Posts Tagged ‘novel’

Reviews are coming in….

March 14, 2010

My beta reader’s circle has been widened for my #1 novel Allyria, and I’m starting to get tweets and e-mails from friends who are reading it.

I KNOW these people are not reading it with a critical eye, and I’m not sure they would tell me if they thought there was something wrong, but I thought I’d share a few of their comments. 

From one of my best friends, whom I have know for 35 years, who is reading it with her 17 year old daughter:  

“I am loving the book.  I am so impressed.  I can’t believe you wrote this.  This is a real book.  I am on chap. 5 and want to keep reading, but my eyes are hurting….Yardley is loving it too.  I will ask her how she feels about the fantasy/other world part of it.  I am liking Ash despite his poor hygiene.”

From the intern at work, who loves YA fiction:

@CNC999 I am [reading it]! Haven’t been able to put it down – thus i missed your tweet. This is really REALLY good! Lex’s thoughts crack me up 🙂 6:50 PM Feb 28th via web in reply to CNC999

(followed by this) 

@CNC999 Just finished it. Now you must hurry with the 2nd one bc that ending has left me on edge! I need more! 8:21 PM Mar 3rd via web

From my third pair of readers, I haven’t heard anything yet — the daughter is 11, and the mother is PTO president this year, so it’s going to take them a little longer.  I am trying to be patient!  🙂

I still have not done any more writing of Book II since my revelation last week that I need to put the characters in more agony.  I am contemplating putting the manuscript into that program that allows you to chunk the book by scene and then switch scenes around, but I can’t remember the name of it.  Does anyone know the name?  If so, please leave a comment.

That’s all for now.  Life gets in the way once again.  (Go Duke!)


Still struggling with backstory

December 29, 2009

I returned to my Book I manuscript last night after three weeks off (working full-time meant every spare minute had to be spent getting ready for the Christmas gift-giving and entertaining activities).  I picked it up last night and looked at the edits I’d made longhand on my original manuscript.

There were more questions there than answers.  I’d written things like, “Consider condensing and using in Book II” and circled things rather than deleting them.  I am just having so much trouble deciding what to keep.

I’ve gotten great advice in answer to a previous post, and I’ll try to summarize it here, as much to inspire myself as to inform others:

  • Look at each scene and consider how it advances the plot.  If it doesn’t advance the plot, take it out.
  • Combine characters or eliminate them entirely if they don’t advance the plot.  (Think Tom Bombadil in LOTR.)
  • Let a friend read the manuscript and put a checkmark in the margin whenever they are a little bored.

I will do all of these.  I’m going to go back through my characters’ week spent in a certain location, which consists of activities during the day and conversations with their host in the evening.  I’ll have to make sure every activity and every conversation serves a purpose.  And I’ve pretty much decided their host is not going to tell them everything he originally told them right up front.  They need to feel the questions–they need to feel a little more rudderless–to make the story more compelling.  When I think of my favorite books, life is pretty awful for the characters as they work through the plot.  I need to toughen up and make things a little–OK, a lot–more awful for Ash and Lex. 

I don’t have a huge number of characters, but I’ve already combined several of them, so I’m feeling good about that.  The others all seem necessary to me at this point, so they can keep their heads for now.

Finally, I have a friend who has read the manuscript once and only offered a couple of comments.  She has promised to read the MS with a much more critical eye on this round.  I have been writing and being edited for 25 years, so I think I can take it. 

I’ll report back here on my progress.  Wish me luck.

Ouch! Editing is hard!

December 5, 2009

I am a murderer.  I am killing words.  I am killing scenes.  I have even killed two characters and pushed another off the page, only to be talked about as if they are not there.

Now, however, I am having trouble figuring out how much backstory to keep in my novel.

My first novel, you see, is Book I in a fantasy book series.  I conceived of this world 25 years ago, and the original story that I began writing at that time is now the backstory for my current series.  The new heroine, Lex, really doesn’t know anything about the world.  I have to decide what she needs to know, and what it would be better to leave unsaid.

On draft 1, I put it all in.  The wise old advisor character spilled all the backstory and told Lex and Ash exactly what they needed to do.  Now I’m having second thoughts on how much he should tell them, and how much they should figure out for themselves.

I think this will improve the momentum, the pacing of the novel, and will also reduce the word count.  (I hesitate to tell you how long the book is right now, but suffice it to say it needs to lose a significant number of words.) 

But I’m having trouble deciding.  When I read this chapter, I still like it just as is. 

Can anybody help me with this dilemma?  How much to cut? So hard!

Weekend writing distractions

November 20, 2009

I write for a living.  Corporate communications, marketing brochures, that kind of thing.  But these days I live for a different kind of writing…working on my YA fantasy book series.  Most of it gets written on weekends.

A whole weekend stretching before me.  On Friday after work, I feel as though I could finish my entire WIP, even though I’m only one-third of the way through.  By Friday night, I’m usually relaxed and writing.  Saturday morning I get up, full of plans.  So why is it that the weekends tend to slip away, without me reaching my writing goals?  I’m far too busy to participate in #nanowrimo, plus I want to concentrate on current WIP, so I settle for a series of #nanowriwknd instead.  Even that may be beyond me.  I can’t even bring myself to set a goal because I know I’ll never reach it.

One recent weekend, I kept track of all my distractions in an attempt to analyze what is keeping me from my writing.

Friday, 5:20 p.m. – Daughter pleads to go see Grandma’s adorable kittens.  We hop in the car and go play with them, then admire Grandma’s new furniture and get invited to go out to dinner.

Friday, 7:00 p.m. – Friend drops off tickets to middle school musical (ironically, High School Musical).  Daughter (who wants to be in the production next year when she hits middle school) insists on going and is riveted to the show the entire time.

Friday, 9:50 p.m. – Finally get home from LONG but fabulous (really) production.  Husband has bottle of wine ready and wants to talk about son’s hockey tryouts.  (Yes, I keep that wine far far away from all family laptops now.)

Friday, 12:30 p.m. – Finish evening in which I wrote a total of approximately 50 words on a notepad whenever my husband left the room.

Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – After second cup of coffee, have to get daughter up to let out the dog she’s watching.  End up taking that dog plus our dog on a long walk together.

Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – Finally sit down to write.  Must check twitter.  End up on tweetchat.  Write 459 words between tweets at 11:15 and 11:45.

Saturday, 12:00 noon – Put in a load of laundry and make lunch.

Saturday, 1:00 p.m. – Back at computer and write another 87 words, then have to stop to conduct research on bomb-sniffing dog training.  (For the book; don’t ask.)

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. – Troubled by distractions, decide to work on blog post instead. 

Saturday, 2:00 p.m. – Just about to give up.  I think this section of my book must be boring, or I’d want to write it.

Saturday, 3:00 p.m. – I do give up, after finally managing to eek out a few more words and reordering some things that needed to be reordered.  I watch the Buckeyes, say yes to my daughter having a friend for a sleepover, and go pick up pizza.  Watch a movie, watch Taylor Swift on Saturday night live, and the day is OVER.

Sunday, 8:00 a.m. – Get up to make pancakes for kids.  Take dogs for walk.  Shower and get ready to go shop with mom and daughter.  Perhaps this p.m. there will be time for writing.

I won’t continue.  You can see where this is going.  By Sunday night, I hadn’t written more than 800 words. 

This weekend should prove no different.  I’ll be tired tomorrow night (due to New Moon premiere tonight) and there’ll be my son’s hockey game and the OSU-Michigan game to be watched.  But, eventually, I WILL get the current WIP written and will feel very proud of myself for cutting through all the distractions!

Reflections on a laptop/wine disaster

November 6, 2009

Ah, a glass of cabernet, its jewel tones beckoning me with relaxation and mirth. Can you think of a better way to usher in a weekend than enjoying its dry fruitiness while listening to dueling YouTube music videos with your husband at the kitchen counter? Especially when, that very day, you were told you had not been chosen for a long-sought job with a favorite client, and you found out your daughter had been exposed to swine flu and is already coughing? OK, so I was a little relieved not to get that job, but all the more reason to celebrate a little. Right?

My husband and I were passing the cord to our under-counter speakers back and forth, taking turns teeing up videos to surprise each other. I had just begun playing Muse’s amazing performance of “Uprising” at the MTV VMAs — or was it Linkin Park’s “New Divide”? — when I reached for something to my right, while looking to my left.

Did you know that a fine wineglass full of cabernet will actually bounce when it hits your keyboard? I didn’t, but I do now. It will bounce, and with each bounce, will spill a little more of its contents while you scrabble to grab it. By the time you get a firm grip on it, it will be almost empty. You will call for paper towels, and your preoccupied husband will hand you two. Two. Ah-hem. More about him later.

As the laptop screen goes dark and the speakers go silent, it will start to sink in what you have done. You will scramble to unplug it and give the speaker cord to your husband and his dry computer. You will try not to think of the fact that you just bought this fancy new laptop less than six months ago. You will try not to remember that you chose not to get the extended warranty or the accidental coverage. Most important, you will refuse to think about the fact that the book you just finished after eight months of nighttime and weekend writing is on that hard drive. The one you just poured wine all over.

You will put the laptop upside down on what, in our household, is referred to as a “car towel.” I don’t know what other people call them; my family didn’t have car towels. When our towels got old we threw them out. But here, in the family my husband and I have built, we keep our old towels for messy jobs like washing a car. Drying a dog. Or major spills of red wine.

That will be the end of the night for you. The buzz will be killed. The music will be silenced. The dread will settle in. You will have a terrible, sleepless night, tossing and turning and wondering how long it has been since you backed up the book on your external hard drive. You have a complete print-out of book I, because you have been giving chapters to the intern at work, who is a huge fan of YA lit. You also have three chapters printed out of Book II. Too bad you had written four chapters.

Of course, the next morning, you will try to turn it on, convinced that your memory of the screen fizzling was imagined. You will be momentarily encouraged when the HP logo appears on the screen, but then it will go black and, in white computer programming type, you will be told to install an operating system. Oops.

When it happened to me, I rushed my laptop to the nearest computer store, the one where we’d bought it, and crept up to their service department to offer it in sacrifice. Please, please, find something when you look, I thought to myself.  They didn’t.  The circuitry was completely fried, coated with red goo.  At least it smelled good.  I paid them $10 and trudged out to my car with the carcass.

Now back to my husband.  He can be kind of  dismissive of things I think are important, but he is THE MAN in a real crisis.  While I administered to our daughter, whom we promptly nicknamed “Swiney,” he spent the day on the phone with HP, finding out what my options were.  We decided to send the computer to the experts in California, and he handled all of it.  When we checked the status online, it said, “Probably beyond economic repair.”  The fee to make the carcass into a working computer again would have been $1,065.00.  I went out that day and bought a new one.

I realized I had been in a period of mourning. Now that sounds ridiculous and melodramatic, doesn’t it? Mourning should be reserved for the end of life, or the end of love. But I’ve been thinking about this, and that’s the only moniker I can put on the way I felt for the two weeks following the disaster.  The only thing that lifted me out of my depression was getting a new computer, and loading my complete literary works (one finished, unedited, unpublished manuscript and four chapters of another) back onto its hard drive.

As I look back on the laptop/wine disaster, I realize that I’ve learned some things. Some are obvious. Back up your work every night, for example. (Yeah. Duh.) Don’t drink so much that you are in danger of getting clumsy. Good rules to live by.

But other learnings from this disaster have been less obvious.  First, and this one sounds trite, I know, don’t place so much faith in inanimate objects.  In the end, it is the people who matter, not the objects, no matter how shiny.  Second, a glass of wine isn’t necessary to relax.  The thing I missed during those two weeks was not my pretty computer, or my e-mails or my documents, but the world I’d created and been living in for eight months.  I felt as though I’d been ripped out of it without warning.  (A little like a certain heroine I know.)  To overcome this feeling, I took to writing longhand, which wasn’t entirely a bad thing, either.  I enjoy the flow of words from the tip of my pen, and the writing comes out just as well.

Before the computer/wine disaster, I had actually fooled myself into thinking that a wee bit of wine enhanced my writing skills, lubricating my word choice like oil to a bike chain.  Alas, no more will my writing be enhanced by the fruit of the vine, if indeed it ever was.  Instead I will drink coffee, placing my cup a considerable distance from the keyboard, and be thankful that I have the means to replace an inanimate object when I need to.  I will also be thankful to put this disaster behind me.  Now, back to writing.

Trying to weave it all together

September 25, 2009

I’m getting close, very close, to the climax of my book.  My hero and heroine have finally resolved (for the moment) their relationship, and they now have several important tasks to complete. 

Suddenly the various threads of the story has led us all here.  Suddenly, it’s as if someone threw all of those threads to me and said, “Here, weave this all together, would you?”  Plus I KNOW that the climax CAN be incredible, it’s just going to take a lot of work to make it that way.  I want to write a book that’s hard to put down, especially at this point in the story.

Thanks to my #1 and #2 readers for their feedback and encouragement.  I was actually tackled by #2 last night when I wouldn’t let her read the next chapter yet.  And #1 suggested I add one more delicious scene between my heroine and my comic relief character, which I think is working!

I found my hero

September 19, 2009

It’s frightening to think someone existsjingle ball press room 141207 only in your head, and then to suddenly see him on the VMA awards.  In all the furor over Kanye and Taylor, I forgot for a few days that I had had an epiphany over my hero during the VMAs. 

I was watching the show when a young man stepped onto the stage, seemingly straight out of my imagination.  His name is Chace Crawford.  This is the guy I’ve been writing about since February.  I sure hope he’s a good actor, because when my book becomes a movie, I can’t see any other possibility than for him to play Ash.

He would need brown contacts and slightly longer hair but other than that he is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.

Over 300 pages/100,000 words

September 18, 2009

I have really been humming along on my blook; hence the lack of posts to this blog. I realized today that I had been in a funk for a couple of days, and it was all because I had created a conflict for my characters and I was mad at my heroine Lex for being so stupid about her relationship with Ash.  I got a good laugh once I realized why I was upset!

Anyway, I reached two milestones in the last couple of weeks — I am now well over 300 pages and 100,000 words.  More important to the process is that I am rapidly approaching the climax of the book.  Still enjoying my visits to Allyria.

Pivotal scene coming

August 15, 2009

I have a pivotal scene to write.  I’ve been putting off a decision about this scene, and can procrastinate no more.  I have to decide what will happen.  Hmmmm.

Stops & Starts in Writing

July 14, 2009

As a professional writer, I’ve always been a bit of a procrastinator, and would gladly wait until the last minute and then spend three eight-hour days in a row getting something done.

I just got an interesting tweet from @Quotes4Writers wit the following article:

The premise of the article is that we should write a little every day, interspersed with rest periods, rather than in larger marathons..  What works for you?