Monday, November 26, 2012

New Book

I started editing 'Blue' but the place we're staying at is not very comfortable for writing. I hope to find a suitable quiet space at our next destination.

In the meantime, I started a new book. Had a weird dream the other night, very detailed, and knew it was the next project. Don't have a name yet, but it's dark. It'll be an adult fantasy with some wild creatures in it.

I went to an exhibition by a sculptor on Saturday night. His creativity put me to shame. I have to go back to 'Blue' and give a bit more to the creatures who inhabit Kathleen's world. It's exciting.

This community in Wellington, NZ is utterly art-driven. Whether it's creatures or sculptures, or monuments or textile weaving or a countless thousand other things, it's just pure creativity. I feel like I've new blood running through me.

Hope to find another Internet cafe when I move on. We happen to be at the airport right now and I was so looking forward to a nice quiet place to chat with you... Maybe next time.

Life is quixotic.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dreams - Be Prepared

Dearest readers, life can be so unexpectedly bizarre.

I am here in New Zealand, expecting to have fun with my Hobbit-minded friends, when, out of the blue, I am told of a person I must see to present my children's picture book to when we arrive in Wellington tomorrow. I am exceedingly excited. I hadn't expected to be doing any networking here.

Another oddity for this trip. Our host is in the midst of writing an autobiography. He asked me to read it, and I did. It was quite good. He's got to spend some time editing it, or getting an editor, but the story itself was riveting. One man's realisation that he must leave his birth home to flourish. When he took the step, with his beloved wife, his entire life changed for the good. He reached for stars and touched them. Very inspiring story.

In the midst of his sharing of what's he's written so far, he told me that his wife, when she was dying, decided to write her own story. He commissioned me to edit it for him. Paid. I was humbled and am honoured. He gave me the story on a 'stick.' I'll take it home and edit via email. The internet is such a boon.

Another gift from the internet. I have a part-time marketing job that provides my condo payment. I'm able to get onto the website, here in NZ, and do my work. Awesome!

One of my traveling companions is a science fiction writer. She asked if she could read a chapter of 'Blue.' I was excited. Even shook a little at the thought, for I respect her writing. She loved it! I wanted to do cartwheels. I'm hoping to send this book to the NZ guy noted above when I'm finished editing. Perhaps he'll be a network for 'Blue' also. Though I think the company he is with is more 'young' readers. We'll see.

So - I am reminding myself that I must dream and be prepared for stars to reach for. 

Life is awesome.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Alive and Well

Haven't touched the book since I got here - oh - I must go soon. They are breaking out another bottle of wine here.

Plan on writing tomorrow - but New Zealand is heaven. Glorious people - glorious country.

Showing my book to someone this week-end past.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

# 23 Twists And Turns

I was watching one of my favorite shows the other night on the Science Channel. It was a series called Firefly. The twist that the show had was that the prevailing language for the 'verse was Chinese. And most times, when the crew of the spaceship swore, it was in Chinese. The computer's voice in this series gave instructions in both English and Chinese. I loved that twist. The whole series is a tongue-in-cheek, cowboys-in-space thing, but it's fun. 

When I had 'Blue' critiqued by someone, they said it had the elements of a Cinderella story. I personally did not see this. The important thing, though, was that the critiquer thought it neat that the 'wicked witch' turned out to be an acerbic ally. He very much liked the twist.

I was explaining some of book two of 'Blue' to my editor. There was what she considered a twist in it, too. I didn't see it, but again, I was delighted that the Muse was keeping me 'honest' and twisting me around. 

Now that I'm in the midst of what I hope is my final edit, I will look for twists. If I don't find enough, I'll have to make some up. *g*

The latest edition of the SCBWI newsletter is awesome. There's a couple great articles. If you are anywhere near being a childrens' book writer (or YA or MG), join this group. The magazine is worth the fee.

On another note, my little one was telling me that I have to write so kids can understand. A friend had visited and shared her story with her. My little one didn't understand my friend's story at all. So she told me I've got to make what I write clear enough that its age appropriate and understandable. She said kids her age might not understand. Five and six year-old's or three and four year-old's might not understand. She said this was important. I do not doubt, though she says she is an artist first, that she will be writing her own books soon. She's already telling stories. I love her creativity and enthusiasm. 

FYI - I haven't been able to blog lately because I'm preparing for an adventure. I'm going to be gone for about a month, traveling. I hope to find a computer now and again. If I do, I'll post. If I don't, I'm not going to worry about it. Adventures are worth a lot. I'm off to New Zealand for the premiere of The Hobbit. Going with friends and meeting internet friends that I've corresponded with these past ten + years. 

Life is an adventure.

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say. "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." JRR Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring. Chapter Three.. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

# 22 Hanging Apostrophes

I'm back to the old Purdue Owl page. I'm beginning to really like this page. It's not a rote answer with no explanation or examples; it's a good page.

Once again, I also went to my old fav, grammargirl. She's a lot more complicated than the Owl, but she's good.

In fact, grammargirl thought the apostrophe was sooooo important, that she cut it into TWO parts.

The reason for this little lesson is that I needed a refresher. I thought I'd been taught wrong all those long years ago. I mean about the apostrophe used for possession, not contractions.

I happen to love contractions. I'm told that very young children's book authors are told not to use contractions. That kids at that age can't understand contractions. Personally, I don't see that, but I'm not going to discuss that now. My little one has been hearing everyone and their brother using contractions since she popped out of the womb. (psst - children's is correct according to some and childrens' is correct according to others. It's an odd bird.) It's those possessive ones that cause all the problems. 

It is those blasted possessives. And the most important note on this little hanging devil is listed on the Owl as a wee little note. When it is, to me, the most abused use of the hanging apostrophe around.

(Note: Its and it's are not the same thing. It's is a contraction for "it is" and its is a possessive pronoun meaning "belonging to it." It's raining out= it is raining out. A simple way to remember this rule is the fact that you don't use an apostrophe for the possessive his or hers, so don't do it with its!)

Those are the facts, my friends. That's all you need to know. Oh -- except for this.... And this is the simple, but correct way to determine whether or not a word needs a hanging chad... sorry, apostrophe.

To see if you need to make a possessive, turn the phrase around and make it an "of the..." phrase. For example:

the boy's hat = the hat of the boy
three days' journey = journey of three days

If the noun after "of" is a building, an object, or a piece of furniture, then no apostrophe is needed!

room of the hotel = hotel room
door of the car = car door
leg of the table = table leg

Both of these sections are from the Purdue Owl's link. See above.
Hope this helps. It did me. I was running amok with 'its.' (psst - the period after its is within the quotation mark. See the blog # 20.)
Life is never-ending.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

# 21 Discouragement

I was going to think about Hanging Apostrophes today, but I was listening to CBS's Sunday Morning News (as I always do) and happened upon this quote.

"I never was discouraged from my goal." Zac Brown, Zac Brown Band.

Yesterday's Skyline meeting took an odd turn. The mother of one of our members (the mom doesn't usually stay for the meetings - she drops her daughter off and goes into the library) brought a concern before us. She was quite worried, to the point of tears, over her daughter's writing discouragement.

I don't think one soul in that room hadn't felt exactly as this young girl had. The comments and support and enthusiasm for the girl's writing was instant and gratifying. She is one of my idols. She writes incredibly well. Sometimes, her phrases just take away my breath. Every story she shares with us is fresh, new, different, not to be sneezed at. I believe in her, unequivocally. 

This link has a great little hint on writing. I like it.

This next link is an interview of a writer of over fifty books. I especially liked the little snippet about rejections.

And this is a great five-point how not to plan from one of my favorite blogs.

I'll write about the Hanging Apostrophes tomorrow.

BTW - Some awesome news, on my front. I finished 'Nothing But Blue Skies' yesterday. *shivers* I sent the last ten chapters off to my editor. I spell checked it today. I printed off these chapters and I plan to go over them this afternoon. Going to find a bench somewhere as the weather has turned magnificent. It is supposed to be 70 (in November in the north) with massive doses of sunshine. Whoo hoo!

Life is incredible.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

# 20 Punctuation In Quotes

I was critiquing an MS for tomorrow's Skyline writers group. The author had some real difficulties with quotation marks. I was intrigued, wondering how someone could mess them up. 

Turns out - being American vs. the rest of the world - we've got different ways of doing things. So for myself - as a refresher - I looked into the bloody things. *g*

I don't have too much trouble with where to put the period or exclamation point or whatever when using quotation marks. But once in awhile, a situation arises and I question myself.

Best place to look is a DOT edu site.The nice thing about this website is - its got a quiz at the end. I do so love quizzes.  

I don't know why, but I love 'grammar girl.' See that tricky little quote mark!

And anything that has 'Purdue' in the title must be a good website. Musn't it?

Oh! Oh! Question marks and exclamation points have different rules! Can you believe it? I'm going to find it difficult to sleep tonight! 

AND semicolons and colons are horses of a different color.

The English language (American style) will drive you to drink. Or at least giggle 'til you're sick!

Life is a giggle.

Psst - finished Chapter Forty-six and Forty-seven. Only one chapter left. I'm going to faint.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

# 19 Sharing

From Leigh's blog who got it from VikLit...

Sharing can be awesome. 

And I am most thankful for my readers... those who have read before, those who are reading now, and those who are to come!

Some people are afraid to share. I can understand that. I have, however, found that sharing, for me, is most constructive. I learn all kinds of wonderful things, and some not so wonderful.

I happened to go to the restaurant where an old writers' group meets. They were all sitting at a table, laughing and chatting. Kindly, they invited me over. We had a ball talking about the 'old' days. I can't attend anymore because the little one gets out an hour after the group begins. I miss them. We all shared what we were up to and some writing tips. 

Spell check was one. I know a lot of people rely on spell check (it won't help much with #18's homonyms). I love spell check, but learned early on that I have to spell check spell check. It doesn't understand things like homonyms or proper names or other languages. Here's a link to the technical aspect. Really easy.

This is a little more complicated, but it really tells it all - TEN really good tips.

Here's one for writers:

I think the most important thing about spell check is not relying upon it. It should be the first step for me when I'm ready, but it is definitely not the last. Once I've spell checked, I go back and re-read my work. Then, I read it out loud. Then, I send it out. To a friend. Or I take it to my writing group. 

I think one of the most frustrating things for a publisher, editor, and/or agent is to get an MS that is unreadable because it wasn't spell checked X10.

And my name is then sullied. I'm pretty sure that anything I send after that disaster will end up being pitched. Without thought. *shudders* A worst fate I cannot imagine.

Life is spelled with an 'f.' *g*

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

# 18 - A Dragon's Tale ? Tail ?

Oh my goodness. I'm about ready to shoot my computer. I've got a new provider and it seems I must pull the plug on the router every other day. This hasn't been working the last few days. I'm about ready to throw router, computer, and provider out the door. But I'm back. For the nonce. *g*

I was proofing part of Ch. 46 last night. I am a good editor, proofreader, whatever. But homonyms drive me nuts. I read out loud, and that might be part of the problem. Here's a link and a thought about these little buggers that like to go bump in the night.

Hope it helps. Though, knowing and discerning these while proofing are like wet rats. Hard to tell what they are from a distance. *g*

Homonyms -- words that sound alike but have different meanings. (heir - air)
Homophones -- type of homonym that sound alike, have different meanings, but have different spellings (bear - bare; tale - tail)
Homographs -- words that are spelled the same but have different meanings (bass as in the fish - bass as in a guitar)
Heteronyms -- type of homograph that are also spelled the same and have different meanings, but sound different. (wound as in wrap something - wound as in injury)

Life is a bore / boar.

PS - two-thirds of the way done with Ch. 46. It's a little difficult being as the Muse threw in a large monkey wrench. I'm flying in the dark, so to speak, and not sure where this is going. But still having fun!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

# 17 Take A Moment

I've learned to never say something is complete. The Muse giggles in the background and I find that very irritating.

I thought I was done with Ch. 45 and started to work on Ch. 46. Yes, it is work. A good work. The best kind of work I've every done. 

I digress, I know it, but I think to myself of all the jobs that I've worked at for my whole long life. I've always wanted something fulfilling. Something I could be proud of. Something that I looked forward to doing. Just now, as I wrote the second paragraph, I realize I have found that work. Ah, life is good.

Well, Ch. 46 just fell into place. As I said, I'm getting near the very end. Yet, I find I am not as distracted or as hell-bent on finishing as I had feared. I'm still taking my time with it. Spending moments reading it. With that in mind, I realized that the stuff I wrote for Ch. 46 belongs more nicely with Ch. 45. Thankfully, Ch. 45 was not of an inordinate length and so it works.

It almost feels like the chapter never wants to end. It knows we are drawing to a close and it wants to finish. Or better still, the Muse wants to finish. What a delightful feeling. After almost two years of writing, I am coming to the end of this chapter of my life. I've got Book Two already begun. And I know what Book Three will be about. 

I plan to focus more, this upcoming year, on 'promoting' the book. I also plan on spending time getting the giraffe tale out there. They are both very good books and deserve to have their day in the sun.

Life is sunshine.

PS - I forgot. The reason why I started to write this post is because the Muse, once again, astounded me. I thought I knew where this chapter was headed, but she completely changed it. Now onto a new path for Ch. 46. *g*

Friday, November 2, 2012

#16 Don't Compare

It goes without saying, I'd think, but I find I do it, now and again. Compare my writing to other authors. Compare my stories to other authors. Characters. Plots. Toenails. Whatever.

It's got to stop. I write as me. Pure and simple. I'll never write as Tolstoy. I don't want to, though I love his stuff. I'll never be able to draw. That's why God made illustrators. I don't want to take away their livelihoods. *g*

But I've discovered, much against my mother and my husband's wisdom, that I have a truly wondrous imagination. I can create characters that are memorable, in their own right. I can keep a battle bloody. Tension exudes from the pages of my books and short stories. I create some awesome cliffhanging chapters.

I will keep these thoughts, these positive vibes, uppermost in my mind. I will be me. I will enjoy me. And my writing. 

There is a place in the universe for what I write. There is an audience out there somewhere, waiting with bated breath for 'Blue.' The wonderfulness of my own creation - not someone else's. 

On that note, I finished Ch. 45. Started Ch. 46. I think there will only be a couple more chapters and then, 'Blue' will be complete. Well, as complete as can be at this moment. I've got a truckload of editing to do, but I'm really excited about it. I know what needs to be added. That's half the battle.

I gave myself 'til November 17th to finish 'Blue.' I think I will make that easily. If another 'Sandy' doesn't happen and I lose power again.

Life is fulfilling.