Sunday, March 30, 2008

Keep the Dream Alive - the lull

You're in Revision Purgatory. It's scary here, your momentum stalls. It's a seemingly impossible feat. There's fear, loneliness and a crisis of confidence.

I worry that I won't be able to put it right; that this slashed, cut and pasted version which was once my manuscript will ever look like one again.

I stopped while it was in my CP's hands and read some refresher courses on POV, scene development, and decription and now I see glaring inconsistencies, plot problems and POV slides.

Why did I do that? Well, I did commit to making it - to use an Army slogan - be all it can be at this stage in my career. So better now than later after I've submitted it to a publisher or agent.

I know I'm capable of better, so until I'm satisfied that it's my best effort I won't cut corners. I'll keep my eye on the goal, of being published, not each painful step along the way.

I see my book with my name printed across the binding. A customer taking it from the shelf, reading the back cover with a smile, tucking it under her arm and walking to the register.

While I tackle the excruciating grunt work, I remind myself again to trust the process and believe.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Beautiful Website

My CP, Leah Braemel, has her website up, and you have just got to see it.

There's still some work to do but check it out, it's be - u -ti - ful. Check out her blog while you're at it. Leah has something for everyone, cool videos, pictures, lessons in Word. It's one of the most informative and entertaining blogs I've read.

Way to go, Leah!

I think I'll give your web designer, Rae Monet, a call.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I finished!

I finally finished my first manuscript - MOL. I'm so relieved - another goal met.

When I pitched it last month it was over the publisher's word count but it wasn't finished. Now I have two versions, one which may or may not make it through the cutting room floor, and the original.

As if that wasn't hard work, now the really hard work begins. This is the one that took second in Romancing the Tome '07. So I must make sure the rest of it lives up to the contest entry.

While my CP takes a look at the two versions of MOL, I'll go on to the next three goals.

Finish FIMB. (I like the hero too much to submit to its intended publisher so I'll see where this beautiful guy leads me.)

Refine first three chapters of MOL and FIMB for submission to publisher and agent. (Is that one or two - I have a tendency to make too large a goal, but I'm working on it.)

No writing this weekend though, 'cause I'm helping Crawfish Man - biggest crawfish weekend of the season! As usual, there's not enough to go around and this season is the worst so far. Late, young, and soft crawfish make for high prices and low supply.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Manuscript reduction

This week I began the revision process to see how much I could trim from my 90K novel. Was there that much dross that I could eliminate? Were there relationships with secondary characters that weren't necessary to a different sub genre?

It was a real high level, major scene slashing and I managed to trim 16k from it on the first pass. I'm sure more will come in the thorough revision process. The problem is that going with the shorter version will bring fewer opportunities to expand the descriptive passages, make use of rhetorical devices and thoroughly explore the characters' emotions.

So this week I'll fine tune the ending and take a look at both versions to see which is stronger. It's bad news when my husband who knows nothing about writing says, "that sounds like too much to cut. Doesn't that mess with the ...flow?" And grand son who is a new author of a fishing manual said, "Nothing like throwing out a little content."

We'll see. Luckily, I have a great critique partner who can help me decide before submitting my first three chapters. I feel the pressure to take advantage of the contacts I made in Shreveport.

Two partials to submit as soon as I can and more post office work looming to work around. This year will be a study in setting boundaries, learning to write around my work schedule to achieve my goal of getting published.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Darkness Falls

Scary, intriguing, fast paced and well written. All adjectives to describe Kyle Mills' newest thriller, Darkness Falls.

Even though the rising price of gas and petroleum affected products is skyrocketing we take it pretty much in stride, comfortable in our delusion that our petroleum reserves will always be there.

Kyle Mills' book blasts a hole through that theory the size of China. The premise is based somewhat on a real biologist and a real bacteria. When the protagonist creates a bacteria that will eat oil, his purpose is to enable the cleanup of oil spills. Unfortunately, a bio terrorist has a different motivation when he steals the bacteria and modifies it, introducing it into the world's petroleum reserves and nearly overnight production goes down 40%!!

I could imagine only a few of the complications and consequences until I read Mills' book.

Now imagine what would happen if this bacteria (which is based on a real oil eating bacteria for which the Chinese have sequenced the DNA) becomes air born and can eliminate anything oil based. How would this affect us globally? How would it affect us individually?

Mills did extensive research with this book and has made a video available on his site that you really should see. Click here for video interview

Kyle is nice enough to share his writing process and advice.

Get a copy of the unabridged audio if you can. It is awesome!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Favorite Writers' Quote 1

This week I begin a Tuesday writers' quote feature, starting with the perfect subject since I'm in revision for my first two partial submissions. Since I couldn't decide between the two, today, a bonus, second quote on how easy it is to write.

Anyone can do it. You can quote me on that.

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead

~Gene Fowler

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.

~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Atlanta skyline

I sat up Friday night watching the news unfold in Atlanta, one of my favorite cities. It's so unusual for tornadoes to hit downtown.

Two years ago while working in Atlanta, I was lucky enough to be able to stay in a penthouse overlooking the skyline, within walking distance of downtown, the CNN center, Centennial Park, Georgia Dome.

The skyline there is so unique with many of the buildings having special lighting. There should have been a bumper sticker on my rental that said, Beware of Rooftop Gazing Driver.

Atlanta is made for pedestrians, for recreation, so many opportunities to take advantage of outdoor concerts, festivals as well as the many museums and sporting events. On my few days off I'd head down to Einstein Bros. Bagels, pick up a Asiago Cheese Bagel with JalapeƱo salsa cream cheese and head over to Piedmont Park to watch the dogwoods bloom and the dog walkers walk.

See that weird roof line there above the dogwoods? It's awesome at night.

Atlanta is the only city I've visited besides Edinburgh that I didn't want to leave - ever.

Maybe someday...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Crawfish Time Brrrr

It's crawfish season again and as usual it starts off slow because of the cold weather. These ugly little mudbugs don't like to crawl out unless it's a pretty sunny day and they had a warm night's sleep. The thirties we've experienced since the first of the year are playing havoc with their routine.

Last year the farmers nearly went out of business with the high cost of diesel so they tried to wait on rain this year instead of pumping water with diesel run pumps. Unfortunately in the areas where the rain was needed it didn't show up, so between the cold and farmers getting a late start, the crawfish have been small, expensive, and immature.

As the season moves along and the crawfish get warmth and sunshine, they grow and their shells harden, making them more durable and more desirable. Neither the farmer nor the retailer has as much trouble with loss due to weak dying crawfish. (Late in the season, they are so hard you'll tear your fingernails trying to eat them.)

Since I wasn't raised here, it always surprises me the lengths people will go to for their favorite food. As a matter of fact, it seems like they are getting more and more addicted to crawdads.

Last week the weather was unseasonably cold for Central Louisiana so we anticipated slow sales, but late on Friday afternoon, with a driving wind, rain, then sleet mixed with snow, customers lined up fighting the elements to purchase crawfish.

I tried to capture the snow blowing with the sleet but all you can really see is the flag whipping in the 40 mph wind. Crawfish man is pretty rugged. He cleaned the crawfish, stood out by that cooker in the driving sleet, stirring the pot, then all the maintenance and cleanup. Whew!

Does it make you wonder what you're missing?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Nola Stars Conference 08

Once again romance writers have proven how gracious they can be, how supportive of their comrades in the trenches, both published and unpublished.

At the Nola Stars Conference in Shreveport this weekend, 100 writing professionals converged to enjoy the company of fellow writers, pitch to agents and editors and learn about the craft and the industry. Missing at these meetings is the stereotypical 'female' competitiveness, back biting, and jealousy. Romance writers continue to gain respect as a community for helping other romance writers achieve their dreams.

Every encounter with another author for me was instructive and encouraging. My online partners and fellow writers who helped me prepare for the meeting - well, I just can't say enough. There's no way I could have even made it to the conference without their help, specifically Leah's. How would I have ever gotten my pitch together?

She reminded me to breathe, to take it slow, and to look at the whole conference as fun. Networking. Educational.

I did breathe, fifteen minutes after my pitch. Honestly, I had practiced so much and was sure I would screw it up, leave out the most pertinent details. But everything I'd heard from other writers and at conference workshops proved true. On the whole these editors and agents are an extension of this great romance writer community.

Margie Lawson was fabulous, when Susan Wiggs' plane was delayed and she was unable to make the conference, Margie stepped in to do the keynote and a full day of her Emotions seminar instead of half.

And I'm still thankful for Christine's challenge which prepared me to answer the question, "Where do you see your career going?"

I was excited to be asked for a partial by both my agent and editor appointments. So now the tough work begins, editing, finishing, getting the work ready to send within a self imposed time frame to take advantage of the momentum gained from the conference.

And to everyone I met at the conference, Beth, Cora, Karen, JoAnn, Keri, and may others, thanks for the great time and good luck. The Nola Stars did a fantastic job with this meeting down to the last sparerib.