Monday, September 28, 2009

Theory of Chaos

The Theory of Chaos states that a decent muse can only exist in a house with un-vacuumed floors and un-scrubbed toilets.

Today I cleaned my house.

My mind is blank. My cursor mocks me. I have written words, but they will not keep. My storyline refuses to move forward.

I'm pretty sure 409 and Comet are sworn enemies of my muse, and that to write well I must live in a state of chaos.

Fortunately I have a three year-old that will restore chaos to my home as soon as he wakes up tomorrow.

Friday, September 25, 2009

DISCOVERY

I am currently writing a scene where the character discovers something, something important and crucial to the whole story beginning to end.

And I have a feeling that this element of my story will have to be written and rewritten, not to mention go through many, many betas because when the story is in your head, it is hard to figure out what is or isn't obvious to the reader.

I've decided that with this particular point of reader discovery, I've probably teetered either of two ways and it will take other people reading it and telling me which way I've tipped.

1) Either I've dropped way too many hints prior to the discovery, and the reader will plod through the rest of the story UNTIL the discovery, thinking, "It's sooooo obvious. The main character must be really daft to not figure this out until now."

OR

2) I've not set the stage enough for the discovery, and when the main character reaches her discovery point, the reader will say, "Huh? I don't get it. How did she figure that out from A and B?"

It's an answer I won't really know until my manuscript is ready enough for me to brave somebody else reading it, a few somebody elses, who can tell me if it's "1" or "2", or if I'm really special (or if they are really lying) that I've nailed it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

And Then They Kissed

That's right-I wrote the kissing scene a couple of days ago.

Yes, there will be more, but this was the kiss because it was the first kiss.

And it made me realize that kissing scenes aren't my forte...yet.

So to improve, I told my husband we needed to kiss so I could describe it in my book. However, he wasn't very excited about submitting his kissing-self to research, and I guess it would not be very romantic if I stopped mid-kiss to take notes.

Instead I went through my collection of young adult books, and reread the kissing scenes. Here it is-The Anatomy of a Kiss. (a PG kiss)

1) It starts with a look - a dazzling gaze or a soft longing in the eyes.

2) Then contact. Hair is brushed away, jawlines are traced, chins are lifted.

3) The space is closed between them - hands behind waist, arms around neck. They lean in.

4) And then...and then....they kiss. Lips brush against each other. The kisses are soft and sweet.

5) Physiologic response-breaths are held, hearts skip beats.

6) Metaphors maybe? A cat and a bird made it into a couple of kissing scenes I read.

7) The aftermath. They pull away. Maybe they kiss again. (Oh, 0r maybe she slaps him.)

It has to be good. A lot of YA fiction readers are teenage girls. This is the part of the book they wait for with baited breath and maybe read again if it's good.

What elements do you include in the kissing scene?

Friday, September 18, 2009

They Were Just That Good

I am a big fan of nineteenth-century British literature, namely Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Elizabeth Gaskell. (By the way, if you haven't read Elizabeth Gaskell, you are missing out.) What amazes me now, as I write my first draft, is that they did everything by hand.

I mean, that seriously limits the editing possibilities, and to rewrite your whole first draft was no easy feat. Let's see, my copy of David Copperfield is 870 pages. How many pages is that handwritten? And then to edit it and copy it for publishing? It boggles my mind.

So I have reached the conclusion that these authors and authoresses must have gotten it pretty close to right the first time. They were that incredible. The brilliant prose and wit just slipped from their fingers onto their paper.

Maybe they were just smarter then. I mean, we have more knowledge now, but they were languge-smart. They could think of an emotion or a circumstance and just translate it into words that everybody would know and understand...for years to come.

So I have determined that I must settle for my mediocrity and just be glad to be blessed with their genius, and maybe a little sad that if it weren't for Addison's disease, coronary artery disease, and cerebral hemorrhages we would have many more of their masterpieces to read and love.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Very Not Useful Post About My Conference Experience

Before attending the SCBWI conference on Saturday, I received a list of rules-one of which was: Don't corner an agent/editor in the bathroom. During one of my many bathroom breaks I found myself washing my hands next to New York Editor #1, and I'm proud to report there was no cornering.

But really, mutually washing potty germs off of your hands isn't exactly the best context to pitch your project anyway. Who does these things that rules actually have to be invented for them?

I did actually speak to above editor at one point, as lucky me got to sit by both New York editors as the other editor spoke. I asked her a question about agented work. Only, it took me a few tries to say the word "agented." I guess editors leave me a little tongue-tied.

The conference was awesome, of course. Other than our two New York editors (one from Macmillan and one from HarperCollins), we had a visiting agent as well. And lots of published authors.

I volunteered to introduce one of the authors during a break-out session. When I went to the volunteer table to register, they handed me a bandana. A bandana?

The conference had a wild west motif this year, which was really cute to look at, but not to wear. A lot of writers are boldish types who will greet each other with a "Howdy Partner" and tie a bright red bandana around their neck. I'm afraid that isn't me.

I cheated a little and wore the bandana around my arm. And I didn't once say "Howdy Partner." Maybe I need to work on that. Ooh...maybe I should have said "Howdy Partner" to the editor in the bathroom.

This is my shallow report of the SCBWI conference, which contains absolutely NO helpful information except bathroom etiquette and the mandatory dresscode of a volunteer.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The End

No, not the end of my manuscript.

The end of my iBook.

Today, my computer crashed. I mean, it really crashed, as in it slipped off my pregnant lap onto the floor and crashed. It wasn't much of a fall, but enough to kill the seven-year old Mac.

Luckily, I had backed up my file with the exception of maybe 1000 words, which I will reclaim tonight.

So the Latin Litigating Lover and I had a talk. Could we afford a new laptop? Well, we figured if A + B divided by the square root of X equals maybe we can afford it, then maybe we can.

So we did. Only I just wanted my husband's laptop's twin while he tried to convince me to get the one with the bigger screen.

In the end, I said you take the big screen brand new laptop. I'll take your laptop. So husband is happy because now he has new electronics. I am happy because now my laptop isn't an old man. And he is kind of pretty.

P.S. New laptop is not a Mac. I know a lot of writers dream of Macs, but I had one for seven years and decided it was nothing very special for way too much money. Give me my second-hand Toshiba anyday.

P.S.S. I would take a picture of my Toshiba, but I've been dropping more than just laptops lately. And my camera is at Kodak being repaired from its recent fall.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Changes

Look! 25% done! It's official. Book Number Two is definitely winning. So much that I just deblogged Book Number One completely. Maybe I'll revisit it later but right now there is only room in my life for one book.

I even blog-published my book title: Untelling the Maya. Blip yet to come.

I have mentioned my "Maya" book in the past, but after two unsuccessful starts, I gave it up. Really, on my second start I was pregnant sick, thus associating all things during those few months (including Bedtime Stories, Baltic Cruises, and yes, my book) with puke-ness.

However, after I started a third time something happened. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the mist that has been hanging over Kansas lately, but I managed to write almost all of my book thus far in a little over a week. So I am hoping -maybe praying a little- that this goodness continues.

For more blog changes. I am prepared to follow and be followed. (Renee wrote a great post last week about just the same thing.) I've never done either. Now I am posting my followers, and actually "following" blogs for real. Time to get on the bandwagon.

And see my statmeter? I haven't decided if I want to keep it ON my blog yet, but it makes me feel special. And since I don't know my IP address, every time I visit my own blog, it looks like a visit. I'm very popular.

And one more change I've been considering, but it is slightly more expensive than blog changes...my ibook is old, seven years to be exact. I bought it because I wanted to write, and it took me all of its good life to get into writing. Poor, poor ibook. Maybe I need a new computer, but maybe I'm poor.

Has anyone used the Netbook yet? It's much cheaper than a laptop, but the keyboard looks cramped and my fingers may not love it very much.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What a Week!

It has been a very busy week. I had to move old tenants out of House We Cannot Sell, get House ready, move tenants into House...all while being sick and tending to a sick child. THEN, add the whole my-son-erasing-part-of-my-book debacle a few days ago. Should have been the perfect recipe for an unproductive week in writing, right?

Incredibly, WRONG!

This has been the most productive week for me probably ever. I was set back a couple of days when I had to rewrite the 5000 my son deleted. (I only came up with 4400 words, though, on my rewrite-hopefully those 600 words were not very important.) But look! Book Number Two (the one that I love) is kicking Book Number One's butt. (Can I say 'butt' on my blog?)

What better way to end a productive writing week than to win a contest?! I won (well...runner-up) Natalie's contest to create a metaphor with orange. And I win a black-and-white picture drawn by Natalie of a scene from my book. I'm very excited.

And for more blog-love: aside from having awesome contests, Natalie is now the proud client of Nathan Bransford. (Whew, that was a lot of links.) Wow. Awe. Most of you blog with Natalie and already know this, but there are a few that may be unaware of Natalie's supremacy.

Now back to the writing board.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thank You For Your Sympathy

I appreciated all of your comments of understanding and sympathy yesterday.

I am happy to report that after a lot of rescusitation, Manuscript is almost back to his full form.

We had a rather sleepless night last night of mad typing and tossing and turning, but tonight he is feeling very much back to himself.

Of course, he realizes that when I am done writing him, he will be completely rewritten and replaced. He is like the orange seed with lots of potential but bitter and definitely not sweet, and my final draft will be like the orange tree that it has sprouted from. (Okay, I'm heading over to Natalie's blog to enter her contest for real.)