Monthly Archives: January 2010

>When it Clicks

>

I’m one of those people who find it difficult to hate a book.  Even the books I struggled to get through have some great qualities or I wouldn’t have bothered to struggle.  Exception to this is Dune.  Apologies to Frank Herbert and fans of the novel but I just can’t do it.  I’ve tried, oh how I’ve tried.  It nearly kills me that I’ve left a book unfinished. 
  
Favorite books – now that’s a different story.  I have lots of favorite books and I still get tingles when I find others who love certain books as much as I do.  The knowledge that someone finds a book as thrilling as I do creates an instant bond for me, a thread of commonality that we can fall back on even when we disagree on other things.

I’ve recently read two books, both non-fiction, and both considered guides to help writers.  (FTC statement:  All books listed or implied have been purchased by me – I’m too possessive to borrow.)  

I call these two books, my clickers.

The first one clicked for me when I was editing a short story.  This gem of a book is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.  I have a couple other self-editing books on my shelf and they are great resources.  This book resonated.  As I read through the chapters, I would bolt straight up if I was lounging, or furiously scribble a note down if I was highlighting.  I’ve yet to hear if my short story passes muster out in the real world but I’m certain this book helped give it a better chance.

The second book I’ve had sitting as a sample on my Kindle for months.  I’ve watched recommendation after recommendation go by.  Yesterday, as I was waiting for my darling girl child to settle for a nap, I downloaded the full book and opened my notepad.  I was 65% of the way through before realizing I hadn’t jotted one note and I wouldn’t need to.  This book is On Writing by Stephen King.  This book isn’t going to tell you how to be a better writer.  There aren’t bullet points to commit to memory.  What happened was encouragement.  Even through the very brief sections on the “rules”, which King defers to Strunk & White quite a bit, the vibe I got was perseverance. 

Today, I smile.  And I write.

                                                                          ~~~~
Things that distracted me on the internet:

~  Some great blogs being updated this morning and my feed reader is exploding in new posts.  It’s been hard getting mine done 🙂
~  Oh how I adore Crayola crayons and their list of colors from inception to now.  For when brown as a descriptor just doesn’t cut it.  Personal favorite:  Lapis Lazuli from the 1994 Gem Tones collection.  Will figure out a way to use it.

Non-internet distractions:

~  Reading!  When I needed a break, I created my characters in Darkspell as Sims in Sims 3: World Adventures.  I was amused.

Accomplishments:

~  Almost 1100 fresh words on Darkspell.  Still trying to hit 1500 a day new but finding it hard to get anywhere near NaNo pace.  My family only puts up with no clean laundry for so long.
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>The Dreaded Plot Hole

>I nitpick.  There, it’s out in the open.  If I see something that looks off to me, I worry at it until it’s fixed.  Interviewers love to ask about weaknesses.  Mine happens to be high impossible standards.  The declaration one has high standards is immediately followed by the misuse of punctuation, typos, grammar issues, etc….  Fortunately, I also have reasonable expectations when it comes to my ability to meet my own standards. 

I blame it all on being an INTJ.

What I also blame on being an INTJ is when I’m revising my work and realize that I have a plot hole.  I almost never write myself into large ones because I am a compulsive planner and before I even write about a dark and stormy night, I have a rudimentary outline saved.  No, these are the tiny plot holes that might go unnoticed by others but drive me to want to delete the whole blasted story and start over. 

So, I worry at it for a couple of days and make sure I have copies saved in places I can’t delete from.  When the crisis passes or lessens, I implement my plot hole fix and move along.  Good thing for reasonable standards.  And if you see a typo, I don’t mind at all if you point it out. 

Things that distracted me on the internet:

~  Think Geek has an uber cool remote for kids too young to remember what channel Dora the Explorer comes on (via the number).  Press a logo button and voila!  Also keeps their grubby mitts off the remote and saves me from having to crawl on my hands and knees to look under the sofa.

~  Quite a number of agents are having an #agentsday on Twitter and I am enraptured with what goes on.  Mostly that the activities sound like those of any other type of business office.  Where’s the glamour, the hand-wringing, the catty fighting?  My fave snarky agent is Lauren E. MacLeod @BostonBookGirl and I only write YA by accident. 

Non-internet distractions:

~  Teeth are still on the painful side since it’s time to close some spaces.  It’s all worth it in the end, blah, blah, blah.  Also, the toddler is being quite the demanding soul today, all snuggly and cute.  

Accomplishments:

~  Good Intentions: re-outlined and ready for character creation/adjustment.  Fantasy – High/Quest.
~  Darkspell:  Working on outline, building from short story.  YA Fantasy – Magic
~  Rel. Pro. 101:  Short story submitted, waiting on response.


>Some Amazing Validation

>In the middle of my second round of revisions on a short story I’ve been working on since early December, a tweet goes out from Nathan Bransford  regarding THE SECRET YEAR from Jennifer Hubbard.  I’ll be picking this one up and my teenager will likely swipe it before I get it out of its streamlined Amazon.com packaging. 

In honor of Hubbard’s success and to celebrate, Mr. Bransford launched a small contest to see who could write the most compelling fictional teen diary entry.  Had to be a diary entry or letter to someone, less than 500 words, and fictional.  Pretty simple guidelines which left a whole host of ideas to be explored.

I have no idea why I immediately thought to head for a sci fi-ish entry.  I’m still discovering how I write (I don’t know that ever stops), but I know that fantastical elements pull me in every time.  My husband and I joke that I have so many gadgets I would turn into one if it was possible.  Well, how interesting that would be if it was possible.  When I told him my idea, he said, “huh?”  The anti-gadget.

I wrote, revised, entered, and waited for the text message to tell me judging was done.  I actually read through the entire blog post without skipping to the names (masochistic or patient, you tell me).  My mouth dropped open to see that my entry had made an honorable mention.

This is already a long post, but here is my entry:

EJ Post #8452

Not sure when the next time I’ll be writing is. Yeah, I know. How melodramatic. Could be worse.

Turns out, Mom’s not real thrilled my fingernails are turning into microchips. Not sure I want to write out what Dad said as he caught me drying my mesh wraps off. All because I hate slipping my fingers into wet mesh. Point is, I’m bonked. Now it’s good bye StarFaller 24, hello Aunt and Uncle Terrified-of-technology-so-I-stayed-on-Earth Griffon. Wonderful.

The worst part? My mom thinks the microchips will disappear once I’m dropped off on that wasteland of a planet. I’ve showed her information proving they won’t but she doesn’t listen. As long as it doesn’t get worse were her words. I figure, why not go all the way? Tried rationalizing. Asked her, wouldn’t it be helpful to have a full nanotechpath daughter on the ship? Pointed out uses where a person like me would be needed, embraced. I even tried appealing to her emotions (’cause she has enough of them) reassuring her I wanted my microchips. That they weren’t a curse.

Her mind is closed off. She’d eradicate all gadgets if she could. Bit overboard in the drama department there. Dad just nods and says Mom knows best. She thinks Earth will be a better fit. She doesn’t know me. Down there, they don’t even allow jet propulsion packs without a license. I’ve got shots of the place. Trust me this is bad.

I’d try to sneak you with me, EJ, but it’s dubious anyone there knows what you are. I start pulling you out willy nilly and we’d have what Mom would call a disturbance. No, the only way out of this situation is to keep my head down and act compliant. Besides, I can always start the process again when I return. When she thinks she’s won. All I lose is some time. Even that’s fixable.

Mom can delude herself all she wants. She’s getting much needed help for her tech obsessed daughter. When I’m back, I’ll be more careful. At least, I will be until the chips spread to my face. Then, I’m showing it all off. Exposed.

Until later, EJ. Keep yourself safe for me. For when I need you again.

Things that distracted me on the internet:

~ Staring at my name and clicking the linky to my entry.  Less than 1000 times I think.

Non-internet distractions:

~ I colored a decent picture of Beauty and the Beast.  My two year old appreciated it.

Accomplishments:

~ I did finish revisions on my short story.  One more read through tomorrow and I’m letting it fly. 


>Obligatory Goal Post

>Hello 2010!

Back when I was a more youthful version of myself, my friends and I would sit around and talk about how we pictured our life in 2000.  We’d gasp at how old we’d be and race off to play again before we blinked and stared into our mid twenty selves.  Ten years later we are now mid thirty selves, way old when you are ten and still have someone telling you what time to go to bed. 

When I was ten, I didn’t picture my life being the way it is today.  I think I was still in astronaut phase back then, not stay at home writer mom throwing words on a screen in between naps, lunch, and crashing objects.  That’s okay though.  This fits now.

The obligatory new year’s goal:  polish my shiny new novel and send it out into the world.

Will still be making room though for Cataclysm

Things that distracted me on the internet:

~  Twitter goofed up and my # aren’t showing in the feeds.  A little difficult to have a conversation that way.  I can either wait for tech support to fix it or start a new account just to “chat”.
~  Some fantastic blogs I’ve been reading lately.  Some are pure comedy from The Oatmeal and another is a really useful site for writers on Twitter at InkyGirl.com

Non-internet distractions:

~  My Keurig busted some time ago and it took me a while (and microwaving water for tea) to replace it.  UPS kindly dropped me off a nice, new one with blue lights and three cup sizes for my brewing pleasure.  I had to play with it for a little while.

Accomplishments:

~ In the middle of my 2nd revision on a short story needing to go out by end of month.  Started revisions on Wishful Thinking which amounts to the entire prologue being revised to include stuff I thought of at the climax.