Monthly Archives: June 2008

A Line! A Line! My Kingdom for a Line!

Reading the title of this, one might think I’m talking about an illegal subtance. Yes, I just thought of that while I was writing this entry. I’m a little naive. Remind me to tell you about the knee pads and the Christmas party sometime. Took me nearly an hour to catch onto that.

No, I don’t need drugs, although it could be argued I need psychiatric help. I’m tearing apart LET’S DISH to change its genre. That’s right – the chick lit is getting a romance make over. Not for the hell of it, mind you. I have an editor interested in it. The changes would be minor, I think, except apparently this particular publisher no longer publishes chick lit. That’s a problem.

Yes, I’m an idiot and didn’t read the guidelines closely enough. You see, I met the an editor from this company when I was in New Jersey two years ago, and while all the other pubs were down on chick lit, these folks were gung-ho for it. The editor was a lovely lady, and I really was tempted to submit LD right then and there. However, they were a little on the small potatoes side and there was speculation they would fold any second. Obviously they’re still around, and have done well it seems. Their authors love them, and everything I’ve read about them is favorable, so I went for it.

But stupid me didn’t read the fine print. Since I met that editor, they’ve changed their focus and publish romance only. Good one, Catie. Break a cardinal rule and send a women’s fic manuscript to a romance publisher.

However, the editor on whose desk it landed liked it. Gave me some terrific compliments and spent an obviously substantial amount of time making very specific notes for me. All great things. But now I have to change genres to make it publishable for her company. Not that there’s a guarentee, but I think the chances are pretty good. (Cross your fingers, folks… this might be it. Just don’t hold your breath.)

So I know what I want to do and where I want to go with ti. But it’s a substantial re-write, which starts with a new first chapter. And there’s my problem. The first line.

In college, other kids used to hate me because I could whip out a term paper in one sitting. Twenty pages? No problem. Let me review my notes and I’ll see you in two hours. Always got As on my papers. Yes, I was an annoying pain in the… well, you get the idea. What no one knew was while it took me no time at all to write those papers, it took me days to get the first line. Once I could formulate that first line, I was in business. But coming up with that sucker was like doing a root canal sans anesthesia. Still is. Which is why my first lines tend to suck, and why I need a whole new first chapter for LD.

So that is what I am doing at this very moment… thinking of a first line. I know where the scene will go, I know what happens, but where do I start? I need a first line. And blogging about it ain’t helping. So I guess I’d better get on it, huh? Oh joy.

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Bringing the Outdoors In… I didn’t mean literally!

I already talked about keeping up with the neighbors in the yard department. I am still falling woefully short, but I do my part. I even brought in a lovely display of iris and peonies to set on the entertainment center. Okay, so they were the ones about to flop into the lawn mower’s path and I was saving them – or so I thought, because most of the things wilted and died about eight hours later. What can I say? I tried.

But the whole idea of brining the outdoors in got a tad too literal for us this year. Two words: elm seeds.

Our neighborhood is full of trees – it was one of the things I liked about the neighborhood when we bought the house. (Slight digression here – when we bought our house, we had all of one choice. We needed a house we could move into right away, and this one fit the bill. I hate that house. Always have. But now that I’ve practically killed myself doing work on it, and have imposed permanent injury in the task, you might as well start digging the plot because I’m going to be buried in the back yard. Anyway…) The problem is most of these trees are Dutch Elm, and Dutch Elm disease has run rampant among them in recent years. Somehow, though, the Dutch Elm is pretty resilient as a species (genus? Whatever) and for every tree that is cut down due to disease, five more spring up. I spend my life trying to kill volunteer trees. (Shh… don’t tell all the tree huggers I do that. But if they want to pay to fix my foundation after it cracks thanks to the root system, they can be my guest.)

This year, however, the seeds that normally spring out in small patches on each tree practically covered them all. Green trees were brown with them, making them look like they were blooming with ugly flowers. And then the winds came. Seeds everywhere. My garden? Covered in them. I don’t mean that as a few scattered here and there. I mean you can’t see the dirt because it’s completely carpeted with seeds. My sidewalk and patio are just as bad, and there’s no getting rid of them. The second you sweep them away, five hundred more fall in their place. You’d think we’d run out of them soon, but no such luck. My favorite little writing spot on the patio is useless – unless I am in the mood to extricate millions of seeds from my laptop keyboard.

What tore it, though, was the other night when I changed the sheets on my bed. What did I find between the bottom sheet and the mattress pad? Elm seeds. How the hell did they get there? I had been vacuuming up tons of them for weeks since they track easily, but in the bed?? This has gone way too far, thankyouverymuch. I think it’s time to leave the outdoors out, and keep seeds out of my bed.

Of course, it could be worse. We had a nice little thunderstorm the other night with 70+ mile per hour winds. Nearly sent the neighbor’s Dutch Elm right through our bedroom roof. I have three wonderful friends in New York who are complaining about the heat, and I’m just praying it gets over 70 here so I can take the kids to the pool. Still, I’m counting my blessings. We only had seeds in the bed, not the entire tree. It can so stay outside where it belongs.

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Random Ramblings – AKA Choppy Thoughts

I’ve been sitting here with a couple drafts on the old blog – nothing gelling enough to make an entire entry.  So I thought I’d put them together and at least post a blog for a change. So here goes – the things that flit through Cate’s head:

Keeping Up with the Joneses

I live in a small town – well, small to me – of about 35,000 people. We’re basically suburbia around here, except there is no real “urbia” to attach ourselves to. People in our brand of suburbia are a little fanatical about their lawns. Not me, mind you. But my neighbors sure are.

In an attempt to not have the worst looking house on the block (all I need is a shelled-out old Chevy to put in the middle), I spent most of Memorial Day weekend doing lawn work – seeding and watering and planting… and making my back ache and my wallet cry out for mercy.  However, one wonderful side effect is that I now have a lovely writing space right next to an outlet, the trickling fountain, and with a umbrella to block out the glare of the sun. And those Off lamps? They totally work. Get one.

Why Netflix is Evil

That lovely little writing spot I have? Yup, also get a great connection to my wireless. So yesterday afternoon when I was “writing” outside, I ended up watching two episodes of The Vicar of Dibley. Wonderful Britcom – I totally recommend it.  Good thing Doctor Who isn’t on there yet, or I would really have been in trouble. Not to mention Torchwood. Oh, the choices are endless!

Why iPods are a Necessary Evil

I am really into evil today, huh? But I am serious about this one. I complain nonstop about the college kids who parade by my office daily blaring music out their headphones loud enough I can hear it. But I purchased an older version of the iPod shuffle on eBay a little more than a year ago with the idea I would listen to it while I exercised. Yes, I know the meaning of the word. Passing familiarity. Anyway, what it ended up doing was saving my life through hours and hours of basement renovations. The poor thing is a little worse for the wear, now – caked with mastic, paint and grout – but still works like a champ. The question is, though,  will I ever be able to use my basement shower without humming the soundtrack to Music and Lyrics?

Ego Boost

Cross your fingers, folks – have a publisher maybe interested in LET’S DISH. I have to admit I was starting to worry about this one. I love it more than anything I’ve ever written, and I wasn’t even getting nibbles on it. Now mind you, this nibble probably won’t lead to a contract, but at least I know I’m still writing full-worthy material. Translation for sane people (a.k.a. nonwriters), a writer submits a partial manuscript first, then waits to be rejected or, if you’re lucky, a request for a full manuscript. This is my first full request in two years. Guess I’m back on the bandwagon! Just in time for the infamous summer slump.

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