Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The problem with plotting

I'm so glad that different people plot in different ways. I struggled with plotting the first skate book, probably because it was fairly new to me. My other two books were done completely on the spur of the moment. Ha!That's probably why they were crap! Colorless was fairly easy to plot, but of course, we all know what happened with that one. But this one is being weird. The first four chapters were easy to plot out. I sat down with my little 3x5 cards and scribbled away, inspiration flowing through my fingertips. Then I reached chapter five and it all just... stopped. I have bits and pieces, but nothing coming together into a cohesive whole. Ideas I have. Plot...not so much. So I decided to go ahead and start writing today. Sometimes it takes a few chapters to really get to know the characters. Again I struggled with what POV I should write in? First or third POV? I decided on first.


That lasted the first page and a half and I went back and changed it to third. Sorry, I just can't do it. I enjoy reading it, I just can't write it. It feels all... wrong!

After that it really seemed to go pretty well. I'm on page six and hope to make eight tonight. I like it so far. I think I might really like this girl. She's gutsy. But then, she's deaf. She'd have to be.

I love starting a new book. The possibilities are endless! So exciting!

Monday, January 30, 2006

New Concept, New Title, New CP!

What a change... from last Friday's disappointment and resulting hoohaw with my CP's, to today's resolve and productivity.

First, my new concept is actually a shift from my old concept. I got some great feedback from my fabulous agent and I am dropping the paranormal aspect completely. It will still be about a deaf girl, but no ghosts. SOOOOO Dead Teens Talking won't work anymore! LOL My new title:


The next awesome thing is that even though neither one of us were really looking for a new CP, Shannon Mckeldon and I have decided that we just work too well together not to give it a shot. Remember me blogging about the brainstorming session we had? That seems to be the norm with us! Plus we are at the same place in our lives and our careers. Well, no, not really, she is contracted and has a book, Venus Envy, coming out soon. But I am hoping to catch up with her soon!

So onward and upward! Full speed ahead!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Strangly Relieved

Okay, the bad news. For several reasons, my agent doesn't want me to pursue Colorless in it's current state. SO I am shelving it for now, though I do think that I can rework it and it would be perfect... they are sending a sheet of notes.
I was pretty crushed at the time, but have snapped out of it. I tend to do that... get real emotional about things right after it happens and come out of it later with a renewed perspective. But I can tell you that I will never, ever, send another email out of emotion! HA! Some lessons come hard.

On the good news front they really liked the idea of Dead Teens Talking. Sure, the one I have written nothing on! They are sending notes on DTT.

I think the relief comes from not being in limbo anymore. It's very strange after working on a novel for so long, then working on a proposal and then sitting around with nothing to do but wait. Makes people crazy. You don't really want to start on anything else until you get some direction. Granted, I am not going to let my agent dictate everything, but, let's face it, when you have one of the best in the business with a reputation for building good careers for her authors, you wanna wait for her input!

So right now I feel relieved. I wait for notes, do some brainstorming and start writing! Direction! Purpose! YAY!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Aw, shucks!

Thanks for the love people, but I wasn't whining:) I was stating the factual. This is a blog of whining, joy, honesty, thoughtfulness and the occasional deep moments.

I just meant if yall want deep on a regular basis there are better blogs to be frequenting!

Sometimes all I have to talk about is driving my life away (wasn't there a song like that?) and stepping in dog doo. (Don't ask:)

Happy weekend!

What's it all about?

For those of you who know me (and are still reading me,) they recognise that there comes a time when I ask, "What's it all about?"

This is my fourth blog. The first one was the HUMOROUS TUMOROUS, a log of dealing with my brain tumor and the resulting radiation. There were times during that blog that I was at my caustic, humorous best, but I was being NUKED for crying out loud and people will forgive a lady with a brain tumor just about anything.

Then I became the MAD MOMWRITER . I morphed out of my tumor phase and into my pretty darn pissed, off crazy stage. During that blog, I tried without success to make myself seem crazier, zanier and more upper class than I actually was. I also drank a lot during that blog... but it had a certain cache.

I was inspired during that phase to lose a bunch of weight because I wanted to be a real winner, dontchya know, and had a secret blog called WORKING AT SLIM. I only shared that with a bunch of other crazy people who had nothing better to do all day except obsess over calories, carbs and other off limit treats. I was really pathetic... though even now I wish I had kept it up. I lost forty pounds, for heaven's sake.

Now I am MARTINIS, MOTHERHOOD AND MAYHEM. (Boy, can I relate.) This blog was supposed to be more serious...more about my fiction career, writing and the publishing world in general. Except I have found that other people do it so much better. Diana Peterfreund, for one. Intellegence and serious literary thought are her hallmark. I always come away from her sensitive, thought provoking posts on literature feeling like a Clampett. "Sure baby, bring me another beer and pass me them thar peanuts will ya?" Rachel from Work in Progress is another one. (What's she doing? She's plotting? For how long? What the heck is that all about?) One of my crit partners, an amazingly talented writer is all stuck on the theme. Theme? What the hells a theme? Isn't that the thing that so confused me in highschool that it made a voracious reader like me, skip literature class to go have a smoke? (Am I revealing too much here?) (And for your information I quit seven years ago and was rewarded with a brain tumor, thank you very much) What do you mean I can't read ahead... what the heck is a lit class for except to read?

But I digress. Ahem.

So I guess I am here for the support. I want to be able to say, "this sucks, I suck" and have a bunch of people say, "no, you don't, this is just a part of the process." (Though for all you people know, I might really suck! Snort) I want to whine and gloat and whimper and roar and snivel and beam. I want to be understood. I want to vent to people who get it. I want to read about other people whining and waiting, even Rachel and Diana, who are so much smarter than I, have to whine and wait. Maybe being a writer is the great equalizer. We all must whine and wait. No matter talented we are or aren't.

As my friend Linda says, "Thanks for playing."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Feel our pain

First novels.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That's the advice I should be giving my friend Rachel today. She, like me and many other authors who's first book is making the rounds of editors, is waiting by her phone praying for the phone call. (I know that is grammatically wrong, but I haven't had enough coffee to know how to fix it. You can tell me if you like....) It's all so close. You hear of other people who only had an agent for a couple of weeks before they sold and why aren't you selling? Inside you know why. The agent made a mistake. Everyone made a mistake... you really do suck. It's the secret no one is telling you.

Why do writers do this to themselves? How do you know you are good enough? Is it the worst with your first book? I am hoping that I am so busy working on the next novel that I don't feel this way each and every time. Right now I feel kind of loose and unfocused.

I need my agent to call me.

So like Rachel... I just wait for a phone call.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Happy Monday everyone!

It's a good Monday for me!

My Dh and son have taken off for a fishing expedition and won't be back until Weds! That means the ice princess and I will have plenty of time to live in a clean house, eat out if we want and not have our leftovers disappear and generally just be girls. What a nice little break. And since he is gone for the actual day I won't have to listen to the same, "But it's my birthday," BS that I give him on my birthday! HA!

Still waiting to hear from the agent concerning Colorless. Still waiting to hear if I sold my book.

I only have a couple articles to crank out this week and one symnopsis to write... so I guess I will be taking care of some house business that has been neglected since September. Gah. I just can't keep up with everything. Especially when I spend some much time poking around the computer playing and blogging.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Go Seahawks, NFC Champions!

We heading to Detroit, Baby!

(Strange how much I care after 3 Fat Tire Ales and a half a pound of peanuts!)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

No Stress

My agent didn't not like it, she hadn't read it yet.


She mentioned she was going to read it over the long weekend and when I didn't hear from her... Well, being an insecure writer, I assumed she hated it and was trying to find a way to break it to me. Gah. How stupid can I be? So I get this email yesterday afternoon saying it was a crazy week and she would be in touch next week. WHAT DID THAT MEAN! She didn't say she loved it, just that she would be in touch... we would talk about it.

No no no no no. No way was I going to go through the weekend with that on my chest. Forget it! So I called her.

She just hadn't read it. We both laughed. Luckily, she knows what writers are like and no doubt dealt with this many times. Now I have to promise myself not to call for a long time because I don't want to be a troublesome client. I just want to be a selling client.

I have another article to get out and then will work on the rough synopsis of my new DTT.

I wonder if there is any profession that has been impacted by the Internet as writers have. Think about it. Beyond giving us another medium in which to ply our craft, we have support never before imagined. It used to be a pretty solitary profession. Now we talk with other writers on a daily basis. We bounce ideas off one another, learn from one another and network. Communication that used to take weeks now takes months. I don't think I could have been a working writer without the Internet. I mean, really, I hated the post office. I know what people say, well maybe you just didn't want it enough. Well, maybe they'd be right. But so much for the writer back then was trail and error. Getting writer's books and hoping they would steer you right. I remember... I tried it. Oh and writing on the typwriter. ARG! Not that I didn't adore my typwriter. He was fabulous. I even had a name for him. Herman. He boasted a small screen and erase tape. But he was still a pain in the arse compared to Peter. (My computer)

Because of the Internet I am a contributing editor for a national magazine and website. Because of the Internet I have an agent. And because of the Internet I have a huge support system. Viva Le Internet!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ideas, Ideas and More Ideas

Sometimes book ideas take time to grow and mature and other times they just pop up out of nowhere. Rink Rats was a natural because I am at the rink so much. I watch all these young girls maturing in both their skating and their persons and I thought, this is a perfect backdrop for a story. Some take much longer.

Take Colorless for instance. I thought of the concept of colorless three or four years ago, but in a short story format. A very pale teen girl has friends who are Latina and Asian and feels colorless, both physically and culturally. I could never find a suitable conflict for her that would promote change so I left it... but it never went away. I was at a very different place in my career and just wanted to get my nonfiction going. Well, in this last year when I started writing YA in earnest, the idea came back to me. The market place is very different and all of a sudden paranormal was mainstream and time travel normal. That's when it hit me... she could time travel and learn about her own culture and voila! The book was born. It wasn't until I was in the act of writing the first chapter that another aspect of the plot leapt into my mind and added an extra dimension to the book that I think rounds out the entire book and makes it so much more fun. The idea took four years to mature and ripen.

Now with Dead Teens Talking, (working title only) my latest idea, I started with a character. I knew I wanted to do a book about an oral deaf girl. That means one who doesn't know sign language. My neice is profoundly deaf and is completely oral. She reads lips and uses what residual hearing she gets from her hearing aids to see what you are saying and then speaks. Quite well, actually. But I knew that if I had a deaf protagonist, my story better be smoking or people wouldn't be interested. Within the last week a story developed and with several emails to Shannon Mckeldon, it became more well rounded with some fab plot ideas.

Then she told me about a chick lit idea that she just thought of. A couple ideas came to my mind concerning hers and now she is having to write them all down before she forgets... Now her plot is forming and taking shape. Then bouncing off of her chick lit idea, I had an idea for another YA. Don't know whether she's gonna run with that idea or not, but the energy is fab. (Note to self: make arrangments to meet with Shannon as soon as possible for a brainstorming session and map out our books for the next several years)

So be on the lookout people... you never know when you are going to get a fab idea. And don't discard them to quicvkly... they may take years to fill in, but will be really worth it when they do!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Where Oh Where has my Motivation Gone?

Oh where oh where can it be?

Finished off one of many articles that need doing. Should be working on another. I have everything I need. It's a simple profile peice that would take maybe an hour if I were to crank the baby out. But my crank done broke.

I just want to work on my fiction. Tre horrible of me. I want to get back to Ana, who is currently languishing on the Oregon Trail, waiting for her adventures to start so she can get home to the year 2006. I want to get back to the Rink Rats girls because Madison and Rielly are waiting for their story to be told. And poor Serena... she's sitting there without even a first chapter to breathe her to life. (I am sorry Serena R... I didn't name her after you that was just her name!)

Do I sound crazy?

The last thing I want to do is write a profile piece or an article on The new ultra sounds. Don't my editors know that I have whole nother worlds waiting for my attention... or more importantly don't my creditors know that?

Oh bother. I'll write it tomorrow. Isn't tonight the start of American Idol anyway?

Sunday, January 15, 2006


This is my talisman. Bill Walton of the 1976 Portland Trail Blazers championship team.
Sometimes, when my writing isn't going well, I shake him and beat his head against the desk and scream, "Oh no Mr. Billlllllll!" Which my children think exceedingly funny. At our Halloween parties we play "Hide Bill" and we hide him somewhere in our house and people look for him. One little part of him has to be visible. He has spent time in the Spagetti Jar, on a fan light twirling high above our heads, and even hid in my hair once, which was hysterical. He once took a trip to Sacramento with his head rolled up in the window looking at all the other cars. Meet Bill.

They Won!

In spite of injuries and turnovers they still managed to win! Oh yeah! Which means they are in the NFC championship which is in OUR house! And we have a noisy house people. One of the loudest stadiums in the NFL. 115 decibles! Yeah, I remember. My ears actually rung after the game we went to. So fun!

I have had some positive feedback on my new novel idea. I knew it was a good one. Today I am going to work on Crits and some nonfiction... in between running my son around of course!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I Got It!

I got the idea for another book. I took Shannon Mckeldon's idea blueprint and just let these little scraps of ideas grow. I played with them here and there. Moved this and that, matched up one idea with another and discarded them. The problem is that I had two different ideas and was trying to meld them together, but it didn't work. Obviously they are two different books.

Then today it all started sorting itself out and falling into place. I was driving in my car and one of the key ideas just laid itself out in front of me and everything else just came together. I was wild with excitement. Not really conducive to safe driving.

But I LOVE when that happens, when the germ of an idea grows into a fully plotted novel. I still have a few holes, but it's there! I wrote it all down today because I am not going to work on this for a while. I am just trying to map out some career goals because once I sell Rink Rats things will start happening. (I will make sure of that:) I wanted the series plotted out, a proposal for another book and a fully realized idea for another one. Now that I have that I can rest. Or at least focus a bit on making some real money! I ahave been completely neglecting my nonfiction work. Well, not completely, but I haven't invoiced yet this month which is scary!

Okay... time for the Seahawks game!

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Trouble with Time Travel

I was working on my YA time travel synopsis when one of my CP's came up with an interesting comment. She had an issue with one of my paragraphs when the girl realizes she is her own ancestor. She said, "this is why I don't like time travel books... there are little plot things that the author usually doesn't explain." Now, I wasn't offended, she is actually enjoying the story when she does crits, she just had issue with something in the synopsis.

So that brings me to my question... isn't it our job to make the unbelievable, well, believable? I once asked Gena Showalter that question because she writes paranormal/fantasy romances. She told me it is a process of seeing things through your characters eyes. As the character enters a world that isn't real, they are disbelieving as any sane person would be. As the details of the world come to light, they are forced to believe it because they are really there. She says if the reader is connected enough to the character they will come to believe as the character does.

My character, Ana, time travels back to the mid 1800's. When she first realizes what has happened she thinks she's been punked. But she has to believe what is in front of her own eyes. And like she says, "Until I wake up or find a pair of ruby slippers I am stuck here." So then she turns to survival, which is where the story really starts. It wouldn't be realistic if she sat down and screamed for several days because it wasn't believable. Not to mention make a really boring story.

So how do you authors who write paranormal make your story believable?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Craft Books

I generally don't read craft books. Of course, I didn't used to be involved in a critique group eithe rand it's the best thing I have ever done for my career. So I figured craft books can only make me a better writer, right? One hopes. The first one that came in was Write Tight by William Brohaugh. Some very good information in there about redundancies, and sixteen different types of wordiness. Unfortunately, I can see myself just browsing this book because it's pretty flipping boring to read. Or maybe it's for someone far more intelligent than I. I am getting a lot out of it because it has a huge list of commonly used redundant phrases and I am learning how to spot unneeded words in my own work. So that's good.

The other book I can see myself reading cover to cover, Self Editing for Fiction Writers. It's easy to read, easy to understand, has tons of examples and exercises to reinforce the point of the chapter. Two chapters in and I am already smarter. And it was painless. Some of this stuff I knew instinctively, but now I have names to call it and improved ways of executing it. For instance, I have always written scenes separated by short bits of narrative summary and instinctively knew how to pace my books, but I certainly never thought about why I did that. Now I understand the best way to go about it and what can be successfully narrated and what should be written out into a scene. There was a whole chapter on showing instead of telling and even though I knew what it was, the book showed (har har)some fab examples. Like I said, I knew a lot of this, but it's just so clear and concise. It is probably more geared towards rank newbies, but even experienced writers will find some take away value in it. It should be given to every writer who has judged a contest so they can give a copy away when they return manuscripts:)

So what are your favorite craft books...the ones that really made an impact on your writing? Or maybe the ones you turn to when stuck?

Some common redundant phrases

Absolute truth
brief moment
cash money
chowder soup
crazy maniac
fatal suicide
gambling casino
gather together
meaningless gibberish
false pretenses
foreign import
mix together
merge together
pour down
pure unadulterated
kneel down (as opposed to kneeling up?)
radiate out
same identical
talking out loud
restore back
switchblade knife
starve to death
visible to the eye (as opposed to visible to the ear?)
Easter Sunday (as opposed to Easter Tuesday?)
valuable asset

Some are pretty funny when you think about it. There are several hundred here... that is just a taste. The book is Write Tight by William Brohaugh.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It's Off!

Okay. So I waited until Monday to bug her. My patience groweth. A weeee little bit. Anyway, I called my agent yesterday got the we are waiting a couple of weeks on the book before following up. I told her about my new proposal and she wants to see it Asap. So I sent that off with bated breath. Now I am in for more waiting. Since I am not working on any more fiction currently, I am stuck trying to fill up my time with nonfiction which doesn't occupy the part of my brain that is waiting for word on something.

I picked up two craft books the other. Self Editing for Fiction writers and Write Tight. I haven't had a chance to look at Self Editing yet, but I really enjoyed Write Tight. Haven't read the whole thing. I'm not like that with craft books. I just browse and glean. I am not published yet, but I decided I want to be the kind of writer that never stops learning about what I do.

Speaking of the career. My DH read the first three chapters of Colorless. He came out crying. CRYING. And asked to speak to me in the bedroom. So we went in and he cuddled up to me and told me that he owed me an apology. Now I had no idea what he was talking about, but an apology is always a good thing. Just for general purposes, if nothing else. He said that he had so underestimated me as a writer. He couldn't believe that I thought of that story and wrote it and that it was such a good story. He says for the first time he really believes I am going to "make it." He said he always knew I was talented... he has read a lot of my nonfiction... but he had no idea how "professionally" I was writing now. He went to work and I woke up yesterday and came out to my desk to find a sweet card on the desk. He keeps asking what I need to write better. Um. A trip to Florida? LOL It feels really good to be validated.

I have another germ of an idea... something that is floating around in my head. Not sure what it will turn out to be, but it's there. Maybe I should do a character sketch of the main character. See what happens with her. See what her story is. I do know she's deaf. Not a signing deaf girl, but an oral deaf girl. I love this part of writing...when you know a story is there, you just can't get to it.

Better get started. I wan tto run through some blogs and get started on my nonfiction stuff... so far I only have six articles this month...I would love to be able to write them all up in the next two weeks and take another week break. That was nice:)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

I was so good

I so did not bug my agent with an email. I had already written one during their absence and thanked the assistant for sending me a copy of the magazine article. Told her we should send a copy to the editors. Offered to send her a book I got for Christmas. (She sent me a book and I got one by the same author as a gift) They came back to the office on the fourth so I didn't bother them. Am sure they are super busy. It took all the patience I could muster. See, I am so growing.

On the food front, I have done well. Made a lot of good healthy choices. Went to the gym three days. Drank too much Starbucks though. Think I may need to give it up for Lent or something. Can noncatholics give up stuff for Lent? But I am ordering nonfat lattes with a shot of almond. Much better for me than a mocha. I actually had two of them yesterday. I bought one on my way to the rink yesterday morning with my daughter and then a friend of mine drove past and saw my car. She came running in and told me she had about fifty minutes for a cup of coffee and we better go now. We haven't been able to connect much because of her new job, so I took her up on it. Oddly enough, I managed to take a nap later on, but then I woke up at three this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I do that a lot when I drink Starbucks... It seems like it waits twelve hours to kick in or something.

I finally finished chapter three of my WIP. How slow can I go anyway? Good grief. I am not as happy with this chapter as I was chapter two. Will have to go back and see why. Maybe I didn't layer in enough emotion or perhaps I didn't do a good job of anchoring it to a place. This is the first chapter when she is actually in the past so it has to be good and believable. Yet, it also has to be entertaining for the YA group. So I can't dwell on her fear, but move her past it. But I can't move her past it so fast that it isn't believable. I printed out the entire three chapters and will take the red pen to it, today or tomorrow. But not at a coffee shop. I don't want anymore coffee!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Back in the Saddle

As the publishing world comes back to life after a voluntary vacation, I sit on pins and needles waiting to hear from my agent. So I guess that qualifies as back in the saddle again. Since I knew I wouldn't hear from anyone until this time I was able to actually relax. Enjoy the holiday. Remember when I was bellyaching about not hearing from an agent for weeks and weeks? This is infinitely worse. I am such a baby. Really, no self control or patience at all.

But at least I have an agent. Funny how that is no longer enough. Now I want a sale. I guess I always wanted one, but one step at a time, eh? I am sure after the sale of my YA Skate series, I will want to sell a different type of YA book, just to proove that it's me, not the topic. Then maybe another series. Then an anthology. Then I think I will want to do some adult single titles too. Or maybe a series. See. The human soul is a greedy thing.

Doing well on the diet front. Am afraid of looking at the scale. Did make it to the gym on Monday, but not yesterday. I took a nap yesterday instead. Hey! So not my fault. I woke up at three am and couldn't get back to sleep. Had to go to bed!

Got a huge checky yesterday that I wasn't expecting. YAY! We are starting out the New Year on the right foot. Now a sale would really help things! I am loving actually having money in the bank. Nothing like knowing that if an emergency arises that you have the cash. I think I should get started on my nonfiction again just to add to it!

Monday, January 02, 2006

A new me?

Feeling much better. Got back on the same diet and exercise plan that lost me forty pounds last year. Of course, you need to keep doing it or else you put it all back on again. (DUMB, DUMB, DUMB!) But I do feel better than I have in a long time. Feel all proactive and all that.

Writing wise I am on a bit of a break. Will putter with my fiction, but other than that, nada. Won't hear from the agent until the fourth or after.

Am tired. Must sleep.