All Posts Tagged With: "BIAY"

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. – Ray Bradbury

A few things:

 1) I was in Beverly Hills a while back, to see the doctor, I had to park in one of the public parking structures.  As I was pulling out in The Falcon (my Jeep), I passed Michael T. Weiss in his car.  He was making a turn, and he slowed down to do so, so I got a great view of his face.  He still looks good, which was awesome.  I LOVED him on The Pretender and it makes me sad that he’s been playing bad guys recently.

And not too long after I saw the guy, he shows up on Burn Notice!  It was great to see Michael T. Weiss and Jeffrey Donovan together again.  I was inspired to look up the show and see just how many episodes Donovan was in, as Kyle, Jared’s messed up brother.  I was shocked to see that it was only three TOTAL episodes!  He must have been mentioned more than that, for him to have been as pervasive in my memory as he is.  Or he was just that awesome.

 

2) A friend forwarded me an e-mail about this writing program called Skyword.  Skyword hooks writers up with different websites that are looking for content and they pay you based on hit counts for each article that you write.

I applied to write for gather.com and I was chosen to write for the news and political channels of the site.  I’m really enjoying it- I pick my own topics, do my own research and then submit my articles to be published on the site.  They have editors that read for content and they do edit articles as needed, which is a great service. 

I’ve already started to make money, although it’s a very small amount at this point.  But cash is cash, and it spends.  This is the first time I have ever been paid for my work.  Woo!

If you are interested in writing for the same program, check it out here.

Some of my currently posted articles are here:

a) Black Valedictorian Forced to Share Honor with White Student

b) Married Lesbian Couple Save 40 Teens from Norway Killing Spree

c) Murder of Gay Student Ends in Mistrial

d) After 66 Years, Nazi Secretary Reveals All

e) New Jersey Bullying Legislation Hits Hard

f) West Memphis 3 Released After 18 Years

 

3) Keep Calm and Finish Your Damn Book

Beth and Deb linked me to this post, via twitter, and it hit so many buttons for me, it isn’t even funny.

First, I love the art.  It reminds me of Hyperbole and a Half, which is awesome, and the actual content just really speaks to me. 

I mean, I am that person.  I freak out about all the people that are better/wittier/funnier/darker than I am and that have great books out there, getting read and possibly sold by a major publisher.

In fandom, I always get sad when my stories don’t get the kinds of comments that other stories do, some that aren’t as good as mine but get a billionty more comments.  And I wonder if people just don’t like me, like you do.  Or if I’m that uncool kid that people just put up with because it’s the internets and you can’t really kick people out until they become REALLY creepy or crazy or dangerous.  Am I that girl that you went to school with that had the terrible hair and smelled like peas? 

And then I wonder if it IS, in fact, the content of my work that just isn’t getting the response that I want.  If my stories are okay but not good, even if they aren’t BAD.

As an aside, I had a story that was due for a fannish challenge and I knew that I had to get it done, as it was for someone else and I would be gifted with a story of my own.  You never want to be that asshat that DOESN’T meet the deadline, okay?  And I thought I had a good story but I asked an amazing friend to beta read the thing for me.  She’s totally awesome and totally honest and she didn’t like it.  Like, at all.  So I had to break it down and really try to find what the story was I was actually trying to tell.  In the end, I had a much better story that I actually really loved.  I still did not get the kinds of comments that I was expected, based on the fandom and the characters involved.  My ego is ridiculous, okay?  I get that.  But man, I just wish I could write a story that not only connected with ME but connected with everyone else.

And that’s what I think this post is really about.  I question my worth as a writer based on the feedback from other people (or the distinct lack thereof).  I also question my worth based on my own comparison of my work/blog/twitter/facebook to that of other people, just like the blog talks about.  I psych myself out, creating all this doubt that doesn’t need to be there. 

What is the answer here?  The answer is just write the damn book.  Just tell the story the way I want to tell it, the way that I see it in my head, and just get it on the page.  Don’t worry about what other people will think about that paragraph or that character turn.  Don’t get caught up in all the peripheral stuff, like blogs and twitter and stuff.  Just focus on the work.  Because in the end, that’s all you have to stand on and it will have to be enough.  Make sure that the focus is on the work and just get it done.

That’s what I’m taking away from the post.

 

4) Speaking of Keep Calm and Finish Your Damn Book…

I’m trying to get my edits done on The Drake submission so I can send it out.  I’m struggling with too much information.  I’ve been thinking about the problems with the story and how to fix them for months and now that I need to actually sit down and pound out the fixes, I’ve got almost too much information pouring into my brain.

I need to rework the synopsis- crap, I have one, that I can just edit.  Maybe.  Or maybe it would be better to just start from scratch.  Ack!

Add to that, I need to update my first three chapters to incorporate the changes that I am making in the synopsis.  Let’s be clear- the changes are important, if only because they will help make the story not suck.

I feel both empowered, mostly because when I do have ideas hit me, they are pretty good and I am making a lot of fixes, but also like my hands and feet are tied.  When I sit down to actually type out the new words, I freeze up and I don’t know why.

Am I intimated by the amount of work this will require?  Am I afraid of getting it wrong?  I have no idea, I just know that I need to get my act together and get these pages out so that I don’t miss out on this opportunity.

 

5) My Kindle.

I love my Kindle.  I take it with me almost everywhere and I can read anything I want without anyone commenting on the cover, because I don’t have a cover.  I also am saving myself a ton of paper and ink costs by putting fanfic on my Kindle instead of printing it out to read away from the computer.

In fact, fanfic is what I use the Kindle for more than anything else.

Since my husband has been out of work for 1 year and 9 months (aside:  he was recently hired to work for a great place here in LA and starts on 9/15.  Another post to follow regarding this!) one of the things we’ve cut out is the book buying.  Granted, I do get amazon.com gift cards and can use those but I am pretty picky about what I pick up, because I know that my budget is so limited.  So, I’ve been very slow to add actual published novels to my device.  I have a lot of free stuff and a lot of samples of what amazon.com has available, but not a lot of purchases.  To be very clear, I do not pirate e-books.  It never does, as they say, to shit where you eat.

But the fanfic?  Oh, HELL yeah.  Lots of it.  And I’ve been collecting some of my favorite stories for re-reads and getting all the long Big Bang stories downloaded so I can read them at lunch, at work.  It’s the perfect little device for the avid reader of all types.

If you think you are interested in a Kindle but are concerned about the various format issues, be sure to download the program Calibre. 

Calibre is a FREE program that will help you manage your various e-books, files, etc.  Calibre can also convert files to other formats for better reading.  For example, I have a number of pdf files that I have converted to Kindle format (modi).  I have also purchased e-books from non-amazon.com sites that only offer pdf or epub formats and have converted those to Kindle as well, using Calibre.  I love it.  

And for all you fanfic readers out there, if you get your fix from An Archive of Our Own (AO3), you can download works in all e-book formats, including Kindle, so you won’t need to convert, just click and save.  Just another reason that the site is so amazing.

 

6) My short story.

I had submitted a story to an anthology and it was not accepted by that anthology.  Which is okay.  Not everything is for everyone.

But I submitted the piece to my crit group and it didn’t get that great of a response from them, either.

So, that is a sign that the stupid thing needs a lot of work.  On the plus side, now that I’m not writing it to fit into specific parameters, I can increase the word count and make positive changes without worrying if I am working outside the theme of the anthology.

The downside is that my husband really liked the story.  He was my beta reader and he was the one that suggested the current ending.  Apparently, my crit partners felt like it wasn’t a complete story, instead of an ending the implied additional action after the story was technically over.  That is not good.

I’m wondering if their reaction to it is based on reading preference.  They prefer the romance genre, that demands a HEA, and the husband prefers to read sci-fi and fantasy stories, that can be ambiguous and possibly sad or tragic.  That’s a different audience and one story would create very different reactions from both types of readers.

I am not discounting any feedback on this one- I am taking everything into account, including that it’s currently in present tense but it might work better in past tense.  This is something worth exploring.  I do have some experience in changing the tense, as I did with First Lady and the Dead Presidents.

I need to make the ending really pop, so that even if I don’t write in all the action that I thought I was implying before, than at least the reader would have a better understanding of what actions was supposed to be happening, as opposed to thinking that the story wasn’t even complete.  *sigh*

A lot of work, but worth it.  I love the characters, I love the world, and I want to see this in print somewhere other than my computer screen.  My plan, after I take it apart and rebuild her, is to send it to one of the guys that rejected the story from the anthology and see what they think about it after the overhaul.  If he’s willing. 

I will report back as things happen!

We ought never to do wrong when people are looking – Mark Twain

Thank god, the writer’s block is OVER.  Man, did that suck.

I’ve been working on a novel I am currently calling “First Lady and the Dead Presidents.”  Originally, I had begun writing it in third person, mostly because I am not a fan of books in the first person.  I think first person is incredibly difficult to get right and too many authors don’t have the right grip on the voice so it sounds (at least to me) contrived and over-written.

That being said, I was stuck.  I had gotten a few pages out and had submitted them to one of my critique groups.  The consensus was that, while it had a fairly good voice and really great description, there was something missing.  The readers in the group were having a hard time connecting to McKinley, my main character, which was a major problem. 

She came off the page as bitchy and overly mean.  Her actions occurred without a lot of context, so she seemed flaky and selfish, which I guess she is in a way, but there was a lot more hurt and brokenness to her behavior that just wasn’t coming off the page in the way that I wanted or needed it to.

So I stopped writing and tried to figure out a way to make it work.

I had a fleeting thought to try first person but batted it away.  Everyone knows that I HATE first person- why would I think that I could do it better than anyone else, right?

Well, I started to get thoughts and feelings about this book that became more and more insistent.  Something was whispering in my ear that I needed to at least TRY first person and see how it went.  I was under no obligation to actually keep writing in that voice, the whisper said,  and I wouldn’t HAVE to show it to anyone, should I choose not to.  What would it hurt?

And then one morning, I woke up and there were paragraphs and dialogue just sitting in my head, waiting patiently to be pounded out onto a computer screen, all in first person, and I knew that I had to give it at least a try.

And, damn it, it worked. 

I think I’ve found McKinley.  Her voice at least, and I think I’ve found a way to make her connect with the reader, even though in the beginning she’s making choices that are all about her and her needs.  The whole point of the story is that she has to learn to let HER pain go and try to help others ease theirs.

Now, at least, I feel like the reader will see the potential in McKinley and not write her off as a selfish bitch from day one.

I have a crit group meeting this evening- the first one for a new group and I am WAY pumped, let me tell you- so I’m hoping for some constructive feedback regarding these pages.  I’m lucky that these ladies read my original submission so they will know the changes I’ve made and be able to tell me which version of the heroine they prefer.

I have to say, though, I can’t wait until I get to Carter, my hero.  I’m curious to see how he comes off on the page, now that we aren’t going to get his POV.  Maybe I’ll need to make this a dual POV story, both in first person.  Or, I could try her in first and him in third. 

I have time to experiment and if this has taught me anything, it’s that experimenting can be rewarding beyond what any of us can imagine.

The end is the beginning is the end is the beginning…

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!

It’s been a few days since it happened but I was able to achieve my goal!  I finished the draft of my novel and was able to submit it for the EVA contest.

Am I happy with it?  Not completely.  I had to face the fact that there were a number of story lines that I wanted in the book that had to be cut so I could finish with a (somewhat) coherent storyline that had a beginning, middle and an end.

A lot of the layering that I was trying to achieve wasn’t finished to my liking.

I think the end is very abrupt.  That might just be me as the author being very picky and negative but that’s how I’m seeing it.

I keep thinking about my edits.  Where I’m going from here.  I wake up thinking about this book.  But I can’t seem to even open the file.

I’m terrified to see the mistakes in the manuscript that I sent to an editor.  TERRIFIED.

Let me be clear.  An editor is going to read my full manuscript.  She is an acquiring editor.  That is completely accurate.

I don’t have any expectation that she is going to be interested in picking up my book.  The only reason she’s even reading it is because a member of EVA knows this woman professionally and asked her to read it as a favor.

My expectation is to get back feedback and notes- what I’m doing right, what I’m doing wrong, etc.

That doesn’t mean that I want to send a mistake ridden document to someone who might look at my work as an acquiring editor in the future.

It’s completely my fault.  I overestimated my ability to fix my plot errors in such a short amount of time.  I failed to balance my writing with the rest of my life.  I made it so that I didn’t have a chance to do the polishing/editing that I needed because I had to send the doc to be printed so I could turn it in.  That’s all on me and I’m going to have to accept that, especially if the feedback is negative.

HOWEVER, I do feel like my characters are strong and interesting.  I love my sidekick, Roman, the GQ gay detective.  He’s funny, he’s suave and I love him.  Everyone who’s read his pages really liked him as well, so I know that at least ONE aspect of the novel connects with people.

I think that the writing itself flows.  I like the tone and have been told by others that they do as well.

So, I have a few positives and a few negatives battling it out in my brain right now.

And I still can’t open the document.  *sigh*

I’m gearing up for the OCC February online class, which is Candace Haven’s Fast Draft class.  The goal is to write a first draft in 14 days.  I think this class also has the Editing Hell section attached.  I BELIEVE that if you take the class and participate fully, you will have a completed first draft with edits by the end.

Anyone who is interested should go here and sign up!  You DO NOT have to be a member of OCC to take the class!  Join me and Finny and JUST GET IT DONE!

I’m trying to determine which project I’m going to work on in the Fast Draft class.  I just sent Finny a list of story ideas to get her opinion and I’m going to list them here as well, see what you all think.  Any that interest you?  Any that really, really don’t?

STORY IDEAS:

1)       First Lady and the Dead Presidents (working title)

  1. This is the one with the daughters all named after the President of the United States.  The father dies and leaves his daughters his business but they have to complete a few tasks and all four daughters have to do their part or none of them get the money.  Oldest daughter is forced to come home from CA and run the business for one year.  She wants to sell it to Carter, a guy who was trying to buy it before the old man croaked.  I haven’t decided if this is going to be a mystery or just a family drama/romance.

2)   Moving Bodies

  1. The story of three high school friends who are thrown back together because of murder.  They must dispose of the body of an abusive husband who was also working for the mob.  After mistakenly taking the mobs money, the ladies are on the run from both the law and the bad guys.  They need to get to Florida to dump the body in the Everglades, rebuild their friendships and avoid getting killed or arrested on their trip.  A hunky local Sheriff who wants to help thrown in to the mix might make this a romance but it feels more like a chic lit adventure story more than anything.

3)   Though the Heaven Should Fall

  1. The American Revolution romance.  I have the outline pounded out but I don’t have the research done and I don’t want to get stymied by lack of info and sit there, looking at a blank screen.  But I really like Jensen (yeah, I know.  I couldn’t help it!) and Emma and wouldn’t mind spending serious time with them.

4)   Wolves of Indiana

  1. The gay werewolf story.  I don’t even know.

5)   Red Slippers

  1. A murder mystery set in 1950’s Ohio.  A young girl is murder, her face beaten in.  No one knows who she is and no young women are missing in the tiny community where her body is found.  The local Sherriff, the youngest Sherriff in the country at the time, is on the case.  No CSI teams and no internet, the Sherriff and his merry band must determine who she is and who killed her before the Country Fair rolls out of town and any suspects roll out with it.  This is based on a true story and in reality, they discovered who she was AND found her killer all because of the shoes on her feet.

Like Herding Cats

Here I sit, again, at the Coffee Connection Cafe on Centinela. A cute little place, pointed out to me by a friend who lives in the area.  Free wi-fi, which may or may not be a good thing.

Trying to get my manuscript whipped into shape.  I was here yesterday but didn’t get nearly as much done as I would have liked.  Story of my life, right?  Listening to Patty Griffin, which may be too melancholy for the mood and the situation that I’m currently in.

I started on my first Project Fill-in-the-Blanks book- working through Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, which is fantastic.  The movie made from the book is equally fantastic.  I rec both highly.

Just picked up the new Stephen King novel from the library.  It’s thicker than the Bible, which I think we all knew when it came out.  Plus, old Uncle Stevie is known for that kind of thing so why was I surprised?

This is all evidence that I am easily distracted as well as a huge procratinator.  I need to get this done but it is hard.

Whine.  It’s not that I have ever thought that writing was easy.  It’s not.  I’m a fast writer but I end up having to do a lot of polishing and editing to get the words to read the way that I really intended.  I enjoy editing but I find that if I already had a good start in the right direction, it’s a lot easier/faster. Duh?

Continued

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Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so. – Douglas Adams

I tried to spend yesterday- a holiday from work- working on The Manuscript.  It was both a win and a fail for me.

Finny and I decided to write together.  She stayed with a friend in LA so we could get started bright and early in the morning.  Which we did.  We chose a Barnes & Noble on Pico, here in LA, to work at because there was free parking and a cafe.

This  should have been my first clue that there was a problem.

Continued

Brave New World

So, a new year.  A new challenge.  Whoo boy.

I belong to a chapter of RWA- East Valley Authors- and that chapter had a contest last year to start and finish a book in that year.  If you finished, your work would be given to an editor or agent for a full read.

Yeah.  I know.  What a great contest! 

Continued