Monday, March 30, 2009

The Name Game, or Help Will's Mother.

Will Scarlett's mother needs a name. I know, she should have been named when I was writing my original draft, but I was in a serious time crunch (ever heard of National Novel Writing Month? No? Description of the craziness to follow.) Since I had to complete at least 50,000 words in a single month (November, no less!), I called her 'the older woman' or 'Will's mother'. But I can't do that endlessly. It worked for the short haul, but for the long road? The poor woman really deserves a name.

So, my loyal followers, here is your chance to chime in. What should I name her? My only restriction is that it has to fit the 1500's. And her first name CANNOT be 'Rose'. I mean, can you imagine? 'Rose Scarlett'? Yikes!

Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah. What is NaNo. NaNo takes place in the month of November, when thousands of crazy people decide they're going to attempt to write a novel (as I said, at least 50k words) while dealing with the stress of the holidays. I tried it for the very first time last year and it was AMAZING. I absolutely LOVED it. There's something extremely freeing about simply letting the words flow, and not worrying one iota about syntax or anything else. Editing is for January.. or, in my case, March, April and May. LOL! What do I get out of it? Besides the high of knowing I wrote a viable first draft in thirty days? I get a single proof-ready copy of my novel. Which I think is all that AND a bag of chips. :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Feedback, feedback, feedback!!

There's nothing worse for an aspiring writer than readers who don't give feedback. Honestly. I cannot stress how important it is for us to know how our writing is seen. Are our characters 'real', does it make sense for them to do (fill in the blank) in this particular chapter? We share our work with other writers, sure. And we get very valuable feedback. But there's something about letting someone who simply enjoys a good book, someone who can read without dissecting sentences, read a manuscript in the works. It's from those people that we know Jonny can kick the cat in chapter two, but when he learns in chapter eight that his mommy is dying, we'll still make them cry.

I once worked for a company that produced e-books. I was what was called a 'first reader'. Basically, what I did was read the manuscript pre-publication, dissect it page by page, and send it back. This is NOT what I'm talking about, people! We're not asking you for detailed descriptions of what works and what doesn't. That's what we have our other writing buddies for! We're wanting to know if Point A takes you to Point B, or does it whizz past Point B, heading straight for Point K? Do you CARE about our characters? Do you want to read more?

People, it takes more than just writers, agents, editors and publishers to produce a good book. The best manuscript in the world won't get touched if there's no one willing to read it and GIVE THE AUTHOR FEEDBACK!

If you're lucky enough to have an aspiring writer ask you to read their manuscript, and you're interested enough to say 'yes', please follow through. That's all I'm saying. It makes life easier for everyone...

Friday, March 27, 2009


Somedays, what you need to write is a mind clear of the flotsom and jetsom of real life. To be able to release all that... stuff that's bogging you down, and simply start over from scratch. That's what today was, I think, on some deep internal level. After all, it's not easy to write about young love when your mind's cluttered. Which definitely explains why I haven't written in two or three days.

Today was one of those days where I HAD to go out, but all I really wanted to do was stay home. It was rainy and cold. One of those days where the rain drips out of an endlessly gray sky. I could have quite literally sat at my back window and watched my grass grow. I do love the rain. I just don't love driving in it. With two kids. Leaving two soon to be muddy dogs at home. But I buckled down and took the opportunity to do something I've needed to do for a while.

I saw my best friend today. This was a big deal, since we haven't seen each other in two years (except once in very brief passing). And I suddenly realized, all over again, that distance doesn't matter when you love someone. There are some friends who, when you see them, the passage of time is everything ~ you've somehow become different people and that magical bond you once shared has become nothing more than ties of the past. Then there are those rare, precious few. You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones you could call up after twenty years of nothing but emails.. and they'd drop everything to be at your side. My best friend is like that. I don't know when I'll be seeing him again, but I know it doesn't matter. Not really. Because he truly is just a phone call away.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Write what you know... cause there's no other choice.

I firmly, completely, utterly believe in Mark Twain's words of wisdom "Write what you know". I just never really applied it until I searched my heart while wondering what my first novel should be. I read mysteries, bodice rippers (yes, even those on occasion! Shh.. don't tell anyone!), fantasy of all sorts (urban, epic, you name it), even some (gasp!) Classics. So what next? I tried my hand at a pirate bodice ripper, but that project fizzled once I realized I had to actually describe a BOAT! (For those of you who don't know me, I have a deathly fear of deep water.) So where did my heart lie? I know, I know, I can hear you all practically screaming 'Fantasy, woman! Fantasy!' But there's a whole lot of fantasy out there... and yes, fantasy requires a level of research I didn't know about before I started. And let me tell ya, I didn't start out easy. I chose the legend of Camelot. Well... kind of. It chose me. It started out as a romantic fantasy.. a 'what if' taking place twenty years after the Fall of Camelot. Then I had someone proof it for me, which was an exercise in letting go. A novel is the paper child of your heart. To hear it needs WORK, that it's not perfect straight off the computer/notepad/typewriter... it hurts. Then to realize the romantic fantasy could be SO much stronger written as an epic fantasy? Ugg! So.. that's where I'm at. Revision. Again. Maybe I should say 'first revision', as I'm sure another one will be somewhere down the road.
So.. for your reading pleasure, here is the first 'bit' of my first novel to be completed, the second one to be revised (a story for another day)...

“Uther, go now! Hurry! Gorlois is busy outside the walls!”
The tall, bearded man hesitated and Merlin pushed him forward. “This is your chance! Take it!”
“She is devoted to her husband, Merlin. I will not take an unwilling woman!”
“This is what you wanted!” Merlin hissed. “This was your idea, Uther!” The king's mouth remained firm. “I will lay a glamour over you. Igraine will only see what she expects. Her husband returning from battle, and she'll welcome you with open arms.” He muttered under his breath. “There, now hurry!”
Uther stumbled forward, down the hallway to her rooms, and Merlin slumped against the wall. Magic, he mused, is not meant for such trivialities. Nevertheless, it was necessary to gain Uther's favor and the freedom to move about his court. Hearing no screams coming from Igraine's chamber, he smiled. Perfect. A small reminder, later, and Uther may well introduce me to King Ban. Once that happens, I can gain access to the lake easily enough. Flinging the black cloak he wore around his shoulders, he vanished.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Vikings and dictation

Okay, I feel like my first post should be something awe inspiring, something showing my unique talents as a writer, blah, de blah, de blah. So what comes to mind? My eleven year old's report on Vikings.

Have you ever thought about how truly difficult it is to take dictation? I hadn't.. not until today, at any rate. I just thought, "Yeah, no biggie. They talk, you type." Suure. That's the way it works.. In theory anyway. IF you don't have a kid dancing around the living room, showing you exactly how Dane axes worked while he's chattering a million miles a second. IF you don't have a seven year old hovering around your other ear, telling you all about the universe and black holes. IF you can actually hold in your laughter at the paragraph long run-on sentences.

None of which happened in my house.

I count it as a good day of school that the report actually got done, and I didn't hurt his feelings by laughing in his face.

We done good.