Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

My resolution: to get a publisher's contract this year. It's time.

I've spent some time trying to de-clutter my office, and I've come to the conclusion that I need yet another bookcase. It shouldn't come as a surprise, when I've been steadily collecting books for reference and pleasure all this time, but I already have four tall bookshelves in the office. I can't fit in more than two additional bookcases, and I'd really rather add no more than one. If I added two, my armchair would either have to go out (leaving only the desk chair in the room--not preferable) or I'd have to set the armchair in front of one of the bookcases--also not preferable. So somehow I have to make do with only one more, and if things expand beyond that, I'll have to figure out some other arrangement in the closet, I guess. Anyway, the main thing is that I can't function in the clutter anymore, and I have to fix it. It's gumming up the writing gears...or something...and I need to be working on the last Oantra book before I get the final verdict on Ninth Wave. Reorganizing the office will facilitate so many other things that I can't and won't put it off any longer. I've already done two of the bookshelves and am working on the third--that's how I realized that I have to have another one.

Before I moved my stuff into this office, I faux-painted the walls myself. Hours of work. Now those walls will be mostly covered by tall bookshelves. Sigh. Oh, well. I guess I need the books more than I need faux-painted walls. And I can still see some of my handiwork here and there behind the all-important writers' resources.

One of these days, I'll list the books I used for reference on the Brenna book alone, and it'll be obvious why I need another bookshelf. At least reference books are better than bridesmaids' dresses--I'll definitely use the reference books again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Promises Kept

I finally got out to do the mother/daughter date with my younger daughter tonight. I'd had to put it off for a very long time due to various constraints.... Okay, the writing was a big part of why I kept putting it off. Deadlines will eat up resources, especially time. But I had a promise to keep, and I'm relieved that it's been kept at last. She needed time with me, and I needed time with her, and she needed to know that she'd been put on the top of the priority list. We had a lot of fun; she wanted to go shopping at the mall, have dinner, and go to an arcade. We managed it all, plus a few errands that also needed doing. It was a very long outing, and now I need Tylenol and a hot pad for my neck and shoulders--they always bother me if I'm on my feet for too long. But it was worth it. She's worth it.

Writing-wise, I'm taking a little time off to clean and organize my office. It had become a horrible pit into which only fools and desperate writers dare enter. But I cannot function any longer in the clutter, and it must be set to rights. Then I will continue to work on the third Oantra book, Shifts of Perception, until I hear from Bob about the latest incarnation of From the Ninth Wave. If I've gotten it polished enough this time, it should start to go out to publishers soon. Then we'll see.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Done, Again

I finished the last round of edits from Bob and the Moxie. Now here's hoping it's really the last round--before an editor at a publishing house gets hold of the manuscript, anyway.

In the morning, it's out the door. Again.

Now I'm looking forward to Christmas shopping, cleaning my office, and going to see The Golden Compass--not necessarily in that order.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Unless I missed something, I finished Bob's edits on Saturday. Sunday I met with the Moxie and passed a copy of the revised manuscript of Beyond the Ninth Wave to them. They're going to do a quick read-through and get it back to me in the next couple of days, and I'll be mailing it out this week. Wednesday is technically the end of the six weeks I had for revisions. Tonight I need to read through the existing synopsis and see whether my manuscript changes need to be reflected in it, or whether it's still okay the way it is. And I need to do my own quick skim-through of the manuscript to see whether I think it flows well. Sometimes I still catch things to change, like a word here or a phrase there, but I think that's pretty much the case with most writers. The work is never really "done", but eventually you have to shove it out the door anyway.

Next I need to help the kids get caught up on their schoolwork, get my house and office clean and in shape for the holidays, and get the shopping and mailing done for Christmas cards and gifts. I knocked some of that off the list today after the Moxie meeting, but there's more still to do. I also have quite a few holiday-related craft projects, some of which need to be completed by mid-month for a kids' activity. We're going to be making holiday clothespin dolls and yule logs (with fake tea lights, of course). Should be fun.

And then, provided there are no more necessary changes to Ninth Wave, I'll go back and write more on the third Oantra book, plus work on plotting for the next Brenna book. (See, I'm being optimistic here--I'm assuming I'll need a second Brenna book.)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Edits Have Arrived

Bob's edits came in the mail today. The person who delivered the box stuffed it into the space below the mailbox and on top of the newspaper receptacle, which, if it had been raining, would have ruined it. They're supposed to bring a package up to the door and set it close to the house if it won't fit in the mailbox. Grr. Thank goodness it wasn't raining or snowing today.

It's funny--the edits I had slated for myself are actually more extensive than the ones Bob has asked me to make. It wasn't as bad as I feared, nor did he want anything very elaborate. He did want me to eliminate one of the remaining two of Brenna's movie references, so I guess they all need to go. Here's why: as movie/TV references are pop culture references, they will end up dating the book too much if I leave them in. Now that he's explained it, I can understand. One of my crit partners even mentioned the same thing earlier, but I didn't think it would be a problem. Since Bob says it is, I'll bow to his greater wisdom and remove them all. But I will miss Brenna's movie quotes. They were a quirky part of her character that I liked.

There are some changes I won't be able to make without damaging the worldbuilding, but I think I can at least re-work the references in question so their significance is more apparent. I'll do just what he wants as long as it doesn't knock anything important off kilter, and if that happens I'll find a work-around or a compromise if possible. It helps that Bob used to be an editor; this is good practice for when I have to consider changes for an editor at a publishing house. Bob did tell me that I don't have to make the changes verbatim; his corrections are more like guidelines rather than actual rules.

Hah! Movie reference.

Monday, November 19, 2007

One By One

Okay, I'm knocking edits off the list I by one. After talking to Bob on the phone, I had made a list of about six different minor issues that needed to be addressed in From the Ninth Wave. At this point, I've finished trolling for adjectives and eliminated all of the extraneous ones. The ones I kept needed to stay because they clarified some description or otherwise made a difference to the readers' understanding of something. The ones I eliminated were in places where I had two or three when I really only needed one, or the noun was strong enough to stand alone and ditching the adjective didn't paint too austere a picture.

Then there were the content edits. My character had the habit of making occasional movie references. I had to eliminate any of those that undercut an otherwise tense scene. It's really too bad; thinking in terms of movie quotes was my heroine's way of lightening the mood when things got too tense for her, and it showed who she was as a character. But if she did it in a place where it also diffused the tension for the reader, it had to go. Even my favorite one--a quote by Milady DeWinter from Disney's The Three Musketeers. Dang it. I know, I know. Kill your darlings. Well, I only kept two in the entire book; neither was a direct quote, and neither diffused the tension because they didn't come in the middle of a crisis. Tricky little bit of work, that was.

As for the rest, I still need to go through and find a few places where I can spice certain things up here and there, and I need to find all the places where I somehow managed to make my point twice. That's going to be trickier for me to find, but I'll do it. I should be nearly done with this round. I'm hoping it's the last until a publisher gets her/his hands on it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hanging With the Dog

I worked on the edits last night (Friday) until late, got four hours' sleep and then had to take the kids to a club meeting in the morning. Then we went to a movie matinee, and by the time we got home, I just wanted to take a nap. Four hours' sleep just doesn't do it for me. So I napped for another three or four hours in the middle of the day, then got up and worked on the book again in the evening. There were the usual family interruptions, and then I wanted a late night snack. So after everyone else had gone to bed, somehow the dog and I ended up hanging out downstairs for a while. She doesn't always want to go to bed when everyone else does, either. Now I've just let her into the kid's room that she sleeps in--after another 2-hour nap on the couch--and I'm about to finish my last two chapters worth of adjective-slaying. Yes, in the middle of the night. I have always been a night owl to one degree or another. I need to fix that, but as long as I have edits to do, I'm not going to try to fix my broken schedule. I'll do whatever works. The dog doesn't seem to mind, and now that she's gone to bed at last, the cat is in my office with me, snoozing on the ottoman next to my desk. One snoozy animal or another.... Even asleep, they're good company. Makes me feel a little less like a vampire, though whether I'll ever be a perky morning person is another question altogether.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I'm still blasting adjectives. At this point I'm a little over halfway done, and should now be able to finish a bit more quickly and move on to the few plot-related things that Bob and I discussed on the phone.

The past two weeks have been really busy for me, between my manuscript corrections, critting another Moxie member's manuscript (for her first book, which she has finally finished after a lot of hard work), getting costumes, etc. ready for Halloween, and then getting ready for our annual bellydance Hafla (sort of a party/bazaar/performance all in one) this weekend. My older daughter and I performed in one group dance and one duet, and since our bellydance wardrobes are still fairly limited, I had to do some costuming in order for us to have something special to wear this year.

Someone asked me why I spent a few days making costumes for the Hafla rather than working on my manuscript, when I had a deadline. The biggest reason is that my daughter isn't going to be an early teen forever. There will probably come a day when she no longer thinks performing on stage with Mom is cool--when she wants to do her own thing and hang out with cooler people than me. This Hafla only happens once a year, and other performances are rare for us. I have no way of knowing what will change in the next year or even the next month. (This is a teenager, after all.) Once I have the sought-after book contract, things will change in ways I may not be able to predict. If this should happen to be the only time we ever get to do a dance performance together, then I wanted it to be special. I needed (needed, not wanted) a new top for my costume, and she wanted something new as well. It took time--one of my most precious resources--but it was worth it. She loved the new top I came up with for her, and she looked wonderful in it. It made her look and feel pretty and raised her confidence, so it was worth every minute of my time. We shared a fun experience that brought us closer as mother and daughter, which made it priceless. The costumes and practices cost me many hours, but if I'd begrudged those hours, I could have regretted it for the rest of my life. Now that the Hafla is over, I'm back at work on my novel, and I'll still finish within the three-to-six week deadline Bob gave me. He said, "three weeks--six if you want to have a life." Well, I do want to have a life, and I want to live it in a state of balance.

Priorities. They need to be in balance, or else what's the point? I could easily be a workaholic. I could focus on the writing to the exclusion of every other pursuit or hobby. But I have the feeling that if I did that, I'd end up like so many other driven writers often do...with a dry well. And one day when my kids had fled the nest and gone off to live their separate lives, I'd wonder whether it was all worth it. I don't want to wonder what might have happened if I'd been more involved with my kids or the activities I love. I also don't want to wonder what might have happened if I'd been more devoted to my career. I want both, and somehow I will have both.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Progress

I'm still on my quest to eradicate extraneous adjectives. I'd be going at the rate of one chapter's worth of adjectives per day since last Wednesday when I talked to Bob, but my older daughter and I had belly dance class today (Tuesday), and afterward had a few Halloween-related errands to run. I only got part of Chapter 7's adjectives highlighted while we were at dinner, but I did get Chapter 6's adjectives pruned down this evening on the computer. We also carved pumpkins and got the goodie bags ready for the trick-or-treaters. After the kids went to bed, I finished most of my younger daughter's costume; all it lacks is a little bit of hemming, which I'll do now before I hit the hay.

There's always just one more thing to do. Oh, well. No rest for the wicked, they say--and if staying up late and working helps get me published, then wicked doesn't sound so bad.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Behold the Adjectives

I haven't received the marked-up manuscript in the mail yet, but I'm using the time to go through and find all the adverbs and adjectives I can. I can find most of the adverbs by doing a search for words that end in "ly", but unless Word has a "find adjectives" feature I don't know about, I have to go through a print-out with a green highlighter and catch them by hand. I can do this at a coffee shop, which gets me away from the distractions at home. Then I take it home, highlight the adjectives green on my manuscript page in Word, and work on weeding all the unnecessary ones out. I had no idea I had such an adjective infestation! I have no other way to describe it. It is an infestation. Yikes!

As I sit here typing this after my night's work is done, I've worked my way through Chapters One and Two (one chapter per night since I talked to Bob) and nixed as many adjectives as I thought I could. Some of them, I must keep to clarify things in the story, but I definitely don't need all of them. I also notice that I seem to have a surplus of adjectives in some places but not in others. So far, I don't notice a pattern to the problem, but I may notice one as I get farther into the manuscript. I'm just glad Bob pointed it out to me so I can fix it now. Of course, I want the manuscript to go out to publishers in the best possible shape, and sending it out with all those extra adjectives would be like sending out roses with aphids.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I called Bob today to find out what he thought of my rewrite, and as a whole, it's good news. The issues he had with it before are gone and he says I'm in good shape. Now all he wants is for me to do the last little polish that I admit I didn't take the time to do when I was feeling time-crunched in September. He's actually sent me a marked-up manuscript in the mail this time; it's supposed to arrive soon. I'm supposed to take three to six weeks to go through it and fix the little details that I neglected to fix before (note to self and other hopeful writers: don't skip any of your normal revision/polish steps before sending out your manuscript). Apparently I have a few extra adjectives/adverbs in the first half of the book--not surprising considering that I usually go through and highlight all of those and take out at least half. If I'd done that this time before I sent it to Bob, I doubt it would have been an issue. The other details I'm supposed to fix are minor things; this is not supposed to be another rewrite--just a little tightening and polish, and nothing to panic over. I must admit I'm relieved at the news that my rewrite worked, and it'll be great to get the mark-up from him so I can see what types of things he notices vs the things I notice.

Best of all, he already has a plan for which publishers he intends to send it to first. Excuse me while I do my happy dance....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I See Red

I finally got sick of my tri-colored hair and did something about it. I'd been growing out the last dye job (blonde) and had gotten down to where there was only about five or so inches of blonde left in my hair. It used to be naturally blonde when I was younger, and then it darkened to a mousy dishwater blonde/light brown. This time when it grew out, I had tri-colored hair: mousy brown, grey, (which actually wasn't truly grey--it was colorless hair. No pigment of any kind whatsoever, not even white) and the last of the blonde dye on the ends. I've gone "green" in so many areas of my life, I've no intention of using chemical dyes on my hair ever again. But that grey/colorless/whatever had to go, so I used henna. I've used it before, but hadn't done so since I was about 26. It makes a great red color, especially if you do it right. When I went to Ireland in 1992, I had henna-dyed hair, and was mistaken for a native--by a native. This time I used a slightly different technique to prepare the paste, and the hair came out a really nice red and not too brassy. It's still darkening even now, and will for the next three days. It probably won't end up auburn, but just a nice shade of red, like fall leaves. I was ready for pretty much anything, just as long as grey was no longer in the picture, so I'm really pleased with this.

The book is going decently, too. I'm about halfway through that troublesome magical battle scene, and I think it's going to be fine. The scene directly following it is one from a POV we see only four times in the whole book, but the character's culture is so different from the other characters' that stepping into her mind is a really great writing exercise and great fun to do. When I finish that, I'll be at Chapter 12. So...onward.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

An Unbiased Opinion

I haven't talked to Bob yet about what he thought of the Ninth Wave manuscript. I'll shore up my courage and do so soon--it's been a month now, so he's probably had time to finish reading it.

In the meantime, I've heard a little back from an impartial test reader. The news was both good and bad. I haven't talked to her directly, but was relayed the info that some things in the first 25 pages made her want to slap my main character. Urk! On a more positive note, two of her three gripes can be easily fixed, if more people have the same issues with Brenna. But so far, this is the only reader who has, so I'm not sure if these issues will be addressed or not. I'll ask Bob what he thinks when I talk to him. The good news is that the test reader kept reading anyway, and by the time she'd gotten to about the hundred-page mark, she'd since gotten hooked and was really enjoying the book. That's very good to know. Little issues, I can deal with. It's only the ones that are intrinsic to the story that I can't change, and I know I can't please everyone every time. I just want to please enough people enough of the time that I make it as a writer. The trick is in knowing which things are serious enough to change and which are non-issues. That's why it's good sometimes to get a fresh pair of eyes and an unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hooked On My Book

This probably sounds really arrogant. It's not meant to be. It's just...I was rereading the first ten chapters of the third book of the Oantran Triad, and I was hooked--on my own book. That actually doesn't happen too often, and I think it's because usually I've read the thing too recently and have gotten to a state where I can't see or "hear" my own words very well. Too familiar, especially after however many rewrites. But with Shifts of Perception, I hadn't read it for months. I'd spent all that time working on the urban fantasy, and now that I've finally reread Shifts after all this time, I find I'm pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it reads. I don't know if that means I'm getting better or blinder. Heh.

I also don't know how much longer I'll be getting to work on it. I should hear the verdict on my rewrite of From the Ninth Wave pretty soon. I did get a fortune cookie slip that said "Your efforts will be favorably acknowledged." Hmm. We'll see. I can't sit with my fingers crossed in the meantime, though--too hard to type.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Just a Nice Day

Today we went to an apple orchard. I've picked apples before, of course, including the very few I got off my own tree this year, but I've never gone to an actual orchard and picked them. It was a lot of fun, despite the fact that I got stung by a bee and my arm is still a little sore. It wasn't even the bee's fault, and I feel terrible that the bee had to die because of an accident. I was picking an apple near where the bee was, and either the branch whacked the bee or another apple fell, but the next thing I knew, the bee had been knocked out of the air and fallen down my sleeve! I tried to be really gentle and shake it out, but being trapped in my sleeve, of course it stung me. It managed to sting me just slightly in one spot and then really released the main load of venom, stinger and all, in the other spot. Of course I had a first aid kit in the car, and of course it was one of those little worthless store-bought ones that had nothing in it but band-aids and Tylenol, when what I needed was baking soda and Benedryl. Fortunately, I'm not allergic to insect stings, so all I got was a local reaction. It still stings a little, even hours later, though if I didn't know where I'd been stung it would be hard to tell by appearance. I dealt with the lack of adequate first aid supplies by fishing some ice out of a cup of ice water we had in the car and icing the sting site while we paid for our apples and scooted on home. Fortunately the bee incident happened right at the end of the apple picking, so we missed nothing of the experience and brought home a trunkload of apples. My only regret is that bees die after they sting you, and as evidenced by my post of earlier this year, the last thing I want is for any bees to die. I guess I should take it as a good sign that so many bees were in the orchard in the first place.

All in all it was a nice day, stings notwithstanding. Nothing to do with writing, but sometimes you just need to go pick apples or do something that feeds your soul.

Friday, October 05, 2007


I've been struggling with a battle scene. The problem is that this one's a magical battle, and I just can't seem to get it started. It needs to happen--has to happen for the book to move forward. I'm just having trouble with it. It may also be that I'm moving into a portion of the novel where my visioning of what happens is still a little sketchier than I'd like. I have all the scene blurbs, and I know exactly what has to happen to take us down the path to the end, it's just that sometimes even when I know what has to happen, I don't always know how it happens. Right now, the distinction is wreaking havoc with this particular scene. I'll get it, though. It happens in Chapter 11 of Shifts of Perception, not long after the midway crisis point. Hey--didn't I have some trouble with Chapter 11 in the last novel as well? Hmm.

Anyway, one thing that might make it better is chocolate. For me, not the characters. I just read somewhere that chocolate is actually healthy in moderation because it raises endorphins, makes people happy, lowers their stress, or something like that. And maybe--just maybe--it inspires writers. I'll be happy to put that to the test. My favorite chocolate is produced by this company. It's better than any other chocolate I've ever found, and if it can't inspire me, I don't know what can.

Friday, September 28, 2007


During this little hiatus, I've been catching up on my reading. Currently, I'm enjoying Shirley Damsgaard's Witch Way to Murder. I've also been re-reading some of Laurell K. Hamilton's Merry Gentry series, and working my way through several books by Dion Fortune. One of these days, I'll post a list of the books I used when researching myth, folklore, magical/psychic practices, etc. for From the Ninth Wave.

Also, one of these days I'll post my playlist--the musical "soundtrack" I picked for Ninth Wave. Ambiance is important to me when I write, and sometimes picking out a song as the theme for a scene is my reward for finishing said scene. It's kind of fun, and then whenever I hear that song, I remember that scene, from that novel.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Loss

Robert Jordan died Sunday. A quick google search will take you to his blog, where you can find the latest news and offer condolences if you wish.

In 1990, I moved to Idaho and was introduced to the Wheel of Time series by a friend. I was so young then--a twenty-something with something to prove. One of the things I wanted to prove was that I could write in his arena and give him a run for his money. Other authors emerged in the interim, as did new, revised goals for me. The important thing, though, is that in the intervening years, his example gave me a brass ring to aim for. A brass ring, and a lot of happy hours reading his books, trying to learn how it was done, or how a pro would do it. He'll be sorely missed. The gifts he gave readers and writers alike are invaluable--he went beyond mere fiction and into the realm of legend.

He was quoted as having said he'd keep writing until they nailed the lid shut on his coffin. It seems he was true to his word, writing at every possible opportunity, even through his last days. I stand sobered, humbled, and in awe. Blessings to him and to his loved ones. He was and always will be an inspiration.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Play Time

I figure I've got at least a couple weeks before I hear back about the rewrite of From the Ninth Wave (formerly Beyond the Pale), so while I can, I'm going to play.

My first love in writing was epic fantasy, and I still have half a book to write in order to finish the third book of my Oantran Triad. So while Bob's reading the UF rewrite, I'll be cranking out more scenes for Shifts of Perception. Here's my logic:

If Bob says Ninth Wave is ready to go out this time, then I'll need to start thinking about what new book I'm going to write next. I already have an idea for a second Brenna book, which of course will be UF like the first. If the rewrite's okay, then I should start doing my scene cards and figuring out an outline of events for the second Brenna book, just in case we get a nibble on the first one.

The first two books of the epic fantasy trilogy haven't sold, so the third book is dead in the water without a publisher's contract for the prior two. If Ninth Wave sells, then assuming it does okay in the market, the publishers are much more likely to want another Brenna book than to take a chance on the Oantran Triad. And if I'm suddenly busy (let's hope so!) cranking out Brenna books, then Shifts will never be finished--I won't have time for it. By the time I do have a chance to finish it, my voice might be different. I want the third epic fantasy to fit with the other two, so I need to finish it now, while I can still remember the characters' voices. And somewhere in there, if there's time, I'll go back and try to revise the first book one more time to see if I can get it shorter. I'm wondering whether its length is what killed it. Unless Bob hasn't told me about the brutal rejections, none of the publishers hated it. From what he said, many liked it but couldn't find a place for it. Just wasn't in the right place at the right time, I guess. That's the roulette wheel any book faces. Sometimes it's all in the timing, and if the timing just happens to be a day or even an hour wrong, it's a no go. So...if I want to finish Shifts, now's the time to do it. It's a narrow window, but I'll take it.

I had fun jumping back into it. I wrote half a scene last night from the villain's perspective, and my next will be from the POV of a different but good minor character. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to change POV characters with each scene. This'll be good, harmless fun to keep me from bouncing off the walls while I wait for the verdict on my rewrite.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


The manuscript is finally off, as of this afternoon (Wednesday the 12th). I've been playing single mom for a couple of days while the Huz is out of town, but he gets back tomorrow (Thursday). Of course, we've had a very busy couple of days. What else could they be when I'm trying to mail off a manuscript?

This afternoon I dropped the girls off at their piano class and went to the post office to mail the package. There was no line. But I realized that I'd forgotten to include the cover sheet for the manuscript, and I still needed to figure out the final word count. The P.O. wouldn't let me purchase postage for the manuscript and then just come back and drop it off later. Apparently when it's over a certain weight, then they have to receive it in person, across the counter. (Why that doesn't apply to the self-service kiosk, I have no idea.) So I rushed home, did my word count, printed the cover sheet and hurried back to the piano class to pick up my kids. Then I dropped one of them off for a different class and hurried back to the post office to try again to mail the package. This time, there was a line--a long one. Of course. When I finally made it to the counter, the clerk encouraged me to save money by using a flat rate box. I could just rip my labels off the manuscript box I had and reattach them to the outside of the flat rate box, and it would save me about $7. I had no intentions of ripping the labels off and/or re-packing my manuscript. No freaking way. Usually, I care about saving money. Today, I'd just had enough hassle. Slap the Priority Mail label on my box, dang it, and shove it in the mail. I'm done. Just...done.

Bye, bye, nice manuscript. Make me proud.

Monday, September 10, 2007


We as readers will either demean or romanticize a character in our heads based on our very individualized impressions of said character no matter whether the writer envisioned the character the same way or not. I'm sure that for every fictional character ever created, there is a reader somewhere who, if they were to meet that character on the street in flesh and blood and living color, would say, "I thought you'd be taller."

I've recently had the chance to see this dichotomy from two different perspectives. The first was as the writer. For example, I found my main character (MC) to be completely sympathetic, and everything she did made sense to me. However, aside from the aforementioned skimpy emotional layer, one of my crit partners had some trouble with my MC when I made her less of a skeptic about magic. Seems like every time this particular crit partner tries to write fantasy, one or more of her characters ends up with a blaster gun instead of a wand. The lady is very down-to-earth, practical, and of a scientific bent. Her characters' magic usually takes the form of advanced tech, rather than actual mysticism. So she wasn't prepared for my character to accept the magic in my story as quickly as she did. She'd have rather seen my MC cling to her skepticism longer. My other crit partner tended to see one of my secondary characters as more of a jerk than I'd intended him to be. She even wanted me to change his language in a couple of places to make him meaner. If I'd done so, he'd have become closer to her image of him, but he wouldn't be the guy I envision him as. As always, I value the ladies' opinions very much and will alter details if I think the change is important to clarify or improve the plot or characters. But ultimately, the characters have to be who I need them to be for plot purposes, whether they completely fit a reader's ideal image of them or not.

From the reader's perspective, I've been lurking on a couple of other authors' message boards, and I've watched threads that ranged from heated discussions to out-and-out flame wars because the readers/posters had differing opinions on character motivations and personality traits. And many's the time I've heard someone say, "My gosh, that character's blond? I pictured him as having dark hair." We all do this type of thing. As readers, we just can't help ourselves. We form our impressions of the characters and then often cling to them despite what their fans, detractors, and even authors perceive them as. In short, it's the same way we form our impressions of friends, neighbors, and strangers. And then eventually a curious thing happens. Readers sort of "adopt" their perception of a character, so even if they hear that the character's creator sees him/her differently, readers will often continue to nurse their own vision of that character, as if in a sense, the character has somehow become theirs.

I think the tricky thing for a writer is to let go of the character and accept that your readers will read all sorts of traits into the character that you never meant to put there. And as a reader, it may be equally as tricky when you learn that the author never really liked your favorite character as much as you did, or that he or she in fact adores the one you love to hate. If anything, it makes me want to strive to be even more open-minded as a reader while still retaining my right to like or dislike another person's character as I see fit. And as a writer, I'll write them, dress them up and send them out the door knowing that someone somewhere is going to fall in love with my villain or hate my heroine's lover's guts.

Monday, September 03, 2007

New Opening

Okay, time to take off the kid gloves. I changed the opening of Chapter One--again. I hope that the new version will not only orient the reader just as well as it did before, but will connect the reader to Brenna's emotions right at the outset. Maybe if they can see just how much her trip to Ireland means to her, then they'll already be on her side when the **** hits the fan on page two. It didn't take much to change--just switched around her feelings about being in Ireland so we open with that feeling of connection and see that that feeling even eclipses her frustration at being lost in the dark. She's lost, but she's lost in Ireland. She isn't being bitchy, tired and put out. She doesn't like being lost, but as long as she's in Ireland, lost is a relative term.

Take that, hah! Me are a writer, dammit.


Today was the Moxie meeting. The ladies brought me their crits of the manuscript, and none of it was anything irreparable. A few details here and there that are easily enough addressed. The only part not so easily addressed was not having a character the ladies could fully relate to.

Say, what? If my own crit group can't relate to my main character, that's bad. After the initial shock (NOW you tell me?) I went about figuring out what went wrong, where, and why. They say it's not that bad. They say they'd still happily buy the book even if it wasn't mine, and they'd read it more than once. But they wouldn't make the same choices my character does, they don't always jive with her take on life and her reactions to events, and apparently they failed to connect to her because I'd failed to put in one of the layers of emotional content found in the sequels to some of the action scenes. They felt distanced from her because she wasn't internalizing enough.

That's a tough one for me. I was trying to hone my craft a little. I know how to give a character an internal monologue and make her analyze what she's feeling. But this time I'd tried to do a little less internal monologuing and instead put more of her emotion in visceral, physical reactions. I could say "She was shocked." Or I could say, "She sucked in a breath, unable to do more than stare. Moments ticked by while she waited for the punched-in-the-gut feeling to pass."

Both convey the emotion of shock. The first one merely tells, while the second one shows. That's the kind of difference I was trying to achieve. Where you don't need to openly state the emotion because you show it in the character's physical reactions. If my heart rate speeds up, I doubt I'm perfectly calm. If my breathing changes or I clench my fist, shouldn't that give some clue as to what I might be feeling? I'd have thought so. But maybe I screwed up somewhere. If I did, I'll fix it.

I'll go through and edit in another layer of emotion where I can. It's possible I did truncate my sequels (or ends of scenes) a little too much. In trying to tighten up the middle, I left my character with scarcely a breath between scenes. But there are some definitely emotive moments, and I'm shocked (shocked, I say!) that those moments that seemed emotional and poignant to me failed to touch my friends.

I hate problems with a manuscript. I hate them, hate them, hate them. Especially when no one is able to tell me what to do to fix it. Every time I think it's fine, someone waits until the last minute to tell me its not fine. And I'm out of time. Maybe it'll never be fine. And maybe not fine is still pretty damn good. I don't know. Dang it.

Maybe we've all seen this manuscript one too many times. I need hot tea. I need fresh eyes. I need Bob to read the book and give me some clarity on it. Tonight, I'd go kill something if I thought I could get away with it. But then I'd hate myself in the morning.

Arrgh! Back to the drawing board.

Moving on....

Friday, August 31, 2007


Did you catch the eclipse on the 28th? My husband decided to have a party and stay up all night, so we saw the whole thing in between playing croquet on the back lawn in the light from tiki torches. The next day, we were exhausted and we had a party guest sleeping on our couch. Sometime in the middle of the night, a neighbor apparently called the cops to complain that we were making too much noise. Now remember, we're in our forties, and our guests were mostly in their forties or older. We weren't a bunch of teenagers having a wild party. I have no idea why my husband chose to howl at the moon. Honestly. Sheesh.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Hands Up!

I can't believe it. I think I've finished the rewrite. I just rolled through Chapter 20 last night. I've already fixed the page numbers, tweaked names and other things here and there--minor details, but important. All the scenes that were to be rewritten have been, new scenes have been added and others compressed or moved. I'm waiting on a couple minor fact-checks from my friends in Ireland, I need to get a copy of the manuscript to each of the Moxie to read over this next week, and I need to rewrite the synopsis to agree with the plot changes,'s all over but the screaming.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Every writer has his or her Achilles' heel. Some have far more trouble beginning or ending a story than getting through the meat of the plot in the middle. I may not be published yet, but I've written six-and-a-half novels to date, and I've noticed my particular trends. I have never written a book that was intended as a standalone, though each book has a complete plot arc. My first chapter of any given series is always the one I rewrite the most. The first chapter of the second book of a series--not so much. For some reason that one always starts easier, even with the "our story so far" woven in as subtly as I can manage.

And then there are middles. (Sigh.)

Some of my middles are no problem at all--plenty of action, no sagging. Other middles tend to have a soft underbelly that I must later trim and tone. The current book, (the title of which I've changed from "Beyond the Pale" to "From the Ninth Wave") is one of the ones that needed to develop a six-pack.

Why do some writers have such trouble getting from Here to There? Depends on the writer, of course, but there are some common pitfalls. One of these I call the Invisible Middle. In this one, the writer has a very well visualized beginning and ending. It's just getting from point A to point B that's a little foggy. It's like starting out from a city on the west coast of the U.S. and trying to drive to one on the east coast without a roadmap. You might know roughly where your destination is, but getting through all the states in the middle...well, let's just say you might end up putting on a lot of unnecessary miles before you triumphantly drive into your final city limits. In my own writing, the cure for this one is to come up with a bunch of possible things that might happen to your characters on the way from point A to point B. The trick is in keeping the most likely events and discarding the ones that just won't work. Unfortunately, the wild brainstorming for filler often results in a bunch of scenes that don't necessarily grow well out of the original plot seed. When laden with too many "filler" scenes to pad out the word count, the middle can get rather heavy.

This brings me to the next problem middle: the Flabby Middle. See? The cure for the Invisible Middle led to a middle that's maybe a little too visible. The cure for this one is harder to come by. Good readers are a must if you can't see all the places where you've put in soft, doughy filler scenes. With the help of people who aren't afraid to tell you at which point your prose made them snooze off, try to identify the scenes you just wrote because you "needed something to happen between the scene where the character does X and the scene where he does Z." Chances are, the scene that should be point Y on the map ended up being a filler scene, full of things that don't really advance the plot. In these types of filler scenes, you're just trying to kill time for your character to make your overall timeline work out right. Watch out; these scenes usually have to be cut or changed substantially. In some ways, it's almost easier to work with a gaping plot hole than a doughy, sticky mess between otherwise lean action sequences. Every scene in the plot should logically follow the one before it and should contain something that advances the plot in some way. Character development is great for scenes with less action, but there should still be tension in them and they should still be important for the overall storyline. Otherwise, what are they doing there? Build your plot one muscle at a time. Construct it, then hone it until it's a lean, strong, beautiful machine. Don't ever pad it with fluff just because you need "something between here and there."

More on middles later....

Monday, August 20, 2007

The End's In Sight

I can hardly believe this, but I may actually be able to finish this rewrite by the end of August. I know I've had to adjust my deadlines several times during the last few months, but I think this time is really the last time. The reason I think this is that I've nearly finished the changes for Chapter 15, and I've examined Chapters 18, 19, and 20 and already made a few of the necessary minor tweaks to them to get them to agree with what's already happened. Chapter 17 may also fall into that same category, which pretty much leaves me with Chapter 16 to edit, and then we're in business.

I need to finish editing the one scene left in Chapter 15, which I'll do tonight. If there's time, I'll also start work on Chapter 16. The only possible things that might remain to do for 17-20 are minor changes to the conversations between my hero and heroine, which will probably take place over the next few days, and then I'll probably fall over in shock at actually being done. I'll need to run the finished book past the Moxie for one last read-through, and then it's off to Bob, finally. He's told me in the past that my skill with rewriting is one of my strengths, so we'll see how I did on this one.

I started out in early March with very little idea of what to do to fix the middle of my book. Between that and the family's time vs school issues, this rewrite took me a lot longer than I'd have preferred. I know that if I'd had a hard publisher's deadline, this would have been a recipe for disaster. So I will be taking steps to make sure this never happens again. I don't know how long a publisher usually gives an author to edit a novel, but I get the feeling it's probably measured in weeks, rather than months. This spring and summer definitely didn't go as planned, but I will manage things better from here on out, rather than letting things manage me.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Office

Tonight I went to the Moxie Java just down the road from where I live. It was quiet and uncrowded. The music was elevator variety and very low in the background. I was able to buy a sandwich that actually had some protein in it. Granted, the sandwiches were all on croissant rolls, much fattier than I'd have preferred, but when pretty much all coffee-shop food is some manner of carbohydrate, a sandwich with some actual deli meat looks decent no matter what kind of breadlike substance it's made with. At least they had hot tea, and a table with a plug-in. The table wasn't so high that my arms had to scrunch up at the shoulders to allow me to type on the laptop. And they stayed open until 11 p.m., which they do every Friday and Saturday night. All other nights except Sunday, they're open until 10.

I think I just found my new away-from-home office.

I just finished Chapter 14 tonight. Just six more to go, and not all will require major adjustments. The end is in sight.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Late Night Diner Session

Okay, I know I've been doing the restaurant/laptop scenario a lot lately, but it's working, so I can't knock it now. Tonight I went to Denny's because I had belly dance class with my teenager during the afternoon and just didn't manage to get to work any sooner. The Denny's put me in a (mostly) quiet corner, brought me many cups of tea and didn't care how long I stayed there. As a result, I was there for about five hours and got all of the revisions for Chapter 13 done. Gasp.

To be fair, only about three and a half hours of those five were actually spent in writing. I spent some of the time eating dinner, and the rest of the time I was distracted by a guy right across from me with a cell phone. He must've gabbed for at least 45 minutes, and I thought he'd never leave. Then when he was done, he had to come up and deliberately interrupt me so he could comment about how he needed to get a laptop, too. Doh!

I finished working around 2 a.m. and drove home. Now I'm going to transfer the files to my PC (wish me luck!) and go to bed--assuming I can get the computer to stop grinding on its automatic updates and do what I want it to do....

Monday, August 13, 2007

Chapter Eleven--In a Good Way

I just finished the file for Chapter 11 this last week. The novel Chapter 11, not the financial proceeding. It had a new scene in it that allowed one of the bad guys to be...well...badder still. Which, in a novel, is good.

Tonight I took the laptop to another restaurant--I know, I know. Too much of that, and I could be looking at a different version of chapter 11. (Just kidding!) But I spent about an hour and a half, and got most of Chapter 12's first scene reworked. I'm thinking that there may only be one other completely new scene to write between here and Chapter 20, and revisions take me a lot less time.

In other news, I accidentally blew away all my customizations on Blogger again, so I'll have to redo all the links as soon as I have time. At least I didn't lose all my previous posts. (Shudder!) for a minute there, I thought I'd lost the past two or so years worth of posts. I'll be more careful in the future.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Change of Scene

The notorious Chapter Ten is finished--has been for about a week now. So that's one piece of good news. And even though I overwrote one part of it by accident, I think the new stuff is just as good if not better. The scene turned out fine, and it put me over the mid-book hump. Things should be much easier and much faster from here on out.

I was having a conversation with my kids (okay, I was lecturing my kids) about why they have some difficulty in settling down to their schoolwork. Public school kids leave the house and their familiar home environment every day during the school year and go to a building devoted to just that purpose. They don't have access to the time-wasters and recreational temptations (like TV and computer games) that homeschooled kids have. The trick for a homeschooler is finding a way to put himself into the mindset of "when I go into this home office, I'm at school. I'm on school time, and I don't have access to my time-wasting activities." That's harder than it sounds, however. Easy to say, but not so easy to do. It takes a lot of mental discipline to pass up that computer game or online fanfic, especially when/if it's more interesting than the assignment due.

And what about writers? Most of us have our time-wasters, too. Minesweeper, Spider Solitaire, surfing the net, reading all the websites for hopeful fellow writers, reading all the websites of our favorite authors, and on and on into white page oblivion. Intentions are good, but they don't look like much on the page. Morale might be low due to not having a publisher's contract on the table, but a finished work at least has a chance at publication, while a blank page has none. I, for one, am out of excuses.

What have I wasted time on lately? Oh, for starters, watching DVD episodes of kids' shows I loved when I was nine--back in the 1970's. Oh, Mighty Isis! (Yeah, I know, I know....) Sometimes I just need a blast from the past, so I can keep things in perspective--sort of see where I've been so I can focus anew on where I'm going, I guess. And then there's something from the present...a fantasy novel written entirely in Irish Gaelige, which I'm laboriously translating so I can find out what the story is. (This exercise actually has some relevance to the book I'm writing, since I use some Irish in it, but still...) Two to three hours deciphering two paragraphs is a steep price to pay if it takes up all of my writing time for one night.

I admit I've been struggling with this rewrite, kind of like a motorist with half a roadmap, but I think it's safe to say that I've finally recognized enough signposts that I'll be able to find my way from here. Many thanks to the Moxie for helping me pull myself out of the ruts along the way! Most of the time, I just needed a soundboard to bounce things off of-- a talking, thinking soundboard--or two. Even the Huz got drafted into listening while I talked myself into the right plot direction. Funny how that never works as well when I'm talking to the cat, the dog, or myself....

Today I had another new scene to write, and I decided that another day of poor progress was simply not acceptable. So I loaded up my laptop and left. Stopped off for a dentist appointment, had lunch with the family, and then just took off and left them to fend for themselves (gasp!) I went to a quiet, unobtrusive Moxie Java, ordered an iced tea and hit the new scene running. It wasn't easy--but it was a lot easier than trying to do it at home with all the time-wasters calling. By the time I treated myself to dinner at a nearby restaurant, I had a thousand words, and they painted a decent picture. I have to say, I hate the laptop keyboard. It's not ergo, and it hurts me. But for that thousand words, it was worth it. I'm so close to finishing that scene that I'm going back to it now. I think it's safe to say that the logjam is finally broken, and if it takes going to the Moxie with the laptop every day from now until Chapter 20, then that's what I'll do.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Step Forward

Last week was one of the most exhausting of the entire summer--and I'd think it would have been just the opposite. This was when the summer was supposed to have slowed down! I spent a large portion of last week trying to scare up ads for my younger daughter's feis program book, and that involved a lot of running around. A feis (pronounced "fesh") is an Irish dancing competition, and getting ads for the program book is part of how our group will meet the expenses associated with it.

On Monday I went to my chiropractor and had her look at my foot as well as my back and neck. I was expecting her to have to pull the big toe back into place since I'd corked it last Saturday. I was even expecting her to pull a few other toes back into place as well, since something had been not quite right with the middle of my foot for maybe a couple of years now. She did all that, no problem. But then she told me that she thought I was getting a bunion on that foot. That's where the big toe starts to lean over toward the other toes, and the joint at the bottom starts to form a sort of knobby protrusion which can be increasingly painful and may eventually make it hard to walk. I had no idea there was a problem. She told me that I needed to do something about it now, before it gets worse, so I went home and did some research to find out what my options are. Basically I came up with two: surgery or a brace. I choose the brace, since this thing is in such an early stage that I doubt a surgeon would even want to operate yet. (Also, I'm a wimp.) So now I get to wear a toe brace for several hours each day or night and see if I can stave off this problem getting worse. I'm ticked off about it, but as problems go, it could be a lot worse. I'll take a bunion over a fatal disease any day.

I managed to get the new scene for Chapter Ten put together. I had a hard time wrestling it into being, but now that it's mostly there I think it'll work well. It occasioned an additional reshuffling of scenes, and now I need to go through and look at all the things it rearranged so there are no timing issues--characters knowing certain things before they're supposed to, etc. But from here on out, things should go a lot more smoothly. At this rate I won't get the rewrite finished by the end of this month, but hopefully I won't have to go too far into August. I really don't want to take more than another two or three weeks on this. I'm ready for it to be done, so I can move on to the next book. (Or finish the third book of the Oantran Triad.) So, back to work for me....

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Self Sabotage

Well, I finally did it. Lost a scene I'd written because I was hasty and careless. Yesterday I took the laptop to a Moxie Java and used it to reorganize Chapters 10 through 20. The trouble was, I'd already done a lot of that work on the PC at home and didn't realize it, so I ended up doing the same thing twice for no good reason. There was some benefit to it because I also made a few notes in the various chapters on the laptop that I didn't have on the desktop PC, and further refined my reorganization of 10 - 20. But my big stupid mistake came after I'd started to transfer the newly updated files from the laptop to the PC. I only had to change a few of them, and Chapter Ten on the PC contained a partial scene that the laptop did not. I thought I was being careful to transfer only things that had changed substantially on the laptop and improved the chapters in question. Then I realized that I'd overwritten the PC's Chapter Ten with the laptop's Chapter Ten--and in the process lost the partial scene that had been on the PC. Gone forever--no way to get it back. I'll never know whether the partial scene was particularly good or not, because it had been a little while since I'd read it through--but good or bad, it's gone forever. Now instead of polishing and finishing it, I have to rewrite it completely. They say that you can always fix bad writing, but you can't fix a blank page. Don't I know it! Sheesh.

Oh, and to add injury to insult, I fell asleep in the office's comfy armchair while I was waiting for a downloaded program to supposedly recover my overwritten files (starts the process but won't finish unless you buy it--very frustrating little exercise in doomed hope). Then I woke up suddenly with a sharp pain in my left big toe. Seems I'd kicked out in my sleep and whacked the toe on a fan which was on the floor in front of the chair. Hurt like a you-know-what, but didn't turn purple, so I guess it's not broken. But I've been limping all day because it hurts when I try to move it much or put any weight on it. I can walk normally, but at about a quarter of normal speed.

Apparently, I am my own worst enemy.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Power Lunch

Today (Friday) one of my Moxie crit partners and I got together for lunch and brainstorming. Both were excellent. I think we both went home with what we came for, which is always the best end to any brainstorming session--or any lunch, for that matter. I'd been spinning my wheels on this revision, but over the last two days I finally started to get a better sense of the road ahead. I think now I can finally write my way out of the corner. It's great when you have a sounding board for ideas--someone who can say, "No, that won't work because you did thus-and-such back in chapter seven," or "Don't forget, you still need to add this-or-that plot element, like we discussed last time." The input from another person always helps put things back into perspective. It's like a dress rehearsal for your wild-*** ideas before they go onto the page. Or if you're short of wild-*** ideas, then it may generate some--for all participants and all novels present at the table. That is my preferred version of a power lunch.

Monday, July 09, 2007


My car now officially runs on ethanol. We just finished the conversion today. It has a lot more power than it used to; I like being able to accelerate faster, especially from a complete stop. They took a video of the conversion process. As soon as I have a link to the video online, I'll post it for those who are curious about what's involved. Please note that the conversion of the Ford 500 in particular is a little more complicated than most, simply because of how the car is put together and what it takes to reach the fuel injectors. The conversion process took about an hour for an experienced mechanic to do. Most conversions take a lot less time and don't necessarily require a mechanic. But then, that's Phouka for you. Can't be anything simple with this car, can it?

And of course, being Phouka, it had to pull at least one more little trick. This time it was the right rear turn signal. The Huz didn't notice when he drove it because he doesn't normally pay attention to the specific behaviors of my car, but when I drove the two of us to a movie tonight, I noticed right away that the right turn signal was going about twice as fast as the left. When we got home, we checked it out. Sure enough, the right rear turn signal main bulb is burnt out. Sigh. And we can't figure out how to get to the bulb to replace it--at least, not without the Chilton's manual. Can you imagine me having to take the car to the dealer to get a stupid bulb replaced? Argh. The kids would say "That's Pah-hooooka!"

On the writing front, I've been shuffling scenes, considering throwing out some and altering others, trying to get all the stuff from Chapter Ten through Chapter Twenty arranged so it all makes sense. I need to write a whole new scene or two for Chapter Ten. Meanwhile, the Moxie want me to throw out a scene that I thought brought an important sense of closure to one of the subplots, so I'm considering whether to throw it out in total or try to compress it a little and save the most important parts of it so it doesn't drag. I'm getting a little frustrated with this revision because without specific details on what parts really don't work in the storyline, it's feeling a lot like I'm trying to bake a cake without a recipe. The middle's soft. Okay, so I keep poking it with a toothpick, but I'm not sure which parts are baked and which parts are still doughy. Help!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Living Lean in the Forest

I just got back from a 5-day camping trip. Tent camping, not RV. We spent a good part of our second day gathering wood for the fire, cutting it, splitting it, and piling it. Now picture me at 5'0" and my husband at 5'11" on either side of an old fashioned crosscut saw, sawing away at a downed log like a pair of lumberjacks. My arms and legs hurt the next day; I woke up stiff and sore from using muscles that normally don't get a lot of exercise. Between that and pumping drinking water at a hand pump, swimming in the lake, etc., I imagine I'd soon get into amazing shape if I had to live like that for very long. Somehow I doubt the pioneers tended to be either out of shape or overweight.

Now here's the kicker: I took the laptop with me. I finished doing my paper edits for Chapter Nine and got all the edits input for Chapters Three through Nine. If I'd had another day or so, I'd probably have been able to write the new scene I think I need for Chapter Ten. With any luck, I'll be doing that tonight. But I found out that when you have a laptop running on battery power and you're limited to however many hours that battery will last, you're a lot less likely to even look at any computer games. Play a game = waste power. You get as fast and as efficient as possible. I was able to recharge the battery using an inverter and our pickup, but I only recharged twice and didn't find myself tempted to take it for granted. Also, with no internet, no email, no anything extra to waste time on, it was a lot easier for me to just dive right into the work without stopping to do other things first.

All in all it was five days of livin' lean. I am, however, very grateful right now for all the creature comforts that I usually take for granted.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Pooka's Latest Tale

Phouka, the car, went into the shop on Friday morning and was out again by Friday afternoon. There was something wrong with the computer (and didn't I say as much two years ago when it wigged out on that trip to Portland?) As I understand it, a piece of bad code was causing the transmission to refuse to shift, even though there was nothing structurally wrong with the transmission. They re-flashed the code and now supposedly all's peachy. I swear, sometimes I hate computers. Can't live with 'em....

But I got to run errands earlier, which was good since we're about to leave town for a few days' camping. What isn't good is that my daughter brought yet another cold home, and of course after a few days' holdout, I came down with it. I'm not crazy about camping with the dregs of a cold, but will do so if necessary. If I get worse, we can always come back home. And I won't get worse, so there it is. As colds go, the one we had last month was by far the more miserable.

For the last two nights, I've worked on reading through Chapters 1 through 9 of the manuscript so I can figure out what to put in the blank Chapter Ten. From what I can tell, I've accomplished a lot of the changes I was supposed to make. I think I have an idea of what needs to happen in that blank space, so I need to check the story's calendar to make sure it fits in. Wouldn't it be a hoot if I actually came back from this camping trip with the book fully revised? Anyway, it feels good to be working on it again and know that I'm making progress. A great writing coach once told me it was more important to get it right than to get it fast, but ideally I'd prefer to do both.

Oh, and the reason I'm up so late/early is that this particular head cold isn't very conducive to sleeping lying down. If I have to make a choice between sleeping and breathing, I choose breathing.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Golden Compass

Okay, I couldn't resist this one. Who wouldn't be curious about their animal alter-ego?

You can find these at

Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten is completely blank. I got to shuffling scenes, trying to address the revision points Bob and I had discussed, and somehow everything ended up getting moved out of Chapter Ten and into other places. So now I'm trying to figure out whether I really need to add anything new into that chapter, or whether everything else from Eleven on simply gets moved up to fill the gap.

I thought it might help to read through everything I have revised so far, from Chapter One on. But as soon as I started reading it, I had to start tweaking it. Dang it! I'm not sure whether it really needed tweaking, or whether I was just reading it too late at night to be properly objective. That's probably the case. I'll try again tomorrow.

We're about to go on a five-day camping trip, and of course, there's plenty to do to get ready. I was greatly tempted to just let the family go and stay at home by myself, but #1: my car's in the shop as of Friday morning, and I might not have a vehicle if I stayed in town. And #2: I promised I'd go with them. It's one of the family vs. career things, and in the long run, the family is most likely to stand by my bedside if something happens to me, so...I go camping. But I'm taking the laptop. So there! Who knows--maybe a change of scenery will jog something loose or mysteriously help me figure out whether we need to see another Colm/Brenna scene or a Niall/Colm/Brenna scene, or.... Argh!

If a tent in the forest inspires me into figuring out Chapter Ten, I'll go camping more often.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Just Life

I guess sometimes I don't post because I don't feel I have enough news on the writing front to post a good, thoughtful piece about writing. But maybe a few posts about our day-to-day life would keep the blog up to date and fill the wait between writing-specific posts.

Phouka's been at it again. Anyone who's read the posts I made back in 2005 about my Ford 500 car, Phouka, knows what I mean by that. This time it may be the computer. I don't know. You know how you need a problem to repeat enough times reliably so it can be diagnosed? Well, this is like that. The other day I went to start my car in a parking lot and it started flashing "check engine" and "check transmission" at me. All the way home, it wouldn't shift gears. Then we put it on a code reader, it flashed another nonsense code just like it did two years ago, and after we cleared the codes it behaved perfectly, shifting and everything. Then the next day, I was idling the motor in Park mode at a fast food drive-though window, (ironically at another Taco Time like two years ago) and when I went to shift it into Drive it gave a weird clunk and started flashing the same messages as the previous day. So, another drive home at 35 MPH stuck in first gear. Then I got it into my driveway, the Huz went out and messed with the clear info buttons on the steering wheel, and the next morning when he went to start it up, it was fine--started up fine, shifted fine, everything. We even took it to a meeting that evening and it behaved fine the whole time. If the transmission was shot, I'd expect that it would behave differently than this--but then, I'm no mechanic. However, it seems more like the computer is wigging out or something. Fortunately, those parts of the car are still under warranty. But I'll have to get it to wig out again so that when I take it in to the dealer, they have something to diagnose. Otherwise it's just the well-named mischievous Phouka acting up again and taking me for a wild ride. Hmph.

Otherwise, it's life as usual. Weeding the square-foot garden, putting nylon stockings on all the little apples on our tree to ward off codling moths without using pesticides...and trying to clean the house after letting it get so very disorganized during our last three hectic months of the school year. Then there's the vow renewal of a friend of ours this weekend, and a planned camping trip coming up one day soon....

And writing??? Um, going to do that now, actually. promise. The revision's almost done, assuming I hit all the points I knew about in the way I was supposed to.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Good Crime Was Had by All

Okay, the silence is probably getting ominous, so it's time to squeeze a blog into the already crammed schedule.

This last weekend I attended our local mystery conference, Murder in the Grove. I took a master class on Friday from Margie Lawson. She had some interesting techniques for diagnosing and evaluating a manuscript, mostly focused on how you've handled the various story elements with regard to character emotion and highly charged emotional moments. It was a good class and certainly gave me a few new tools with which to tweak the rewrite. I also met Sharan Newman and took a class from her on Saturday--her information on research and accuracy in historical fiction was right in line with what I've always believed, and Sharan is as gracious a lady as anyone who has read her books could hope to meet.

The kids and I are about a heartbeat away from being able to mail the last of the homeschool packets for the year, and then I'll be hitting this novel revision with a sledgehammer. Next year I'll be ruthlessly dividing the schedule up into very focused blocks, which should result in my getting lots more writing time and the kids keeping pace or getting ahead with their schoolwork. Oak Meadow's such a great school program, we'd really like to be able to continue with it.

Meanwhile, onward....

Friday, June 01, 2007

Blue Moon

I'm still here, still working on the rewrite, still trying to get the kids through this school year. We're close now--just a little way to go and we're done. We even took part of today off to go and see the new Pirates movie. Good movie and lots of fun, but they left one piece of story unexplained in either a prime example of bad writing or bad editing. When I read a possible explanation online, I liked the story better. Supposedly the missing piece of information was in a deleted scene, if the rumor is at all credible. I hope it is. Seeing it on DVD will probably clear up my one objection to the script. I know it was a long movie, but sometimes the scene that gets cut is the one scene that makes sense of the whole thing. I hate it when that happens--in any medium.

I finally feel as though I might make sense of the one scene in my novel that was sort of hanging fire. I think I even managed to find the right place to include a particular detail that Bob mentioned over the phone. Now it's just a matter of finishing a couple of scenes, making little tweaks to a few others, and then taking a read-through and seeing whether the story hangs together with the changes I made.

That's about it. I didn't have a lot to blog about. I know it's been sparse lately and today's blog probably doesn't add a whole lot to the existing picture. But since I haven't been managing a blog a week lately, I figured I could at least blog once in a blue moon....

Thursday, May 17, 2007


How many of your deadlines come from outside factors, how many are self-imposed, and how do you handle each?

The kids and I are coming smack up against the homeschool deadline for this year, which is a pseudo-flexible kind of thing. By that I mean that we're supposed to be finished with our 36-week school year by the end of this month, which gives the official correspondence teacher a couple of weeks to finish grading all the papers and assignments for the year, to get them done and grades submitted by June 15. But we've also paid for the teacher support through the end of June and can ask for additional months as we need them in case our school year needs to run longer for any reason. In the case of one kid, we may need an extra month, but in the case of the other, I hope to be done on time. We'll see. Either way, my personal deadline for this homeschool year is to be done by the end of May so I can have all summer to concentrate on writing issues, clean my house, sort through all the junk in the storage room and get things back under the illusion of control. I have no idea whether this will become reality or whether we'll end up stretching the school stuff into the summer as we have for the past two years. But I can always hope. Each summer, we gain a few more weeks of vacation time, which may or may not involve an actual vacation.

Then there's the writing deadlines. Since I don't have a publisher, my deadlines are mostly set by me and sometimes by tacit suggestions from Bob, who's a lot more realistic than I am. I have the tendency to set unrealistic deadlines, meaning I set them on a tougher schedule which I can rarely comply with in real life. For instance, I hoped to have this rewrite done by the beginning of May. Not only has that not happened, but I'm only halfway through the rewrite. Granted, there are a few extenuating circumstances, but I still feel that it should be going faster. Would I be able to go faster if I had an actual publisher's deadline to meet? Certainly it would help the family to take my writing time more seriously. But ultimately, my time management issues are my own, and I feel like I've been playing hooky. That must change, immediately. Bob can't market a book he doesn't have. And every week that goes by without the rewrite done is a week that he might have been able to make a sale for us and couldn't. So, shame on me. I must and will pull it together. I guess if that means the kids' school year drags longer into the summer, then so be it. Meshing of the schedules and getting all members of the family team to work together is a big challenge. But for me to figure out how to merge my writing into the larger family agenda is the biggest challenge yet.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

I've Got a Bee In My Bonnet

This whole honeybee issue is really bugging me. I can't stop thinking about it. Every day I look at the news online, wondering what's happening with the bees. I hope they make it; I hope we all make it. But unless people wake up and begin to realize that everything we do has an effect on the environment, we may be in for a very rude awakening. I hate reading posts on the internet from naysayers who believe that they can go on spraying their pesticides, using their fossil fuels and polluting this planet without any kind of consequences. Scientific evidence says otherwise. This evidence has been available for decades. In fact, the whole ecology issue should be a no-brainer. (And yes, I did read the articles about the Varroa mites. They're getting more and more resistant to the pesticides, just like germs get resistant to antibiotics. We seem to be dealing with multiple causative factors in this bee issue, and I'm betting we need multiple solutions to solve the problem.) We've only got one planet, folks. Please, please, let's take care of it, and everything that lives on it. If we do that, then we're taking care of ourselves as well.

As to the book: no, the revisions are not finished. I scribbled as many notes as I could while talking to Bob on the phone, but other than that I'm working blind. I think I've addressed most of the issues we discussed, so we'll see what happens. I'm generally pretty strong in the revision stage; I hope that proves true this time. I guess I'm nearly halfway done. Should be closer than that, but we've had to put in some major homeschool effort in order to get finished on time. (The family got quite a bit behind while I was writing the first draft of the novel, so we've been hitting the books double-time to make up for it.) Two weeks ago both kids got sick, so we lost a lot of time there. And as part of my fifth-grader's science project, we're planting a garden. The new tomato boxes that the Huz built are going into place today, and then I can go shopping for the plants to go in them. We'll have home-grown tomatoes this year, dang it, even if I have to hand-pollinate them with a Q-tip!

Gotta go. I have assignments to make out, and maybe an hour of novel revision to do, and then I have to hit the hay because we're going to see a Spider-Man 3 matinee tomorrow.

Bee good to each other, and please send a few positive thoughts in the direction of the hives.

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.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


We may end up moving this year. I hope we won't have to, because this move would come at a bad time for me; I'm busy enough as it is. I don't want to leave my friends, my house, the life I've built for myself here. And at the same time, a part of me knows it would be a great adventure to live somewhere else for a change. The east coast? The Great Lakes region? But that's so...far away. It would be a huge change for me, my kids, my elderly cat...

The Huz would be fine. His family moved a lot when he was a kid, so he's used to it. But not me. I put down roots. I lived with my grandparents in Montana for most of my life. I went to one school before college, all the way from K through 12. I moved a few times right after I started out on my own at age 18, but I've been in Boise for sixteen years. Ten of those years were spent in our starter home, and the last three years have been here, in the house I'm not sure I can bear to leave. This is the house I always dreamed about. I had a hard enough time leaving the starter home, but this...leaving this would be very, very hard. I love to travel, as long as I have my secure base to come back to. The more of myself I put into a home, the harder it is to let go.

The one thing I know for sure is that change will happen, whether or not I'm ready for it. I'm ready for some change, like publication, book tours and hard deadlines, but not for an entirely new base of operations. And what if I get the publishing contract right when we're about to move? Urk! Oh, well, bring it on. Better that than a lot of other, less constructive types of change.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day

This week is always one of our busiest weeks every year. My Irish dancer daughter spends the whole day running around from one venue to another, participating in performance after performance with her dance troupe. It's a whirlwind of appearances, drives across and around town, hurried meals, flying curls and tired feet. I envy her, but I'm very, very proud of her. She's living her dream--right here, right now.

I'll also never forget the day she watched me typing for the first time and remarked, "Mama, it looks like your fingers are dancing." And so all artists make beauty in their own way....

Dance on, everyone.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Catching Up

This last couple of weeks, all I've done is catch up on things I let slide while I finished the last manuscript. The kids are enrolled in a correspondence school and have an official teacher, but for everyday intents and purposes, we function like homeschoolers. I have to get their packets ready to mail, make sure all the assignments are there, etc. Sometimes we get behind, and over the past few months, we got really behind. We'll be fine just as long as we get our work done by mid June at the latest, but we're having to make up now for some things that just didn't get done while I was lost in "book fog."

So I've had my break from writing, but it didn't really feel like a vacation. I'm starting to get antsy from not writing, and I need to get back into it soon! But I also need to take care of some of these other responsibilities as well. If it's a balancing act now, I have no idea what it'll be like once I'm published. Whatever happens, I hope it involves staff--like a housekeeper, private tutor, and personal assistant, maybe? Yeah. That'll be happening.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Follow-up To Last Tuesday

It's a small world, and the Internet has made it even smaller. Over the past few years since I first explored the web, I've corresponded with all sorts of people I might not have met otherwise. Last Tuesday the world shrank a little more, in a good way.

I mentioned a book by William Brohaugh called "Write Tight." The next day I was greatly surprised and thrilled to see that the author had noticed the mention in this blog and responded with some great news. His comments are below in bold:

Kathy, thank you for the kind and humbling comments about Write Tight. I know the author well because, um, well, I'm the author.

Write Tight is not out of print (ISI Books is the current publisher), though availability seems a mite scarce at the moment.

Good news: Especially because of your enthusiasm for the book, I'm excited to announce (and yes, this is, to the best of my knowledge, the first place it's been annnounced) that Write Tight will be coming out in paperback soon--schedule at the moment is fall 2007.

Good luck in your writing, and thanks again for your kind nod to Write Tight.

There you go, folks; you heard it here! To find out more about this great editor and author, check out his website.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Fact Checking

I just saw a made-for-TV movie based on a popular author's romance novel. It was set in Montana on a ranch. What bothered me was the way they portrayed the people--a bunch of cowboy-hat-wearing "westerners". Why do people tend to perceive Montana as being so very primitive and hokey? Montana has relatively few stereotypical cowboy types. Sure, there are a few here and there, but you can find "cowboys" in every state. I grew up in Montana and then went to college there. We didn't speak with a weird variation on the Texas twang. Most of us didn't wear plaid or checkered shirts, cowboy hats and cowboy boots. Blue jeans, sure, but with athletic shoes and any variety of shirt, blouse or sweater. I hate to disillusion anyone, but Montana isn't the last bastion of the Old West. Most Montana citizens (or former citizens) speak with a Dan Rather accent, not any variety of a southern drawl. Our belt buckles are usually not any larger than anyone else's--when we wear belts at all. Sometimes people have similar perceptions of Idaho. But neither Idaho nor Montana is really the "West". We're really part of the Northwest region, and the culture and accent doesn't vary that much between Boise, Portland, Seattle, and Missoula. If you go as far as L.A. you'll get a vastly different culture, but L.A. is kind of a law unto itself.

When I moved from Montana to Idaho, I didn't experience any type of culture shock. Nor do I experience it when I visit Oregon or Washington. The cultures are pretty similar in all four states. But I never read stories where people from Oregon or Washington are portrayed as gun-toting, boot-wearing, twang-speaking cowboys. No, that dubious honor seems to be reserved for Montana and sometimes Idaho.

I'm writing urban fantasy set in Ireland. I've done my level best to make my portrayal of Irish people as real-seeming and accurate as possible. I don't write in an exaggerated brogue. I communicate with Irish people via email to try to make everyday details as accurate as possible. I hope to have a native Irish reader if I ever get as far as sending out ARCs for Pale. I've actually been to Ireland, which helps. I've tried hard to avoid making stupid cultural mistakes in the novel. I'd hope anyone writing about a place they don't know much about would make a similar effort.

One of the reasons Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson books ring so true with regard to places and life in the Tri-cities is because Patty has actually lived there. It was a joy to read in the Mercy books about places I'd visited many times and know that the author got it right. When I watched the romance novel movie set in Montana, I couldn't help wondering whether the people who'd written the script had ever even been there.

This is not to say that in order to write about a place, you have to go there. But I do think that at least a little research is in order. If you can't go to the place you're writing about, you can watch a few video documentaries on the place, read a few books, or find a correspondent who lives there and will answer your specific questions about the area and culture. The realism it gives to your book should be well worth the extra time and effort.

Culture differences are funny. Once in a while, my agent will ask a question or say something that I don't know how to answer or interpret. Sometimes I make a comment that amuses him. Most of it is simply me being a dork, though some of it is probably due to small regional differences in the language or culture. But hey, he's been to Boise! It isn't just a dot on a map. One day, I need to visit New York City because I've never been there. I have a friend who lives "back east", and she kisses people on the cheek as a greeting. We don't tend to do that so much over here, so I'm a little awkward at it, but I'm getting better. Most of this is about taking the effort to learn about other people's cultures, habits and etiquette. How hard is that? It doesn't take so very much extra effort, it makes people happy, and helps avoid offending people out of ignorance. Shouldn't it be the same when writing books or movie scripts?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

E-Prime and Writing Tight

I've seen a few discussions on various forums about the technique of writing in E-Prime. I must confess, I'd never heard of it until a couple of days ago. It sounded like the name of a planet! (Says the blonde who's not really blonde.) For everyone who's not a linguist or a sci-fi geek, E-Prime is actually a method of writing which removes all the forms of "to be". It's harder than it looks, given the many forms that "to be" can take. It also recommends against using contractions, but I don't think modern dialog sounds right without them. So how can one tighten prose while keeping that "real life" flavor and not starting to sound like Commander Data?

When I finish a manuscript--I think I've mentioned this before--I go through and try to remove as many instances of "ing", "ly", "and", "as" and "was" as possible. Over the past couple of years, I've almost broken myself of the frequent use of "ly" adverbs, so I almost don't have to check for them anymore. When I do have an "ly" lapse, it usually occurs in a cluster; I'm not sure why. I don't remove every "ly,", just enough so they're not used in excess. I'm also down to a minimal use of "ing" verbs as well. I do notice that when I take out "ing" words, I tend to reform the sentence into a compound one, which often requires the use of "and." And it really bothers me when I see "and" peppered over my page, and I feel compelled to remove as many of them as possible, which often results in a few of my "ing's" being added back into the mix. It's just like a good recipe. Too much or too little of one type of spice and you spoil the soup, so it makes sense to taste as you go along.

Bottom line: I'm picky about polish. I go through and highlight all the offending words so I can see how thickly they're scattered onto my page. Each pass nixes at least a few of the offenders so that by the time I'm done, I've removed at least a third to half of them. With any luck, I've left the ones that really help the prose flow the right way. I don't use E-Prime to such an extent that there are no "to be" verbs left in my...ah...verbiage. E-Prime might make some writing easier to read, but it can also change the original meaning of a sentence. There's a time for more active verbs, but there's also a time to simply ignore the rules and It's the writer's job to know when to do what.

For anyone looking for a good instructional book on how to tighten up your writing, I can recommend William Brohaugh's "Write Tight". Sadly, it's out of print, but you can probably still get a used copy through Amazon's marketplace. With such tough markets out there, I can't imagine why any writer--aspiring or otherwise--might not want to clean up her prose and give a manuscript just that much more of an edge. It's not about perfection (which I doubt exists anyway), but it is about being thorough, professional, concise, fast-paced and reader-friendly.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Existential Nightmare

Okay, so I'm trying to write urban fantasy. No problem so far. Then I spent three nights surfing the web for info on how an immortal might become mortal, and it snowballed into an existential nightmare. I blogged about it, using up about an hour for composition time. Then Blogger lost the entirety of the post. I can't get it back, so I'll try to recreate it, though it won't be the same. Never is, dang it! But hey, even if the post isn't here in exactly the same form, it did and still does exist. Take that.

The bulk of the information online seems to agree that most immortals wouldn't even want to consider becoming mortal, but if they did then the only method seems to be incarnation into a physical body, such as becoming a baby. Not much info there. However, there was plenty of info about the attempts of mortals to become immortal. The sticky part is that it all depends on your definition of mortal.

Enter a group of scientists who contributed to a recent article in Time magazine, claiming that every facet of consciousness can be linked to neuron and synapse activity in the brain. According to them, no brain activity = no consciousness = no soul. Personally, I believe they're wrong, wrong, wrong, but I won't know for sure until I die and I'm not in a hurry for that.

If we take the above theory but assume that souls do in fact exist, then it would follow that the traditionally accepted "immortals" like vamps, mermaids, and fae are actually the mortals since they supposedly have no souls, while the "mortal" humans are in fact the immortals since we supposedly have souls.

See what I mean by existential nightmare? And all I wanted was to find a way for an immortal to become mortal. Or rather, I wanted to find a way for a non-corporeal being to become corporeal rather than by incarnation as a baby. And immortal vs mortal is different than non-corporeal vs corporeal, apparently. Arrghhh!!!

Then I went to see Pan's Labyrinth, and it provided as many potential questions as it did answers. If you like dark fantasy, go see it but be aware that it's rated R and when I say dark I mean dark. Also, don't forget the subtitles. It's all in Spanish.

As to the prevalent historical theories: Personally, I always hated the assumption that Sidhe don't have souls. It just doesn't play well with the way I view the Sidhe. But I don't want to get into any fights or flame wars over who does and doesn't have a soul. Fortunately, we all have different neurons and synapses, and different opinions. If we didn't, there wouldn't be much of a point to existence in the first place. As far as I know, I am a soul and I currently have a body. That'll have to do for now.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pale in the Mail

The manuscript is off to New York. It came to 93,074 words, which is a perfect length--not too long, not too short. Now I'll just have to wait and see.

I can hardly believe it's in the mail. Once I was able to focus on it exclusively, the writing went quickly. I looked back at my previous blogs to find out how long it took, and apparently I played around with the outline and the first three chapters for several months, starting in March of 2006 and then finally launching full force into the rest of the book in September. (I was still mostly writing on the third epic fantasy last summer.) So the bulk of the writing of Beyond the Pale occurred between September 2006 and January 2007, including edits. It seems strange knowing that it's done.

I've finished 2 1/2 other manuscripts between the year 2000 and now, but they were all part of the same epic fantasy trilogy. Each manuscript had an individual story arc, but I guess in my mind it felt more like one very long story that I still haven't quite finished yet. So it's interesting to have completed something so vastly different than what I've been writing for most of the past six years. In a way, I'm still not sure what to make of it. On the other hand, I have this very strong feeling that this is the book that's actually going to make it through the publishing gauntlet.

I called Bob last Wednesday and left a message to tell him the book was done, and he returned the call the next day. I told him I wanted to do the last little bit of polishing and then I'd send it out the first part of this week. I was hoping for Monday, but then the synopsis needed to be revamped, so it all went out today (Tuesday). He should receive the manuscript around Thursday or Friday since I sent it Priority Mail. He told me he liked the first half, so I'm hoping he likes the second half as well. It'll be interesting to see what publishers' reactions will be, but while I'm not going to hold my breath or make assumptions...I still have that strange half-panicky feeling that tells me we're on the verge of something major here.

Or it could just be all the caffeine I had to drink while I finished the manuscript.