Monday, January 31, 2011

No, Snowstorm, No

Pitchapalooza happens tonight. So does a major snowstorm. I'll wait until the last minute to be sure, but the local weather forecasters are predicting anything upwards to 14 inches, blizzard conditions, ice, and tying everything up, a fabulous arctic blast. So . . . not looking good for me and this event thing.

It was a slim chance I'd get picked to read my pitch anyway, what with only twenty names being pulled out of a hat. But I wanted to go and meet people, hear others' ideas. This was the closest thing to a writer's conference we could get around here and I was going to utilize it! Oh well, if I had gotten picked, who knows how my pitch would go over. You can't control the weather, you can't control fate, and you can't control what other people like.

Hope everything is well for all my groovy friends. What are your plans for the day?


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Congratulations . . . it's a book!

Writing is a lot like being pregnant. You're so excited to have a new idea, and saddened if it doesn't grow into anything. If it does start to grow, there is a certain awkward phase where none of your old ideas fit. This one is different, important, needs its own slant and creative process. This one needs much more attention. You can't sleep at night, you can't seem to concentrate, you feel a little dizzy trying to work it all out. But finally, everything starts to click, and you are ready to devote yourself to the completion of this story.

You set up the right environment for its survival: energizing drink, nurturing music, foods that help brain activity but which satisfy those writerly cravings. You make sure you have all the right information, 'cause you don't want to be one of those dumb writing people who raise their book like it wrote itself. No, you want to know how to edit and plot and create settings.

Your book grows. It's almost too big, you can barely handle having it around anymore. Someone's got to help you get this thing out the door, if it will fit out the door! But wait, there's a query letter and a synopsis. Okay, a round of visits to the experts has set you up for getting this thing out into the world.

You finish the book. Yay! How exciting! But wait . . . there's something wrong, your book needs a little fresh air or it's not going to make it. Here, let's add this, we can patch that part . . . why does it keep spewing backstory?! Ew! You're gonna need a lot of clean edits to get that puppy back in shape. One day you open the document, you haven't slept a wink, this is never going to work, why in the hell did you ever think you could be a writer? Oh, wait, look, it's happy. It's smiling at me. My book is cooing! You start to cry.

Time to query.

Rejection. Your book has problems with attention, it's all over the place. All the other books are laughing at it. It's probably never going to make it past the bargain bin at Barnes and Noble.

But I love my book. I'll never abandon it. It's beautiful to me. Maybe if we just spend a little bit more time with it everything will be okay . . .

One day you open your email and there's a message. I love your book, send it on over.

Whoooooooo! Party! Relief. Full on pants leak. This is AWESOME. I knew I could do this. I was born to be a writer. I love it, even the bad parts, the all-night-I-am-the-worst-and-no-one-else-can-convince-me-otherwise parts. All of it. So what if all my old stories don't fit anymore, it was all worth it.

Here I go, writing the next one . . .

Friday, January 28, 2011

Time for a workout

I think it's pretty much safe to assume that, in general, writers do not get enough exercise. We mean to, we're going to . . . after we finish this book, or this chapter, or after we get published and have enough money to hire an assistant who will type out our books for us while we shout out words while being bent backwards by Jennifer Aniston's personal trainer.

Someday.

Well, I have a solution. It's called Authorcise!© and here's how it works:

The daily act of typing away in an office chair puts a lot of pressure on the buttocks, as well as direct energy away from the upper arms and abdomen. Neglect for these areas, combined with the addition of a steady diet of coffee and sugary baked goods like donuts . . . donuts . . . mmmm . . . Oh! Sorry! Well, all of this combined makes for poor cultivation of muscle. What Authorcise! intends to do is bring more action to these areas whilst not forcing author to cut back on sweets or writing time. Here's how it really, really works:

Are you sitting comfortably in your chair? Document is open? Coffee? Donut? Good. Okay then, type a word and squeeze that butt. Type another word, squeeze. Excellent! The point is to squeeze with every hit of the space bar. Or you could go a more direct route and squeeze while typing actual words. For example, It was a dark and stormy night would be squeeze squeeze squeeze squeeze squeeze squeeze.

Now for the arms. After every sentence I want you to shoot your arms way up high! Yes, just like that! Doesn't that feel great?

Now it gets fun. Every time you type an adverb I want you to jump out of your chair and do a pushup. Let's see how that looks so far. It was a dark and stormy night. Squeeze those buns, shoot those arms out! The captain said, Raul, tell me another story. Doing great! Raul opened a bottle of overly priced wine and took a swig. Great squeezing on that one. But you forgot the pushup. Ooh, I bet that burns!

Well, those are the basics of Authorcise! The DVD comes complete with booklet and free coupon for liposuction. I just know you'll be pleased with the program, however, if not completely satisfied, send your DVD back (unopened) and I'll refund your money free of charge (after transaction clears in Iowa—it's a small bank. Marge gets kind of pissy some days and won't even pick up the phone when I ask her where the hell are all my transactions, but I wouldn't worry about that. Yeah, I mean, I try not to worry about it. Sometimes I can't sleep at night, and I get these weird pains in my chest, but, yeah, that's probably normal).

Authorcise! The smart way to a tight bod and book. Authorcise is not responsible for steaming hot cups of coffee knocked over during ridiculous exercises, or cats being traumatized by repeated sightings of owner's butt being flashed out of chair (they thought the chair was an extension of your body all these years). Thoughts of suicide are normal, as well as giddy arm flapping and shout outs to Katie Couric after whole day of pretending you're actually going to get published and have a great body. Do not use product while under the influence of Steven King. May cause gas, bloating, brain melting, sighting of aliens, change of eye color, hair loss, birds will gather in your front yard like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, your car won't start, Sarah Palin will become president and/or move in next door).

Try Authorcise! and be on your way to a better life Today.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Time Trick

I finished "Henri Rubie's Dream." It is, in my opinion, a tear jerker. But I would never want to assume anything. Maybe it's a knee-slapper!

Anyway, you may remember a loooong time ago I spoke about a story with (a little sex) in it. It was set in 1979 like all the other stories from Woodsocket '79, but the premise was bugging me. I did not like the motivation for Henri and his wife to be mad at each other and then make up with (cough, sex).

So, I let it sit. And sit. And finally recently I had an idea that the story could be set in the early 1900's. The whole thing would start off with Henri in a nursing home and he'd reminisce. I love American Victoria and, having worked at a library, knew enough to get started. Henri would be a photographer from New York, Corinthia would be a simple country girl. And there would be a problem that, if not solved within the time-frame of this story, would remain a sorrow for the rest of their lives.

It was kind of interesting transferring a modern family and putting them way into the past. Kind of fun! They were still themselves, they still had the same problems, really, but their speech and surroundings were altered just a bit.

Now off to the next story, a tale about Skylab 1979. Woodsocket is gonna be a paranoid mess.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Information Station

There's two things I know: One, the Snuggle bear is creepy, and Two, I love looking crap up on the computer.

I'm stuck in an avalanche of early photography methods with a dozen Google pages opened and saved for reference. I know that one tiny bit of misinformation will catch someone's eye and lead to my getting dragged out to a courtyard for a stoning.

I've read about Autochrome, an early color photography method developed by the Lumiere brothers using potato starch. Then dry plate methods, wet plate methods, camera styles, flash compounds, developing chemicals, etc. Did you know people still use these methods today? You can actually take a square piece of glass, mix together a silver gelatin coating, expose it using an old accordion style camera, and then develop as they would have in the old days?

It's kind of interesting how gelatin based negatives have been around all this time until now with the digital age. Amazing and sad how so many things that were "hands on" have been replaced by computers.

And what do I get from learning all of this? A few measly paragraphs. I had one up for a second but I think it still needs work! : )~


Monday, January 24, 2011

Inspiration

In the current issue of Writer's Digest the question is asked, where do you get your inspiration? I thought I'd ask the same question here. Writing, and art, are endeavors that even with the deepest of love can become tiring at times. There has to be something inspiring each of us to continue every day, through family matters, finance, doubt of our abilities, rejection, burnout . . .

My inspiration is music. I have a songlist for each of my projects that help me go to where my character's voices flow. Without music I feel like I am typing in a dry world; it can be done, but it's just more difficult to let go. I also love having my own spot to write, and my own time. No interruptions no loud television, no obligations. I have to know I can devote myself.

Overall, my inspiration is a hunger to write something that is really, really good and which makes people go, "Wow!" I want them to know my voice, to be surprised, to feel like I said something relevant that made them think about their own life.

What is your inspiration?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sawdust and Stories

I'm working on a story right now about a centenarian who is stuck in the Woodsocket nursing home on Christmas Eve. His thoughts go back to a night at the start of the century when he was a young man married to a woman named Corinthia. He's a photographer taking Autocromes of the old dusty town and all the people. I have to go look up some info on all that, but I used to read a lot about early photography methods so it's all in here, I just need a refresher. I might have him be a student of the Lumiere brothers in France before coming to the US. Anyway, so it's called Henri Rubie's Dream. Gotta finish that up before I start on the next. Due to children and life I might have to wait until tomorrow for the time. If I could, I'd write all day. Perhaps that's not a good thing.

Oh! Because of Cro's post yesterday about bread (with mouth watering picture and all) I'm going to make some today. Did you know that back in the old days people would buy bread from a local baker who, unbeknownst to them, would use sawdust as a filler? Yumm-ee!
That won't be happening in my kitchen, but I have been known to add raisins or cheese before. Take care today. Peace.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pitch

There's a cool event going on in about a week called Pitchapalooza, kind of an American Idol for writers. A certain amount of participants will get the chance to pitch their book to a panel of authors and agents for just a minute. A pitch is different than a query in that you're not just trying to sum up the life of your book (characters, motives, etc) in a few sentences, with a pitch you're actually describing what kind of book it is, how you're qualified to write it, what it's about, and where it will fit on the shelf at your local bookstore. You're basically selling your book.

I was really racking my brain last night trying to figure out how a one-minute pitch would work though. One whole minute. Spoken. Out loud. In front of real people. Really, really important people. Gah! I'm so afraid that if picked I'll get up there and blurt out, "I wrote a fiction novel! Oooooh." Like Ralphie from A Christmas Story, I want a football! "No, no, I didn't mean fiction novel, everyone knows that's an in joke, haha. I meant to say that I wrote a mainstream novel. It's called Woodsocket '79 and it's a voyeuristic satire with a bit of literary thrown in." You never know what your brain and mouth are going to do when you step up to a podium. Let's hope mine cooperate.

A pitch can also be summed up like something you'd read in a tv schedule for a movie. I came up with two that would work:

Various characters are brought to life in a voyeuristic look at small town America.

A small town construction worker finds it hard to cope after his wife dies suddenly in his arms before giving birth to an illegitimate child.

So that's it. If anyone has a suggestion or has been to this type of thing before, please feel free to comment. As always, have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snow and cover art

There's a blizzard outside right now! You can really see in the streetlights, there's just a haze midair. Kinda neat. This afternoon it started with one lazy flake that slowly made its way down, then a few others followed, and now it's snowpocalypse. I know, I know, all of you are sick of snow, but I'm not : )

I've been fiddling around with some cover art for Woodsocket '79 just to amuse myself. The truth is if it ever gets published I won't have very much input on the cover design. Or maybe I will . . . I don't really know, so here's what I came up with just for fun.

At first I was thinking just a nice folky kind of cover, but it was boring. Please excuse my horrible color skills-all I could find for a quick resource were crayons.



And then I thought, hey, since I reference Botticelli, why not mix that in the cover? I whipped this one up today real fast. The only thing I'd change (besides the poor quality) is I'd now put a revolver in her hand instead of a champagne glass. Don't know why I didn't think of it earlier, but oh well . . . Notice how I forgot to put the "k" in the title. Whoops!



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The snow gods have woken up around here and avalanched us with their wintery decor. About time. I like snow. If it's gonna be cold, it might as well snow. Call me crazy, but I think it's a beautiful sight, all that powdered sugar dusting everywhere. It makes me happy. Snow, snow, snow. I love you snow.

Now, come March I won't be saying those words. I'll be crying out for the old chinook to make his yearly visit. I'll ache for buds and the vibrant green of grass against all this gray.

But for now, I'll enjoy what I have. And that's snow. Beautiful snow.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Humble

I want to express again how amazing it is to have something like a week with no internet or phone or cable. A week ago, my book was in a foggy state. I knew what I wanted it to be, but I didn't know where I wanted it to go. With all the planning and brainstorming I did, I now have it all lined up and the end is in sight. Shew. That feels so good to say that!

Anyway, it's crazy. This morning I had one of those moments where I just had to say thank you to the universe out loud. Thank you! Sometimes we don't know where we're going as writers or artists, but then that one moment comes along to make everything work out. And it's divine.

That's about it. Wishing everyone a beautiful day.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Break

I decided to take a nice sabbatical this week. Okay, I was forced to take a nice sabbatical this week. Due to some problems with the internet provider, I was without all external resources. No internet, no email. But it was good for me. It made me sit down and brainstorm the future of Woodsocket '79—what I want its primary theme to be, how I want it laid out, the overall tone. Before I was just writing stories about people in the town, which is good because each story has its own life and each needed that sort of devoted isolation, but there also needed to be a thread to hold everything together, and I found that. I knew it all along, but was too scared to sit down and devote myself, because what if what I came up with was crap? I'm always so afraid of that. Sometimes I'll have a story in my head for months before getting the nerve to write it. Almost always things are fine and the story just flows. I'm always so surprised that things work out the way they do!

My next worry is that, after all this work, the book will die a slow and lonely death. I hear story collections are a hard sell. Time will tell.

It sure is nice to have internet again, but I'm happy for the time to think. It was good. I just hope I didn't miss any important emails : (

Here's to a Happy Saturday for all of you!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's Sunday, tomorrow is Monday, then comes Tuesday and . . .



Well, I have a bit of good news to share with you fine people, last night I received an email saying one of two line drawings I sent out will be selected for publication this spring. Not wishing to jinx things, I won't say which journal it is except that it's a very nice publication slanted toward the female viewpoint. They said they're still deciding between the two—both simple views of a female body with continuous line.

Big jump for joy here! Can't wait for you to see it!

Coming back back down to earth . . . I've had to reconfigure a part of the new writing project because I had too many things going on and it was getting confusing. That seems to be a recurring problem with me, I like to create not one, not two, but three or more problems/complexities in a character or plot and then try to work it all together. It's a big pain in the butt. Yesterday I thought really hard about this and decided that I didn't want to spend anymore time trying to make something work. I must get rid of the extra baggage in my stories and stick with simple. Just like my art. I hate fussy so I go simple, and that's what I'm going to do from now on with my writing.

Anywho . . . I gotta make breakfast. Oh! I wanted to say again how much I love my ongoing project Woodsocket '79. Sometimes I stop and think about so and so and I get sad for what they've been through, haha. Or I laugh at something they said or might say in a future installment. My poor Gerald Kennedy is my focus right now, he opened the book with a pregnant wife dying in his arms, and has become a recluse/alcoholic who stays up all night watching old movies. He's so real in my mind, I can almost reach out and touch him. Not sure if I'll ever have writing stuff published, but it doesn't matter, I'm so happy to have created this town and all the crazy people. It's comforting to me that they exist, at least in my brain. What will I do when I actually finish the book? I'll pour a drink, jump for joy (not at the same time), and then I'll be sad for awhile.

Oh yeah, it's finally snowing : )


Friday, January 7, 2011

Trust

I'm starting to learn the hard way that a first draft does not have to be perfect. Somewhere along the line I started to be extremely hard on myself about every single line I wrote, to the point where I began to question, does this make sense? does this fit? does this sound natural? Delete, delete, delete. That's why I avoided NaNoWriMo, because I knew I wouldn't be able to produce that many words in such a fast amount of time without going insane. Bottom line: I don't trust myself as a writer.

So, I've written over 10,000 words on this new draft and it has taught me to write and think later. So what if parts of the dialogue doesn't make sense yet? That's what editing is for. And as we all know, we are going to be editing our manuscripts not once, not twice, but many, many times. That's when we fine tune those lines and create layers in the story.

Trust yourself as a writer. Sit down and produce. Edit later. Have fun.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Somebody pinch me—yowch!

Today I had some time to think about the new project, and I actually sat down and wrote the whole outline, something I never, ever do. I dislike outlines because they take away the excitement for me, but I'm really proud of myself for doing it. I don't want to jinx anything, but it was refreshing to line up the plot like that and not have to worry about stopping later on with what's coming next, or if something's going to work, etc. Don't count on me doing it again, but for now, yes, it was nice.

There's just a short amount of time that I have to write each day, and I hope I can use these next few months to relax and let myself produce. Most of all I hope I have fun and bring what's inside me to life on the page. I really, truly do love to write so it's mostly a matter of me learning how to not get hung up on daily stresses. Writing is a gift, an escape, a pleasure.

I hope things are well for all you bloggers. New year, new hopes.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Fresh Work

Well the New Year has already turned out to be quite prosperous as far as being a writer goes. There was an idea I'd been fiddling around with lately and I finally sat down to see what would come of it. An hour later and I had something going. The folks at AW's Share Your Work had some great suggestions, and also it was said several times that I should continue the story—turn it into a longer piece. So I started doing that and now I have twenty odd pages. I guess I've started a new book!

Mostly I'm happy because it's a fun premise: romantic comedy/thriller. I'm still working on Woodsocket '79 which is more literary, and stories from my childhood, but this is fun and a nice break from the seriousness. Plus I get to do research! The story is set in New York with St. Patrick's Cathedral as a main object of focus. I must be a nerd, but research is fun!

So, if I seem to be distant, there's a reason. Hope you all are having a great Monday and enjoying these new fresh clean days of a beautiful new year!

Happy Blechdays!

photo credit: arbyreed Mucus Containment System via photopin (license) Have you had it yet? You'd know if you'd had. I don&#...