A little newsletter-type thing that I've been getting via emails for the last few years. I'm embarrassed to say that I've often NOT had the time to read them. There is a truckload of info in this little newsletter. It comes out of the University of Wisconsin.
A couple things I'd like to share that really impacted me in the latest #25 letter. There was a cute little story about a magic pen and if you bought and used that magic pen, you would be a writer. I got a kick out of it. I know better. It's me and my Muse that write. :)
One of the best things in this issue is: "Oft-overlooked rules of English." Page 3. Quite fun! My favorite, being as I'm from Ohio and I think we are born to do this, is Prepositions are not words to end sentences with. In Ohio - they are! Another favorite is: One should never generalize. In a sentence, the nouns has to match the verbs. You get the idea.
I liked Perry "Paw Joe" Stone's column. He does what I do, which definitely makes me his fan. He writes and then immediately edits. Sometimes he only writes a paragraph or a sentence and then edits. Made me feel better about myself.
Norma Sundberg wrote: A friend listened to me going on and on
about my publishing success and said, "Oh! we all know you like to brag!" “NO, I told her. It's called MARKETING! And we all know that marketing is a whole 'nuther world' altogether??!!
I very much like this thought - mostly because I feel a bit self-aggrandizing when I'm telling folks about 'Blue.' But now I understand. I'm just MARKETING! :)
I'm getting a little nervous here. As a writer. But more than that...
The schools in my state are just dying - one by one. They've cut sports, transportation, music, art. Today I learned some schools in my area are going to close their libraries.
As an author, this sounds like a death-knell for any hope for future readers. Yet, putting myself aside, I weep for our children.
With the resurgence in reading after the Harry Potter series started, I had hoped that children would feel the love for a book that I did and still do.
Parents are out of work and food is hard to come by. What priority do books have when the basics of life are tenuous? When children live out of cars? When a federally-subsidized breakfast is the only meal a child will have in a day?
We must change. We must remember that art is worth the cost. That a society without poets is doomed. Somehow, children must be nourished, physically first, and then mentally, spiritually, and morally.
When a child is growing, their center of gravity changes. Truly! When you're one height and one weight and then change in a matter of days/months, as little ones do, then the center of gravity changes. It takes awhile to get used to a new center of gravity. The body has to learn to walk differently. To bend lower. To squeeze through. That’s probably why toddlers stumble a lot. Clumsy kids are probably not clumsy, just dealing with a new center of gravity.
When I hurt myself or have a debilitating illness, my center of gravity changes because I do things differently to compensate. I KNOW I had a different center of gravity when I was pregnant!
So – does this mean that I, as an author, have a center of gravity, too? Perhaps there is an emotional center of gravity. Perhaps there is a spiritual center of gravity. When I struggle with a story I’m working on? When the character seems to have twisted herself into something totally NOT what I’d thought? Are these the results of center of gravity changes?
I think I’ll accept this and not be so hard on myself when I’m struggling. When the Muse seems to have flown to New Zealand for the year!
As you know, at a recent SCBWI conference, I won a critique by a well-known fantasy author. My editor and I poured over the first ten pages (the subject of the critique) for 'Blue.' I finally sent it to the author on Sunday. With my heart in my throat.
I got an email back from her stating that she was excited that it was me who won the raffle. I've corresponded with her on her blog and via emails. It was nice to know she 'recognized' me from that correspondence.
Now - I sit and wait. It's only Tuesday night. How fast do I want her to call with the critique? Don't I want her to spend some quality time on it? My heart races every time I think on it. This critique will be the first that I have EVER received from a fantasy writer.
I checked her schedule and discovered she's off and running on the never-ending speaker/autograph/reading run. She's going to be in California tomorrow. It looks like a heavy schedule.
So - I can hope she's reading it on the plane, even as I write? Or something like that.
Sister/friends Skype'd me yesterday morning from Ireland. We had a glorious chat. It's been too long since I've seen them. And the five-six hour difference is maddening. I'm awake when they're asleep and vice-versa!
They were so excited. They have three B&B's and just recently they had an author from the US stay with them. They chatted and chatted about writing. They told me how wonderful it was to talk with her - and they told her a bit about me, too. The one sister is a writer, too. It must have been such a delight to spend quality time speaking of the craft.
These dear sisters thought it was a sign to me to keep writing. The author, Rhonda Greene, told them about all the rejection letters she had (over 200) and finally got her break. She's got a truckload of stories published now. http://www.rhondagowlergreene.com/
So - no coincidences. The girls called because I needed to be refreshed with news that I must keep plugging.
I wrote two and half chapters yesterday. It was great. And the transition that I thought was going to give me such trouble just took care of itself. Flowed perfectly into the final phase of the Midpoint.
Midpoint is now complete. Phew! That is so awesome to announce. Now onto the last half of the book. I know where I'm going, thank goodness, and I've got the scenery in my mind. A battle or two to be won and then the end....
Met with my editor Saturday night. We went over the first ten pages of 'Blue.' I'm sending it out for a 'special' critique. She was kind enough to spend a good few hours going over it with me. We cut a lot of little things. Things that were redundant. Things that really didn't need to be in those pages. That's what I like best about having an editor. She sees into the very heart of the story - not at the overall picture.
However, when it was done, I felt drained. The joy of writing seems to have fled from me. I ponder it. Is it because I am so focused on getting published? Have I abrogated my soul for this one purpose? I really have to spend some time thinking about this. Should I just chuck the whole 'need' for being published and go back to just the need to write?
It could be the weather. We broke a record this year (and the year isn't even over yet!). We've had the wettest year in all recorded history for my city. I used to love rain. I really did. I had a 'white noise' machine that would play rain. Mornings and nights I would lie in bed listening to the rain on my roof and soak it in. That has changed. I hate rain. I hate the sound of it. It feels like little hammers hitting at my brain as if it were some anvil.
It could be the lack of a 'separate' place to write. I have no trouble with my blog. Thankfully. But I find I am only writing at home. I used to go out to different restaurants with my handy-dandy yellow pad and have a blast writing. The creative juices flowed at these places. BUT - every time I go, as of late, the places have been full and I deem it rude to hold a table to write when the waiter/waitress can get more tips if I eat and leave.
I wonder if these are just excuses since publishing is such a hard road. Probably. I plan on going back and doing some 'light' writing for a bit. Try to get back the joy. Will also focus on why I want to be published. So that others can meet the characters that I have fallen in love with. So that others can shiver at the danger, laugh at the growing pains of the hero/heroine, rejoice at the growth, and simmer in the warmth of love and friendship.
Watched the Cold Play interview on the Today Show. Matt asked if the pressure for their next album was as great as prior albums, now that they are such a successful rock group. Chris Martin responded that their fans have the choice of where to put their money. So they never 'expect' people to buy their music. The band feels they have to work hard to give the fans a good product. Paraphrased, of course.
That brought to mind publishers, being as I am now actively in the process of sending out my MS. I suppose, once in awhile, I expect the publishers to read my stuff. It's what they did in the past. Yet, in today's economy, I am realizing that this is no longer true. To a degree. They talk about slush piles (the place where they pile unsolicited works). I have found they do read those slush piles. It takes them a long time as they have reduced their staffs.
Am I entitled to be read? I suppose not. Am I entitled to be published? Only if the publisher thinks they can make money on my work. Is that wrong? No.
It's in my corner. Which is really where it should be. I must continue to hone my craft, to learn as much as I can, and to write as well as I can. That's my part of the process.
When I send it off, I can hope it will be read. I can hope that the Muse is correct in what she has bid me to write. And I can hope that I'll be published. I must do everything I can - on my end of this process - to make sure what I write is worthwhile.
I love historical fiction. And Bernard Cornwell is one of my fav such writers. I just finished 'Agincourt.' It was awesome. 'Course I am blown away by the Shakespeare play, Henry V. And the movie with Kenneth Branagh makes me weep.
As I read, I just marveled, as I always do, at the never-ending tension that is Bernard's style. Once started, I can't put his books down. The hero is always the kind that you want to help, that is easy to love, and that is slightly flawed. Still a hero.
I hope that "Blue' has some of those elements. That's what I'm striving for. Not a repeat or a mirror-image of Bernard's writing. No. A creating a world that is worth saving, a hero/heroine who is worth loving, and a sense that, if it were me, I might be able to survive and save my world, too.
I do love libraries. Have loved them all my life. My first real job was as a clerk at the main library in town. It was great being with all those books. I read things I never would have, if not for the easy access.
I think another great thing is, when you find a great librarian. I've found a couple who are just awesome. They help me keep my courage up. They look for stats for me when I'm floundering.
Another thing I've found... JK Rowlings publishers really know what they're doing. I've tried to find the first book of the HP series at two libraries now. Big ones. And all the copies are out. Now - this might not seem unusual - except for the fact that her books are all over the library. They're in children's and young adults and adults. It's incredible. That - numerous places to find a book - would be the ultimate, I think, in marketing.
I also tried to find Cinda Chima's newest book, book three of the Gray Wolf series. But that one's out at both libraries. It gives me such a glow to know and hope that something of mine will not be found at the library because it's so popular.
May your endeavors end up with similar results. Keep writing. Keep hoping. Most of all - keep the passion.
I've spent the last two days writing - constantly. I can't believe that I've now got three and half chapters done. I can't seem to stop. Thankfully! I've got this personal deadline and am hoping to meet it. At this rate, however, I'll need a long vacation when I'm done.
Talk about burning the candle on both ends. I've got a short story I've been working on that I really want to get back to. Probably not publishable, but I've got friends who are waiting for the next chapter. It's been months.
My son read 'Sorrysorrysorry' and suggested I delete the two problem lines in the fourth part and start over again. It's a very good idea. Trying to jerryrig the lines hasn't worked. Deleting them entirely makes good sense.
I haven't worked on the Dentist story for awhile. I plan on getting back to it, but the Muse is hot for 'Blue' so I've got to use what she gives me before she gets upset and leaves! That would be horrifying.
Been an extremely odd few days. My life has changed drastically, but it will change back as of Tuesday.
I thought sure I'd be posting every day, but that hasn't happened. Did you notice? Shees!
I have, however, spent a good portion of time on 'Blue.' I've got a friend who's asked to read it and I've agreed. I'm taking it to her tomorrow. We'll see what happens.
I had the oddest thing happen. When she asked if she could read it, I got embarrassed. As if it's not good enough. I was extremely surprised by my reaction. I know I think 'Sword' is the better book - no matter what my editor says. But I do think 'Blue' is very good. Very good.
I've finished the next chapter. It's a rather controversial chapter. We'll see what happens. The next chapter, 27, is going to be the ending of my hero/heroine's life as she/he knows it. Definitely sending her off on a different tangent. Got my fingers crossed.
I didn't get to do much today with any writing. I lay in bed last night thinking about 'Blue.' It was quite productive. I've taken to keeping a notepad on the nightstand. Nine times out of ten, I'm finding myself up and writing down some thoughts. Did that last night.
I printed out the story so far. I've got thirty-two thousand plus words written. Most of this is already edited a number of times.
I've heard some folks say that it's best to just write, push on, keep your nose to the grindstone, and don't look back.
I can't seem to do that. BUT - When I am writing, I write and don't edit. It's when I'm not sure where I'm going, or if it's been a couple days since I last wrote, that I re-read. During that time, I edit. Can't help myself.
So I'm pretty far along in the process, though the book is only half written. I know what's going to happen in the next couple of chapters of the Midpoint section. After that, my hero/heroine is off and running on the next part of her story. Poor thing. Never gets any rest. I'm a nasty taskmaster!
I know what's going to happen in the following chapters, but I always leave room for the Muse. She has quite a few ideas of her own. I also know the ending. So - I feel I'm in good shape. I'm hoping that I might have the book done by the first of the year. That's the goal.
I've got no big commitments for the next five days, none but seeing the last Harry Potter film. So I plan on keeping my nose to the grindstone.
I know I shouldn't feel this way, but some days I feel the lack of a broader scope in my life. I spend so much time writing that I know I am not going out into the world as much as I used to.
A friend sent me this link of a flashmob in NZ. Opera flashmob. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLDJ2nMpwo8&feature=youtu.be
Can you imagine knowing the words to a piece of opera well enough to go out in public and sing it? I must remember, I can join a group and sing The Hallelujah Chorus (if I can sneak the music in my sleeve).
I've loved opera forever and was blessed many years ago with a friend who shared her season tickets when she couldn't make it. My youngest son would accompany me and we had such a glorious time. He remembers it to this day - fondly.
There is too much out there - in the wide world. I would have it all.
Life is abundant.
PS - I did get to write more of the Midpoint chapters. I've got two and a half done. Drat - I swore this part would only be three chapters long and I've only gotten the hero/heroine to the first of three balls!
Tonight I re-read the entire book, 'Blue,' so far. Thirty-two thousand words, give or take a dozen.
I think it's because I don't use an outline (you remember that failed attempt?). Reading the entire thing gives me continuity. I find little mistakes that would prove embarrassing. Like the one character is a grandfather and I had his granddaughter call him Father.... Fixed it. Things like, is it lunch time? And if it is, why is the sun going down? *giggles*
I think some would think it a waste of time, but I love it.
First, it makes me realize that I am a good writer. I am astounded, as I read, that the thing flows well. That the little puzzle that is the story wends its way forward.
Second, I see the mistakes and can correct them. I know some authors trust others to catch their mistakes, but I like finding them. Usually, there's a reason for the mistake and I get to correct the mistake and thrust the story forward.
Third, I find things that are hints of things to come. Somehow, I remember them, when the time comes, and put them in. I don't know how this happens. It must be the Muse. It almost makes me cry in surprised joy. I don't 'naturally' plan things, but they happen anyhow and they are good and they move the story forward and they help develop the characters and they make the story fun and exciting.
Held my first reading. Honestly! It was with friends, in my own living room, and we did have glasses of wine. But I pulled out 'Sorrysorrysorry' and read it to them. Response was lovely. My gosh - I never thought of doing such a thing, but the Muse, I think, suggested it, and I agreed. One, an editor, said it will probably be my first published work. Needless to say, I felt grand.
An artist friend of mine was in attendance, too. She loved the imagery that the poem/story evoked. She said she could see the Savannah and the characters. It was quite thrilling.
We talked about the process - the Muse and how she goes about doing things with us, her wee servants. This woman is published with a book of sketchings. She showed me photos on her cell phone of the works she's been doing lately. I was astounded that she would do a 'draft' - move it aside - do another - and another - and another. I mistakenly thought that artists just put the oils on the canvas and went from there - adding as they went along. Not true - according to her.
I had an awesome time chatting with these dear friends and their support was touching and appreciated.
I think a wee apology is necessary from me to my neighbors to the north. That would be Canada. Or perhaps even further, the Arctic Circle. No - it's Canada.
My book, 'Blue' - the wizards come from the north. Their land is in the north.
I'm not the only one who should be apologizing, though. I've noticed a trend. -- Other books - Tolkien has his baddies dwelling in the north (Angband). Cinda Chima's baddies live in the north, too.(The Gray Wolf series) The White Witch's Castle from Narnia is located in the north. I could go on - you probably could add quite a few, too.
Blame the Bible, folks. It's not me. Jeremiah 1:14 - Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.
Now - I do NOT believe that Canadians are evil or bad or war-mongers. But we writers have to have someplace for the baddies to come from. I think that tradition, probably based upon the Biblical tome, likes to put the onus on the lands of the north.
Personally - I like Canada. I love Toronto. And my son and his wife adore Quebec.
My baddies, as a matter of fact, are from -- hmm, I've not given the place a name. BUT -- it's NOT Canada!
Ok - folks - I need a name for the home of the bad wizards. Help me out here!
Life is cold.
PS - I KNOW where I dwell is north of lots of folks. I'm not bad - honest!!!
I was watching a program tonight where an artist received instant gratification/feedback for his work. I remember now. It was a chef. He grinned from ear to ear as he told how delighted he was when a customer sent a note to the kitchen that his creation touched the customer.
Stage actors receive it in applause. Fans waiting at a stage door for an autograph. Kudos when they win the Tony. Same for film actors, I suppose. A star in front of Grauman's. Applause at the Emmy's or Oscar's.
Artists when a painting/photo/statue is bought. But that sometimes doesn't mean they have actually had personal interaction with the buyer. It could be that a gallery sold it and the only feedback they get is the check. Not that receiving a check is a bad thing, mind you. No - quite the opposite. But not that one-on-one moment.
It started me thinking.
As a writer, I don't get feedback. Well, I get it now and again when I have a critique done, but that is forced. Bartering, so to speak. You critique mine - I'll critique yours.
I know writers are supposed to be solitary folk. Here I sit at my computer, alone, tapping away. I don't know how often I'll ever get to 'see' someone smile as they read a line or weep as I kill off a character or chuckle when the scene touches home.
Perhaps that's why authors do book signings. The thought of one is rather terrifying to me. Getting up in front of folks. Nodding at their praise (hopefully). Traveling, traveling, traveling.
I'd just like to sit next to my reader and watch as they read. Oh - that, to me, is glorious. That to me is what writing is about. Knowing I've touched someone.
I have to giggle. My face feels like the chef I spoke of earlier. I am delighted at the thought that someone is better/happier/fuller/more human because of what I've written.
I wanted to post yesterday, but as I sat at my computer the news flash came of Steve's death. I wept.
There's a song somewhere that says that we are part of a story. I find that intriguing, now that I'm a writer. I've heard it before, I know I have. But it never stirred my soul as much as it does today.
As the subcreator of Giraffes and Dentist and Blue and Sword, I know I can move my characters any way I want them. The lands that my characters live in are all made up by me. I twist their hearts this way and that. They do as I bid and they are happy. (Until I kill them off. Bwwaahhhaahhhaaa!)
But in the end, the story is complete. As far as I'm concerned. I think a good writer will have her stories carried beyond what she tells. Her readers will take a scene or a character and continue that on in their thoughts. What an exciting thing!
As for this life we live, we are part of a story, too. I don't believe we are jerked around by a creator, per se. But I believe their is a mind behind the story that watches and waits, as I usually have to do for my muse. And that mind is gleefully waiting for the next chapter of my life. I really believe it is gleefully waiting.
That makes life so exciting, doesn't it? To know that the 'author' waits, breathless, for my next step.
I swear I haven't been smoking anything. Just exhilarated by life and happy, so very happy, to be a part of the story. Especially with people like Steve Jobs and Margaret and Angela and Judy and Anne and Maureen and Carol and Brian and Mark and Beth and Julie and Abi and Elli and Kiki and Sabine and Gesina and......
I've been told, and I believe it, that the first ten pages of a manuscript are the most important to an agent/publisher.
Since I will be presenting my first ten as the winner of the raffle, I've been going over them for the last few days. Once I'm done, I'll send them to my editor and see what she thinks. I thought I was done with them... but I don't think you ever are. I've heard of writers who have said they'd go back and change something on their already published works if they could. Human nature, I guess.
I'm trying to give a few more 'hints' as to what the theme of the story is and exactly what the crisis will be that my hero/heroine faces. I hope it works.
As for the Midpoint, I've not gone back to work on the next two chapters. I've reread the first one, and it still seems good. Saturday will be work day for this. Totally focused after my morning writers' group meeting. I'm not presenting Saturday, so it won't be difficult.
Sometimes, when I'm presenting, I have to sit on my hands and really pay attention to other presenters. My mind keeps flying to my own work. I think that's typical, too. Such is life.
My mind meanders... I try to keep it in tow, but it's useless somedays.
I was watching the little one today, playing the piano at the local arts center. She said she was playing Beethoven. I rolled on the floor laughing - grateful she knows the great one's name, but I didn't recognize the piece. (Can't stop laughing. She is SO intense!)
I began to think of how practice is so important, for an instrument, a sport.
In the past, I have pooh-poohed doing writing prompts. I like doing them, don't get me wrong, but I want to write, especially 'Blue.' Spending time on 'peripheral' stuff seems such a waste. Time is so very precious.
I think I have been missing the point. Writing prompts might be 'practice' for regular writing.
Honestly, meeting with friends without an agenda, just to share and laugh and support each other. Isn't that the way to live?
Met with my little WA (Writers Anonymous) group today. We call ourselves Writers Ink. Shared so much. Two of our members went to one conference while I went to another. So - we got two conference materials for the price of one. And then we got to share the wisdom with our fellow members. Not that we'd share it on the Internet or anything like that. The authors and contributors use these conferences and workshops as income and we would not take away their right to such income.
I liked the fact that the others' conference was more about the beginning stages of writing. It's always good to 'go over' the fundamentals. Punctuation and such are vital.
I shared some of the statistics we learned and the message of perseverance. IMHO having friends to support us totally helps in keeping perseverance alive.
How often, in the past, I would wonder if I should continue. My friends urge me on. Conferences urge me onward.
The publishing world is a difficult one to break into. It almost seems impossible. But books are being printed every day.... and why shouldn't mine be one of them?
Keep it up. Keep writing. Find friends on the net or in the RW and listen to them. Read and make your own decisions. Trust the Muse. Trust your gut.
Life is full of wonder.
PS - as always, the Muse has different ideas than I do. I began to write the Midpoint last night, thinking it was only going to be one chapter. The muse quickly asserted it was going to be three. Just shoot me now! *g*