Monday, April 23, 2007

Earth Day and the Yellow Hummer

What could Earth Day and a Hummer possibly have in common? Well, it just so happens that the yellow Hummer in question runs on Ethanol. My husband just spent the past four days including Earth Day helping out at a local show featuring "big boy toys" like motorcycles, huge backyard grills, collapsible camper/trailers, backyard spa tubs, ATV's, the Hooters establishment, sandrails (racing dunebuggies) and other race cars in general, and, last but not least, the only Hummer in Idaho that runs on E-85.

Why ethanol? Where to start? It burns cleaner, keeps your engine squeaky clean, gives your vehicle a snappier performance (just ask the racers who've tried it--they're in raptures over the increased horsepower), and can end our dependence on foreign oil. Your car on petroleum fuel...ugh, sputter, cough, cha-ching! Your car on ethanol...vroom, vroom, feelin' good. Any questions? Check out this website and read all about it, plus take a gander at the strapping, healthy, corn-fed Hummer.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The View From the Top

Today we drove into the mountains. In part, it was so the kids could do some field work for various science assignments. The rest was probably due to the fact that we all love adventure, not to mention the fact that my husband has a 4 X 4, and he knows how to drive it. And drive it he did. Scared the **** out of me when we went down a road that turned out to have been washed out and swept by fire--I'm not sure in which order. We had to turn around in an alarmingly small space and go back to where the road had branched. There we tried the alternate route, but when we got close to the top of the mountain, we saw that the way ahead was blocked by snow. Only a short stretch looked to be blocked, but it was on a side hill, and deep enough that even with the wonder truck, we didn't dare try to make it through. So again we had to turn around and seek an alternate route. As dusk fell, we made our way back to the main highway. We eventually got home, but it wasn't by the paths we'd originally planned, and we never saw the view from the extreme top of the mountain because of the snow-blocked section of road. The view from that point was spectacular; or at least, I think it was. Maybe in the summer when the snow has melted, we'll finally be able to drive across that last bit and make it over the mountain and down the other side.

Kind of like the path to publication.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


How can it be April already, let alone a week into April?

The kids and I are booking right along on their correspondence school work. We have a few more weeks to go and a heavy workload at that; I don't know whether we'll have to drag the process into June or not. I hope not. It would be great to have a full summer off the school stuff for once, though my preference would be to do all the science for the upcoming year over the summer. That way, when it comes time to load the packets next fall, we can just reach into the file and pull the science lessons we need at the appropriate time. Or something like that.

I got a verdict from Bob about the initial draft of Beyond the Pale. Basically, it's like this: Beginning, fabulous. End, fabulous. Middle.... Don't worry, it's not toast. I just need to hike up the conflict in places, bring a few things closer to the beginning, intensify a couple of the relationships, that sort of thing. The basic storyline will stay the same, but we'll up the stakes in various ways--some subtle, some not. To tell the truth, I had the feeling that one of my villains was a bit under-utilized. I'm not sure how that happened, but he's now going to step more into the light. He should be a threat. How could a devastatingly handsome guy who isn't who he says he is not be a threat? I dropped a couple of balls without realizing it, but I'm ready to pick them up now.

I love what happens when Bob points out things I've missed in a novel. Sometimes when I finish a novel, even though I've had a crit group on point for months, we've all missed some of the forest for the trees. Just too close to the subject, I guess. Then Bob reads it and makes a couple of comments, and everything becomes clear again. It's almost always an "Oh, yeah," reaction--something I noticed once but then forgot about, or something I might have once meant to fix but then somehow didn't. A few issues take me by surprise, but after a little thought, I can see how the suggested change--or sometimes a different but similar change--will strengthen the book and take it up a notch. I don't like making mistakes, but I love what happens to the book when they're fixed.

That's where I lucked out. Not all agents are editors, and for the most part, they shouldn't have to be. But sometimes the right comment at the right time makes all the difference in the world. I don't need a lot of hand-holding and I try not to be the squeakiest wheel on the bus. However, a little bit of input can help a lot.

When you find an agent who will market your work to publishers, that's luck. But when you find an agent who refuses to settle for less than the best book he can get out of you and knows how to make that happen, that's synergy.