Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Coincidence?

Got the new Kenyon hardcover yesterday. Also got the final season of Queer as Folk on DVD. My little man got a haircut. Now he looks more like a little boy, less like a little girl. And because my life isn’t interesting enough, I had the school bus crash into my car.

Okay, it didn’t really crash. That’s a strong verb.

My nice car was legally parked by the side of the road. The school bus was turning into the school’s parking lot and as it turned left its hind end swung out and clipped my driver side mirror, ripping it out of its plastic anchor. Adios mirror.

We weren’t in the car. My little man and I were just walking back towards it when I heard the loud crunch and saw the bus turn. Sigh.

I insisted we call the police to file a formal report (not what the bus driver wanted to do) and a nice officer arrived a few minutes later. I have never been in an accident before and never really had occasion to interact with a police officer. No, wait, that’s not true. Way back when I was a newlywed and my husband was serving in Kuwait, I was being stalked. I had some interactions with the military police then.

Anyway. My contact with the police yesterday immediately had me thinking of THE GHOST CRAB. In an upcoming chapter Soren’s Jeep gets vandalized. It’s an important chapter. The bad guys stash drugs in the Jeep, then trash it and call the cops.


I had to realize that the police officer called to the scene would have no reason to search the car for drugs unless he was tipped off that there might be illegal substances hidden.

Thanks to a school bus destroying my mirror, I can now write this upcoming scene with a confident degree of authenticity. Ain’t life great?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Driving forces

I read something very interesting in Writing Fiction: The practical guide from NY’s acclaimed creative writing school. Every (good) piece of fiction answers an underlying question, is in fact driven by this question. Will the hero find redemption? Will the rebels win their freedom? You get the idea.

Every good short story, every novella and novel has an underlying question that can be answered with yes, no or maybe. The trick is to ask the right question and not to get distracted. ‘Will the hero find redemption?’ cannot be answered with him finding love or happiness; that wasn’t the question. The answer has to match the question.

So I started to think about the question(s) underlying THE GHOST CRAB, which btw I’m going to have to rename. The chapter I read (by David Harris Ebenbach) suggested asking ONE question, the question centering around the protagonist.

That made sense. I won’t argue. But I have a team of protagonists. What can I say? I have a knack for complicating things :-)

The truth, though, is that I am not creating a 50-50 partnership. Depending on the story, I’m envisioning a 55-45 or 60-40 split. Soren took the lead in THE PROTECTOR. Mason will take the lead in THE GHOST CRAB. His question then is the driving force behind the story.

And since there is an antagonist, I figured there should be three questions:

1. Will Mason save his reputation and relationship with Soren from destruction?

2. Will Soren find equal footing in a relationship that’s unbalanced power-wise?

3. Will Love Savior survive?

My problem now is to answer these questions.

You might think the answers are obvious, but keep in mind I am writing a series. There is no need or reason to finish character development/growth by the end of this particular story. Indeed, I should leave room for future developments.

The only question I can answer with certainty at this stage of prelim plotting is question 1: a definite yes.

Two and 3 are a maybe flirting with a no.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Naughty

There’s something very decadent about reading erotica at the dentist, the playground and McDonald’s. I ran out of Sherrilyn Kenyon novels (new one coming out in hardcover Tuesday, May 30), so I’ve started carrying an Emma Holly erotic romance around with me.

I’ve had MENAGE for a while now. I even started reading it twice before now. Both times, though, I couldn’t get past the first person point-of-view and the fact that the protagonist is a woman. What’s different this time? I ran out of reading material. So I picked up MENAGE again and started reading and I am quite enjoying myself (thanks to the two very yummy, very male co-protagonists).

I might even quite possibly check into another Emma Holly erotic novel in the future.

On Tuesday, I’m going to get me the latest Kenyon and the Queer as Folk Final Season DVDs. You can guess what I’ll be doing for the rest of the day on Tuesday…

Friday, May 26, 2006

Writer Beware’s 20 Worst Agencies List

This is taken directly from the Writer Beware site:

Below is a list of the 20 literary agencies about which Writer Beware has received the greatest number of advisories/complaints over the past several years.


None of these agencies has a significant track record of sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no documented and verified sales at all (book placements claimed by some of these agencies turn out to be "sales" to vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is made--whether directly, by levying fees such as reading or administrative fees, or indirectly, for editing or other adjunct services.

Writer Beware recommends that writers avoid questionable literary agencies, and instead query agencies that have verifiable track records of sales to commercial publishing houses.

Note that while the 20 agencies listed here account for the bulk of the complaints we receive, they're just the tip of the iceberg. Writer Beware has files on nearly 400 questionable agencies, and we learn about a new one every few weeks.

  1. The Abacus Group Literary Agency
  2. Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
  3. Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
  4. Benedict Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
  5. Sherwood Broome, Inc.
  6. Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
  7. Desert Rose Literary Agency
  8. Arthur Fleming Associates
  9. Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
  10. Brock Gannon Literary Agency
  11. Harris Literary Agency
  12. The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following:-Children's Literary Agency-Christian Literary Agency-New York Literary Agency-Poets Literary Agency-The Screenplay Agency-Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency, formerly Sydra-Techniques)-Writers Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)
  13. Martin-McLean Literary Associates
  14. Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
  15. B.K. Nelson, Inc.
  16. The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
  17. Michele Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency, Simply Nonfiction, and Michele Glance Rooney Literary Agency)
  18. Southeast Literary Agency
  19. Mark Sullivan Associates
  20. West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)

Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors

If you are a writer in search of a literary agency, literary representation or a publisher, you must visit Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors.

Before you begin crafting that killer query, you need to read the information on
Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors.

Take good care of your dream; don’t let it fall prey to scam artists or lazy agents.



Writer Beware: http://www.sfwa.org/beware/
Preditors & Editors: http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Movie Weekend

I took my eldest to see Over the Hedge yesterday. We laughed and giggled and had a good time. Very cute movie. Excellent family movie.

Then today, by a stroke of luck, I found myself without the kids. My first thought was something along the lines of “okay, what the heck am I going to do with all this free time.” Luckily, my brain immediately had an idea and I ran off to watch The Da Vinci Code. Yes, I meant “ran off,” because I only had ten minutes to make it to the theater. I made it in time, thanks to green traffic lights all the day.

Now I have not read Dan Brown’s book, so I cannot say anything about the quality of the adaptation. I enjoyed the movie. It was not fast paced, and I have heard that as a criticism. Since it’s not an action movie, though, I don’t mind the slower pace.

It was nice to see Jean Reno and Jurgen Prochnow (a fellow German) on the big screen again.

Next weekend: X-Men! (I’m still incredibly disappointed that there won’t be a Remy LeBeau in the movie. I’m a big Gambit fan. Sigh)



PS. Yes, tomorrow, Monday, I am going to start writng again.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Yay or nay?

THE PROTECTOR has arrived at its destination.

I need more Zantac. And, drat, I forgot to by banana chips. Ugh, I don’t even have nails to chew on.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

:-)

I’m bored…

I have nothing to do

This feels weird.

I have nothing to write. But it’s not just that. It’s that I don’t have anything to work on in my mind. I’m not busy thinking ahead a few chapters. I’m not busy plotting and scheming. I’m just not busy.

And that’s weird.

What’s almost disconcerting is the lack of need to write. I am so totally not compelled to write anything (except this blog entry). If I were an inexperienced writer, I’d be terrified that I just finished the one and only book that’s in me. Luckily, I know better.

My writing mind is taking a well-deserved break. I am taking a well-deserved break. I’ll be back in front of the computer come next Monday, ready to start working on THE GHOST CRAB again (which has been on my mind lately).

So this week I am not going to plot and scheme and work out chapter sequences. I’m going to do all those mundane things I usually neglect: housework. Already, yesterday I did a ton of laundry and even folded it right away. There’s plenty more to do around the house. I’ll even cook some dinners.

There’s nothing like housewifely chores to get my writing mind working again …


PS. I checked the USPS site. Predictably, the package hasn’t been delivered yet :-)

Monday, May 15, 2006

The waiting begins

I went to OfficeMax and had THE PROTECTOR printed out and for some odd reason it was about twenty pages shorter on their computer than it is on mine.

The font is the same. The formatting remained. Even page set up didn’t changed, and yet somehow it was twenty pages shorter.

I mailed it off.

Now I sit there with the delivery confirmation number and the aching need to check the USPS website to see if it my package has been delivered yet. Of course, it hasn’t, but that probably won’t keep me from checking several times a day until it has been delivered (which should be right around the end of the week).

It feels weird to not have to do anything right now.

After dropping of my eldest at school, I floundered around the house with nothing to do. I settled in my reading chair and started reading yet another Sherrilyn Kenyon, Night Embrace, until my youngest came in the room.

“Mommy, you need to be on the computer,” he said.

I tried to tell him that I didn’t need to be on the computer, because I was finished. He wouldn’t hear of it. Smart little guy.

I might be finished, but I’m really not.

There is THE GHOST CRAB to finish. Remember THE GHOST CRAB? It’s the follow-up novel that I started in the beginning of the year. Time to work on it again, I guess.

If THE PROTECTOR meets with approval, I am sure there will be editing and revisions to be made.

So “I’m finished” isn’t really more than a very temporary state of affairs. It’s a great one-hour long feeling of immense pride, relief and utter terror.

Come to think of it, I should start taking my Zantac again. I’ll have a nervous stomach until the word is in on THE PROTECTOR. Too bad I don’t have any nails to chew on …

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Done!

62,052.

I was done on Saturday night. I burned it on a disk and carried it to OfficeMax to have it printed out, but halfway there, I changed my mind.

After watching the Survivor finale tonight (yay, Aras), I sat down to check the formatting on the manuscript again—still there is this one orphan- or widow-like sentence that refuses to move off its page. But everything else still looked good.

Tomorrow morning I will carry everything over to OfficeMax, have it printed and then mail it. Whoohoo.

62,052 words in all.


Wish me luck.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Just 12 more chapters

Current word count: 61,615.

The afternoon started well. I added well over one hundred words to the chapters I was working on, then came one that actually ended with a lower word count. Oops.

I’m hoping to make up ground in the chapters to come.

Sane again (the beach was fun). Stress level: I ran out of dried banana chips!

It's getting there

I only got three chapters done this morning. But they added up to 382 words. Whoohoo.

Insane (cause I’m taking the kids to the beach for two hours). Stress level: I’m self-medicating with dried banana chips; turns out I snack when I’m stressed.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Nearing the end ... eventually

Current word count: 60,950.

Thirty-one chapters done. Twenty-one chapters to go.

I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that I won’t keep my self-imposed deadline (end of the week). And that’s okay. This is after all about quality, not speed.

Thus, still not adding adverbs. I come across a few now and then, but I am quite proud to report that THE PROTECTOR isn’t riddled with them. There was a time when I took great pains to find the perfect adverb. Now I just hunt down an even better verb.

Passage I really enjoyed today:

… he met Timoteo’s dark eyes with an unflinching look of his own. The sentiment was clear. Fuck off. Too late he remembered to go for meek and submissive. Shit.

That is so Soren. I love it.

Still sane. Stress level: elevated, but stable.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

When did I say I would mail this? On the 13th?!

Seven more chapters done. Only 287 words added.

Twenty-nine chapters to go. 3467 words still unaccounted for. I better add 120 words per chapter from here on out.

Still sane. Stress level: what stress? I’m exhausted.

PS. I think it’s a good sign that I actually can’t add more than a dozen words to some chapters. This is supposed to be the final draft after all, and it looks like I have a pretty finished product on my hands. If there was plenty of room for extra descriptions and added conversations, I could hardly call this a final draft.

PPS. I’m not adding adverbs.

Writing: 0 / Clean Couch: 1

One afternoon. Four chapters. 246 words. And one Kirby vacuum cleaner demonstration that took twice as long as promised and did serious damage to my writing time budget. My couch is clean, though, which is exactly what I wanted.

I give the cat and kids twenty-four hours to return the couch to its natural state (furry and full of crumbs).

Thirty-six chapters to go. 3754 words unaccounted for.


Still sane. Stress level: elevated.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Three days till self-imposed mailing deadline

Four chapters done. Only 134 words added. But chapter 12 received a severe revision. Why didn’t anyone tell me that it was completely all over the place, confusing and without rhyme and reason?!

Forty chapters to go. 3900 words unaccounted for.

Still sane. Stress level: normal to very slightly elevated.

YES!

Found this from Seventh Window in my inbox this morning:

Thanks for sending me the first three chapters of your novel The Protector. What I've read thus far is interesting and well written. Please send me the rest of the manuscript.

YES.

I guess I won’t be blogging for a few days. I’m 4000 words short of my goal. And I want to have the manuscript in the mail by Saturday.

Saw M:I:III last night. Awesome movie. Possibly the best of the three.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sunday blues

It’s Sunday. Whoohoo. Not that that actually means anything to me. I’m a mom. There’s no such thing as the weekend when you’re a mom. Yesterday, I took the kids to the zoo. That was fun. We like to go to the zoo. They have a great playground!

Today, we’re being lazy. But I need to finish my latest Sherrilyn Kenyon, Seize The Night. I need to pick up Operation Word Count Increase, but I’m having trouble with motivation and discipline. It’s almost as if I didn’t want to jinx THE PROTECTOR’s last chance by working on it while Seventh Window considers the query. That’s an excuse, of course. And a stupid one at that.

Well, since there is nothing on TV that could possibly tempt me to watch, I guess chances are good I am going to work on that word count tonight.

There is so much I want to get done. I also need to work on a short story for Forbidden Fruit magazine. I e-mailed Fiona with the suggestion to have an urban fantasy edition, and she talked it over with her other editors and they liked the idea. Now I need a short story I can submit. Tolya, the were-leopard, and Randolph, the were-wolf, here I am come.

Eventually I should probably watch the shows and episodes I have saved on the DVR. I came across an interesting show on the Military Channel: The Best Ranger, an annual ranger competition at Ft Benning, GA. Made me think of Mason immediately. I’m still mulling over whether to give him an honorable or dishonorable discharge from the Army.

Words of wisdom for the coming week:

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.
-Eleanor Roosevelt-

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Great Gatsby

I worked through lesson 1 in my fiction writing class, which meant reading the first three chapters of The Great Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby is a classic, of course. A beloved classic, according to the back cover of the book. It’s also in first person and you know what that means. Under normal circumstances, I would have left the book on the library shelf. But since I had to read it for class, I took it home with me and worked my way through the first four chapters.

I’m no fan of it thus far.

I was supposed to pay attention to the characters populating the first three chapters, but I found myself distracted by Fitzgerald’s masterful description of inanimate objects:

“The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens—finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run.”

Or

“Two shining, arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face….”

Or

“… suddenly her warm breath poured over me the story of her first meeting with Tom.”

He gave the lawn and the eyes and the breath a life of their own. I like how he did that. I’ll keep an eye out for opportunities to do the same in my own writing.

That said, I still don’t care for the novel. The “tender curiosity” I entertain wouldn’t be enough under normal circumstances to make me read a book I don’t particularly enjoy when there is so much else I do enjoy and so little time to enjoy it in.