Sunday, December 15, 2013
So I gathered some of those "you should be writing" memes from around the Internet. Most were fine and made their way to my screensaver to nag and prod me when my mind drifts away. But I did make a few of my own and thought I would share them. For laughs. . .for giggles. . .for blushes.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I'm still writing every day but how much I can do every day varies a great deal. Some days are better than others.
I'm still waiting on feedback from a second reader before continuing with the revision of Rain. I do wish they would hurry up. I want--need--to get it sent out early in the coming year. I would pester and nag but one doesn't do that to friends, does one?
Snow is coming along, more slowly now than before surgery, and there are parts I think work well and others that don't work as well. But that's what revision is far isn't it? I'm still quite hopeful I can have it finished before the DFW Conference next year. It remains to be seen.
Now, how about some bad poetry?
My ears in soft cotton wool
Hypnosis or sleep?
No difference in the hours
One sliding into another.
Into droplets of color
Falling one by one.
Empty . . . so empty.
Number IV is one I wrote and tweeted to someone I know (albeit not well) in response to one of his tweets. I generally consider such 'gifts' and would not share them here but Twitter is public.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
It's almost the middle of November and wasn't October glorious? Not that it gets spectacular in my part of the country but it does finally get cool---even cold at night.
Of scarlet, golden orange, and sunlit yellow.
Dance . . . there should be dancing
And music to go with it, soft and cool
Instead of cold and hard
Like diamonds splintering
To lay colorless on the grass
All bleached into insensibility.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
I talked about characters in yesterday's post. How I create them and they tell me the story. Sometimes little pieces of story simply become snippets---a story they told me which influences them but serves as back story, much like "Judith".
I've been revising Rain over the past few weeks but I've also been working on my second project, Snow, with an eye to having them both ready (possibly) for next year's writing conference. As happens with me, a name caught my eye and, while I knew she was important, I didn't or don't pursue that particular story in Snow. It's backstory again. And, yet, I liked it. Another story is folded up inside. Would you like a peek at the snippet? It's unedited rough draft and incomplete (even now my fingers itch to rephrase and elaborate some things). I think I'm going to finish it up as a short story and put it up on Scribophile. The story folded inside? Please tell me in the comments if you see it as well as I do and ,if I wrote it, would you read it?
I've said I started late to writing and I've said my teachers in junior and senior high didn't see half my writing. That is all true. But I remembered something I did a very long time ago which should have told me something. The memory drifted back into my current consciousness after I asked someone if they would like to look at some character sketches. I may be a pantster in the plotting department but sometimes I think I overdo it a bit in the character department. Where did that come from? Where did that start? Very simple
When I was around 13 or 14, maybe younger, I started doing something when dragged by my parents to an event I didn't want to go to. Sometimes it was a public event; sometimes it was a family reunion where half of the people were unfamiliar to me.
I took a notebook and a pen with me. Looking around I would spot a face in the crowd that interested me. Where my older brother would start drawing a picture I would start describing their face, the way they wore their hair, what they wore, what caught my attention, how they moved. how they used their hands as they talked, their facial expressions. After getting down all I could see (but actually could not hear---I was never close enough to hear and too shy to approach), I would start my usual Pochemuchka-like behavior.
- What did they do for a living?
- What were they doing in that venue?
- How did they fit or not fit?
- Why were they happy or unhappy?
- What was making them feel/act that way?
I do think it molded my method. Character comes first--story comes out of the character. I don't think I can state without hesitation my stories are character-driven. I don't think they fit that definition. It's more a matter of creating a character complex enough, real enough for them to tell their story to me.
How long or how well I can execute that method I don't know. But I keep discovering characters and listening.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
I sometimes envy those who can focus on one piece of fictional work at a time. The endeavor seems to be beyond me. I work one piece, when the writing begins to pall I pick another. It works for me---most of the time anyway--- so I'm going to keep that modus operandi for a while.
Poetry is another thing altogether. That work comes when it comes. No prediction is possible and leaving something with a missing line sounds a death peal to the poem itself. I can't call it back and finish it. Revision, yes. Completion, no. A personal idiosyncrasy to be sure.
But all that said, it's time for more bad poetry. I haven't posted any this month, have I?
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
She's revising, one chapter after another. Rain, of course. I knew it was coming but I didn't expect it to be this difficult. It's not "killing my darlings". It's more like nuking adverbs, inserting very small words that didn't make it, and tweaking storyline.
The only thing I'm not paying much attention to is grammar. I know it sounds odd and probably egotistical but I do think of myself as fairly decent with grammar. I also plan on sending it to a professional editor just for grammar and punctuation correction. After months and years, in the case of Rain, things can get by you. So having something looked at by a professional makes sense.
My little three point review process may need some broadening of scope or method. Right now it makes sense to me. I've never revised anything before. Yes, you heard me correctly. I've never revised before. Perhaps I could say I've never revised on this level or on this big of a project. It doesn't compare to changing a word in a poem or finding another way to say something in a four hundred word essay. I do that all the time.
I identified the use of adverbs as one of my weaknesses. No, I don't think every adverb should be shot on sight. They are a legitimate part of the English language and don't deserve the treatment they've received. But, still I seemed to be using a lot of them. What do I do? Here's my page by page process.
- Highlight every single adverb.
- Go back and eliminate every highlight falling between quotation marks. To me, this is dialogue. The way my characters speak. I want to look at my words, not theirs.
- Go back again and look at each one. Did I describe the action, feeling, or tone elsewhere? Could I have described the action, feeling, or tone in some other way?
- If the answer to my first question above is yes, I delete it.
- If the answer to my first question is no I go on to the second question and either add or rewrite the action or dialogue.
- If the adverb fits --- horror upon horror! --- I leave it alone. It works for me.
I don't participate in any face to face writing critique groups. The idea, right now, fills me with an utter state of inexplicable fear. Online is my chosen method for that. But that's another posting. But I often hear is "Read your work aloud". Reading it aloud to myself? I'm afraid that didn't work for me but something else did.
Someone on the Facebook group, Novel Matters, posted the discovery of a small option in Adobe Reader. Under the 'view' tab was a little option called "Read Aloud". The voice is computer-generated and doesn't always pronounce words or names correctly but, by cracky, I could hear where I missed those "little" words, awkward phrasing, and repetitive words. Yes!! Down to the second process:
- Convert Word Document to PDF file.
- Open saved PDF file in Adobe Reader
- "Read Aloud" page by page
- Go back to open Word document and make needed corrections
- When last page is done--delete PDF file.
Tweaking I cannot explain in a concrete step by step method. It seems to flow through the first two processes. I'm reading/listening as I go through the first two processes. I go either "what?" or "wait a second!" and change/tweak things right then and there. Perhaps as I revise more the pattern will come to me.
I do know I don't want to be caught in a never-ending revision loop--- like this guy here.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Oh, it isn't that I don't have a clue. OK, maybe I don't have a clue. But what I always have is a question, which leads to another question then another. The story begins.
For example, here are some of the questions I asked with some of the projects I'm working on.
- Rain: The initial questions were: Is a one-night stand or getting picked up at a bar always a bad idea? Does anything like love ever come out of them? What if was romantic destiny? Yeah, pretty much very stupid, very risky questions to answer realistically. But why not?
- Snow: This one came right out of Rain. What if Cheryl's old boss was not the kindly silver-haired gentleman so frequently associated with the job title of judge? What if he were young, unmarried, and attractive? How would Gerry respond when this man shows up? Why/How would the judge? What is he looking for?
- Familiar Strangers: By this time I'm sure some of us (if not most) have met someone in real life (IRL) we first met online, both in a romantic sense and a friend sense. Can the 'friend' become a romantic partner? What happens when it's discovered they are not what they first appeared to be?
- Dani's Song: Let's just ditch this worn-out cliché that only a woman can be the Beauty and only a man can be the Beast. Really! What if it was the other way around?
I sometimes think I ask too many questions but my characters seem bent on answering them.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Coming into New England
Festooned with gray-tipped tree streaks
An ice blue horizon bright with reflected sunlight
But oh, the green hills and mountains
All huddling close to the road
Soft rain falls in tiny clear drops
Air so cool and sweet, inviting intoxication
Along side the road a river meanders
Staining stones and spreading its arms wide
Oh, mercy. . . I know this place.
Hello. . .hello? Remember me?
I think so. Didn’t we meet once?
No--- But yet, I cannot deny
Always Coming Home
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
I always hated the analysis of literature in English, in particular the words theme and symbolism. I'm sure there were others in the mix. What is the theme of this story/book? What does it tell us? What I kept hearing was theme = meaning. I just wanted to read the story---not analyze it for meaning and I certainly didn't care what the rose bush beside the steps in "The Scarlet Letter" symbolized. I really didn't.
The insistence of my English teachers (hush, Barry, you taught me Spanish!) on all of that turned me completely off literature, especially in my senior year. My teacher was very sweet but I learned to loathe Thomas Hardy. I passed primarily because I could, as the old saying goes, : if you can't dazzle them with brilliance---baffle them with B--S--.
No, I was not a good student and I doubt if any of them ever thought I would persue a writing vocation. Seriously. Well, except for Mrs. Langley in junior high. She was the one who encouraged me to continue writing poetry and tried to get me into honors English in high school. It didn't happen.
I took a journalism class but dropped it after one semester when I found myself tooling around town selling ads for the yearbook to local businesses. Journalism is a business; I do understand that. But there were never any classes--no instruction whatsoever.
College was much better. I flew through Basic Comp I and left the instructor wondering why I was taking it. Simple answer: it was required for my major. It seems a lot of students were having trouble writing a coherent sentence. I was having a problem with boredom. Technical writing was required for my nursing major and I did well in it but it was boring, too. Creative writing I and II sparked my interest at last; I did well there because I liked what I was doing. I was writing a story. That was fun! No searching for meaning, no analysis pending, no symbology necessary. Just tell the story!
No, I'm not writing the Great American Novel nor do I have any ambition to do so. I will simply write the best story I can, put my heart into it, and leave the reader to decide if it speaks to them . . . and all that theme and symbolism stuff.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
The nails all bare—no Sunday polish in peachy tints
And the left finger still banded with gold.
It surprised me to see them there
Quiet, soft, so well remembered
Where I never thought to see them
At the ends of my own arms
My mother’s hands.
Reality with Subtitles
Enough for now, I think. I don't want to do this very often. It's rather debilitating to be truthful. Authentic but truthful.
Monday, July 8, 2013
I am busy with my 'own stuff' but I think the guys improve when I make them sit in the living room and amuse themselves while I do something different. (Now there would be a funny scene to write!) I better stop thinking about that image!!
Of course, I looked up from my laptop into the living room and the images started popping up. The urge became overpowering. My fingertips tapped out the following little scene. Maybe it will make you giggle like it did me.
Friday, July 5, 2013
I really like some of the prompts, though I don't really need them right now to get me writing, Just as an example I'll share a few.
- List the gifts your protagonist received on his or her birthday. Which one did your hero like best?
- Make a list of five things your protagonist does not want to do.
- Write about missing a plane.
- Your hero and villain are on a train. Where are they going?
1. Rain: Cheryl's here at the club?
2. Snow: Get placed again in that trice-cursed area of the female psyche known as friend? Not only no but hell no!
3. Dani's Song: What do you suppose the story would be like if the Beauty was a king and the Beast his bride?
4. Troika: Didn't she know she was too small to be lifting weights like that without a spotter?
5. Familiar Strangers: What in the hell did she think she was doing waiting beside Buckingham Fountain in December for a man she had never met?
It's more difficult than it sounds. Only the question for Familiar Strangers and Troika come close to being acceptable. I cheated on Snow by adding Aaron's answer and the question for Dani's Song is in the old narrative voice which I am re-doing for the revision. All of them hold true to the beginning of the story though. Interesting.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
The experience brought me up short and made me look in a direction I hadn't thought of before with that particular piece. The story was fine, in a general sense, but it needed this and this. This word was overused. Oh, and this one, too. You're repeating this and how about showing the audience how this happened. Yes, I suppose in a sense you could say it was ripped to shreds. Surprisingly, the feedback felt good. It really did.
The nearest simile I can think of right now is it like someone walking into a room you like. The room has colors and textures you like, furniture and art you've grown fond of, but there's clutter you don't know what to do with and the placement of the furniture isn't quite working for you. They deconstruct the room, pare down the clutter and move furniture around, You blink in amazement---the room looks so right and what you've always liked about it is stronger. Whoa!
Now down to what I'm talking about in the title of this post. I'm revamping my projects list. I want and need to revise two of them. I have three rough drafts to complete The rest is going to the back burner.
- "Dani's Song" - I'm scrapping the notion of simply e-publishing a revised fairy tale (with or without illustrations) and going to revising it into a full grown middle school book.
- Rain- Of course it needs revising! It's been read and critiqued with all its shortcomings delineated. I want to get it straightened out and into the publishing ether. My characters deserve that chance.
- Familiar Strangers
So what do you say? It's July. Should I give myself a deadline? Nah---not yet. But the DFW Writers Con in 2014 is coming up in less than a year. Another gut-wrenching pitch perhaps? Or two?
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Write what you know. Isn’t that a popular saying in almost any writing class you can take? If writers only wrote about things they knew what a dull place fiction would be! I decided to take another pundit’s advice instead: write the story you would want to read. It may be wishful thinking. It may be unmarketable but some things just keep coming out at the end of my fingertips.
Monday, June 17, 2013
"Evelyn and Alexander"- This is still simply an idea, back burner material and I'm not completely sure of it. It's going to take a great deal of historical research about a time I know very, very little about.
"Summer Heat"- This is the same place "Snow" was not too long ago. It has been started and my organizationally challenged brain sometimes swerves to it when I'm working on "Snow".
"Rain" - The rough draft is completed and I'm letting it "set" for a bit before I start revision. I've actually pitched it (albeit not well) to an agent. Currently my plans for it are simple.
- Do a revision which satisfies me.
- Write a query letter and send it out into the great publishing beyond.
- Keep sending it out until I at least have the rough drafts of "Snow" and "Summer Heat" completed or someone in that great publishing beyond shows some workable interest. All right, the rough draft of "Snow" at least.
"Snow"- The current work in progress (WIP), of course. I started it out thinking it was strictly a romance but, as happens, that simply isn't possible. Once past the third or fourth chapter of the rough draft I realized there was more to the story than simply romance. Research, again! But I want the rough draft completed by the end of the summer. Now whether Aaron and Desiree will cooperate with my ambition I'm not entirely sure but I'm hopeful. More than likely I will end up taking it completely out of this category.
"Couples and Pairs"- I've started this one already, too. It seems to be habit of mine---start something then go back to it later. When I get an idea I hate not recording it somehow and just writing the first few scenes is my favorite modus operandi.
"Dani's Song" (subtitled: "The Veiled Queen")- Ah, I'm a little disappointed. Things haven't progressed the way I optimistically wanted. My illustrator has been overwhelmed with family responsibility. I would like so much to get it up in e-form and out in the world.
"Familiar Strangers"- I'm six chapters in, a lot of 'snippets' written, and the final chapter done but it will probably be next year before I get it into rough draft form.
"Taste of a Man"- Would you believe, except for one or two chapters, the rough draft is complete? I couldn't either until I looked at it recently. But there it was. I hadn't realized.
"Troika"- Another six chapters in and more 'snippets' written. I just haven't made up my mind if I'm doing a series with "Taste of a Man" where "Troika" is the final book or if "Troika" is a stand-alone or both.
While I did include this section on my original list I've decided not to include it this time. Perhaps another posting? I certainly don't need more characters nagging me to start their stories. I have enough work right now to keep me busy for a couple of years.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Poetry is an emotionally dense medium to me. I love reading it but can only manage a couple of poems at a time then I must put it down and digest. If the poem is extremely dense I may put down after a few lines. My own poems are not as dense to me, which may be a matter of personal perception. On rare occasion they capture the moment and the emotions. I just keep trying. I have no ambition whatsoever to be a true "published" poet. Sometimes there will be one written especially for a friend who seems to enjoy it but that is as high as I wish to go.
One could, I suppose, study poetry, take classes, and 'bleed' on the paper (or screen) but that is so 'not me'. They are simply bits and pieces of my heart, however inadequate they may be. My heart sings and I, the musically inept, try to put it down on paper. So, to me, it's "bad" poetry---always "bad" poetry. If it happens to touch one person in any fashion whatsoever I smile and say "thank you". That is enough for me.
So, if you happen to like the poetry that appears here, thank you. And if you don't, that is perfectly alright. It really is. I will try not inflict too much on you. I do understand. It is bad poetry.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
But I said in an earlier post I would publish an excerpt soon. I would publish another one from Snow but I want to finish the research first. So I have chosen an excerpt from Rain. Actually what I've chosen is the very beginning.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
“Regrets I’ve had a few
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
A snippet is a piece of dialogue or scene I've written which concerns a particular character or perhaps thought about putting into the story. Sometimes it is simply back story; sometimes it's a piece of a scene that helps define character or back story but either doesn't move the story along or I took the story a different route. I don't pay a lot of attention to 'cleaning it up' because it's never meant to appear in the first place. It is always rough draft form. Sometimes I am thinking with my fingertips on the keyboard, formulating as I go. I actually write that way. OK, I do correct the spelling. I have a thing about words being spelled incorrectly. Don't get me started!
An excerpt is a piece from a work in progress. What I post as an excerpt is at least a first revision, not a rough draft. I have cleaned it up and it is part of the story. What I try to do is have enough so it does make sense even if I did lift out of the original context.
My recent snippet from Rain--"Judith" is definitely rough and a little rambling. What it holds is back story and a look into what motivates my male character. The excerpt from Snow is an actual conversation taking place between my female character and her brother. The dialogue shows, not just background for the main story, but part of the plot development.
Now I shall have to think for awhile. Snippet or excerpt? Rain or Snow? I can't decide. Would anyone care to express an preference? Go ahead. It's easy.
First drafts are for learning what your novel or story is about.
Monday, May 6, 2013
First I'd like to say I've already signed up for next year's conference. What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment and a total cheapskate. Till the end of the month it's only $200. It will go up to 300 after that then up to 400.
Glutton for punishment? Basically speaking I was totally wiped out both days. I didn't go to the mixer on Saturday and by the end of lunch on Sunday I looked at my friend, Charlotte, and said "I'm brain dead." She agreed with me and we skipped out on the last afternoon. Not there wasn't anything I wanted to attend or thought wouldn't teach me something. I just couldn't absorb one more particle---even with caffeine.
I did two very difficult things for me and didn't realize how draining it would be. I made a pitch and I presented a work in progress at a limited seating (read participant) workshop for critique by a publisher and a literary agent.
Yes, the agent at my pitch was very nice. No, I didn't do it very well. But that wasn't the point or goal for me. My goal was simply to do one. "Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes" in a manner of speaking. I didn't expect to win the publishing "lottery". So when he said he wasn't interested it was no big deal. I did it. That was the biggie.
The workshop was more stressful. "Snow" is a work in progress but I have never put out my work to others in such a manner. I have beta readers and had even gotten back feedback from my primary reader before I ever went to the conference. Putting out something orally and getting immediate verbal feedback I have discovered is extremely stressful. I think I would rather walk down S. Hulen dressed in a shower curtain. But, once again, there has to be a first time for everything and I did get through it. I did get some constructive feedback. But when you're only allowed 2 pages how much can you expect? I would pay extra to have a much smaller group and be able to present a chapter. Ah, one can dream, yes?
Wiped out and lesson learned. Despite my friendly manner (dare I say cocky?) I am an introvert at the core and keeping myself leashed and on task for two extremely daunting tasks demolished me.
I like the historical research presentation and got a few ideas I hadn't considered before. I loved meeting other writers. Finding other folks my age who were also writing was wonderful. I like not being the Lone Ranger. [Bitty, I tried to find you before I left! Darn it! Next year?]
So, yes, again next year. Less business, more craft. Well, maybe I'll pitch again but perhaps I'll put that decision off for awhile. Hey, practice makes perfect. Wouldn't you agree? After all, I don't have years to waste.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
But this posting I thought I would do something I've not done before---post what I call a 'snippet'. Frequently they don't make their way directly into the story but do form one of the building blocks of a character. I write them and stuff them into my character dossiers. This 'snippet' is from Rain and involves Gerry, the male protagonist. Right now it exists simply as a nightmare in the rough draft.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Well, actually it hasn't. I don't think so anyway. I've spent the better part of today finishing up my homework for the DFW Writers Conference. Yes, the Romance workshop I signed myself up for in a sudden fit of brazenness.
My pitch session was emailed to me not too long ago and I initially was super excited about it. I looked at it again and groaned. Just from looking at the time my session is scheduled for the end of the day or pretty close to it. End of the day. I can't make up my mind if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I'm leaning toward the latter with various descriptors tumbling through my mind: tired, hungry, thirsty (for a stiff one), and aching (me at least).
Ah, well, as I told the friend who is carpooling with me. "It's practice. You're going to have to do it sooner or later. And there's always going to be a first time so just do it!" I was actually negging on her after she told me she wasn't going to pitch her manuscript. No way was I going to let her get away with such cowardice! Last night we talked for almost an hour and yes, she will be pitching as well. Yes! After all, misery loves company, yes? OK, I didn't urge her to do simply for that reason but it will be a double learning experience. We debrief each other extensively afterwards I'm sure.
I will not be posting here again until Saturday night at the earliest or Monday at the latest. In other words, if I hear encouraging words I will probably be posting Saturday; if the words are discouraging I will probably post Monday. All of which means absolutely nothing--------------everyone here knows I'm going to keep writing no matter what is said.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Such disregard for life
Never. Never. No.
What is to be gained? Not respect
Nor understanding. Nothing
My heart does not want to believe