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On the written word

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Crunched for time tonight after a busy day and so let me just take a brief moment to point you towards this savory, well-written article over at apex, here



A bit of good news

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A review sent my way about my short story, "The Gone-By Quilt".

Published!

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My short story. "The Gone-By Quilt" is up to read over at Ideomancer today.

Of all my publications, this is one I worked the hardest at. This is a forced story which is not usually how I work my creativity. Usually I write a story rooted in a dream or an epiphany style idea or muse induced frenzy of typing. 

With "The Gone-By Quilt" I sat down and tried to create something I thought would sell. It needed to be original and quirky, but still have my language and voice that is unique to my short stories. 

In my short stories I sometimes try to challenge myself by trying to write as someone I am not. I've written about people with different sexualities, genders, and personalities than me. For this one I wanted to try a different race, but I also knew I wanted to bring a interracial relationship into the story and tie it to my experiences in that way. 

Many of my stories begin as a section of text. Sometimes, rarely, I sit down and finish the first draft of a story in one sitting. Usually, I can't see to the end that quickly. "The Gone-By Quilt" remained unfinished on my computer (about halfway done) for months before I went back to it and forced myself to hammer out the rest. 

It was rejected from another magazine before I sent it out to Ideomancer. They liked it over there but felt it needed more work (and it did!) It was sent back to me with an invitation to rewrite and resubmit. I worked with one of the editors over there, a very talented woman by the name of Elizabeth Bear, who gave me some suggestions about how to improve the piece. Her main points were my flagging tension (something I always tend to do poorly at). 

Because I am an inexperienced writer, it is hard for me to tell when something is good enough. I also tend to increase to improve instead of making ever sentence count. After my first round of assisted edits "The Gone-By Quilt" had doubled in size!

It was resubmitted with all my hopes and fears pinned to its massive bulk. I am fortunate that despite my fumbling, the publisher, the also talented Leah Bobet, at Ideomancer still saw some promise in the piece. She gave me an open invitation (YET AGAIN) to resubmit at any time and suggestions about what I could do to get the piece where it needed to be.

At that point I didn't feel like I was a good enough writer to figure out how to get the story where it needed to be. I waited, one month, two, three. It stewed in the back of my brain and then...I KNEW. I sat down one day and read it through. I cut and slashed, and picked and pruned that damn story smaller and smaller till it was half the size it had been. I scrapped and changed the ending. Jason was a big, big help guiding me to see what I was really trying to say with this story and where I needed to go. 

It finally felt right like a perfect pair of jeans. I sent it in again and after a couple more edits and some time, here it is today for people to read.

I hope you like it.

And a big thank you to the people over at Ideomancer that believe in giving second and even third chances!

NOVEL update

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I'm still working my way through edits. Right now I am about 100 pages away from finishing my third round of edits. For the third round I worked my way through from the end. First I went 100 pages in and went to the end, than 200 pages, then 300. Altogether, THE NOVEL is about 400 pages long!

My goal is to read through it one more time and then give it to whatever readers are actually willing and able to read it for me.

I need to move on to editing book two and writing book three. I need a break from the first book to refresh my eyes to how I can make it better.

A much delayed NOVEL update

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I've been working on THE NOVEL in fits and starts. There has not been too much to report. Line editing is boring and I have not yet mastered the skills of outlining and note taking. Let's just say I have so much line editing on the brain that when critiqueing other's stories in my writer's group I saw grammatical errors scream off the page and then back hand me across the face. That happened to me--the queen of grammar suckage and spelling mistakes.

I did manage to finish my first round of edits. That's good because my goal was October 1st, but maybe the only reason I have it done so soon is because I am splitting the first book into the two books. Yes. Like a hatcket down the middle--split.

WHAM BITCHES!

I'm doing this for a couple reasons. First, 800 pages is just too much for a first novel. No editor wants a beast of such immense size. That's also just too much for my inexperienced self to work with. It's like trying to juggle five china plates and three flaming torches. I have enough trouble keeping my head on straight. No lie. Today I found the missing red sippy cup. So instead of putting it in the fridge, I had a mind fart of immense size and stink. I put it in a cabinet. So when I opened said cabinet, I found a sippy cup full of curdled milk. The milk PLOPED out into the sink like it was jello. Vile.

That's motherhood for you.

Now I have 350 pages or so to work with. That's more doable. I can handle that. But size isn't the only reason I cut back. I have always felt like plots got dropped and unfinished between the two halves of the book. This makes perfect sense, because I actually wrote the book in a few different writing spurts between college courses and other things life threw at me. I believe the book was written over a 5 year span. It's a bit...rough around the edges.

Now I have to take 350 pages and add a good, fat climax in there. The kind, hopefully with multiple orgasms thereafter.

The sweet part of this is I already have the second book done now. I just need to write number three Lo and behold, a freak'in triliogy. How fantasy genre am I now? What? What?!

THE NOVEL update

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Not much work done today. I spent my writing time finishing the third book (Hero of Ages) of an amazing series by Brandon Sanderson.  I was right at the end and couldn't put it down.

As my husband was putting River down to sleep, I began edits to part 3. I noticed a contradiction to something in part 1 and made a note to myself to go back and change that. I have a feeling a section of part 3 might be too staccato and needs some flow.

In total, I am about 150 pages into the first round of edits. Not bad, you'd think. Really though, not much has happened in the novel and there is still a good deal more to get through.

THE NOVEL update

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Today's accomplishments...

I finished the first edit of Part 2. Part 2 is a shorter, rather heavy section. It involves two characters the reader has not yet seen and a lot of information. I suspect, too much information. This might be a part in the book where readers get distracted or overwhelmed. I may have to see about thinning this section out. I dump history on them and a good deal of background information including geography, termonology, and theology.

Most fantasy novels have a section like this somewhere in them. Even the wonderful novel Mistborn I recently read had a section where I was like, "Okay, enough already. I don't want to hear about this magic system anymore." It proved itself to be really important, yes. I did feel a bit overwhelmed during it though.

Then again, I am that type of person who skipped tutorials when playing Final Fantasy and either blundered my way through learning how to do things or made my husband provide the cliff notes.

Once again, going to see what my readers think before doing anything major like moving things around. Still, my gut tells me it's too much in too little space. I don't want to have a part in my book that the reader wants to skip. Where everytime these two characters come up someone thinks, "Gah, not again."

NOVEL update

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I haven't been getting too much done over the last three days. I will use the weekend as an excuse and then the fact that River was mega-cranky-pants today due perhapes to teething. In the afternoon he ran a very slight fever and lay around on the couch watching Clifford the Big Red Dog until a dose of Infant Motrin kicked in.

Currently, I am reading through a second/third edit of the first chapter in perperation for sending it out to my readers (Heather and the Husband).

Weird Novel Trivia, of a sort...

I used real people as the basis for some of my characters. I never do this ever. So the fact that it happened is a strange phenominom. I blame it on the influence of the classic rock I listened to nonstop during the writing of the beast. Particualy, Jethro Tull. I listened to so much Jethro Tull that I can no longer listen to it without getting twitchy to work on THE NOVEL.

Now my characters do not look exactly like these famous musicians, but these faces were most certaintly a basis for my character building...or my characters morphed into celebrity look-alikes. One or the other.

Character model for the wise, mischevious fluetist in THE NOVEL...

Ian_Anderson.jpg

The amazing and witty, Ian Anderson

 

 Inspiration for the dark knave, rogue, naysayer and smoke addict...

2wc0eo6.jpg  The handsome, Jim Morrison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Inspiration for the hero of the tale... 

a young, a very young, Bob Dylan.

bob-dylan.jpgI wonder if other authors mistakendly build their characters based on real people. Not only famous, well known people but people from their intimate lives. There happens to be a certain set of front teeth that make an appearence in THE NOVEL. The gap between these teeth was lovingly stolen from one of my college roommates who dispised this little character trademark of hers. I adored it.  

What can I say? I wrote about theifs in this one and theived from the world around me. I confess!

Beating THE NOVEL, day two

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Edits today: up to page 83! That's about 40 pages total of work today. That's the entire first part and by part I sorta mean chapter, but not really. Let's talk about format.

THE NOVEL format: I am breaking the book into "parts" that are then broken down by character so as not to be too overwhelming for readers.

For those of us more visually inclined. It looks something like this:

_____________________________________________________________________________

Part One: I Pooed In My Pants

Dick

    Dick felt uncomfortable after he pooed in his pants. It smelled very bad and everyone on the bus noticed. They began to point and laugh.

 Jane

     Jane was baking cookies when she had the urge to have a mega-fart. Upon mega-farting, she pooed her pants. She wasn't sure the smell of baking cookies would cover up the smell of crap. She figured she'd have to go take a shower immediantly and do a load of laundry.

Spot

     Spot pooed in Dick's petunia garden. He then ate some of the petunias. When Dick came out cursing, Spot wagged his tail and barked. This was his way of calling Dick, "An emo douchbag."

Dick

     Turning towards the author, Dick snarled, "Why must you write about poop as if it is funny? Poop is not funny, you simple minded baffoon. Poop is embaressing...." Looking sheepish, Dick continued, "Shucks, I just pooed myself again."

 ____________________________________________________________________________


Format continued...I personally love myself some short chapters. I hate getting bogged down in an endless chapter that doesn't leave many good breaking off points for me to put the book down. I didn't handle that too well with this novel, but I'm trying. I am also doing the character break-down because I love how George R.R. Martin in his A Song of Ice and Fire series and Robin Hobb in her Liveship Traders series did this. It lets readers see how characters think and how other characters think of them.

Overall, this has been a challenge. I'm not the writer I was when I wrote this novel so the style feels off to me. Too simplist, perhapes? That's probably a good thing. The flashbacks are still causing me issues. Honestly, I don't want to go through the hassel of ditching them. I have a couple of readers that volunteered to go through THE NOVEL for me. If they have an issue with it, I will have to tackle that beast. 

This is probably a post of utmost boredom for most people. For that, I apologize. These little updates will never be substituted for my regularly scheduled posting. 

My friend, the writer of immense talent, that I have know since high school (the girl who took part in M&M wars and sat in other people's shadows so as not to burn in the sun) posts a daily update of her current project on her blog. Personally, I find it interesting to see how much/how little another stay-at-home-mother/writer is able to accomplish. 

I'm going to share the same thing here in the hopes a written, public record might encourage me to buckle down and focus on THE NOVEL. You know, instead of farting around with short stories and reading book after book after book without writing at all. 

THE NOVEL is a creature of immense size I wrote throughout college with some friendly brainstorming a bit of idea swapping with my husband. I figured starting one of the many novel ideas I have from scratch is too big of a feat for the mother of a nearly two year old. Instead, I am trying to take a messy, ancient file of undetermined worth and make it publishable. I have approximately 1-2 hours a day to work on it. Generally, an hour. 

Day The First--beating THE NOVEL into submission

  • Deleted 16 pages of prologue. Who needs a prologue? You know what, 99.9% of the time I don't enjoy prologues and I don't remember prologues.  Fact is, my bulky prologue had nothing at all to do with the first half of my novel and was so packed full of information a reader would have choked and them tossed it at my head and killed me. This prologue may appear later is a trimmer form or, more likely, will be diced and tossed throughout to season the story up--as needed. 
  • Edits up through page 46. Mostly sentence structure and reorganization of paragraphs for better flow. In the years since THE NOVEL was written, I've learned a thing or to about the value of good structure. I'm going to structure the hell out of this bitch. 
  • Debating the wisdom of flashbacks. Is there a stronger way to present the information on character's pasts without flash backs? Do flash backs (ie: think LOST) work in literature the same way they do in film or are they a major hold-back? Not sure. Need to make someone read THE NOVEL and tell me what they think. Many someones.
I used to think writing was easy. HA!

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