Saturday, 31 March 2007

Carpal Tunnel or Wii Tunnel?

I went out for dinner with a few girlfriends last night, and while I waited to pay my bill, the gentleman before me repeatedly rubbed his shoulder.

He turned to me and laughed. "I was playing Wii with my grandkids, and I'm really feeling it today."

I know how he feels. I use two computers while at work, with heavy usage of the mouse. While at home, my lovely little PowerBook G4 is my constant companion, whether writing, researching, or checking in on all my friends and family. By the end of the day, my elbow is screaming for Dr. Ho.

Today my son dragged the Wii from the basement, and I tried my hand at bowling, baseball and boxing. I was okay with the bowling - got a strike on the first ball. I really sucked at baseball. My timing with the bat was abysmal. I rocked, however, at boxing. I beat the crap out of Ryan the default player (ha ha!).

I'm gonna feel it tomorrow.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Do Movies Influence Us?

Not all movies are based on novels, but some of them have probably shaped the kind of writing we aspire to.

As a young child, my movie exposure was limited to what my parents watched on Sunday Afternoons (remember Jason and the Argonauts? The King and I?) and what we watched when Dad packed us into the Buick to take in a Drive-In movie.

I remember those days, or rather, nights when my siblings and I played on the swings and see-saws (in our pyjamas) just underneath the big white screen while we waited for the blue light of evening settle into the navy of night. The two movies that I remember distinctly are: The Nutty Professor and The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

I remember the music, but mostly I remember the scene where the nutty professor drank the formula that would turn him into Buddy, Playboy Extraordinaire. Jerry Lewis writhed on the floor, with technicolour splashes of spilled beakers all around him. It kind of freaked me out. Now that I look at it, The Nutty Professor was a very dark movie. Plus, I think Buddy was an ass. A complete ass. Nothing like Eddie Murphie's character.

I also remember the late drive home. It was before mandatory seat belt days, and I draped myself along the rear dash of the car with a pillow under my head, staring up at the explosion of stars above my head.

Does anyone remember any big screen movies that influenced their writing? Or at least fired up their imagination?

Thursday, 22 March 2007

To paint with brushes is just as much fun...

As I mentioned in my profile, I've always loved horses. When I was four, I showed my father my first crude renderings, and his stock response was, "Head's too small."

He maintained this opinion well into my adult years. In spite of his tongue-in-cheek critiques, I knew by the look in his eyes that he was proud of me.

He still is. I don't know about other writers, but my father constantly harangued me from across the continent, asking almost weekly, "So how's the book coming?"

He was one of my first beta readers, and of course he loves my books. Both of them.

I know, I know... a family member's glowing review is not necessarily going to get me on the New York Times Bestseller List, nor is it going to get me an agent. As Miss Snark says, "Good writing trumps all."

However, favourable comments from family members and friends do help a writer find the guts to keep going. Not to give up.

Don't festoon your query letter with silly statements like, "My Mom loves it." Save the glowing reviews from your parents for the dedication page. A heartfelt email or phone call can't hurt, either.

Do the Limbo Rock

I'm in that state of limbo between old book out, new book in. My manuscript has reached its destination, and the editor estimates that she'll be able to look at it in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I should be turning my attention to the next book.

My second novel is complete... or so I thought. I learned so much in the past year about plot, conflict and goals that I think I'm going to have to do a complete rewrite. My heroine has no concrete goal. The hero is dangerously close to being 'too stupid to live'.

The only character that seems real is the antagonist. She's one bad-ass bitch. Her goal is clear cut, and she has no trouble deciding what to do next in order to get what she wants.

So... my interim goal is to tear this book apart and see what I can salvage, while trying desperately to think of something for my heroine to really care about. Well, besides the hero, of course.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Finished! I think...

I reached the minimum word count in order for my book to go to print. I sent it to my editor last night, and she informed me that it will be a couple of weeks before she can look at it.

That's okay. By now, I realize how slowly the publishing wheel turns.

"My editor" - how lovely that sounds. I want to giggle.

Maybe by this time next year, I'll be able to afford the GOOD toilet paper.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Edits, and more edits

There are edits, and then there are more edits. I hadn't looked at this manuscript for a while, and when I received the offer for publication and suggested edits, I dove into it once more. I realized that I had skipped essential plot elements by merely stating that time has passed, yadda yadda, and the next thing happened, blah, blah. The classic telling, not showing. I cringe, wondering what my editor is thinking as she reads the last segment of my manuscript.

Now I'm looking at it, trying to increase the word count so it will go to print. I'm discovering a lot of places where I could easily add dialogue in order to move the plot forward, to illustrate how the protagonist is feeling.

Sometimes I tell myself I can't wait to see the back of this project, and then other times I fall in love with it all over again. I can't wait till they slap it between a couple of covers.

Monday, 12 March 2007

The Wonderful World of Editing

A writer crafts a novel. Every chapter, every paragraph is honed to brightness. The writer shows chapters to her writer's group. More tightening. Queries are sent. Rejections are received.

Writer starts a second novel. She discovers the joys of Excel as she tracks all queries, checks off the rejections, the requests for partials, and notes the non-responses.

Novel number one has been given a spot under the bed, in a cupboard, on the back burner. After - a year? Novel number one is resurrected and sent to a lovely little press in New York State. An immediate request for a partial. Nice. The partial is sent.

Two, three days later? A request for a full. Writer expects to wait six weeks, but a contract is offered in two.

Now comes the real hard work. Editing. Suggestions and adjustments are made, and some scenes must be completely rewritten to comply with the publisher's code of ethics. I have no problem with that. Pages must be added if the writer wants this novel to go to print. Okay, start thinking, girl.

Tonight, I rewrote an important scene, and I'm very pleased with it. I'd like to fire it off to the editor right now, but I'll wait until I do something about the next scene, which is equally important. An alternate conflict must be established so the rest of the book doesn't completely fall apart.

Am I making any sense? When an author works with an editor, is this the normal procedure?

My editor (oh, I really love the sound of that) is willing to wait till all edits are done, and I'll submit the whole shebang once more. Then, I guess I'll wait a bit more. That's fine with me. The Space Between has already waited a long time, and every little edit will likely make it better.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Ridley is King

My first cat, Sabado, was a huge black longhair. He acted more like a dog. He went for walks with us, and was strong enough to open the front door.

His younger companion was Gigimidge, another monster. I think he was a Maine Coone, but I'm not certain. He liked to beat up other dogs, except mine.

Later, along came Trixie. She lived to be fifteen years old. By the end of her life, she looked like she'd been through a blender.

Now we have Ridley. He likes to survey his domain from his favourite cardboard box. He doesn't need fancy toys -- a crumpled piece of paper will do nicely. He doesn't bite, except when he wants my daughter to get up at 6am. That's when he jumps around on her, then climbs onto her arm and chomps.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

I finally did it

Well, I gave in and finally got a blog. I look forward to sharing my journey as a writer and artist. I just have to get used to talking about myself. Then again, according to my friends, I never stop talking about myself.

I just popped my very first publishing contract in the mail, and my novel is on its way into the world. I'll let you know what happens next as soon as I discover what the heck happens next.