Thursday, September 24, 2009

Writing again!

I'm back to writing again. Yay! Still taking Lani's Revision class. I've really missed writing. The thing was, I didn't find too much that I wanted to change in my computer read of the manuscript. Now we're into the first Act. The opening scene needed some revamping just to give it a bit more zing. I like how it is now but will get some feedback from my new critique partner.

Well actually, she's an old critique partner, just not old in years. : ) Gina and I belonged to The Four Fabulous Fictionists about four years ago. Then one of the gals moved away, and a new one took her spot, then I moved away, and Gina moved even further away, and three of the gals got published and had deadlines and other more important stuff to do. So we disbanded but were still out there for each other and available for a brainstorming session online, or a cold read of an ms. or to read revision requests from editors. Not the same thing as our fun days of face to face critiques but still helpful.

I'd also thought that I'd lost some of my creative spark, was losing my natural voice, so I decided to go solo. Four years later, I'm ready now to try this critiqueing thing again and I think strong enough in craft to know when I want to make a change and when I don't. Back in the day I wasn't secure enough in that knowledge and found everything so frustrating. Too much information can be as bad as none at all. : )

Last night I got back to my latest story, another desert murder mystery, and the fingers were flying. I haven't looked at this ms. for about three months. I'm lovin' it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Reading and More Reading.

I've become like a fat cat this summer, lying around in my special chair, sun streaming in the window, air conditioning blowing gently through my and reading romance books. The only thing missing has been the mistress of the house bringing me my vittles in a cut glass dish, but I can dream.

One morning last week I got out of bed and jumped on the bathroom scale. Oh dear. In exactly two months (I know this because I know what I had to weigh to fit into my clothes for RWA National) I had gained five whole pounds and a few ounces. I was disgusted with myself and fumed through my low calorie breakfast. I did an extra mile walk with the dog, arrived home sopping wet, and after a shower fell back on the bed exhausted. But not too exhausted to be unable to read. Oh no. Reading is my new passion.

After an hour to finish one of Nora Roberts earlier books, Opposites Attract, a story about a female and a male tennis pro, which by the way had great action scenes, I called Curves. It's a great little gym with world wide establishments. A neighbor and friend works at my local place. She'd been trying to get me to join for a year. I was worried about my knee, so resisted. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.) : ) Anyway, I love it. Making this move, having the courage to admit I was turning into a sloth, was good for me. I've cut back on calories just a little, nothing dramatic. Already I've lost a pound and a half and it isn't even a full week. I feel better too. Yay, me!

Favorite reads this month:
The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy. I'd never read it back in the mid eighties when it was first published. Guess I was too busy then with husband, kids, work, etc. Besides that, it wouldn't have appealed to me. It would have scared the beejezuz out of me. This story is so powerful, it deals with truly unforgettable characters, set in the US south, traversing three generations, a family with a horrific past and a desire to overcome their tragic legacy. It is honest to a fault. The prose is beyond eloquent. It made me stop sometimes, hug the book to my chest and cry just from its pure depth and beauty. I'll never, ever forget it but doubt I'd have the strength to read it again. I couldn't read anything for days after I finished this story and it still rattles around in my mind. When I regain my courage I might go out and buy South of Broad, which is Conroy's latest novel after a long hiatus.
To summarize: mind blowing.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery. This was written in French then translated into English by Alison Anderson. I loved this story, once I reached the end. It was then one of those stories where you sit back and say, "Aha. Now I get it." All the pieces fall into place and it becomes extraordinary.

BUT, and I must say this, at first I didn't like it. It took me over 100 pages to get a feel for the two protagonists. One middle aged, the other a pre-teen, both had similar philosophies on life, both seemed cold, aloof, and in some ways patronizing. Both characters wished to hide from the world their true nature and their above average intelligence, because they thought the world would not understand or accept them. Both were extremely well read and knowledgeable. I felt I was taking a class in philosophy from a professor who looked down his nose with disdain at the dumb students. It irritated me. Then I forced myself to stay open, to listen to what the heroine had to say, and ended up being enthralled.

To summarize: exquisite.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

In Limbo.

Okay, so I haven't been tinkering with the manuscript. Haven't even been writing anything on the one that's two thirds done in rough draft.

This is hard. Every day I get itchy fingers to write, but I'm taking the time off that Lani recommended prior to taking that course in revision. I'm doing a lot of reading, and some movie watching. I did two non-fiction articles just to keep myself occupied and I've been playing a lot on other writer's blogs. But it's not the same.

This is a strange time of year, here in the desert. I suppose it's like winter in some of the northern states. When the weather is bad you stay inside. For us our winter is the prime season, it's so mild and encourages outdoor activity that after moving here from Los Angeles I had to change my writing habits. Instead of writing more seriously from October through April, I now write like a demon in the summer because it's too darn hot to do anything outside after about 10 a.m. Not this year though, it seems I'm in limbo. Playing that waiting game for the course to commence, waiting to hear back from agents and editors after the National conference. Waiting on a couple of contest entries. Waiting. Waiting. Can't wait for these next two weeks to be over so I can start on the manuscript again. Boy, if I ever truly thought I could give up this writing game I now know it's impossible. I once quit. I lasted two weeks if I recall correctly.

Best book read in the past month: Circle of Three, by Patricia Gaffney. This was an achingly beautiful story. I loved it so much and it touched me on so many levels that I had to read it slowly, think about it during the day as I did other things, then curl up in the late afternoon for a couple of hours and read a bit more. I truly savored this book, usually I'm a glutton. : ) It was a story that made me think, gave me glimpses of recognition into my own heart. A woman's story definitely. It spoke of the truths in the relationships of women spanning three generations, a grandmother, mother, and daughter. It also looked at guilt, death, compassion, anger, and love. I'll treasure this one always and know I'll read it again and again.

Best movie seen in the last month: Nanny McPhee. Seriously. : ) It's a kids movie but one I enjoyed so much I saw it a second time. I think it was released in 2006 but I missed it, (probably because I'm not yet a grandmother and don't pay much attention to what is currently around for children). Anyway it starred two of my favorite actors, Emma Thompson and Colin Firth. Plus there was a young boy, Simon, played by Thomas Sangster, a star to watch and that's for sure. I love this kid. He was also in Love Actually, another Brit film that is a personal favorite. Anyway, if you haven't seen it, check it out. Even if you haven't got any kids to watch it with, it is bound to warm your heart.