Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hard at work.

This has been a week or two of hard work. I gave myself a challenge with a completed manuscript. Trim it and use the exercise to learn how to write tight. This, as many of you know, means killing off your darlings. Jenny Crusie taught me that. But, I may have also killed a manuscript. Ha, ha. It was a risk, but one that energized me. I had this one line that I loved on the bottom of the second page and I kept trimming all around it until I realized it had to go. It ended up like a pimple right on the end of your nose. No amount of concealer could hide it. It just stuck out there, all red and throbbing, drawing all kinds of attention. But you know, when I finally cut it, it was okay. I felt a certain relief that it was gone. Yet, I'd loved that line for so many months. Strange, huh?

I'm going through another stage of thinking I should be more proactive. I'm such a wuss. I take little baby steps and research an agent or two then remain loyal while awaiting their rejection to my query or partial submission. It's so sad. I've decided to do what Bob Mayer told me years ago, get at least batches of five or ten queries out at a time. It's going to be difficult for me though. It's not my style. I feel like I'm cheating. However, I have two stories that I think are polished and ready to go. I had to withdraw my submission from an agent who I would have enjoyed feedback from. Maybe some time in the future she'll let me resubmit. That was the manuscript I'd trimmed, and I'm talking deep edits here. From 86,000 words to 62,000. I love the story. I've sent it off to Silhouette to see if it suits their Romantic Suspense line. Who knows? It might. It would be great if it did, because if not then it has nowhere to go. It would be too short for any other house.

My son came to visit last weekend. It was lovely to have company. The dog was thrilled. Summer months are hard in the desert because we go out early to walk, then walk in the late evening once it cools down. There's this huge long day in which I entertain myself by writing and the dog just moves around the house choosing different spots in which to nap. I think she was quite depressed to find out on Monday that life had returned to it's same slow pace.

If it hadn't been for the Summer Olympics I'd have died of boredom this year. Now I have the humor of politics for a while, that keeps me entertained. Plus reading. I usually read at least four books a week. Yesterday I picked up a book at the market. It was by an author I love and I didn't recognize the title or the cover, so didn't even read the back cover copy. I was pretty mad when I got home and discovered it was a re-release of one of her books from five years ago, they just slapped on a new cover. I hate that. When Nora Roberts' books are re-released it says so on the cover. I mean what avid reader can remember commercial fiction she read from four or five years ago?

Two of my writing buddies had excellent news this week. One got a request from Harlequin to hurry up and send the rest of her manuscript. Like they wanted it pronto! The other got her contract from the agent of her dreams. Way to go ladies. It's my turn next. Heh. Yay! It's nearly September. Two or three more weeks and we'll be back to gorgeous days and even more wonderful evenings. I can't wait. So now, back to the keyboard to write so I can have time to play once the cool weather arrives.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The creative mind.

The creative mind is a strange thing. I'm always in awe of it, even my own.

I had outlined a new story somewhere in the middle of writing my last one and I liked it although it would have been much darker than I'd ever attempted. I was positive I would write it next. After returning from RWA National I've put in six hour days polishing Unlock the Truth. I totally ditched the first chapter and think the pace is much faster, which makes the book stronger.

So, in the midst of all of this work and enjoying my current manuscript all over again, another story nudged me. When I allowed it to take shape I had a strong beginning and some interesting characters. I even had the title and that has not changed. It has become my next book. The thing is, the story is light in tone. It has, at the moment at least, glimpses of comedy. I don't write comedy. I'm not funny. Everyone who knows me knows I don't do funny. So what's up?

While I'm amused at the thought of writing a romantic comedy, I doubt I will. It has a mystery element though, so I might expand on that aspect and turn it into a suspense. Who knows? I'm figuring by the end of this month I'll have started it and will see where it takes me. The creative muse is certainly strange, we never know where or why our stories emerge like they do. For me, at first they're shadows or fleeting thoughts and I try to ignore them, especially if I'm working on something else. Gradually, over a few weeks, I find I dream or daydream full scenes. Before I know it I'm fleshing out the characters and the plot. Then a synopsis or outline forms in my mind and I begin any research.

Once I know the ending, that's usually it. I'm so excited I have to write the story. It's quite an adventure, really.

You should try it.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Taken down by a shrimp.

There was an unusual mood to this conference, one I have never experienced before at RWA. It seemed the energy in San Francisco was low. Both inside and outside of the hotel. I'd arrived early with the intention of combining the conference with a mini-vacation. The only one I'd allowed myself this year. Sadly to say I got no vacation and very little conference but I did pay a hefty price to sleep in a hotel bed.

Walking outside of the hotel was beyond depressing. Maybe it's a reflection of our current economic situation, or has SF gone downhill since my last visit? Side-stepping a scruffy man seated with his back pressed to the wall and spitting gobs of phlegm in my direction was beyond yuck on the yuck-o-meter. Side-stepping a pool of vomit in the street was disgusting. Watching people beg and panhandle and smelling the great unwashed was not pleasant. Gripping my purse to my side while walking the street was not pleasant. Viewing the high-priced items called memorabilia but that resembled the worst schlock I've ever seen, was disheartening. But the whole scenario also left me feeling saddened. This was once a city of great beauty, a place that on my first visit took my breath away. What happened?

Back in the hotel the prices were astronomical. I'm a world-wide traveller and don't mind paying for quality but resent being stiffed. I thought I was being stiffed. On everything.

Then I got sick. I guess I met a shrimp I didn't like, or that didn't like me. I went to the 39th level bar to meet a friend. Hadn't eaten so decided the way over-priced shrimp coktail was a good idea. The following day I came down with chills and took to my bed. When I awoke I couldn't make it to the bathroom to throw-up and grabbed the waste basket. Thank goodness the basket was metal and not a woven bamboo. Anyway, who knew someone could throw up as much as moi? I went to management to make a report convinced I had food poisoning as I never get ill like that. Management said there'd been no other complaints. After that I was determined to flush every remaining bad thing from my body. I drank so much water I squished when I walked. *grin*

So I missed two networking parties, many workshops, many get togethers with old friends. I considered cancelling the rest of the trip and going home but didn't feel strong enough to travel. I spent most of two days in my room. Fortunately I'd lugged my laptop along on the trip. On the plus side I put some polish on my manuscript and began brainstorming another story. Also, I felt a lot better by the night of the awards ceremony. Krissie (Anne Stuart) won a Rita in the romantic suspense category for Ice Storm. That was fabulous. Congratulations again, Krissie!

And I read Homecoming, a wonderful inspirational by Jill Marie Landis. I've never been big on inspirational stories. I was raised in the Christian faith, then converted to Judiasim for my husband and to raise my children Jewish. After divorcing I explored my own beliefs and took journey's into Eastern religions, spirituality, quantum physics, etc. I never thought I'd enjoy a story with a strong Bible influence. I was wrong. I guess it all goes back to the quality of the writing, to the storytelling. I love Jill's work, adore her voice, and that was why I was willing to give this book a chance. By the first page I was hooked. This is such a beautifully crafted story about finding the truth to who we are on a deep inner level, where we truly belong, and having and trusting the faith to find out. It touched my heart.

It's Wednesday today, one week after meeting the shrimp that took me down. I can finally say I'm feeling back to normal. Will I ever eat shrimp again? I don't think so. Will I re-visit San Francisco? I doubt it. Will I go to National in D.C. next year? You bet.