Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I Won NaNo!!

Yippee!! I finished 50,000 words in 30 days!! Go me.

Now only another 30,000 words or so to go and the novel will be done. ;-)

Still, it's important to celebrate one's small successes.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Queen of Multiple Drafts

Um, that would be me. Unfortunately. And I’m not talking about three or four drafts. No, I’m talking more in the realm of ten or twelve or even—when working on a problem child of a manuscript—fifteen.

This kind of embarrasses me. I feel like a kid who has to keep taking a test over and over again until I manage to pass.

So, in an attempt to embrace my flaws and convert them into strengths (hey, I make my characters do it, seems only fair I should give it a try) I remind myself that writing isn’t a test, and there’s no finish line until I say so. So I’m beginning to take a perverse pride in these multiple drafts. (Perverse being the key word.) After all, they’re part of the quirky, wonderful, frustrating process that got me here…

So take heart if you’re not getting it right the first time. There are many (okay, at least one—moi) who rewrite ad nauseam.

My drafting process goes something like this:

First draft – Nailing the voice. This is critical for me because I refuse to write an entire book in the wrong voice. (Although I once did an entire mss alternating between 1st and 3rd POV because I couldn’t decide which one to use and that way would only have to rewrite half the book when I finally did make up my mind. See quirky, frustrating process reference above.) Sometimes this comes immediately and sometimes it can take up to a dozen tries, but I’m only working with the first twenty pages or so, which keeps it from being too painful.

Second draft – Dialog. In fact, this draft tends to look like a radio screenplay, nothing but dialog and an occasional physical action or quick paragraph of narrative. This is because my characters reveal themselves to me through their dialog. (Which is basically a polite way of saying I’m one of those writers who hears voices.) Entire conversations often come alive on the page, which is one of the very cool things about writing.

Third draft – Blocking. This is where I place these disembodied talkers into the physical world around them.

Fourth – Eleventh draft – Structure. This is the draft where I make sure I have an actual plot. I dissect everything that isn’t working and rebuild it using some sort of structure. I check for conflict and dramatic tension, make sure that every scene relates to the plot and moves the story forward. Check for cause and effect—that my characters’ actions are driving the plot and it’s not a string of pearls. Depending on how organic this story is, this can take one to umpteen drafts. Although, I do work in acts. By breaking my mss down into acts it’s much easier to manage. At least for me. Consequently, the first half of the manuscript may have fifteen drafts, but the last act only three or four, because I’ve gotten so much worked out by then.

Twelfth draft – Polishing. This is where I pay close attention to the language, making sure it’s as tight and evocative as I can make it. Also where I check for grammar gaffes, typos, etc.

It's pretty easy to see why I'm so very envious of those of you who can get it right in three. That is SO not me. Never will be, I’m afraid.

Friday, November 10, 2006

As Promised - Sneak Preview - Coming in Spring 2007!

Theodosia Throckmorton has her hands full at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London. Her father may be head curator, but it is Theo—and only Theo—who is able to see all the black magic and ancient curses that still cling to the artifacts in the museum...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

For the Cow Girl in All of Us

With my sons being 17 and 20, I don’t really have much occasion to read picture books anymore, but I did want to give a shout out to one picture book I’ve discovered that is a true delight and will tickle anyone who ever dreamed of being a cowboy or cowgirl.

Buckamoo Girls written by Ellen A. Kelley is an uproarious rollick of a ride where the playful illustrations perfectly match the author’s clever rhyme and concept. It’s a great reminder that even the most humble of creatures have dreams and aspirations, albeit sometimes hilarious ones. So if you ever wanted to be a cow girl, or know a little cowpoke, I highly recommend this book.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Anansi Pays Me a Visit

We didn’t have to decorate our house for Halloween. Since the lost tribe of Anansi seems to have settled their little arachnid selves on our front porch, there simply wasn’t any need.

I ignored it when my 6’5” son kept coming inside with cobwebs in his hair. After all, he’s so tall, it’s to be expected. I also ignored it when my 6’2” son began shuddering and ducking whenever he came into the house. After all, he’s almost an adult. Surely it’s time for him to get used to spiders.

But when the UPS girl began looking nervously at the ceiling of our front porch, I knew it was time to take action.

Thank goodness for shop vacs, that’s all I can say. Our front porch is now free of all fly and moth carcasses and tangled spider webs. There are five giant Anansis running free, however. I would like to pretend it’s because I’m altruistic that way, but the truth is, they were just too big to fit in the shop vac nozzle. (Eewwww!)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Feeling a Little Lonely?

Geez. Who knew it was going to take me an entire month to write and give a three minute presentation!

J-u-s-t kidding!! I've actually been very busy working on my next book, THEODOSIA THROCKMORTON AND THE SERPENTS OF CHAOS. It comes out in May of 2007, which means I've been up to my ears in galley proofing and second pass pages and designing a new website for the book; all sorts of good stuff.

Even so, I shouldn't have abandoned you all for an entire month. Bad me.

However, as compensation for this neglectful act, I'm going to share with you an amazing new blog by an amazing writer so that the next time I don't get a blog entry up soon enough, you'll have someplace else entertaining to go. (And the truth is, she is much more entertaining than I am. She is F-U-N-N-Y!!)

Mary is my writing buddy. We started out together lo those many (and no, I'm not tellin' exactly how many) years ago. We met in a writing class and hooked up as critique partners, and have been riding out the ups and downs of the writing life together ever since. She writes hilarious middle grade fiction, and she is a personal coach who specializes in coaching writers. She only posts once or twice a week, but her entries are Pure Gold. Funny and oh-so-wise. Go check her out. You'll be glad you did, I promise!

Coming soon! A sneak peek at my upcoming book cover!