Monthly Archives: October 2006

It’s Official – I’ve Gone Insane

NaNoWriMo 2006

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Beating My Own Deadline

Well, I did it. A full 24 hours before I set a deadline to do it, the first three chapters and a synopsis of MURDER IN F MINOR are going in the mail.

I am so taking the rest of the week off. Well, maybe. After all, gotta write the rest of the thing for NaNo!

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Trying to Sell an Unfinished Novel

So New Jersey went well for me, with not a single but a DOUBLE partial request from a lovely editor lady. A young lovely editor lady, but we won’t get into my whole aging paranoia. What I’m more concerned about right now is my unfinished book paranoia.

Since I started writing seriously about three or four years ago, I have had it drilled into me that you never, EVER pitch an unfinished book. Which is exactly what I did in New Jersey. Like a moron. And this lovely person took the bait. She wanted to see the book, unfinished and all. Yay me! The trick is, now I have to freaking figure out what I’m doing with it.

I’ve spent the last several weeks semi-polishing a partial of the thing (3 chapters for those of you non-writers out there), and spent the weekend writing a synopsis of the plot. As if I had one, yet. Book’s not done, plot’s not done. And since I am the world’s worst synopsis writer as it is, I pretty much rambled my way through about five and a half pages of stuff that probably won’t happen by the time I finish the book.

When I was in college, I didn’t have to take Freshman Comp. thanks to a high ACT score. (We won’t talk about my 16 on the math section, now will we?) So I went into English 202 (Lit)  a little clueless as to how this particular professor liked her papers written. I learned fast, since our first outline was due at the end of the first week. Outline??!!!?? Was she kidding me? I didn’t outline! I read what I needed to read, gathered my salient points, and wrote a freaking paper. I did not do outlines. I quickly learned to write my papers my way, then outline. Which meant I usually had my paper ready two weeks before it needed to be, just so I could get the outline in on time.

I still don’t outline. I know writers who think and rethink every plot point before they write a single sentence. They even write their synopsis before they start the story. Not me. I sit down to a blank canvas with a character name, a single point of conflict, and just start to type. My first drafts are disasterous, but aren’t they supposed to be? By the time I’ve gone through it a few dozen times with edits, I normally have it pretty well put together.

Well, perhaps saying that is a tad premature, since I am as of yet unpublished in novel-length fiction. However, it works for me. The problem that presents itself now is that I don’t have my paper done, and the teacher wants the outline. So I am seriously out of my comfort zone on this one.

What does a stick-in-the-mud writer do? Well, firstly, I drag my butt out of the mud and just do what I have to do. End of story. So here I sit with three semi-edited chapters and a nightmare of a synopsis. Will it be enough to sell the book? Well, here’s hoping. But I’m not exactly holding my breath.

In the meantime, I’ll be finishing the book during NaNoWriMo, in hopes of a full request.  Maybe if I finish it, I’ll be able to write an actual synopsis.

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In the Interest of Full Disclosure…

There was a conversation started on a blog I frequent about age differences between romantic pairs. The conversation, I think, was actually started with the idea that an adult partner with a partner under 18 (legal or not, depending on what part of the world you’re in) is icky. It rapidly turned into a conversation about age differences even between consenting adults. I put my two cents in at that point, which is rare since I normally keep my nose clean and just stay out of it. It wasn’t long after I commented, though, that I got an email apologizing for something someone had said once upon a forgotten time that she now realized might offend me. It hadn’t, but I would have had no right to be offended because this lady had no idea what my situation was. Still, to clear up any confusion, here are a few facts about me that most likely no one will find at all interesting. Except maybe me, and that’s just because I am a narcissist.

1. My husband is 20 years older than me.  No big deal to us anymore, but I will admit to being a little hesitant about it when we first got together. But since I was simply using him as a booty poodle at the time, I didn’t figure it would be a big issue. We’ve been married 12 years now and it isn’t an issue. (So much for the booty poodle idea.) For us. It is kind of fun to go apply for loans or whatnot and have people do that blink/stare thing when we share our birth-dates.  And no, it does not offend me when people think that it’s weird for a couple to be so far apart in age. I know that it doesn’t work in many cases, but for us, it does. And before you start thinking I was looking for a father figure, you should ask the hubby which one of us is the large and in charge partner. Poor guy has to put up with me bossing him around all the time.

2. I have three sons, three cats and one dog. It would be three dogs, I think, but I am just not that into dogs. I tend to do things in threes, which is weird. Never planned that, but it seems to be the way things go. In fact, I planned to have two children and stop there. My third represents the limitations of modern chemistry. So apparently my life is supposed to be in threes.

And something that almost gets its own category, but doesn’t because it does not define us, is that my oldest boy is special needs. People tend to banter the word “retarded” around pretty generously these days referring to anything and everything, then they turn to me ashen like I’m going to go ballistic or something. No, that word does not offend me, either. Unless, of course, someone would turn directly to my son and say it to his face. Then I might get all Mama Bear on their buns. Semantics don’t bother me. It’s how you treat people, not what you call them, that matters to me.  Lord knows I’ve never put my foot in my mouth. Ever. (For those questioning whether or not that was meant as sarcasm, it was. I have a chronic case of althete’s tongue.)

3. In a former lifetime, I was a music teacher. My friend Barb is a much  more in tune with her musical roots, but I started playing violin at 5 and have a degree in music education. I am an operatically trained soprano, but can belt out Evanescence, as well. Sans obnoxious vibrato. I actually met my husband when I was in this little town of 700-ish people where I had my first teaching job. While I was certified to do so, I never taught band. I don’t understand band. I hate doing marching band charts, and refuse to transpose everything into odd intervals just to understand the difference between a clarinet and a trumpet. Not my thing. That being said, it surprised me in college that I actually have a knack for clarinet. And, to be fully truthful, since I am offering full disclosure here, I taught saxophone lessons one summer because one of my mother’s piano students asked me if I would. I need to sit my 8-year-old down soon, since he’s asking to learn piano. Which should be fun, since I don’t play piano.

4. My first novel was a Star Trek romance. I was 13 and was in love with Mr. Scott. Yeah, I always had a thing for older men, so that would explain number 1 above. I made up my own character, Aurora, who was half Vulcan and half Romulan. And this was way before Savak. She and Scotty got to have a fling, which was fun for me. I gave it to my English teacher, who loved it, and wanted to submit it to a contest. It was good enough to win, I was assured, but copyright issues disqualified it. I kept writing, doing a knock-off of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES and another based off NORTH AND SOUTH (fell in love with Patrick Swayze from the mini-series),  but never finished either. Toyed with a murder mystery in college, but decided I needed to quit this silly writing crap and get serious about my life when I was about 18. Since then, I wrote on the sly, late at night, until I finally admitted that it was an addiction I wouldn’t get over and got serious about it. Here I am about four years later, still unpubbed, but a lot smarter about writing than I was when I was 13. And yes, I cried like a baby when James Doohan died.

5. I listen to NPR and read FoxNews. Talk about going to extremes, I know. I tend to take in info from both sides and then land myself somewhere in the middle. Though I still tend to call NPR National Communist Radio. They are a little far left for me. Yes, I am a registered republican (can you still admit that in America?) but vote democrat when I feel the candidate is better. In fact, I am pretty sick of party politics altogether and am tempted to change my registration to Independent. But why is it independent candidates seem to be the ones no one would want to vote for? Not all, just most. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am a protestant (liberal) republican (conservative) who married a Catholic (conservative) democrat (liberal), so we have fun with that, too. We actually come together in the middle a lot, but we get phone calls this time of year from everyone from the NRA to the NOW. The good thing is no one ever asks us to put signs in our yard, since they are sure it will lead to marital stress. If they only knew we were tempted one year to put out all the signs, just to mess with people.

But politics don’t interest me much. Still, I run to extremes in other areas of my life. My music collection has selections from Queen, Bach, Pucinni, ACDC, John Denver, and Johnny Mathis. I am currently addicted to Evanescence (not that I am spelling that right) and Frank Sinatra. My favorite movies are Rear Window, Guys and Dolls, and The Mirror Has Two Faces. My favorite singers are Barry Manilow and Freddie Mercury. I am an odd duck, for sure.

Admit it. Y’all are feeling sorry for my husband now, aren’t you? And, if you have taken the time to actualy read all this drivel, you are probably feeling sorry for yourself. That’s ten minutes you’ll never get back. But it’s a blog, folks. And it’s me.

Oh, and no one ever needs to worry about offending me. The one thing I should have put in the list is that I have a thick skin. I may whine, I may pout, but I get over it. Now, will you return the favor?  ‘Cause I tend to trip over my tongue a lot.

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Questioning the Dream: AKA What the HELL Am I Thinking?

So I want to be a writer. Maybe. A couple of years ago, I couldn’t think about anything else. I was going to write a brilliant book — or at least brilliant enough to get a contract — and become a real, professional writer. Then life got in the way for awhile and I was forced to take a little break from my dogged pursuit of a literary contract. And got some freaking perspective.

When I arrived in Newark last week, I rode to the hotel with a published author. She was talking about getting out three books a year, doing signings and promotion, etc. Just listening to her, I was exhausted. While I realize most writers do not produce three books a year, I also heard several women talking about how they were spending a week in New York to do promotion, sign contract, network, yada yada, and all I could think of was how much I did not want to do all that stuff.

Then something occurred to me. It wasn’t something I didn’t know already. It wasn’t a revelation. But it suddenly struck me in a fit of clarity. Writing is a hell of a lot of work. And I am lazy as hell.

I want to be a writer for several reasons. For one, my brain is doing it all the time anyway. All I have to do is type what my brain is dictating. Oh, and not totally screw it up as I do. I remember being a page at the library downtown when I was a kid. I’d wait out front for my mother to pick me up at the end of the day, and my brain would be writing. I just didn’t know it at the time. I’d walk along the sidewalks at college, my brain making lovely, lyrical prose. But I wasn’t a writer. I actually honed a lot of idea-fleshing techniques when I wrote my first book at age 13, when I would go for a jog when I got stuck. But I wasn’t serious about becoming a writer.

Then I had kids, got a job, and had no time whatsoever for anything else. Good time to start writing again, huh? Apparently was, because then I got serious about it. I blissfully went along pursuing a contract for about three years before life stepped in. In the last year, I’ve made one submission. Talk about half-assed.

But another reason I want to be a writer is because I am a bit of a recluse. If I write, I get to sit here at my computer and only have to go deal with people when absolutely necessary. Or when I want to. Right?

Um, guess not. There’s promotion to do, agents and editors to meet and please, signings, etc. As I sat there in the lobby at the Sheraton in Newark, I realized I didn’t want to do all that stuff. And yet I still pitched to an editor and am getting a submission together to send off. Why am I doing this?

To quit the day job? No. Don’t plan on leaving that even if I do get a contract. For the notoriety? Yeah. Whatever. Because I’m a glutton for punishment? I think we’re getting closer to the mark, there, but I think it’s something a friend of mine reiterated today, even as she fought through a book that’s killing her as she approaches her deadline. She told me that even though it can be a mother bear and cubs to be a published writer, it’s totally worth. I guess that’s what I’m hoping for.

So I put my trust in my friends and my gut and forge ahead. Now if I can just pull out that brilliant manuscript I had planned to write.

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New Template Love

Okay, so I was bored with the cutsie flowers. Actually, I tend to get bored with templates a lot. But then I saw this, and realized it looked just like my desk. Tons of old books stacked one on top of the other. So I love the new template. Wish I could use it on the website, but A) not that talented and B) don’t have that kind of time these days. Perhaps one day I will actually get around to updating the website. For now, though, must edit.

Edit is not going well, mostly because I haven’t had time to really start doing it. But I think I get to be home every evening thsi week, so I might actually get to start working on it. It will be a cursory edit, but enough to put a little flesh on the bones of MURDER IN F MINOR to send to NAL, along with my first 5 chapters of LET’S DISH. Wish me luck, folks. I think I might need it.

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Things That Make Your Heart Go “Ugh.”

Today was a pretty typical day around here. Went to work, got annoyed by people, the standard fare. Got the kids from school, went home and covered the homework thing, then got started cooking.

My youngest tends to hang out with me while I cook a good bit. My little cheffer, as he calls it. So I ask him what he did at school today. He answers in his lovely little six-year-old voice, “We had a safety drill.”

I keep cutting potatoes, clueless. “Cool, honey. What do you do during a safety drill?”

“We lock ourselves into the music room so the bad people can’t get us.”

Dead stop. Knife mid-air, I just stand there for a second while what my son just said to me sinks in. And his tone was so matter of fact. It didn’t faze him one bit. Me? Yeah, I’m a little less resilient.

It’s not that I don’t understand the realities of today’s society. I knew they had these drills and know why they have to be prepared just in case. Good God, the last two weeks have shown us that. But to hear it come out of my child’s mouth took me aback a moment.

But then I get thinking about my own childhood. I grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming. A missile base. A first strike target. We practiced nuke drills, climbing under our desks in case the Russians decided to drop the big one. We all knew it was a waste of time. We knew that if World War III ever came, we would be gone in a flash, that sitting under our desks would do no good. In fact, we rather took comfort in the fact that in the even of nuclear war, we probably wouldn’t even have time to crawl under our desks. We were a first strike target. We’d be vapor long before the rest of the world even knew the bombs were coming. Somehow, even at six and seven years old, we knew that was a better fate than surviving it.

So whenever I think of my kids growing up in a screwed up world, I realize that we all grew up in a screwed up world. Somethings are better than when I was a kid. Some things are worse. Some things never change, we just talk about it now. But in the end, all I can do is the same thing my parents did. Make sure my kids know I love them, make sure they are as prepared in an emergency as much as they can be, and do everything I damned well can to keep them out of harm’s way. While they are still allowed to have a life.

Piece of freaking cake.

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