Category: Uncategorized

buddy, can you spare some change?

I love a new year, have I mentioned that? I think I probably did. I like how it feels like hitting the Reset button, how you get to start over from the beginning and you have all these things to look forward to again. I realize time is a human contraption – and I don’t make resolutions, I think they’re silly. But I do like to look on January as a fresh start, even though it’s when Winter really gets going for us here, I start thinking ahead to Spring an all the things I want to do, like rockhounding and long walks on the beach. Sure, I can do that right now, but I’ll freeze my nipples off.And the changes that I’m about to talk about didn’t really take place in January, they were pushed into motion a little while back, and a little at a time. I’d come to realize I was spending way too much time at Absolute Write, not learning and researching, but just sitting there, staring, for no good reason. I had to get away, and after months of trying it on my own, I realized I needed help. Then the Great Tea Debacle came, and Pete challenged me to a month of self-banning from AW, and I took him up on it. Turns out, that was exactly what I needed. I was forced away, which removed a major portion of my ‘net time wasting, and allowed me to get back to writing and blogging steadily.

Around the same time, I was starting to feel frustrated with my writing. Bored, might be a better word. Everything I was writing was coming out sounding and reading exactly like everything I had written. And in the Great Tea Debacle, I had chosen a sequel to a series that isn’t selling. As a writer, that’s a stupid thing to do. If you can’t sell book #1, you sure as hell ain’t gonna sell sequel #2 or sequel #3. And while it was really a spin-off, introducing all new characters that I was really enjoying, the story itself really had no chance. If you can’t sell a series, why keep writing it?

So I put them aside, those new characters, and that whole premise I’d created because it really does deserve better. It’s a great concept, and they’re fantastic characters, and I’ll go back to them when I can give them the attention they deserve. They’ll no longer be attached to an unsellable series, but have their own playground.

Which brought me to the Penman Shipwreck, and what to do about it. I was frustrated, I was depressed, and more than a little desperate. ‘Round about then, things Pete kept mentioning were starting to stick in my brain. Ideas about handwriting, about changing, about finding new ground. I was realizing I needed a change. Not only in the physical act of writing, switching from the PC only to the pen and paper, but also in the way I was thinking, writing, and approaching a story.

I’d fallen into a routine. A rut. And it wasn’t a productive one, based on the collection of agent rejection slips I’m getting.

Then I had an epiphany. And over the course of a few weeks, it solidified. As I handled it, turning it over and around, looking at it from all angles, it started taking on a sheen.

And while I admit that — anywhere from one week to a month from now — I could be taking back everything I’m saying and claiming I was an idiot, I feel like I’m on a new path. Like I’m taking a new direction for new direction’s sake and it feels good. I’ve changed my usual, routine method of story telling. I’ve altered the mold from which every story I’d ever written seemed to have come from.

Ether isn’t anything like what I’ve done before. The style, the POV, the characters . . . even the genre, technically.

And it feels good. I’m liking it. There’s nothing to lose, after all, since the old way hasn’t won me any prizes. Perhaps this is the change I needed. Perhaps it’s a waste of a few months. Maybe this novel will be The One. Maybe it will fail spectacularly and gather more rejections. There’s a chance this novel could turn into a new, epic, detailed series that takes off and creates its own mythos. There’s a chance I’m not talented enough to pull it off and it’ll sit in a drawer somewhere, unread.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Friday chapter

Well, here’s chapter 9. The only thing I have to say today is – I didn’t read over this. I can’t let myself look at it, lest my retinas burn and my brain forget that my characters are so much MORE now. More interesting, more “manly” if you will, more independant.

Regardless of the age, the emotional scaring, whatever – this dude was over the top writerly speaking. I can appreciate the fact that those who read this 10 + years ago feel slighted, or confused, when the author speaks this way about her own creation – but I’m speaking as a writer who sees warts she ignored before. Or wasn’t even aware of. And frankly, at the time, I was being swayed by an editor who wanted more and more of this angst-ridden stuff that – in all honesty – makes my brain cringe now. I’m seeing weak dialog, overly-long situations and scenes, plenty of showing not telling.

As the creator, I do still love this piece. But as a writer, I can’t help but wince just a bit.

the odd side of normal

My New Year’s Eve was spent at my Mother’s house, playing cards and having dinner. My oldest sister has a massive party at her house – but my other sister and I just go to Mom’s and play cards with her and her husband and relax, enjoying a quiet evening. Partly because we don’t care for huge, loud crowds of people we barely know. But mostly because we’re never invited.This year was a bit odd. On Thanksgiving day, my mother’s twin sister died. And now, as of a few weeks ago, we all found out that my stepfather’s mother – who is 89 – is dying of cancer. My mother looks after her, having put her in a nice home only a few miles away. She drives there every day to give her mother-in-law her medicine and they take her out for trips and have her over for dinner every week and holidays. She’s frail, can’t hear a bloody thing, and shrank to about 4 foot 3 in the last several years.

She’s clueless to the fact that she has cancer, even though Mom made sure the doctor explained everything to her. And that’s fine – better to be clueless and happy, I say, at the age of 89. She thinks she’s 91.

Anywho – with all this going on lately, my sister and I were treated to a New Year’s Eve dinner conversation that went something like this:

Mom: “Well, Esther has her plot already, it’s beside her husband, but we picked out a coffin last week. It’s white with a pink lining, one level up from the cheapest, since they’re really expensive. Then we had to buy a liner.”

Me: “What’s a liner?”

Mom: “They line the grave with this metal box, then the coffin goes inside, and then the metal top is sealed over it.”

Me: “What in the hell is that for? Can you skip that bit?”

Mom: “No, it’s required now. And it’s nearly $1,000 on top of the coffin, which is $1,500. But her plot, when she bough it, was only $80.00. Can you believe that? Nowadays it would be over a grand. So her coffin has a pink lining–”

My Sister: “Hang on – did she die last night and you forgot to mention it?”

Mom: “No, she’s fine. The doctor has no idea how long she has, we’re just getting things ready.”

My Sister: “Oh.”

Mom: “She looks pretty in pink, so we went with the pink lining, and Joyce (her daughter – same name as my mother) liked the white coffin. Oh, and we’re not going to have a viewing. She isn’t going to be embalmed, which they do only for viewings, and we don’t want a viewing.”

Me: “I thought they embalmed everyone?”

Mom: “No, only if you want a viewing, because it’s a health concern. Decaying bodies and stuff. If you don’t embalm them, you can’t view them after 12 hours because they start giving off bacteria.”

My Sister: “So no embalming?”

Mom: “No. Besides it wears off after a few weeks, and you decay anyway, that’s what they told us.”

Me: “Well, ashes to ashes.”

Mom: “Oh, and Jerry can’t decide if he wants to be cremated or buried. But I’ve decided to be cremated and I want under my brother’s headstone. Jerry wants the space beside my brother.”

Me: “Well, Cindy and I want cremation, but we don’t care where we go. The back yard is fine.”

Mom: “Jerry is freaking out. He wants to be buried and he wants a headstone so everyone can come see him.”

Me: “I haven’t even visited Dad’s yet.”

Mom: “Well Jerry’s freaking out.”

Jerry: “I’m going to put your mother on the fire place.”

Mom: “You are NOT! Jerry, you’re putting me under my brother’s headstone. The girl’s father is under his father’s headstone next to his mother, who’s under it too.”

Jerry: “I’m going to put you on the fireplace, so I can talk to you.”

My Sister: “Don’t worry, Mom. If Jerry puts you on the fireplace, we’ll put Jerry IN the fireplace.”

Jerry: “I don’t want to be cremated.”

Me: “You’ll do what SHE wants, or we won’t do what YOU want.”

Mom: “Oh, and Jerry wants to be buried with Kaylee. So if the dog dies first, he wants to save her ashes. I think that’s ridiculous, but that’s what he wants.”

Me: “Okay, if the dog dies first, we’ll take Jerry out back and shoot him, then put them in the ground together.”

Mom: “Do you think the nursing home will clean her body if they find her dead, or will we have to?”

Happy New Year.

The downside of up

So I was taking down my Christmas lights today, freezing my fingers and toes and asking myself WHY on Earth I felt compelled to put them up in the first place.

Oh they were pretty, outdoors only because my cats like to light up the insides of their cheeks. In the back yard, I wrapped white lights around an umbrella trellis and then draped them along our pathway lights to brighten up the walk from the back door to the garage. Then on the side of the house, we have an archway with a lovely green climbing vine – which in the winter is nothing more than a massive twig puzzle. There I twined more white lights up one side, down the other, then up and over again. Visible from the side living room window, it was a delight to see for a few weeks.

Out front, the steps leading up to my front door, as well as the front porch, are lined with scrolling wrought iron. Lovely curves and turns were draped with colored lights, down along the base, then up the fancy scroll work, down the bannister, back up the bannister, up and over the doorway, twisting and twining along the other side of the iron work to light up the path to my door.

It was lovely. And all of them were on the same timer that turns on the light at our gate every dusk, shutting it off at dawn. I never had to go outside to plug them in or flip a switch. And at night, from inside the house, the glow of colored lights was delightful.

But that was then.

Christmas is over, and while I usually leave them up for New Year’s Eve, I have to go back to work on Wednesday and wouldn’t get outside to take them down until next Saturday, and that’s just too long. It’s a little tacky to have lights up for a holiday that’s passed, especially a week gone by.

So today I froze, swore, shivered and asked myself the same question I ask every year: Why did I do this? Snaking the lights through the twigs of the arch was pretty – but now my frozen fingers are having trouble getting those twisting little bastards out of the twigs, which are themselves twining around my hair as if holding me up out of support and assistance. Then there’s the wrought iron. It’s pretty to have the lights twisting in and out of the scroll work – but it’s hell to get them back OUT again! No longer fresh out of the box, the lights aren’t bunched up and easy to manipulate.

And you can forget carefully wrapping these puppies up again, making sure nothing gets tangled together. I’m so sick of the whole mess by the time they come down, we just jam them into big garbage bags for storage and toss them into the garage on a shelf. I figure by next December, I’ll be in a happy holiday-anticipating mood and won’t mind sitting down for an hour untangling the buggers.

It’s time to put 2007 away. Time to get 2008 prepped and ready to go. I’ve got the Penman Shipwreck to look forward to, a new novel Ether I’m excited to start, two competitors I have to beat and loads and loads of writerly discussion to engage in with my fellow writerly persons.

And what the hell, let’s call this the year I get an agent! Sure, I called last year the year I get an agent, but that didn’t work – so nevermind 2007. Let’s focus on 2008, shall we? If my urologist was right, I should be due for another kidney stone in 2008, so let’s balance that out with an agent, a 3-book deal, and a great publisher who pays me loads in advance money. Oh, and while I’m putting in my wants, I’d like those contracts to earn out and put me in the royalty club 😀

Okie dokie?

So forget resolutions, forget diets you’ll abandon in February and excercise routines that will last three weeks. Forget end-of-holiday depressions and cookie-guilt. Tell me – what is 2008 going to bring for you?

Another friday chapter

Okay, the disclaimer this week is the fact that I didn’t read over this one before putting it up here – it’s too embarassing. Yes yes, ten years ago – learning experience – grown as a writer. Aw hell, what can I say? I was a fan of my own self at the time, so sue me! Now I shall shuffle off and work on my notes for the Penman Shipwreck new novel Ether, which is a far cry better than this thing!

Chapter 8 this time, for those of you still playing along . . .

epiphany

I haz one.

So for Christmas Eve, I got not one, but two rejections in the mail. One was form – the usual. But one was from an agent who had asked for the first 3 chapters – had them for 4 months – then rejected. Yes, she had nice things to say – writing was strong, held over after initial favorable reading – yada yada yada. But a No is still a No.

And it was a No.

I’m bummed. To say I’m not would be a lie. She was a legit agent, very good sales record, and I was really holding out some hope. But alas . . . Well I still have several fishing lures in the water, so all is not lost (yet). And to keep my brain off the depression I’m prepping for the Penman Shipwreck. I was initially excited about Ether, then after giving the story idea more consideration, I realized it wasn’t going to work.

And then, one foggy Christmas Eve 😀 I was drifting to sleep Christmas Eve and had an epiphany. There are minor details still to be worked out, but I know where Ether needs to go in order to work, and I know enough to get it started in January, on the 1st, as my Penman Shipwreck novel. Plenty of time to work out the few kinks still there, because I can see it all clearly and beatifully. And writing by hand will give me more time to think than I’m used to.

So while I’m depressed, I’m also happy.

Such is the life of a writer !

merry Christmas to all! And to all, a Good Night.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.

a festivus miracle!

Okay, for Festivus, you get two – yes, 2 – chapters. It’s getting more and more embarassing. This has a return of Emo Kid Syndrome, and all manner of smarmy crap that causes my eyes to roll in memory. Reading this now, as I scan quickly for grammar booboos and typo gremlins, makes me ashamed of how I used to write – but also proud that I’ve grown SO much from this point. 

 It’s really something, looking back on a period of your writing life and realizing how different you are now. How you’ve grown, stretched your abilities and your talents. 

I do give this novel credit, though, for having been a launching pad into bigger and better things. And I will always appreciate the “story” I created here. The world, the general idea, and if you can see past the stupid stuff, there’s plot and twists and what I thought at the time were very clever methods of resolution.

So here are Chapters 6 and 7. Read at your own risk, avoid sugary sweets afterwards and cleanse your pallet with something intelligent 😀

Hump-day Chapter, eh?

Well, I posted my intelligent (or not) post at Castle Debacle  so I figured I’d post Chapter 5 here today.  The disclaimer dejoir would be to watch out for falling em dashes!  I was in love with those things in my early, formative years. I also had this habit of writing dialog, then action, then dialog – as a way to avoid dialog tags – but while doing so I constantly broke a grammar rule of punctuation. It was becoming my own little trait, but it was hammered out of me with a large, heavy hammer-like thing by someone who was editing me – using hammers. But that didn’t break my love of the em dash, by golly!  I try very hard to use it sparingly in my current writing, and I’m far more aware of it and the need (as well as lack of need) for the thing.

 So, anyone wondering when “it” was going to happen – Here it is:

5 weird things

Five weird facts – since Ed tagged Pete and Carrie, and Pete tagged Lori and I, here you go:

1) I was born on April Fools Day, was an “accident” and my parents were hoping for a boy, and were going to name me Michael. Not really weird, I guess, but I use it as an excuse whenever necessary.

2) I have a furniture fetish – I LOVE shopping for furniture and planning rooms. I can’t BUY much furniture, because my house is quite small and fully furnished, but I love to wander around furniture stores and imagine whole new ways to decorate my rooms.

3) I don’t use credit cards. I used to, but then my sister developed an issue with them and we had to both go cold turkey in order to break that cycle. We paid them all off and we use cash only for everything now. Except the cars, and the house. That’s what credit was invented for – houses and cars – not sweaters or a nice pair of leather boots. And don’t let people tell you that plastic is necessary to keep your credit score – that’s bullshit. If you have a mortgage and make monthly payments to utilities and things like cable TV, there’s your credit score right there, my friend. Credit cards are a corporate conspiracy to enslave the human race in debt. /soapbox.

4) My SAT’s came back with a recommendation that I study languages in college and pursue a career in literature and the arts. So I signed up for every science class there was, knowing that’s where the smart money lay, and went into the Veterinary Medicine field. *sigh*

And finally:

5) I’ve been waiting anxiously for today to arrive, because The Mod Squad, Season 1, is out on DVD and I’m rushing off after work to purchase it, so I can relive my very first ever crush on a guy.

And there you have it. It all sounds pretty pathetic written down, and I hope none of this makes it into my Legacy as a writer, that will live in infamy. Or be infamous.

Or inflammatory.

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