Monday, January 31, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
AW! I am so excited to have 46 FOLLOWERS! When did this happen? YEAH! What a GREAT NUMBER!
Some facts about the Number 46, for your reading pleasure, in PURPLE:
46 is the number of different arrangements (up to rotation and reflection) of 9 non-attacking queens on a 9×9 chessboard.
It is believed that Shakespeare was 46 around the time that the King James Version of the Bible was written. In Psalms 46, the 46th word from the first word is shake and the 46th word from the last word is spear.
Valentino Rossi, an Italian professional motorcycle racer, has always raced with the number #46 in his motorcycle grand prix career.
46 is a Wedderburn-Etherington number, an enneagonal number and a centered triangular number.
Note: (I have no idea what any of this means but I intend to find out. INTELLECTUAL CURIOSITY IS GOOD!)
46 is the natural number following 45 and preceding 47.
Note: (This last one BLEW MY MIND).
I do Love Google. How did people learn stuff without it?
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I'll let you in on a little secret: At the beginning of December, when I went away on my business trip, I used that time to distance myself from writing. Sure, I had some queries out there, and a full request, but I was trying to picture myself doing something else.
But on the third day of my trip...I took out the little notepad the hotel gives you and wrote a little scene. Just like that. I couldn't stay away!
And when I got home...I had a very special e-mail waiting for me about that full manuscript request. The entire experience was very strange, very surreal. And no matter what happens down the road, I don't think I can stop writing. I write a little each day in the evenings or whenever so it's not like I'm a mad woman scribbling away into all hours of the night. It fits into my day now. It's part of my routine!
I may not be the best writer. But I try to improve everyday. I try to read a ton of different things. I would love for writing to be my career one day. Frankly, if there was something I felt more passionate about than writing, I would choose that for my career (although I am close, I get to work with books).
Well, anyway. I used Query Tracker during my query process and I did a little interview about finding my agent! I love reading their success stories so I wanted to do one when they asked. So cool. I guess my point of this post is...Don't Give Up. No matter what happens in the future, I don't think I will. And I don't care if that makes me sound pathetic or delusional or whatever. Because I want to be a published writer. There. What do they say about the first step?
I'm going after it. So sue me!
A Little Interview
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Thanks to spending so much time in the query wars, I now write out a short synopsis before I really start writing. I might have a chapter done because a character's voice is itching to get out but I find that a short summary--something you might find in, oh say, a query letter--really helps me focus on the main arc of my story.
I hate writing the long synopsis. You know the one that's supposed to tell all the main events of your book. But it's so HELPFUL. Once I get writing and lose where I want to go, I will write the longer synopsis to help reel me back in. I guess it's kind of like an outline. It's a pain, yes, but it is extremely helpful to me. I have this habit of sort of combining two books into one. I've got two different main threads going on, both dominating to be the main one of the story, when really, one needs to take a back seat or disappear altogether (perhaps to be used for a different book.)
FOCUS. FOCUS. FOCUS.
There are always subplots but the main thread is what I would find on the back cover. What is the main plot? The hook? It should be, I think, one main idea.
I've written out a short synopsis for this SHINY NEW IDEA. I love playing around with it and imagining all the places it could go. It's such a cool place to be, at the beginning, and it's just what I need to warm me up on this cold, cold, cold days.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
First draft complete before midnight, I felt I had won. "Finished!" I cried to the heavens, waving my arms in a gesture of victorious delight. From the couch rose a grumble, "People are trying to sleep here!" And so I shout-whispered the words every writer longs to utter, "THE END."
Oh, how naive I had been.
The manuscript and I did not speak. We did not even look at each other, for I had won, you see, and my manuscript should be sulking in the dish water of defeat. Or so I thought.
Alas, one fateful night, I dusted off the manuscript and peered inside. The wind was quiet tonight. The lights did not flicker but watched in silence as I read over the words written weeks ago, the words I had been proud to squeeze out like honey. It was then that I realized--in one sickening flash--how much danger I was in.
For this was the night I uncovered my manuscript's secret plot to kill me.
His weapons of choice were nearly invisible but as I read the words, the pit in my stomach growing deeper as the minutes wore on, I knew what he was trying to do. Oh, what a trickster he be, making me believe I had a hint of a publishable story. That I could write. He wanted me to hope. So that he could crush my dreams with one solid punch, the most evil of villainous tools.
Below lies a list of a few of my manuscript's powerful weapons. Be warned. Your manuscript may be plotting to use them as well...when you least expect it:
1) Sleep deprivation. He begins simple. He slithers into my head as I lay down to sleep, often jerking me back into consciousness with a new idea, a new character, something that I feel I MUST WRITE DOWN RIGHT NOW. I get up and stumble through the dark for a pen...
Which leads to his next weapon of choice...
2) Disorientation. As the manuscript consumes my thoughts, I am unable to function properly as a human being. I spill drinks daily. I run into walls. I trip. I fall. I can't remember where I put my car keys. I can't let him get the best of me. I need to whip him into submission...
More editing ensues...and then he hits me with...
3) Adverbs. Like landmines, they are scattered throughout the pages, ready to explode, to weigh down the narrative, to reveal my amateur writer status. They grip my ankle like a bloody bear trap...and yet...I push through...I shave them away...clean it up...smile...for I have alluded him once more...until...
4) Cliches. Like poison, my manuscript pours them down my throat...they slip into everything I write...including blog posts...I spit them out, wipe them away, take a breath...and come face to face with...
5) Flat characters. The horror. Like something out of a zombie flick, paper dolls are walking and talking all over my story. They are limp and lifeless, nothing going on behind their eyes. I must give them CPR...give them the gift of dimension...save their lives...
But then I fall into...
6) Plot holes. I am lost in them for days, weeks, months. I crave water. My hair is matted. But I dig my way out and fill them...one by one...my finger nails caked with dirt...until...
Light. Another edit is complete. I lived.
I LIVED! My weapons? Time. Perseverance. Gummy Bears.
My manuscript tried to kill me.
But I live to see another edit.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Sometimes you really do get it right. Sometimes I love you so so so much! This is a happy letter to thank you for this:
HAPPY THANK YOU MORE PLEASE
No, seriously. HAPPY. THANK YOU. MORE PLEASE!
I love movies like this, character-driven movies that may sound so simple but it's the details, the little things, the characters that bring so much life to it. I aspire to write stuff like this and I know I am far off but I love these stories, I do. This movie looks so sweet and wonderful and I can't wait to see it! Yeah!
Hope everyone had a nice weekend!
Friday, January 14, 2011
Because the books looks like something would love, love, love. And it is a 2011 Printz Honor Book. Which makes me want to read it more.
Epic fail! It didn't download! Gasp! The very first issue with my Nook! And I can't just start over and re-buy it because it says I already purchased it. It should be fixed soon, according to the third Customer Care Rep I talked to. Blah! I feel so betrayed, Nook!
I could download the biography of Benjamin Franklin just fine! But not Vera! Get your priorities straight, Nook!
Look - I've got plenty of books to keep me company. But there is something to be said for a physical book in your hands. It doesn't leave you. It doesn't not download! That is all.
Happy Friday and Happy Three Day Weekend. YES!
Thursday, January 13, 2011
That being said, meet my cats. They relieve stress in a very different way than my dogs do. They are my comfort. They curl up with me on rainy days (okay, the black one isn't the cuddle type, at least not with me, but he does occasionally purr and rub on my hand to let me know he cares. A little.) Without further ado...Meet:
Short for Ludacris. Believes he is master of the universe. May have a plot to kill me and the dogs. Adores my husband with all his being.
Beautiful. I think there's a poet inside her.
Have a great day!
Monday, January 10, 2011
Little annoyances keep creeping up on me and they are very annoying but sort of funny but I can deal with little annoyances. (I am rubbing off on my husband. He scratched up his car with the garage door yesterday. So something I would do!) Anyhoo. On to my letter to Hollywood...
In regards to this Adam Sandler movie, Just Go With It:
Are we supposed to believe that Jennifer Aniston is not attractive with glasses and a ponytail? Are we supposed to believe that Adam Sandler is not attracted to her until she gives herself a makeover (which involves letting her hair down and ditching the glasses...) This is the impression that I am getting. I hope I am wrong and this is just the way trailer looks. Because you must believe the American Public to be idiots if we are expected to believe Jennifer Aniston is not pretty because of glasses. And a ponytail.
That is all.
Friday, January 7, 2011
2) Birds try to build a nest in that ball of frizz on top of your head that you call hair.
3) Your dog runs away. Okay. So this could happen anytime but revision time, naturally, is when it does.
4) You lock yourself out of the house...as snow falls heavily outside. And you're wearing a light fleece jacket. No hat. No gloves. Your cell phone is inside the new purse your mother-in-law got you for Christmas. You can see it through the window, shining, perfect, on the kitchen counter. Your cat stares back at you through the glass. You can swear, SWEAR, the cat is chuckling to herself as she licks her paws, pleased she is inside. Warm and fat and happy. And you--and the two dogs--are stuck outside in the freezing cold, stranded. Oh. And it's lunchtime. So the likelihood your neighbors are going to be home to let you use their phone right now? Slim to none.
The good news is...
Revisions are going well. They are moving along and I am excited to keep going. I wrote some of my favorite new scenes yesterday. And I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Almost there! Almost there! Yeah!
FYI - All of the above are true. I don't know why these things happen to me. I am a walking disaster. Except the birds trying to nest in my hair. But I don't doubt that they have THOUGHT about using my hair as a nest.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Since I will probably mention them a lot, here they are:
(Lila's nickname: Yellow Dog. Just a little FUNNY FARM reference for you. It was on the other day. I especially appreciate the Runaway Dog part and Yellow Dog. Lila is a mix of the two.)
We've had Izzie for over a year and got her when she was a puppy. We acquired Lila in August. She's over 2 and a sweetheart (besides the running away and not coming when called problem that we need to work out...)
Sometimes I think having them has improved my productivity with writing. I read once on Jennifer Weiner's site that if you want to be a writer, you should get a dog. Why? Discipline. Dogs require discipline and routine. I walk them every day. Feed them. Brush them. Play with them. I can't take a break from my dogs. They need me. They are part of my routine.
And if I can do all that, I can sit down (or stand up, which I sometimes do at the kitchen counter) and write. I wouldn't say I have a solid writing routine but I sort of do. I write a little at lunch but do most on weekends and in the evenings, while the dogs sleep beside me on the couch, one on each side. The point is: I write every single day. It's part of my routine. Sure, there are breaks in routine, the holidays for example, but writing and re-writing and revising is part of the norm now. Some days it feels like a chore I need to do and some days I look forward to it. But I always do it and push through the rougher days!
I swear I get more done on days when it feels like I have no time than on days when I have all the time in the world. It's almost like I need to be forced into managing my time accurately rather than channel surf, which is what I tend to do with too much free time. It's like after school activities for kids -- I need something to fill my time to keep me out of trouble. To keep me from not writing.
That is all.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I've got such a bad case of Revision Hair. I need a hair cut. BAD. Hair cut or revise more? Hmmm. I'll pretend I am going for the crazy frizzy Hair Woman look on purpose.
Monday, January 3, 2011
Anyway - I think somewhere along the line of panic I thought, "I don't care if I never get published! Just bring my dog back!" Oh, universe. Don't hold me to that, okay? Can't I have a safe dog and a published book? Pretty please? I've been good.
I watched part of this movie the other night with Ben Stiller. It's called Greenberg. It looked like my kind of movie, indie and moody and all, but I couldn't finish watching it. And I think it was because it's pretty depressing, really. I kept worrying something horrible was going to happen to the German Shepherd, not something I want to watch as I cuddle on the couch with my two labs. It's a good movie to watch when you are angry at the world--and Greenberg is an AWESOME character--but I just wasn't in the mood for it.
But as I was watching, I kept wondering who the lead actress was, who played Florence. Dang. She looked so familiar...what else had she been in? Or did she simply remind me of someone?
Twenty minutes later...it hit me! That's Diane Court from Say Anything! One of my favorite movies ever! Except...it wasn't her. I looked it up. But dang. Did it look like her for a minute and I got all excited, although I don't know why.
Anyway. That was a tangent. Greenberg is a great character and I learned a lot by watching just a part of that movie. He hates the world and he likes old things and he writes letters to establishments that irritate him. Little quirks like that can make all the difference. Your characters can drive the story.
But...stuff still needs to happen. And there wasn't a whole lot happening in the movie which may be the real reason I lost interest. I like character movies. But something was missing from this one. It started out well. Had a decent conflict. But eventually it was the same thing over and over again. It felt like a hamster running on a wheel, cute and fun to watch at first, but boring if that's all it is.
I never know how to end my blog posts. Do I say...See You Later! Bye! Happy Tuesday! Seacrest Out? Peace and Love?
How about this:
Do you make secret deals with the universe in hopes you will get you want?
I was so excited about writing something for it too! AW! But I'm reading the other entries and they are so tingly! I was going to write about a boy and a girl stuck on Mars together. Yeah. Like the planet. I was going for something way out there. Maybe some other day!
So I am excited for this:
I love this book. It's been passed around my family and everyone loves, loves, loves it. It's something we can see together! Yeah!
But it got me thinking about the importance of setting. Water for Elephants takes place during the Depression era, set within a circus. The setting is another character. It is integrated into the story. You couldn't change a single thing about it without changing everything.
I'm from a small town. So that's where I tend to place my stories because it's something I know. But the setting doesn't have to be something as spectacular as a circus to become part of the story. Setting can be used to show character. I wonder how my characters feel about where they live, which can reveal something about them, and something about the town. I can't start really writing without knowing where and when the story is going to take place. That's something I need to have set up very early on because it's a big deal! The setting will breed the events! Where do you characters first kiss? Where do they fight? Where do they cry? Where do they runaway to? Where is their secret place? Setting can also move the story forward. It brings it alive.
Stephanie Perkin's Anna and the French Kiss wouldn't be the same if it weren't in Paris! All of those romantic moments and all of that wonderful food. The city was another character.
Where things happen is just as important as what happens and why things happen.
Setting is so much more than the where and when!