Friday, February 15, 2008

The Shifting Vision of Success

So, the reason I got behind on blogging the last couple of weeks is because…I’ve started a new part time job.

Yes, she who was absolutely positive that writing full time would be her personal version of nirvana has changed her mind.

When I was prepublished, my biggest dream was to write full time. Then I got a three book contract and was able to do that. Except, it wasn’t really writing full time because I had kids in the house, and they tend to be the full time thing, and everything else is part time. (At least for me—for others it is most likely different—but that’s been my experience.)

So my big consolation with them going off to school was that at least I’d be able to write full time now, really and truly full time, not this part-time, full-time jazz.

But what I found was that it felt an awful lot like staring at my navel for hours on end. Writing four hours a day came easily, writing eight hours a day was a fight, and I ended up getting in my own way, forcing things that really shouldn’t have been forced. Pretty much the same principle as overworking piecrust dough. Roll it out once or twice and you have a perfect piecrust. Keep fiddling with it over and over and you end up with something that more closely resembles shoe leather.

So we’ll see how this goes. Right now, it feels perfect. It’s afternoons, which is my creative dead time, and it’s in my own small town, so only a three minute drive to work. Both lovely. Another thing I find I’m really enjoying is the daily sense of closure and accomplishment I get. In writing (and publishing) the goals are all so long term. And as soon as you reach one, finish the copy edits, say, another one pops up in its place; proof the galleys. So I find that I’m really hungry for this sense of daily accomplishment that the new day job is providing.

So that’s where I’ve been. Once I get my feet more firmly under me, I’ll be slightly more consistent here…

Monday, February 11, 2008

Still Laughing...

So Friday afternoon there's a message on my answering machine. It's the coordinator for our small town's Home and Garden Tour, and she's calling because she wants to consider our house for the upcoming Home and Garden Tour.

That sound you here? It's me guf-fawing. Our home is SO not home and garden tour material. I mean, it's a nice house in a lovely area, but I am SO not a home and garden-type housekeeper. At all. Plus home decoration is way down on my list of priorities. My house looks like it's inhabited by two teen males, one scattered mechanic, and a absent-minded professor with waaaay too many books and stacks of papers.

So I called her back and left a message on her machine that I thought someone was playing a cruel joke on her. When we finally talked, she assured me that no, this wasn't a joke. I assured her that it was. Then she very sweetly asked if I was being modest. ::snort:: Hardly. Just realistic. I told her we'd talk again in two years when my housekeeping skills and home decorating priorities shifted.

See, the thing is, a long time ago when I committed to pursuing writing, I knew something had to give. I couldn't do it all. So my priorities became my family, my health, and my writing. Everything else moved way down the list. Where it remains.

Now granted, my family dynamics have shifted (read empty nest) but my priorities haven't caught up yet. Soon, I'm guessing. But not quite yet.

And I share this with all of you in case there are others who have housekeeping way down on their priority lists. I want you to know that the bottom of the list is a perfectly acceptable place to put it. Especially if you're raising a family or pursuing a creative endeavor.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Thoughts on Pacing

So, I'm putting together a day long workshop for my SCBWI Region called Architexture: A Multi-faceted Approach to Building the World of Your Novel.

Anyway, I've been working on it the last couple of days and one thing I had planned to cover, pacing tips, doesn't seem to fit gracefully into the overall flow, so I thought I'd post them here.

Write in scenes - I'm often surprised when I find a book that doesn't have scenes so much as a continuous flow encompassing every moment of the character's life, whether it is relevant to the story or not.

Cut in and out of scenes as tightly as possible - Start your scene as late as you can and have it still make sense, then get out as soon as the purpose of the scene has been accomplished.

Stay in the Now of your story - The Now of the story is the real time of your story. It's kind of the literary equivalent of living in the moment. It is very closely related to...

Avoid flashbacks and info dumps - As much as you can, anyway. Because the minute you have a flashback or info dump, you've stopped the forward momentum of your story cold. If you must have either one of them, have it as late in the book as possible and be sure you teased the reader with it so that they are dying to know that mysterious bit of information that you've adequately foreshadowed.

Include dramatic action, not any old action - Actions speak louder than words, so don't just have your character doing the dishes, but add subtext to the scene by having her dish washing convey something that is not stated. For example, is she practically scrubbing the pattern off the china because she's furious but can't say so? Or is she focusing on doing the dishes perfectly and precisely so she won't break down in tears in front of her entire family?

Avoid sitting and thinking scenes - Okay, they can't be avoided altogether, but if you add dramatic action, you give them some depth and layers that makes them more compelling.

In tense moments, use shorter sentences and paragraphs to convey that tenseness. Also consider shorter scene and chapter length

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

More News...

And because this is publishing, the news isn't always good. I just found out that Werewolf Rising is being remaindered. (sob!) So sad. The poor thing never even made it to paperback.

It's too bad because of all of my books, this is the one I get the most mail for, begging for a sequel. So while apparently only 358 people read it, they were passionate about it. Plus, I had left some intriguing questions to be answered in a sequel which will, alas, most likely never see the light of day.

Excuse me while I have a moment of silence...

Monday, February 04, 2008


Sorry to go silent last week. It was hugely busy for a number of reasons, some of which I will go into later in the week. But for now, the most exciting reason...

From Publisher's Marketplace:

R.L. LaFevers's next sequel to THEODOSIA AND THE SERPENTS OF CHAOS and THEODOSIA AND THE STAFF OF OSIRIS, set at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities, in which Theo must convince her parents to take her back to Egypt so she can beat two competing evil societies in the race to find a cache of hidden magical artifacts, to Kate O'Sullivan at Houghton Mifflin, by Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

We're still tweaking the title. My current choices are Theodosia and the Emerald Tablet or Theodosia and the Book of Thoth. The latter keeps the whole Egyptian flavor/theme going. However, that might not necessarily be a good thing as they may all begin to sound alike. Luckily, I don't have to decide today.

Another reason for my distraction was that Number Two Son came home this weekend. It feels like all I did was cook. And stare (fondly, if somewhat annoyingly) at him. He was a very good sport about it. Well, he should be. I fed him well. It was a fair exchange.