Saturday, September 25, 2010

The moon.

I've been writing a lot this week. I wonder if it's because of the stage of the moon? Creativity is supposed to increase in the waxing of the moon, or as the moon moves toward full. It was a gorgeous harvest moon, too. That, I think, made for even more energy. Anyway, whatever, I know I wrote my little old heart out.

I'm loving my new story but it's still too soon to give you any ideas about it, or its title. I've had people ask me why I don't have excerpts here on the blog. My main reason is this: I do enter contests. I don't like results to be skewed. What if someone knows my title, and even though the name is removed from a contest entry, they know me and they score it higher than it should be scored. Or maybe they don't like me, and they score it lower. It's a possibility. Not everyone likes me. : )

So, I keep the title to myself, and I don't display my writing. I await contest results, do a weigh and measure of the input given, and then I do a rewrite, and then let it sit. At this point I've already started a new story and somewhere down the line I do a final rewite on the one prior. I'm never satisfied with my work, and so in the past year or two I've stopped sending it out to agents and editors. With my last two stories, I stopped sending after three rejections. Three. That's not near enough. I know. But I figure I'm still learning, and the next one will be better. Is that the truth, or do I repeat the same mistakes over and over?

For instance, I submitted to an agent and an editor after the RWA National conference. Since that time I have reworked both the beginning and the ending of my story. I know it's better than the submission sent in early August. What can I do about that? Nothing. Not a darn thing. All I've managed to do is waste a good opportunity to have someone look at my work. So, how do I alter this so it won't happen again next year? Submit to contests for earlier feedback? Do two rewrites, and then a final rewrite before going to the conference? Did I answer my own question? : ) I don't know. You tell me. Please.

How often do you submit a manuscript? When do you admit that enough is enough, and put the work aside? Do you ever submit the reworked title to the same contest in the year following? How many critique partners do you have? Does anyone else read your work? Beta readers, perhaps? Family or friends? So spill, because curious minds need to know.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Maybe This Time.

Jennifer Crusie has written a new solo novel, Maybe This Time, and it is exquisite. Absolutely. Pinky swear.

I read the novel in one sitting and didn't even complain when I had to get up at six a.m after falling asleep at 2 a.m. In fact I couldn't write this post until I'd waited a week or two to let the story be fully absorbed. It was so good I had to let it stew for a while.

It is a lush, fast moving story that gives more than a passing nod to Henry James' The Turn of the Screw. Just think contemporary Gothic as you crack those pages. I swear, Crusie is a damn genius.

The setting is a creepy old mansion set in Southern Ohio, in the year 1992, and features all of the Gothic elements I love. You've got the house, the housekeeper, the two rather odd children, the nanny, and then all of the weird and wonderful secondary characters. Throw in the twist that the nanny is the ex-wife of the children's uncle, and the two (who divorced after a whirlwind marriage) are still in love with each other. Well, they are...they just don't know it yet. It's such a feast. Then for a side dish you have a nymphomaniac ghost, hee hee, and a darling middle aged doubting parapsychologist, a crazy mother, an ice queen of a mother-in-law, and did I mention ghosts? And seances?

It's's just classic Crusie. I know it has a cast of thousands but they are all so well drawn, and so necessary to the story, and the writing is exquisite. Did I say that already? The romance is subtle and takes a back seat to other elements, but it is still there and the story comes to a highly satisfying ending. Go buy it. You won't be sorry.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

So Much For On Location Research...

I took a trip down to the Salton Sea last weekend, to check out the south side. The north side was nice and I will go back one day and take a few more photographs; however, it didn't work scene wise for what I had in my mind for my new story. A lady friend went with me, and thinking this sounded like quite an adventure, she'd packed a few snacks and a couple of large bottles of iced tea. Thank goodness for her maternal instincts because she saved the day.

I saw Desert Shores come up on the horizon and it was a tiny little place set on the edge of the sea. Perfect. That was what I had visualized. We turned off the highway and ventured past broken down homes, rusted out trucks, establishments that no longer functioned, and the most awful trailer park I've ever seen in my life. But it was so exciting. This was exactly what my story called for. I parked the car on a stretch of sand, grabbed the camera and started shooting pictures. We both felt a bit nervous as there were some strange characters looking out from the partially rusted trailers that were less than fifty feet from us. I made the photography aspect as snappy as I could, and backed the car out fast.

About a mile or so up the road, we heard a strange sound. We thought we had a flat tire and got out to examine each one. Nope. Everything looked fine. Four miles down the freeway we knew we had a major problem. The car sounded like metal was grinding on the road. We pulled over and in the top of the driver side tire there were two huge pieces of wire and the tire was hissing air. It deflated right in front of us. We were on the highway halfway between Coachella and Brawley, which is almost at the Mexican border. I called AAA. They said twenty minutes. We figured no problem, and broke out the snacks and iced tea.

A half hour came and went and no truck appeared. A very nice young man from Border Patrol pulled up. He helped us get the car across to the shoulder, and stayed with us to keep us safe. So there we were, standing at the side of a bright red Camry, on hot asphalt, in blazing noon day heat. We were in the middle of the California desert, chatting with a twenty something young man who had recently relocated from the East coast.

I'd wanted to save the battery on the cell phone so had turned it off. I turned it back on and there was a message from our guy. He'd be a while. I called him back to find out he lived in Brawley, and it would be at least an hour. We'd already baked for forty minutes. The Aussie came out in me then, and I told him it was too bloody hot, and that I'd change the damn tire myself. The handsome young patrol officer hid a grin, and said he'd be happy to help. He changed the tire in five minutes and wouldn't even let me help. I told him he'd be in one of my novels under a different name, but he'd play the role of the handsome hero. He seemed to like that.

While it wasn't his role to change tires on the highway, he was a young man with a good heart, and he wasn't about to drive away and leave us to fend for ourselves. It's so nice to know there are guys like Nick out there. All I could think of was somewhere there is a mother who is very happy with how her son turned out. I offered him $20 but he refused it. I sent a letter to the department, praising him, and thanking them for watching out for women drivers travelling in places that are off the beaten track. I hope the letter was shared with him.

But as for doing anymore research, I think I'll stick to the internet.