Sunday, July 29, 2012

This Head Movie Makes My Eyes Rain

Sometimes, I wonder if I have a screw loose. You know the phenomena of reaching for a word, only to find a blank space where the word was just a moment before? Like  the way a cockroach waits for a light to be switched on so they can flee the scene of the crime. I'm sure it happens to us all. But it happens to me a lot. Last blog post as a matter of fact, I took to Twitter and Facebook looking for a word that refused to pop into my head when I needed it. The word was Mercenary.

I notice more words scuttling under the cabinets when I haven't been reading as much as I usually do. Stephen King said it best.

"If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

There is something about immersing yourself in fiction that is good for writing. I think reading stimulates the right parts of the brain: turning words on the page into pictures in your head. And no doubt judging the quality of the images created. How well does the author weave the story into pictures? Do you have to supply your own voice in your head, or is it there on the page? How quickly does the story unfold? Is the description adequate, purple or lacking? 

In other words, how much work do I have to do for myself, and how much is on the page? How much brain muscle do I have to flex? Now when I turn mah brains to my own work, if I've been flexing that reading/imagining muscle it is much easier to make my own head movies.

Clearly, I have not been flexing enough brain muscle. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

I have four projects to work on and can't decide what to start on. Because of reasons.

One is old timey. I haven't been writing old timey language... that requires the reading of English literature, my friends. Not that I will ever sound English, or try to sound like the great and masterful, but there is a certain turn of expression not acceptable in the old timey stories. I refer to anything picked up reading LOLcats. So getting in the mood to write like the old timey stories requires the reading of old timey stories. Especially Austen and Bronte and Wilkie Collins... people of that nature. And once I start delving the depths of English literature (and the trash gothic novels of the 18th and 19th century) I tend to have trouble getting away from it. Which makes going back to the Urban Fantasy a little hard... I have two Urban Fantasies. One, Dreadlight, is on the road to final edits, but could probably do with a little desk drawer time. I have parts of it memorized. The other (Endways) I got through about 80k before I stopped editing. Only because I accidentally opened the wrong file (Dreadlight) and started to read and edit it. That was easier to do than muddle through a rough transition point I was having. I'd be remiss not to mention the fourth option - a gentle fantasy, of the quasi-epic tendency. I really love it, but I don't know if I can net an agent with it. Quasi-epic fantasy isn't exactly "hot" is it? Does that sound ... well now I can't think of the damn word I want to use here, but basically, I believe in the story. I just think it more suited to the warm embrace of an independent fantasy press than STORM THE AGENT'S INBOX AND TAKE NO PRISONERS kind of thing.

I guess sometimes "decisions" make themselves. And when you can't make a "decision" you know you are just avoiding something you fear might be more than you can handle.

Once more into the breach, my friends. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Paperblanks Fan Girl

The first step in overcoming an addiction is admitting you have a problem. I can admit I have a problem.


If there's a cure, I don't want it. I can admit to you and to myself that I have a thing for journals. I keep a daily journal of course, but most of these are for keeping notes on my works-in-progress. I sometimes hoard them.... saving them for just the right purpose. The above photo is but a smattering, and that gorgeous red one hasn't found a purpose yet. 

My favorite journal is made by Paperblanks. Yes, that is a link. And no, this is not a sponsored post - this is just me going on about something I truly love. I just bought an 18 month week-at-a-time planner and got a sweet 10% off coupon for my next purchase, but that was from Jenni Bick Bookbinding, the place I order my journals since Borders went belly up. I recommend them, most highly. Good shipping prices and very quick service. I'm usin' that coupon for my 2013 planner!

Above are my dated journals. The one in the back has a page for each and every day, dated, as well as monthly calendars for each month in the front. With a full lined page for each day, it gets me to journal every day as well as keeping track of birthdays, outings, rendezvous with various folk, you know. The new one (on top) shows a full week at a time, spread over two pages. I got it specifically to keep track of my writing goals and words per day/edit counts, etc. I can plan my week and see at a glance what I've done, or haven't done. These journals have buttery-smooth paper, a pocket to tuck goodies in the back, ribbons to use for place-markers, and an elastic strap to keep your private-most thoughts safe. They also come with removable address books. Now the ones at the top of the post are lined journals, but not dated. You may notice some of them have a flap over the front. This is a very good magnetic closure. The best thing I can say about these little buggers - I have hauled that butterfly journal with me everywhere; in purse, in sack, to work and back, and after 7 months, it's still in excellent shape. The outside is just as gorgeous as the day I bought it; it shows no sign of wear, the binding isn't cracked and there are no pages coming loose. I can actually say I've never had such problems with any of my Paperblanks. The journal lies flat and is a dream to write in.

I think the love of journals is more than just the smooth expanse of gorgeous lined paper... the pretty on the outside... I think it's that it is a book. And like most writers, I've loved books since I was a tiny person. A journal is a book you fill up yourself, all on your own. The magic of the blank page and all it's promise. Or a place to spew vitriol and venom when people piss you off. I don't see myself being cured of this tendency to hoard them anytime soon.

I'd like to thank my friend Seema and her iphone - she took these pictures for me, as I am camera-less.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

And so comes the doubt....

I know how wrong this is. I'm going to kvetch on the internet. This blog is all about my journey as a writer, and sometimes, that journey consists of pulling off your "big girl" panties and pissing where you squat.

A dog-damned pendulum. That is the writer's life. One minute, you're swingin' through the trees, making love with the butterflies and comparing wings with the hummingbirds, thinking this bliss will never end! The next, you're curled up in the mud clutching a bottle of Mad Dog 20 20 just wishing it was all over. 

I had the butterfly experience the beginning of the week, but I see the mud and the Mad Dog 20 20 becoming a possibility soon. I blame this funk on attempting to write a query and to find suggestions on how to do so. It's one of those things I just haven't grasped. It always bums me out and leads me to more researching and more finding myself coming up short. Don't forget about the synopsis. And the search for an agent. And being prepared to talk about your book. And describe it like you know what you're doing. And a pitch - that is a thing now! Everyone tried to stop it from happening - it's for movies and tv shows, but now, agents want a "pitch" of your book. I guess I just don't like the shlocky way they come out. "In a world where only silverlight should exist, Sara Bell hunts down a brutal killer bent on not only using his dreadlight, but destroying the very fabric of magic as she knows it...." Ok. That's not the pitch. That totally sucks. I know you don't pepper your query and pitch with your made-up words. But you see the kind of crap I come up with.

When I imagine speaking to someone (because I rarely leave the house, let alone talk to people) and imagine them asking me about my book, I see myself growing vacant-eyed...and yes, there is slobber. This is not a good thing. Not ever a good thing.

And it's probably not a good thing to get online and let everyone know how hard you suck at one very necessary part of the publishing process. But just in case there are others of you out there, and I know there are, hovering on the edge of QUITTING! QUITTING! I'M QUITTING! and believing "All it takes is practice, or the right advice-book... and directing your work at the right agent... and hard honest work until you get it right..." For those of you who still have hope and fear that hopelessness will one day replace it... I would like to give you a *fistbump* and a glass to pour your Mad Dog in. Let's try and remained civilized, people, even as we sink into the mud.

Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to rinse out my big-girl panties.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Rejoice with me, Fearless Readers! I have succeeded! Edit-palooza, in which I give a final edit to an entire 90k novel in one three-day weekend, has come to an end, and I have emerged victorious!

I still feel weird about a 20k chunk or so where the prose isn't as brisk as I would like. But on Monday I am going to le Kinko's and having the bad boy printed out for a final comb. I need to do this for many reasons. One: a final read through edit. I got make sure Faery is spelled right everywhere, and it's witchdoctor not Witch Doctor. Or worse, Which Doctor. I'm still not super sure my male MC is where I want him to be. I might gather all his dialog and go through it. Make sure it all sounds like it came out of a British mouth. :) I might have to do some more research for that. Ahem.

Also, I have the worse notes on this story than I have on any other. I need to take notes on spells and magic and relationships. And who did I kill? A good kill list is a good thing to have.

Now I go and watch me some Firefly. Might have me a little chocolate milk, while I'm at it. Livin' large and in charge. That's me.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ogres are Like Onions

Onions are great in stews. They are great on sandwiches. They add kick to a salad when thinly sliced. They are a fabulous way to start many dishes: most of mine start with onion, garlic, and a little olive oil in a pan. And many things are like onions. Ogres are like onions. Plots are like onions. Character arcs are like onions. 

There is nothing like editing to make you appreciate an onion. You peel away the papery outer layer of spelling errors, obvious grammar mistakes, easy wtf-ery, where you have simply hit the wrong key in the heat of the moment. You have to hack off the uneatable bulb at the bottom, paring away unnecessary characters, description, and all those darlings. Now you are at the juicy outer layer of your novel. Sometimes, this bit is also papery and a little green near the bulb, so you must peel further. Obvious plot holes, questionable historical or real-world minutiae, like facts and such. 

Then you are down to the white, crisp inner workings. Here is the meat of all that is onion. Plot. Character. Why isn't she boo-hooing about her missing lover more? Does she throw aside her personal agenda to uphold the status quo, or does she tell the status quo to fuck off, her man needs her! Does this decision give her pause, or is this mission bigger than the two of them: if she can't stay true to herself and her ideals, how can she uphold the law of the land? Each layer you peel back you find more layers, more questions about the way the whole thing fits together.

Onions can be cooked to different consistencies. Semi-raw, they add crunch. In some soups, they almost disappear, just leaving behind their flavor. Caramelized, they are a different creature all together, hardly recognizeable as an onion. What you don't want is for people to find a papery-bit floating in your soup, or to come across a hunk of bulb in the salad. 

Actually.... now I think about it. Blog posts are like onions.....

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Weekend of Great Editing

Quite a lot went on this week. On Monday, I finished another pass of edits on my Urban Fantasy, Dreadlight, and then today, I started over again. It's never really done, is it? Each edit I have done, I've felt the work gets better, the world gets fine-tuned, the story sleeker, the dialog much better. It's so very close to beta-land. My great goal this weekend is to finish a quick pass and then print it.

Yes, print it on real-life paper. Go over it with a fine tooth comb. Sometimes, there's stuff I see on paper I don't see on screen. It also makes me stop and think about what changes I'm going to do, rather than just blasting a sentence and rewriting it on the fly. It's not always a step I take, but I feel like I have to with this one. It's gone through so many changes from the very very first draft two years ago that I want to make sure and hammer out any inconsistencies. I also need to take notes on my magic and world; to make sure I remember who I've killed and who still stalks the 'verse, ya dig? 

Hopefully, I find no holes to fill. I'm really tired of shoveling, and I'd really like fresh eyes on this baby. But, we'll see what we see. This is only day one.

36,612 words of 90,018 edited

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


So sayeth the Avengers!! 

First, let me wish all of you fellow Americans a Happy Fourth of July. The pops, bangs and fizzles are going off as we speak, but are far enough away not to be disturbing kitteh. For this, I tell God thankya. I spent the day editing. And Twittering.

Is the 4th of the month too late to declare your "GOALS FOR THE MONTH?" I thought about that as I was reporting my daily output in on various threads on Absolute Write , a most fabulous writer site I have mentioned ad infinitum. We have a NaNoWriMo and Beyond forum. Each month, we start a new thread and we all say what we're going to try and accomplish that month, then check in daily with what we've done. I decided this month would be simple. Rather than try and say what huge word count goal I'd achieve on my edits, I decided instead to try and edit/write at least 6 days a week and write queries for 2 of the books I have in the edit stage by the end of the month.

My goals for the rest of the year, however, are grand. There are 4 books in various stage of being edited. Two have had one full edit pass, one is 4/5ths edited, one hasn't been touched yet. The goal is to have them all edited and ready for query by the end of the year, at least. I want them all somewhat decent and ready for betas by November. If I've done that, I've told myself that I can participate in NaNoWriMo. Party time, Excellent! As you might see, I love to write books. It's just a matter of getting them edited...