Now What?

The writing continues at my snail’s pace – the real danger when you’re trying to maintain a writing career while working a 9-5 is that by the time you finish your contemporary, it’s a historical. But it is coming along, and not too shabby in spots, if I do say so myself.

I’ve gotten to the end of Act 1, and now – well, now I’m kinda stuck. I know what I want to do next and where I want to send my characters, but it involves another time killer – research.

The first book I wrote I did tons of research and loved it. But I had tons more time. My job was different back then, and I had time to kill at work. Most of that first manuscript was written at work, in fact. But now I have a lot more responsibilities and zero time for writing. Bummer, huh?

But I face another dilemma, though I think I’ve solved the problem. I’m going to submit this to agents as a proposal while I finish it. I am writing the query now, though I am terrible at writing blurbs. So it takes me some time to get it to where I like it.  When I first started wanting to write professionally, the big trend was the “high concept” plot. You know, such-and-such meets something-or-other. I never figured out how that worked.

But now, as I put together this query letter, I realize I finally did it. This novel is totally Highlander meets Ghost Hunters with a hint of Romancing the Stone. But there’s no way I’m putting that in a query letter to an agent. Firstly, I think it implies that I cannot come up with my own ideas and have to borrow from someone else. Secondly, I just don’t think it sounds professional. I’m not even sure that’s in vogue anymore.

Then there’s the truthful approach – while I was working on a book, my life became traumatic enough that I actually wondered if the darned thing was cursed. It isn’t, of course, but there were enough coincidences that it made me ask “what if” – the questions that leads to most of my storie.

So what do I write in the query? II probably won’t go with either approach, to be honest. But that blurb writing – man, I need some serious practice.

 

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Oh for Pete’s Sake, Evelyn!

So I am slowly chipping away writing Cursed. It’s a slow process, hindered, as usual, by life being me. But it is progressing, and I even think I know how I’m going to end this thing. That might not sound like the miracle it is, but considering I’m a pantser (I don’t plot,for those nonwriters out there), the fact that I was able to write a loose plot synopsis before I finished writing the book is pretty impressive. Well, it is to me, anyway.

So I decided that it was time to drum up interest by shopping it around as a proposal – three completed chapters and a synopsis. I have plenty of it written, being up to Chapter Ten, and I have a proven track record that I can finish a book and deliver on a deadline.

So I needed to do three things: polish the first three chapters (check); write a synopsis (check); and write a query letter (uhhh- no check…yet). But tonight I sat down and decided to write another scene. It was an innocent enough plan. I had the scene in my head, so I was just going to jot it down.

But then I got about halfway through the scene and realized something – I was writing in first person. The rest of what I’ve written is in third person. Easy enough to fix, right? Just go back and re-write the scene in third.

Yeah. Thing is, Evelyn, the main character, doesn’t want to be in third person anymore. She is talking to me in first person. She wants to tell her story in her voice, and boy has she found her voice.

If you listen to writers talk, you’ll hear us talk about how characters take on a life of their own and do what they want to do. Heck, I’ve mentioned it more than once here, and my kids still look at me like I’m nuts when I say stuff like that. Hey, I agree with you. It sounds crazy. How can a fictional character, who isn’t even real, have free will and do stuff to change a story?

Well, you’ve got me. All I know is Evelyn just threw a monkey wrench into my wonderful plan to shop around Cursed. Before I can write that query letter, I have to go back and re-write the whole darned book in first person. Inevitably, this will lead to more editing, which can only make the book better. But that’s not the point! I’m mad at Evelyn!

Darned fictional character. Who does she think she is, anyway?

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Binging Again

Remember back in October when I confessed to being a binge reader? I’m at it again. This binge was precipitated by two factors: my husband once again being in the hospital (he’s home and fine now, thanks) and the need to research something for the book I’m currently writing. Here’s the problem with that: I’d rather read than write.

Heck, I’d rather read than work, do chores, grocery shop… But then this darned day job thing gets in the way, and kids, and the aforementioned husband. He wants to talk to me! Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? I’m sitting there minding my own business, making it perfectly clear that I am otherwise occupied, and he starts talking! Really?

So eventually I am going to need to put down the book and pick up the… well, the book. Cursed isn’t going to write itself, after all.

But for now, you must excuse me. I need to go read for awhile.

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A Moment Frozen in Time

The day after Christmas can be a downer for a lot of people. The parties are done, the gifts are unwrapped, and the leftover turkey is in the fridge waiting to be turned into sandwiches. For me, the holidays aren’t over. In just a week we get New Year’s Day, which is a great time to refocus and a new chance to make every day count.

But it also signals the passing of time. It’s that passing that is making me stop and think this year. My boys are getting older, and even as we went into Christmas week I almost wanted time to stand still. With every passing Christmas, that’s one less I have to spend with them before they grow up and move away. Today I know I have fewer holidays to spend with them. Just as they’re getting interesting.

I’ve been watching myself with curiosity as this has happened this week. I never used to feel this way, but I suppose it is inevitable as I grow older. My own mortality comes into clearer focus, and I realize that life will change. There’s no stopping it.

Which is why, I now realize, I enjoy reading so much.

This occurred to me last night when I was awakened by my oldest going to bed – a full hour after I had. It finally happened that my kids have a later bedtime than I do. And as I lie there thinking about that, I realized that no matter how old I am, I can still go back into my favorite books and they will stay the same as they were the first time I read them. The answer to life, the universe and everything is still 42; Scarlet will realize her feelings for Rhett too late; and Sherlock Holmes will still be one step ahead of Watson.

The first book I wrote as an adult is, I now realize, just for me. It’s unpublishable, but I still love it. As a friend described it, it is the book of my heart. I can go back to that now and, even though I wrote it nearly ten years ago, it is the same as the day I typed it into Word.  It still makes me feel the hope, the despair, and the joy.

When I read a book, I feel it, you see. I bet many avid readers do. It’s almost like I’m there and a part of the story. And when I go back to re-read my favorite stories, I can be a part of it again. I can relive it and take myself back in time. So unlike life, which flies by a million miles and minute unnoticed until we realize it’s half over.

So today I will enjoy the holidays with my kids before they’re gone, but I’ll also pull out an old favorite and read for awhile. Because even if life sails by in a flash, there are some moments that are frozen in time and I can live them over and over. Maybe I’ll even write down a few, while I’m at it. Make my own moments frozen in time.

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Celebrating Christmas – with a Chapter!

For those of you wanting a teaser on this holiday, I present the first chapter of Cursed. Unedited, don’t-look-down version, to boot. Merry Christmas!

Chapter One

The quiet whir of the printer had always been her a victory cry. The lord of the manor had his lady, the villain had been defeated, and all was right in her fictitious little world. She was just leaning back to enjoy her traditional celebratory Snickers bar when the phone rang.

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No Christmas Cards This Year

Wow, is the season almost over already? Part of me is relieved, but it always seems to go too fast. So fast, in fact, that Christmas cards are apparently not happening at our house this year. It’s not my fault! Really. I went to the web site, and every time I got to where you upload the picture, the site crashed. Tried other sites, but their prices were too high, so I guess this is a little hint that I get  pass this year.

Still, I want to wish all of you who have stuck with me through pre-publishing and publishing – and cancer and kids, too -  a wonderful holiday season. Whatever you celebrate, or even if you don’t celebrate, this is a time of year to enjoy those around us. To sit back and reflect on all we have, and how far we’ve come.

As for me, I’ve come a long, long way since I started this blog. I have two books published that I can hold in my hands, and more to come (hopefully) one day. Guys and Dogs is currently in the hands of an agent, and I hope to bring you news of its sale in the new year. Cursed is slow-going, thanks to that obnoxious thing called my life, but I hope to bring you a teaser of that soon, too. And I’m toying with pulling out my first NaNo book Courting Kismet to re-write. It would be fun to visit the classic comedy romp again.

So merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah (even if it’s coming late), happy Boxing Day, whatever. :) Enjoy this season, and may the new year bring great things to us all!

 

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Writing and the Working Mom

So NaNoWriMo… after several years of failing to “win” NaNo, you’d think I’d learn, but I don’t. However, I think I have decided that NaNo is no longer for me.

I still love it. I love the don’t-look-down writing, the camaraderie of going nuts with other writers, and I owe NaNo a lot, since both Let’s Dish and Another Time Around both started as NaNo novels.  But then my kids started growing up.

November is a wonderful month. It starts out slowly as fall creeps in. Everything is getting crisp and there’s nothing better than sitting at the coffee house at night and writing. This year the book is even going well, and I got in about 10K before life got interesting.

One of the other things that happen in November is the State Special Olympics Bowling Tournament. Not only do I want to see my kid participate, but since it’s in town, I volunteer at the dinner. So no writing got done that weekend.

The other two seem to be getting involved in more, too. My lovely geek squad are busy with Math Counts, Scouts, National History Day… the list seems endless. Mom, being the main taxi driver, doesn’t get a lot done when I need to be shuttling the young-uns.

Then this year I thought I needed a little more Christmas spirit, and decided to “Tree”. And I love it! I haven’t been able to really sing in years, and it feels so good to stand up there and really belt it out. But it takes time. After taking the laptop to rehearsal a couple of times, I realized it wasn’t the best environment for writing.

And it’s November in the States, which means Thanksgiving and decorating for Christmas. And we’re not even discussing trying to maintain a full-time job in all this.

Yes, I’d love some cheese with my whine.  I’m partial to the really stinky strong ones.

So this weekend, I am planning to work on the book. I have scenes in my head, I know what my characters are doing, but I need to carve out the time to let them do it. Will I hit 50K before the end of November? Don’t hold your breath. Will I finish the book? Heck, yeah.

But NaNo and me? We’re just not working out anymore. So I think it’s time I broke it off, take the pressure off, and write when I can write. I thank you for everything, but it’s over. At least until the kids get older.

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