Sunday, December 31, 2006

Rumors of my demise...

What a week!!! I've now lived through my first "end of year" frenzy as a company bookkeeper. Multiple visits to lawyers, accountants, and enough trips to the bank that I'm thinking of taking out office space there, left me no time to write.

The family was very good to me over Christmas. I received more than I deserved. The best was a wireless mouse for my laptop. I've been experiencing hand pain with all the typing I do, and having a full-sized mouse instead of using the touch pad has helped already.

The husband and the son have been purging the son's room. Frankly, it looked like Toys R Us threw up in there. Legos, Lincoln Logs, GI Joe, etc. With new toys arriving at Christmas, there was no room for them. They've done a great job, and there is a place for everthing, and much is going to be passed on to another home. Hooray for the men in the family!

I've been able to 'compost' on Drums quite a bit whenever I had a few minutes. I'm looking forward to getting back into our routine.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Blueprints

For more than a week, I've been absolutely, stinkingly stuck on my WIP. Several reasons come to mind. Overall busyness of my schedule making me into mental mush. The realization that my WIP is not the historical romance I thought it was, but rather historical fiction, so if it no longer fits the 'romance recipe' then what is the driving force of the book? The bombardment of "grass is greener" syndrome that has me longing to hop the fence and start a completely new and exciting WIP. Yet another rejection of the latest manuscript, albeit nicer than the rejections I've gotten from that particular publishing house in the past. The constant banging and noise as the builders work on the new addition. These elements are not unique to me, nor are they particularly spectacular or interesting...just cumulative.

But yesterday saw a breakthrough. Having written more than 40% of the book and finding it taking a new direction from the original (loose) plan, I knew I needed to sit down and hammer out where this book was going. One of my puzzlements over this book has been "why is it taking so long to write?" I wrote a novel in 10 weeks this summer. Why did that one go so quickly? I'm sure the fact that I did basically NOTHING else for those 10 weeks might have something to do with it, but I believe the major catalyst was the fact that the book was completely plotted out on 3x5 cards. I never sat before a blank screen and wondered what to write about next.

Enter the Post-it 3x5 card. Yesterday, I sat at my dining room table and wrote out card after card with scenes (almost 80 now). I garnered another POV character, fleshed out the timeline, and stuck them all to the back patio doors. (The builders must think I'm insane. They are working on the other side of the glass doors.) My daughter helped me shuffle scenes and number cards and talk out the plot. She also has a way of asking difficult questions like "If the driving force of the book isn't the romance, then what is it?" (I think she has a career as an editor in her future. She can pick out a weakness in my plot quicker'n you can say Jack Robinson. And she's only 14!)

Today I sat down with the cards, and in very little time, added 2500 words to the ms. I knew where I was going and what it should look like when I got there. Amazing!

I love a good analogy (Kaye!) and this got me to thinking. As the builders framed up the shower and closets for the new master bath and bedroom, I saw them consulting the building plans. That framing went up in no time at all. And I realized that's just what I've been doing the past two days. Working on and from a blueprint. Things go fast when I have a blueprint. I have the basic structure down on paper (cards) and can build from there. Once I get the framing done, I can add color, texture (carpet, paint, shelves, whatever), but I will get nowhere if don't have the walls squared up, the floor level and the structure waterproofed against the storms of doubt that will roll in.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Convoluted Yuletide Vocalizations

This week in Sunday School, as a little time filler before the class started, my pastor handed out a little quiz. I thought it an interesting exercise in word-play. Some of them sound hilarious when read aloud. Can you figure them out?

1. Draw near, Approach, Long-awaited Incarnation of Deity.
Come, O Come, Emmanuel
2.Inaugural Yuletide.
The First Noel
3. Exultation in the direction of the biosphere.
Joy To The World
4. Visit, Old-English-second-person-singular extensively-prepared for second person of the Trinity.
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.
5. Proceed, narrate the announcement from an altitudinous geographical formation.
Go Tell It On the Mountain
6. Perambulate, totality of unswervingly loyal devotees.
Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful
7. Supernatural beings perceived from lofty expanses.
Angels We Have Heard on High
8. Give heedfulness, heavenly harbingers intone.
Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
9. Consecrated Nightfall.
O Holy Night
10. Pacific nocturnal unit, sanctified nocturnal unit.
Silent Night, Holy Night
11. Distantly located in a bovine feeding receptacle.
Away in a Manger
12. During the interval when agrarian caretakers observed their broods.
While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks
13. Resonate Metallic reversed-directional cones.
Ring The Bells
14. Diminutive municipality of royal-Israeli distinction.
O Little Town of Bethlehem
15. Third Person Plural Triumvirate of Royal Personages.We Three Kings



We had a lot of fun with these. I hope you do to!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Idea THPAM


I have ALWAYS said I could only work on one project at a time. I know myself well enough to realize if I start a bazillion projects at once, I will never finish any of them. They will scatter like buckshot in an ever-widening pattern until they disperse on the wind and none hit the target.
So why, when I'm hip-deep in an historical novel that I just realized isn't truly a romance, though it has some romantic elements in it, am I getting THPAMMED by ideas for the most hilarious, most engaging, and most fun book I could think of to write? I'm bombarded with material, themes, characters. They sprang full-blown into my head. And get this...it's not an historical. It's not a romance. It's a LIT book! What on earth am I thinking? I don't write "LIT" books!
I even tried to purge the idea by writing screeds of notes in a notebook late one night, thinking if I could just get the ideas out of the way, I could concentrate on Drums of the North Star and leave this book on a back burner. So far, this hasn't worked. The ideas for this new book keep crowding out what I want to be doing on the historical. I keep pecking away at the novel, jotting down notes for the lit book. And I even toy with the idea of working on two projects at once. Will the madness never end?
Did I mention the lit book has evolved into a three book series? Good grief!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Little milestones

You know, today I went over 32K words on the ms. I wasn't feeing particularly thrilled about this, because in light of the total word count, 32K doesn't seem very far. That is until you plug it into the Word Meter and see that 32K is 40.1% of the total goal. Saying you have reached 40% of your goal sounds better than I've got just over 1/3 of a first draft done.

I know it amounts to the same number of words, but it's all in the mind games!

This is the slowest book I've ever written. Is it because my life is so wicked busy? Is it because the subject matter is more difficult? Is it because I am less sure of my ability with each passing day? A combination of these things, or something altogether different? I don't know. All I can do is plug away at it. BOW...Black on white, black on white...I keep typing.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Never Ceese By Sue Dent

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sue Dent was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi and currently resides in Ridgeland. When not writing, Sue designs websites and works with digital photograpy.Sue loves to hear from her fans through her Website in fact, the push from eager readers has already set the ball rolling, and she's hard at work on Forever Richard, the sequel.In Never Ceese, Sue sets out to prove that faith and fun can live happily in the same story, and that vampire/werewolf fantasy can have a spiritual message too.ABOUT THE BOOK:
Never Ceese takes religious fantasy to a new level, bringing an entirely new Light to a very dark side of fiction, doing a very admirable job to prove that vampire/werewolf fantasy does not have to be evil to be enjoyed.
The story starts with the classic tale of an English manor owned by Richard, the vampire who righteously is the bain of his neighbor's existence, what with the missing goats and all!
Then enters Cecelia, better known as Ceese, the young werewolf maiden who's arrived via invitation by Richard's aging companion, Penelope.
Ceese and Richard would prefer to tear each other apart, literally, but they are drawn together by their mutual love for Penelope. She is dying and has one request...that the two of them love one another.
This is the overall theme throughout Dent's interesting tale of two who were wronged but learn to work together. Meanwhile they are threatened by an evil stem cell researcher who wants the immortality and power that he thinks their blood will bring him!
Dent's characters do differ from the stock one's we're all accustomed to in a very important way. They are not mindless, brutal killers. Bloodthirsty, yes, but they are constantly resisting the urge to kill, and, thus, curse another human. Feeding on rodents, goats, virtually any warm-blooded animal helps to satiate the never ending thirst for blood, but how long will they be able to resist that most delicious morsel man?
There is a chance that their curses can actually be lifted if they can find the strength within to resist their selfish natures and act selflessly toward another. Will they succeed? That same basic choice lies before us all every day...
A vampire and a werewolf, one determined to, once again, be able to acknowledge what will get her to heaven, the other no so sure he can. A spiritual fantasy designed to spark the imagination, to speak to the heart as well as entertain.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Round Books --a continuation from Georgiana

This week on GeorgianaD's blog (accessed by using the link to the left) she talked about making your manuscript "round". Most of the replies, mine included, had to do with the characters. This got me to thinking. If the characters seem three dimensional, if I understand their actions and motives (even if, or especially if, I can't predict them) then the book seems real. I care about the people populating it and I want to continue reading.

I've heard books described as character driven, and others as plot driven. But I say a 'rounded' book has both elements. If you have great characters, but they aren't doing anything...what a snore! That's my life every day. I think we're a great bunch of characters around here, but laundry and piano lessons don't set off the 'woohoo!' meter. And if you have a great plot that hurls along like a freight train out of control, but your characters are boring, predictable, flat and perfect, well, I'm kinda praying the train runs over them just for a bit of variety.


I am currently re-reading a series of books about one of my favorite characters of all time, Jo Beth Sidden of Bloodhounds, Inc. a feisty southern gal who does search and rescue missions with her faithful bloodhounds into the mysterious and dangerous world of the Okefenokee Swamp in south Georgia.


Why is she a favorite, and why does this series seem so 'round'? Here are my musings on the subject:





1) Jo Beth is far from perfect. She's mouthy, opinionated, a control freak, obsessive, passionate...the list goes on. But--and this is important--because Virginia Lanier uses the first person POV, you get a great peek into Jo Beth's mind and you understand her motives. I might not always agree with them, but for the period of time that I'm in Jo Beth's head, I'm willing to go along with it because it is plausible. She's opinionated because she's been on her own for such a long time. She's a control freak, always trying to organize and run everyone else's lives because her own is in such a mess and she has no control there. She's obsessive and passionate about her dogs, and it's endearing because of all she's been through before the book even starts.
2) The plots are rocketing! Danger, love, loss, mystery, scope, pace. You are dropped in the middle of Jo Beth's life and you'd better hang on to the end of the leash!
3) The setting. I've never been in a swamp, but the setting itself is a character, unpredictable, dangerous, and fascinating to this Kansan-turned-Minnesotan. If she'd have set the book on a wheat farm or a dairy barn, the book wouldn't be anywhere near as good.
4) The supporting cast. Everything from a deaf-mute kennel assitant to a reformed prostitute, an obsessive ex-husband with murder on his mind to a pampered, daddy's girl fashionista bookstore owner. Unexpected and unpredictable at every turn.

5)The antagonists. Quite often Jo Beth is her own worst enemy, and who can't identify with that? But there are some mean dudes in these books. And it isn't the escaped felons she's chasing through the swamps that are always the most dangerous. Sometimes it's the Greek bearing gifts.

6) And we can't forget the dogs. The names are hilarious. Taken from history and literature, they have names like Sherlock Holmes and Gloria Steinam. Ceasar and Anthony, Gulliver and Romona. And then there is Jo Beth's special baby, Bobby Lee, a bloodhound blind from birth but especially gifted.




You can read more about the author at http://www.sherpaguides.com/georgia/okefenokee_swamp/sidebars/virginia_lanier.html

Sadly, she passed away in 2003, so there will be no more Jo Beth Sidden books.

Oh, to be able to create characters and stories like this!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A little holiday quiz---


This Christmas quiz came via Kaye Dacus at Ramblin' Writer. You can access her blog by clicking on the K.N.Dacus link to the left. Copy the quiz to your blog, then come back here and let me know!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate---with marshmallows :)

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? We don't do the Santa thing around here, but when I was a kid, Santa wrapped everything...strangely enough in the same paper my mom and dad used for their gifts to us kids. lol

3. Colored or white lights on tree/house? White lights on the tree, colored bubble lights in the garland on the piano, and red poinsettia lights on the garland on the bannister.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No, but I'm not adverse to dragging my husband under some when I see it. LOL

5. When do you put up your decorations? The weekend after Thanksgiving.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Roasted Turkey and Sweet Potatoe Souffle.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: Fearing you would never fall asleep, that Christmas would never get here, and giggling under the covers with my brother and sister. My dad went outside our bedroom window and shook a string of jingle-bells, and scared us all back into our own beds and rooms where we lay stiff as boards with our eyes jammed shut hoping Santa didn't know we'd stayed up.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I don't remember a specific time. I think it came to me gradually.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? LOL This was always a sore point with us kids. We got to open one gift, but it was usually a dress my mom had been making for weeks for us to wear to the Christmas Eve church service. We'd had it tried on us mutiple times, so we knew it was coming Always felt a bit gypped on that one.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? The whole family gets involved. The husband and son put the tree up and get the lights on it, and then the kids and I put on the ornaments and put up the garland. The boy and I put out the nativity sets, of which I have many.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love it.

12. Can you ice skate? Noooooooooooooooooooooo. Bad ankles, bad physique for it, and no sense of balance. lol

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? As a kid...loved getting books and Breyer horses. As an adult...last year my husband got up early the day after Thanksgiving and stood in the dark outside Staples to get me a flat panel monitor for Christmas.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Family, worshipping together on Christmas Eve with my church. Seeing my kids' faces when they open their gifts.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? COOKIES! I love frosted sugar cookies. Oh, and peanut brittle.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Our church's Christmas Eve service ranks way up there. Then we go look at Christmas lights. Also, we have an open house at our place on New Year's Day, watching football, playing games and eating ourselves stupid in anticipation of our New Year's Diets. My parents had an open house on this day for more than 30 years. When I moved to MN, I missed the time with friends and family. So we decided to do it ourselves.

17. What tops your tree? Nothing right now, since our red and gold star broke and we haven't found what we want to replace it with yet.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Both. :)

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? White Christmas or I'll be Home for Christmas.

20. Candy Canes? YES!

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Ups and Downs


This writing life is full of ups and downs. In a week I've experienced the joys of making breakthroughs on a first draft, setting and meeting word count goals, finding a smash-bang finish for this first draft and having an idea for a whole new book. Wheee! On the upswing!
Juxtapose that with a rejection of the latest novel from a publishing house, and the news that a publishing house that was taking a closer look at my second novel has decided "not to pursue" that manuscript any further. ARGH! On the downswing!
I moped for a day and mentally kicked a few trash cans. Thought about quitting for awhile. Wondered if that door to publication would ever open, if I would ever hear the words, "Yes, this is what we're looking for."
Words wouldn't come yesterday. I only wrote about 300 of them.
Today is a new day, and as the Word says in Lamentations, God's mercies are new every morning. I reached my goal of 30K words total, even though we did school, I made a run to the bank, and the construction circus was in town.
Progress on the new addition: Lots of digging, backfilling, decking, trenching, draining...and hammering. The contractor is making great progress in spite of the cold temperatures. They expect to have it closed in by week after next.
I have lots to be thankful for.