (Okay, maybe I'm crying for my mommy on the inside.)

You see, today it's time for NaNo Pitfall #5 aka Ack!  I'm Lost! (Prewritten on Sunday, so maybe I'll have found my way by the time this hits the web.)

When you're running down the path of your story, trying to get 50K words onto paper before the alligator of December 1st catches up with you, you could conceivably take a wrong turn.  My wrong turn came a while back, but I didn't know I was lost until a couple days ago.  (Which explains the squirmy stuff I mentioned in yesterday's post.)

And boy am I ever lost.

Sure, I know where I'm supposed to be.  I took a wrong turn several chapters ago, though, so retracing my steps is not an option.  What I have to do know is hack a path to where this diversion would naturally meet up with the correct storyline at this point in the book. 

It's a jungle out there, people.

Anyway, I spent a good portion of the time I was supposed to be sleeping last night trying to mentally chart my course.  I have Jo in a sticky situation, and she's taking the bull by the horns.  Nigel's come clean about his part in the mess, and if he screws up again, he dies.  Tryg's on the fence at to whether he's trustworthy or not.  And Zeke is Zeke.  I'm not sure what to do with Mary, but she's ready to run someone through after all these years of powerlessness, so whatever happens, she's good to go.

Of course, I'm still dealing with NaNo Pitfall #2, but I'm pretty sure that the reason I've written crap is that I was lost.  Once I find my way again, I'll be right as rain.  And hey, I can always fix it in the edits.  =o)

Time to take my mental machete and forge ahead through the jungle.  I know that path is around here somewhere...

*photo had to be deleted due to potential copyright thingies.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #4

And we're back to the installments of my old NaNo Pitfall Posts.  Today is #4 - also known as 'Why bother finishing when I'm already behind?'...

Welcome to November 15th, aka The Halfway Point.  At this point in your NaNo experience, you should be somewhere around 25,000 words - or at least near there by midnight tonight.  As you can see from the progress meter, I'm behind (by about 8K when I wrote this post).  This leads us to NaNo Pitfall #4 - I'm so far behind now, why bother?  (Sorry the two proposed topics got shunted aside, but I thought today was the best day for this.)

Okay, so I'm 8K behind.  Why?  Well, some of it was life stuff - like the out of town trip I took Thursday and the right-cross Amazon dealt me that I have to deal with by Monday.  Some of it was squirmy stuff that will be addressed in a later Pitfall post.  Of course, the reasons and/or the excuses don't really matter.  Whatever they are, they've occurred and now I'm behind.

At this point, I could sit back and figure this year's NaNo is a wash.  When am I going to make up 8 THOUSAND words?  PLUS do the 1667 every day I'm supposed to do to reach the goal of 50K, mind you.

That's where the pitfall lays.  Like the dude in the picture up there*, I have to find a way to swing across the gap.  (And he didn't even dig his own hole like I did.)  I could stand on this side, shaking my head at the depth of the hole, or I can find a way to get past the expanse.  2200 words a day will get me to my goal.  That's a load.  Or, I could bust out extra words on the weekends.

The point here is: Stopping isn't an option.

Sure, this is only a self-imposed deadline, but if I ever do get a book contract with actual deadlines, I'm sure as hell not going to be able to tell my publisher "Sorry, I had some things come up.  Maybe I'll hit that number next time."  I guessing there's a quick way to say buh-bye to your career.

So, there is nothing to do but forge ahead.  If I have to miss some sleep, or sit in this chair until my ass falls off, or type all day on Thanksgiving, I will do it.

And if I don't I will still count it as a win because I will have tried my damnest.

Whether you're doing NaNo or not, how are your word counts looking this month?  Has anything come up that's put you behind in whatever you're trying to accomplish?  Regardless of the answer...


*picture deleted because I didn't have the right to post it.  It was from the old Pitfall video game and showed the character swinging on a vine across a chasm.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Baker's Dozen Submission

A friend of mine told me in a private email that I was allowed 24 hours to wallow over my not making it into the Baker's Dozen, so I did.  Now that the proscribed hours are up, it's back to life.  And with a return to reality comes showing what I sent that didn't quite make the cut.

Here's how it would've looked if it made it onto the site:

Title: Djinnocide
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Jo Mayweather vowed years ago to free her fellow genies from those three little wishes that enslave them, but after a murderous being starts tormenting and killing her brethren, she learns there are worse things for an unlucky djinn to face—like an ungrantable wish.

No one ever asked me if I wanted to be a genie. I never even thought such a thing was possible. I was a modern woman living in the Roaring Twenties. Against my mother’s wishes, I wore my hair and my skirts short. I drank at speakeasies. I danced with gangsters. Hell, I even smoked for petesakes. After surviving for almost two whole decades, I had certainly aged too far to believe in fairy stories anymore.

My father, Reggie, he was the dreamer in the family. He was the one always looking for the next big thing and if he could steal it? Well, even better. Me, I spent years looking for the next big party. In fact, I’d been prepping for my own birthday extravaganza when the package arrived. The shipping label said ‘Constantinople’, but whether my thief of a dad could still be found there was anyone’s guess. Odds were he’d moved to the next port of call and his next score. At least he’d bothered to think enough of me to send a gift. After all, it’s not every day a gal turns eighteen.

“Marriageable age,” my mother mumbled at me that morning in lieu of a more sentimental greeting. She’d meant ‘well past the age of finding a husband’ if her previous birthday greetings were any indication. She wanted me married and out of the house before I could graduate high school.

The first paragraph is the logline and the next three represent the first 250 or so words of the book (less because I didn't want to stop mid-paragraph).  

If you're going to comment on the quality of the above, please remember 'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all'.  I'm willing to put my work out there on MSFV for public shredding, but I don't need to get kicked in my own house.  Besides, mean comments don't make it past my internal nastiness filter to post to the blog.  So there.  =op

Monday, November 12, 2012

No Donuts for Me

I didn't get a confirmation letter yesterday and the announcement just posted that all letters have been sent, so it's official...

I didn't make it into the final phase of The Baker's Dozen contest over at Miss Snark's First Victim.  So, no donuts for me.

Ms. Squirrel best illustrates my feelings over this:

A little grumpy is allowed, right?  Not too grumpy, though.  I really only had a 19% chance.

And, since I did tell a few people I'd post my entry if I didn't make it, look for that tomorrow.  K?

ETA:  In the end, I decided the only person responsible for my own donut acquisition is me.  So I went and got a half dozen.  Mmmmm, donuts.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Letting the Voice Win

We've all had moments like I had yesterday, where we're chock full of self-doubt.  Sometimes the voice in our heads is just - as Janet put it - upping its game.  Sometimes its just being a buttwart and needs to be pushed past - like Silver suggested.

I spent yesterday on the couch - watching football and thinking (and not-thinking while everything just simmered in my subconscious).  Here's what I came up with.

This book is a bitch.  And other than the glorious period of first drafting - when I'm too close to see the flaws - it's always been a bitch.  Every time I sit down to try and edit the damn thing, I end up feeling like I've just tried to bathe ten Max the cat clones at the same time.  (For those of you who missed it, Max hates baths and by the end of each, my arms are shredded and punctured.)  But I keep going back to this manuscript.  Good ol' masochist me.  I just knew if I kept at it, I could win the fight.

But what if I can't?

I know several of you are about to throttle me.  That's okay.  I probably deserve to be throttled.  But not necessarily for the reasons you might think.

Ever know one of those people who gets into a bad relationship and they can't really see how bad it is?  The ones who may at some point manage to wriggle their way out only to wind up back with the same totally unsuitable significant other time and again?  They want to make it work.  They know if only they try hard enough, they can get the other person to be what they want to be.  They insist they love this person who's totally bad for them.  "I can change them, I know I can."  Or, heaven forbid, they end up changing themselves so whatever problems they had no longer matter - which is worse.

Not this time, Sweets.  Sometimes things like this are meant to die.  Sometimes the little voice in the back of your head telling you this won't work is right. 

Don't get me wrong.  The little voice of self-doubt rears up at some point during every book.  Most times, I let it have its way for a little while and then kick its lily-white ass.  This time, though, while preparing to throttle the crap out of the annoying liar, I realized the reason I can't make this one shut the hell up this time is - regardless of how wrong it is in some aspects - it's totally right.  This is not a book I can finish - not now and maybe not ever. 

And that's fine.  Sometimes you have to know when to stop fighting.

Don't worry, though.  I'm not sad.  I'm not even all that hurt.  Like dating, there are other fish in the sea.  There are other books in my head and on my hard drive - each one waiting for its shot to become a real book.  I'll take all of the minutiae from this, stuff it into a box and cram it into a closet.  Get it out of here before I'm tempted to try another go of it.

Maybe instead of this book, it's finally time to finish Rue's story.  She's waited long enough for her shot at greatness.  And, you know what?  So have I.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Who the Hell Do You Think You Are?

Or the All-Encompassing Writing Pitfall.

It goes like this...

"Who the hell do you think you are to try and write something like this?  You're not good enough.  You have no idea what you're talking about.  Everyone will laugh at you for this one.  Or at least every self-respecting agent who gets a glimpse of this will not only reject your book, they'll print off your submission materials just so they can set fire to the pages."

"And then there's the whole 'write what you know' thing.  Which you're totally not doing in this case.  What does a housewife from backwater, piss-ant, scrubby-ass Colorado know about the doings in Washington, D.C.  Who do you think you are, Vince Flynn?  ROFL  Right.  Go back to making shit up with your post-apocalyptic worlds or your genies and leave the reality to the boys and girls who know how to do it right."

"Sure, writing is all about making it up, but readers are going to see right through your smoke and mirrors crap. They're going to KNOW you're talking out the other side of your ass here.  What do you know about medical examiners and engineers and government agents?  Seriously.  You must've been pretty damn full of yourself to even start this project.  No wonder you can't edit it into something good."

"No wonder they rejected your other stuff."


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Totally Geeking Out

I posted this to Facebook, but since I'm still totally geeking out, I'd thought I'd share here, too.  I just watched a redtail hawk eat a squirrel and I got pictures!

Here's him in the tree where I first saw him.  I didn't know then he was hunting.

Then he took off and I thought I'd lost him (which is what usually happens), but he'd landed just across the street in a neighbor's yard.  It took me a second to realize why he'd landed on the ground.  But if you look, there's the squirrel laying in the grass to the right of him.

He snatched up his prey and took off for the park.  And I got lucky with this shot:

I never thought he'd stay where I could take more pictures, but I thought 'Doesn't hurt to try'.  I went back to the house and locked it up, then walked the block to the park.  Sure enough, he was sitting there, munching away.

I snapped quite a few pics of him eating.  For me, it was the coolest thing ever.  I mean, this hawk has been hunting around the house for the past week or so, but I never dreamed I'd get such awesome action shots.  It felt like an episode of Wild Kingdom.

So, yeah, I'm totally geeking out. 

Oh, and rest in peace Mr. Squirrel.  Sorry about being all happy and junk about your demise, but that's how the circle of life works. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Take a Moment

Early on in our relationship, my husband told me a story.  I forget the story, but the moral sticks with me.  When you're lost in the forest, just stop.  Take a moment to get your bearings before you get yourself really lost.

Yesterday, I was lost.  I didn't intend to take a moment.  I was going to just barrel through with a total rewrite of the beginning and see where I ended up.  Then an irritating but ultimately serendipitous thing happened.  I got the sinus headache from hell*.  The entire left side of my face felt like I had gnomes with pickaxes excavating my sinus cavities.  And not a sinus pill in the damn house.  It hurt to open my left eye, so driving to the store was out.  I couldn't even read.  Hell, it hurt to focus on the numbers on my remote control long enough to change the channel.  (Thank goodness for the UP/DOWN buttons.)

What this meant was I couldn't write either.  And I had the entire afternoon to just think (while watching Grey's Anatomy one-eyed.)  As uncomfortable as I was, it turned out to actually be a good thing.  I spent the time I had set aside for re-writing and just thought about what I was doing.  I thought about what exactly I would need to do to get this sucker to the place I thought it should probably be.

Stopping right then was just what I needed.  I realized that what I really need to do is see where the original story takes me before I go off half-cocked.  (Thanks to Silver James, who suggested something to that effect in yesterday's comments - even if I'm going to take a different route to get there.)  I need to throw out conventional wisdom here and go for it.  (Thanks also to Janet for reminding me to go deep.)

So, I'll pick up the thread again today and let this sucker be what it needs to be.

Wish me luck.  =o)

*Once the sun went down, whatever junk in the air causing my sinus thing went away and I felt much better.  =o)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Editing Pitfall #2

So there I was happily editing along.  I was really cranking those pages out.  Change a word here, rephrase something there - no biggie. Except that's not what a rewrite is all about.  That, in fact, is a polish and should be done last.  But I was in my happy place and I totally missed the point where I knew there was something wrong - when in fact fixing the wrong is what this whole freaking process is all about.

Editing Pitfall #2 slapped me in the face this morning.

When you're so busy being busy that you ignore the problems you were supposed to fix - either intentionally or subconsciously.

Yep.  I did over 7000 words that are now only slightly different than the words I had there originally.  :headdesk:

I think part of this comes from not knowing exactly what the problem is.  I know there is a problem.  Finding it and fixing it?  Whole 'nother story.  Or maybe I'm just rationalizing.  Could be I skipped the whole damn thing because I'll need to do a boatload more work and the work I've already done will be wasted.  And in case you haven't noticed, I am profoundly lazy.

So, today, I'm going to start over.  Throw out the 7K... well, snip it and paste it into a new file anyway... and go back to square one.  And do so with my trusty notebook and red pen.  (:NOTE TO SELF: Buy more red pens. )

I'm not happy about it, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do if ya want a good story at the other end.  Know what I mean?  And personally-imposed deadlines be damned.  It'll get done when it gets done.  Dammit.

Your turn to fess up.  You ever get so wrapped up in your own story that you forget you were supposed to be editing it?  Or if not wrapped up, so scared of the work that you conveniently bypass the hard stuff to fix all the little details?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Editing Pitfall #1

I just looked at NaNoWriMo Pitfall #4 and realized this early in the month is too early for that.  It's more of a mid-month thing.  So the NaNo Pitfall posts will resume on 11/15.  Keep writing and if you need a reminder of the first three pitfalls, I threw them over on the left sidebar.

And since I'm not really writing right now anyway, I thought I'd start what I hinted at in the comments the other day: Editing Pitfalls.

Some of you may be participating in the alternate month of NaNoRevMo (or NaNoEdMo - whichever blows your skirt up).  I'm daring to be different and not technically participating in that.  But I am revising/editing/rewriting right now.

Of course, before November even started I ran into the first pitfall of editing: Overthinking.

About a week after I submitted Djinnocide to the HarperVoyager thing, I sat down to decide which of my older manuscripts was viable enough to submit after I gave it a good scrubbing.  There were quite a few candidates, but I decided to tackle Nano.  (Yeah, fitting choice for the month of November.)

As I've said before, this sucker is a hot mess.  It's huge and ungainly.  Not word-count wise.  More like huge in its ideas and plot points and scenes.  It's a jumble of crap - like a thin woman wearing XXL clothes stuffed with toys.  (Or my purse.)  I have to take stuff out, rearrange other stuff, organize it all and put some other stuff back in.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there.  What we're talking about today isn't the amount of work ahead (that may be for another day).  We're talking about overthinking.

I sat down with the first chapter (or the prologue - I'm not sure) and my trusty notebook/pen arrangement.  And I rewrote it by hand.  Tore it out, set it aside, and rewrote it by hand again.  Tore that out and... well, you get the picture.  The six pages I needed to fix turned into dozens of pages both handwritten and typed.

I wanted everything to be perfect.  I had a set of goals for this chapter and by god, I was going to meet those damn goals - in the most perfect way possible.

Frankly, I was driving myself nuts and November hadn't even started yet.  Halloween night, I was laying in bed thinking about trying to get this thing whipped into some kind of shape by the end of the year and thoroughly pissing myself off.  I almost gave up - again*.  And then it hit me.  I loved my original take on this chapter.  And I loved a couple of the new things I did.  So what I needed to do was just sit down and write the damn thing - using those bits I loved rather than trying to recreate the damn wheel.

And on November 1st, I got that scene rewritten.  Not sure if it's any good, but it's done.  I can move on to the next chapter and see if that's worth keeping.  And chapter by chapter I'll get the damn thing done.  Maybe along the way, I'll determine whether I really need that first bit after all.  Time will tell.  But at least now I'm not overthinking the damn thing so I can move forward.

What about you?  Ever get stuck in the overthinking trap?  You know, that can go just as well for writing new words - so don't overthink your NaNo manuscript either.

*Editing this book is so daunting that I've already given up numerous times.  I will not let this defeat me again.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #3

And now for part 3 of my reprisal posts...

Adverbs and Dialogue Tags  :gasp:

In this series of Pitfalls, I'm trying to point out those little things that can hamper your ability to get those 50K words out before the end of the month.  Today, I'd like to talk about NaNo Pitfall #3, in which we talk about those dread devices: Adverbs and Dialogue Tags.

Yes, yes, we've all heard how horrible both adverbs and excessive dialogue tags can be.  We're not supposed to have them - or at least not be heavy-handed or weird with them.

"Forget all that!" she shouted peremptorily.


Which is to say, while you're pounding out your NaNo words, don't bother nitpicking these things.  If you want your character to shout and you feel the need to tack an adverb on there, too, don't waste time editing those words out.  Editing is for later.  Let your fingers do the typing, and you can chastise them later for the crap they spewed onto your pages.

I look at it this way.  I let my fingers do the talking (or rather my subconscious mind speaking through my fingers, but you get the gist), and more often than not those dialogue tags and adverbs are left as clues to how my brain wants the scene to be laid out later.  Without them, each scene would take me loads more time to write.  And as we all know, NaNo is not about taking your time.  It's about getting words on paper because...

You can't fix what ain't there.

If your story needs adverbs, type them happily.  And if you need a dialogue tag...  "Say it, shout it, ask it," she chanted.  ;o)   

Friday, November 2, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #2

Back again for the second installment of my reprise of the 2009 NaNo Pitfall posts.  So, without further ado...

NaNo Pitfall #2 or... OMG, this sucks!

So, other than the last couple days, I've been writing my little fingers into fat sausages.  I got past the first pitfall (or as someone else put it on another blog - the cardinal rule of NaNo) - don't go back and read what you've written - by slogging through.  The problem with slogging through is you may find yourself in the second NaNo pitfall...

OMG, this sucks!

As you write, you may find yourself thinking that the scenes you're slapping down are probably the worst pieces of dreck you've ever seen.  "It was a dark and stormy night..." looks like Pulitzer material by comparison.  And you know no one is ever going to want to read such crap.

Okay, here's the thing.  Most likely you're right.  It sucks, it's dreck, and no one is going to want to read it.

Now, before you get out the matches and bonfire your manuscript, I want you to understand something important.  What you're writing now is a FIRST DRAFT.  I'm willing to bet that most first drafts - even by the bestselling authors - are crap they wouldn't want anyone to read.  As awful as those first drafts might be, though, those authors kept writing them because they all knew another important fact:

You can't fix what isn't written.

So, no matter how horrible it may feel to you right now, you keep writing.  Hell, several chapters back, I wrote a scene I knew was awful.  Here's the thing about writing awful scenes, though: During editing, it'll either be cut or will end up as a completely different animal by the time I'm ready to query.  I needed the crap scene to get to the next scene, so I wrote it and I refuse to apologize for it. Even to myself. 

I wrote it.  I can fix it later. 

While you're writing, don't worry so much about how every word will sound.  Don't pick at yourself for writing crap.  Even if you're not doing NaNo, but you're having a tough time finishing a manuscript, just write and worry about fixing the problems later. 

Now it's your turn.  Ever hit this pitfall?  Did you get past it or trash your manuscript?  If you got past it, let us know how in the comments.

(Click on this linky-link to see the original post, with comments.)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #1

Hi all.  I'm not participating in NaNo this year, but in honor of everything November means to all of us writers - and to those happy few who are racing toward 50K by 11:59pm on 11/30/12 - I've decided to re-post my NaNo Pitfall posts from 2009

Here's the first (and please note this is the year when I first wrote Djinnocide, so you'll see a few references to those characters and whatnot - even though some of them have changed):

NaNo Pitfall #1 - do not go back and read what you've already written. 

Okay, so I opened the file this morning to get some words written, and for grins I decided to read some of the beginning of this book.  I found a few typos, which I fixed.  Not a problem.  Then I found a bit of worldbuilding that I have since differed from.  Umm.  Crap.

Now my brain is so busy worrying about how I'm going to fix this that I can't think about where I was supposed to take the story next.  Seriously.  And what's worse is, I knew better.  I know if I start finding flaws in the story, I'm going to want to go back and fix them all before I continue.  It's a thing about me.  It's also why I've learned to write the way I do - straight through, no stopping and no going back.

Yes, at the beginning of the book Nigel (a minor character whose name is going to be changed) doesn't know what the hell is going on any more than Jo (the MC) does.  But in the later chapters, he's part of the group that's known all along and has been keeping it a secret.  Sooo, I either need to fix the beginning or I need to fix this middle part.


Deep breaths.  In through the nose, out through the mouth.

What I really need to do is forget I ever saw that flaw and forge ahead.  The story is going great so far, and whatever Nigel does ultimately doesn't matter to the crux of the plot.  (Unless I make this into a series, and then Nigel's crucial to the plot that would carry over several books.)  Regardless, I need to tuck this flaw into its proper place and fix it later.

Remember folks, you can always go back and fix afterwards, but you can't fix what isn't written.  So just write.  Damn it.  (That last part was for me, btw.)

And thus ends our brief neurotic break.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled psychoses. ;o)

(Go here for the original post so you can see the comments people made there.)

PS.  Nigel became Basil and I did fix the flaw.