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.