Monday, July 20, 2009

What I've learned about me

So here's the deal. This is stuff that should have been very apparent to me years ago. After all, how old am I? But sometimes I just have to get to the "quit fighting yourself" stage and just give in. So what do I know?

  • I write better in the early morning and late at night. Or at least when the house is quiet.
  • I can't write at all if the kids are within ear shot. They are just too dog gone distracting.
  • That means summer is very hard for me.
  • I can work on publicity stuff when the kids are around, but I have to be very careful or I'll write emails full of nonsense, like "Mom! Mackinley just got water all over the floor!"
  • I write more quickly when I have a clear idea what I want to accomplish in a scene, but that doesn't mean the scene will come out better than if I don't know.
  • I'm easily distracted by the Internet.
  • I love talking (email) to people even if I don't know them.
  • I'm useless in the mid-afternoon so I might as well stop beating myself up about the "research" I do before I have to make dinner. Especially the research I do with my eyes closed.
  • While having a sound track helps me get back into the mood of a wip, leaving it on while I'm writing is a mistake. What kind of mistake, you ask? Somehow readers don't really "get" why lyrics pop into the middle of a paragraph.
  • I use too many exclamation points!!!
  • Reading a novel that's too removed from what I write while I'm writing messes up my voice.
What all of this means is I'm going to have to work from midnight to 5 am, sleep from 5 to 8 (AM) struggle through my day taking the kids to swimming and what not and then sleep from 9 pm to midnight.

Something else I've learned about myself: that schedule is never gonna work for me.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion

I won! I won! I won! I won! I won! (tee hee). I found out today that Moonlighting in Vermont, my first publishable novel, won first place in it's category in the 2009 Daphne du Maurier Award For Excellence in Mystery/Suspense - unpublished. The category being mainstream. I've entered a fair number of contests and never even finaled (except the synopsis contest in which I got third place), and here I am the top of my category. It's given me a rather large head.

Well not really. It's a humbling experience in some ways. And a testament to believing in your own voice, and your own better judgement. The big thing though, is getting with other writers through critic groups and workshops and listening to what others have to say. Sometimes others people can be off base, but by listening and noticing when more than one person is saying the same thing, you can weed the good from the bad and improve your writing tremendously.

So thank you to Joni B. Cole, who leads an awesome workshop and whose books I really enjoy, and to Alison, Meg, Jen, Terri and Anne the original inky 500 who kept me afloat through the whole process. There are a bunch of other writers I owe thanks to, folks from Joni's workshops and those famous names that I love to read. I hope you know who you are, if not watch for your name in the future I hope I can get to you all someday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Starting Small

Sometimes success takes an act of faith - jumping on the wagon as it goes by.

The chance I took was signing a contract with a small and newish publisher. Of course the publisher took a chance on me too. A mutual leap of faith. Without that leap I would likely be back at square one. Unpublished.

I was worried that I might be missing out on publicity opportunities that a bigger outfit might offer me, but after talking to a fellow writer I've discovered that even larger publishing houses don't push for unknown authors. So not only do I get more personal attention and get more of a chance. I've get more time to get decent sales.

I'm happy where I'm at. It's a good place to be.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Recently I was looking at my tag line wondering what do I really know about the craft of writing. Not much really. I must know something, because MMP is publishing Moonlighting in Vermont. But most of what I know is not in the forefront of my mind. It's more of a feeling, a sense of what sounds right. It's about how my body responds to the words on the page. Don't get me wrong, I learned all the usual stuff about structure and grammar in college, it's just that I'm not thinking about that when I write.

What I think about when I write is does it sound right to me. Does it flow. How does it make me feel? Does it make me laugh or cry. Does it make me cringe, my jaw ache, my stomach drop? That's how my body reacts when I don't like the way the words are put together. When I like what I'm reading I get lost in the story and forget to edit. Writing is more about storytelling than structure. Oh I know that structure is important, I'm not disputing that, it's just that structure doesn't really occur to me.

I'm going to contradict myself now. Sound, flow and physical reaction don't really come into play during the first draft at all. During the first draft I have pictures in my head. I'm watching what's happening and recording all the details I can before the scene moves on. During the rush of discovery it's all about getting what I "see" down on paper. (Well electronic paper, but you know what I mean.) The other stuff becomes important the second time around when the story is already in place. It's when I'm editing that the feel of the words becomes important to me.

So what does that have to do with the craft of writing? I don't know. And I'm thinking I may have to change my tag line.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

July, Already?

I woke up today and it's July 2nd! When did that happen? Summer should be a time to relax and unwind, hopefully get the weeds out of the garden, but my summer somehow gets out of control before school's even out.

My kids' dad likes to make sure the kids don't get bored, but that means I spend the summer as an unpaid taxi driver traveling Vermont taking unwilling children to camps, activities - oh you name it, we do it. Meanwhile, the writing doesn't get done, the house doesn't get painted, and the housekeeper (me) doesn't do her job.

I wanted to say and Suddenly it was July 2nd - but my friend Joni B., who teaches writing skills, says that's a no-no. No more ly words for me. Except for this strange desire to write the sentence -

And who knows what I had a strange desire to write because as of today it's July 9 or 10, or something. That's how fast time goes for me. I wish I had the same ability to slow it down. The only thing I can say for myself is I've made some progress on my books. Yes plural. Right in the middle of writing Tank and Maggie meet the Mob I got this strange compulsion to start another Bree MacGowan story. Yikes. Now I'm left with trying to keep my characters out of each other's stories. Good luck.

Happy Summer all.