Thursday, March 31, 2005

No Foolin'

Ok, so it's almost April Fool's Day, and it's been more than a week since my last post. Excuses: 1. I'm swamped, rewriting synopses for all three books of the trilogy, still haven't mailed them. 2. I'm sick with the cold that I caught from my younger kid who caught it from the older kid who caught it from who knows where. That about does it.

So, let's talk about writing--synopses in particular. Like many other writers, I hate synopses. I don't know what it is that makes them so darned difficult, but there you go. The truly frustrating part is that I can blurb someone else's book without too much trouble, or I can create a blurb from another blurb, but to start with my own story and then condense it down to ten pages or (gasp) less is just about beyond me. I say just about because this last week I've been giving myself a crash course on how to write synopses. (Emphasis on crash!) And now that I've completely revamped the synopsis for Shadows of Memory, I now find that I have to revamp the synopses for Aspects of Illusion and the third book, Shifts of Perception. That's the working title on the third book, by the way. It's subject to change if I find something better.

There are several books which treat on the subject of synopses. One is called Your Novel Proposal from Creation to Contract, by Camenson and Cook, from Writers' Digest Books. Another is Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript, by Jack and Glenda Neff, Don Prues and the Editors of Writer's Market. The other instruction I've gotten lately has come from the Forward Motion website. I hope all the studying helps. I'd hate to think that the reason I haven't got a book contract yet is partially due to my struggle with synopses. The books themselves are great, or so I'm told. Or have I confused blowing my own horn with certain other cold symptoms? Excuse me while I reach for a tissue....

Here's a dilemma. I've just finished reading what I think is a pretty good book. It's called The Compass Rose, by Gail Dayton, published in March by Luna. It was romantic, it involved plenty of danger and mayhem, it was based in a polygamous society.... So what's my dilemma? Well, Aspects of Illusion and Shadows of Memory--my books--are romantic, they involve plenty of danger and mayhem, and they're based in a polygamous society. The plot, setting and magic are different from Gail Dayton's, of course. But there are a few inevitable similarities, though that could probably be said of nearly all fantasy, I suppose. And by all means, go read her book--it's great. Just come back later and get mine too, when it's published.

Ok, time to go back to work, so Bob doesn't think my promise to write new synopses was just an early April Fool's joke. I know I'm not laughing.

Monday, March 21, 2005

It's done!

Shadows of Memory is done, edited, polished, and ready to go. I'm mailing it out to Bob today. I hope it finds a good home for itself and the first book, Aspects of Illusion. I enjoyed writing Shadows, but I will admit that it was a challenge. It was my first sequel, and I had to outline heavily because there were so many things I had to bring into agreement with Aspects. There were also lots of things that I had to set up for book 3. But the good news is that it's done, it's off to see the wizard, and I get to move on to the last book of the trilogy.

Friday, March 18, 2005

What have I done?

I set myself a deadline of St. Patrick's Day as my mailing date for the Shadows manuscript. But I have a daughter who is an Irish Dancer, and she was busy all day. She was on TV. She made an appearance at a mayor's office with her troupe. She danced at three different venues in the afternoon. I'm just grateful she wasn't in the Advanced group who had to dance in the evening as well. I should never have set St. Patrick's Day as my deadline--I don't know what I was thinking. But I will have the manuscript mailed out within the next two days. By Saturday at the latest.

I never said I always set realistic goals--just ambitious ones. If I was a gaming character, would Overconfidence be one of my quirks? And if so, how many points is it worth?

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Sick leave? What's that?

I hate viruses that hang on for days and days. Makes me want to go bury my head in the sand and wait until I'm either well again, or too far gone to care. I've been struggling with some kind of mild draggy flu-like virus for the past several days, but there's no one to edit the book for me or take care of the kids if I decide to pack it in and sleep until the bug goes away. I switched my sleep schedule around last night and as a result only got six hours of sleep--which, if I was completely healthy, might be workable. But as it is, I lost all momentum this afternoon just when I'd found my first chance to write. Ugh. If I'm not better by the weekend, I'm going to seek medical help. The irksome thing is that this particular type of virus never gets me down--never. Never say never.

Ok, time to go and fix the scene I crashed out on earlier today. It's sort of a patchwork of things: the first part of the current section with parts of an entirely different and previously discarded section lending structure to the middle, then the slightly altered end of the current section to finish it off. I have to make this work and blend seamlessly so that no one can tell that it's been cobbled together or that I've recycled parts of it from the cut and snip graveyard. If I can make it work and work well, you might just hear the cry "It's alive!" a couple of hours from now. Ah, but without any jolts of electricity, of course. We had a power failure a couple of days ago; I don't need any more of those.

I just heard the news that my new swanky laptop is on its way. I saved up and went for the high definition screen, so I could even watch DVD's on the thing and it would look great. Should be a little easier to write outside, too. I got all the specs I wanted except one. So here's the question of the day: Why the heck can't they make an ergonomic keyboard in a laptop? All they'd have to do is either have it pull up and fold out or simply angle the keys just a little. I'd be happy to deal with a funky laptop shape if it meant that I could type with comfort and without having to bring my big ergo keyboard, which doesn't fit all that well in the laptop case.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Under the Wire

I've still got a few more chapters to edit, and it's March. If I could get one chapter per day edited, this wouldn't present a particular problem, since my initial timeline was to be finished by the end of February or possibly mid-March. Now it looks as though mid-March is the more accurate projection. Of course, that was Bob's guess in the first place--that's why he's the fabulous agent and I'm the anxious writer. I don't mean to make wild promises, but sometimes I get so eager to hand over a finished product that I estimate a bit short as to how much time it will take me to get things done. I need to be aware of that in the future, so I don't set unrealistic deadlines. And then there was the time I wrote an entire book in eight weeks. (First novel of the trilogy, no outline, organic process, fewer other time constraints, yada, yada, yada.) Silly of me to think that just because I'd done that once, I could pull it off again. Nope, this is a sequel in the middle of a trilogy. Any inconsistancies that I can avoid now by paying strict attention to detail will mean fewer editing headaches down the road. There are too many things that have to be set up and brought into agreement with the other books for me to just happily write my way through without an outline and a whole lot of planning. More experienced professional writers will be nodding their heads now and saying "Yep. I could've told you that."

A lot of what's slowing me down is family issues, homeschooling, and general chaos in the house. I really need staff to handle the household while I'm working on a book. I need an "Alice" (the Brady Bunch's housekeeper.) I need a personal assistant, a tutor, a nanny and a chef. But I am SO not going to have those anytime soon! I AM the personal assistant, tutor, nanny and part-time chef. I'm also the chauffeur, the maid, and the housekeeper. Wait! Wasn't the title Professional Writer in there somewhere???

Here's my tentative plan. When it comes time to write a new book, if I write like crazy during the months of June, July, and August, then the rest of the time (assuming I get more than three months to finish a book) will be spent on the rewrites and edits. June, July and August are all non-homeschool months, and some of the kids' other extracurricular activities are on summer hiatus. There'll be fewer things for me to forget, miss, or mess up, and I'll also have time for the conferences and things that I normally attend. In other words, if I'm either absent or absent-minded during that time, not everything will descend into chaos without my micromanagement.

Here's some Sagittarian honesty. I have ten chapters to edit. I'll get one knocked off tonight, and then I'll see where I am. I really want to have the finished book to my crit group partners by Sunday, but that may be more than I can manage. I do solemly swear to have the entire rewrite done by St. Patrick's Day. Wish me luck; I've already got the Irish.