Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Super Cool Google Page (?)

Two posts in one day? Yep.

I just wanted to share with you this new website from Google. It hasn't officially been released yet, but it's up and running and just waiting for you to play with it.

What's the site?


The acronym stands for "What do you love" and basically the site is the ultimate mashup of Google's apps returning results within books, news, webtrends, images, maps, blogs, etc. You name it. My first search? Ice cream.

Anyway, I definitely see this as the future of publishing--for academic and technical publishers anyway (which is what my day job is). I just thought I'd share it with you. While the main part of me thinks this is super cool, I also think it's super scary the amount of content Google regulates... what do you think?

Writing on the Road

Tomorrow night we're packing up the car and heading back to Michigan for the holiday weekend. I can't wait to see my family and friends and hangout at the cabin! It's time for boat rides, fireworks, campfires and smores. Mmm, smores.

I know I won't have ANY time to write once we pull into the Mitten State, but the 6-hour car ride is all mine. I'm thinking baby girl can't cry the whole trip, right? (Please God say "right!") And Dominic prefers to ride in silence, so I'm golden. Luckily I now know where I want the next part of the story to go, and I'm hoping the rest will continue to flow. Mind you, I'm still working on reworking the plot. After I finish the logistics, it's time to actually write the reworkings.

Wonder how long that will take me?

Not that timing matters. As much as I want to hurry, hurry, hurry, I know I need to tap the breaks. I don't want to screw up again and send the story off before it's finished. I mean, I thought it was finished before, but now I can clearly see that it wasn't. Ah, thank you perspective.

Well, wish me luck. Now I just need to finish three baby quilts, pack for the trip, oh yeah, and get some work done for the day job, and then I'll be good to go. Have a great Fourth everyone!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stitching Up a Weekend

I gave my revision a rest for the weekend and decided to focus my creative talents elsewhere--Quilting! I'll have to post some pics later, but anyway, I spent the weekend stitching up a baby quilt for one of my friends who's expecting soon. Actually, I have three friends that either just had a baby or will have one in the next month, so I've been in a sewing frenzy. We'll be heading back to Michigan for The 4th and I need to have them all done to take with us. Looks like I know what I'll be doing the next few nights.

The best part about all this sewing is that it's giving me time to think about my revision. I wasn't sure which direction I wanted to take the plot and now I know. Woo-hoo! I think it's best to step back and think before making a major plot change, don't you?

So, do you have any other creative hobbies you look to when you need a writing break? Songwriting? Painting? Pottery? Crocheting? (Another favorite of mine!) Do share.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rewrites are hard

"Is it supposed to be this difficult?"

I find myself asking this repeatedly throughout the day.

I also keep thinking about a square peg in a round hole, and wonder what notions I have to let go of to make everything fit.

Rewrites are not easy. Make that reworking subplots are not easy. The biggest pain is getting everything to play out in a natural manner and separating what I know from what my reader knows. I also find myself questioning if the changes are making the story better and if they're achieving the goals as I outlined in the previous post.

Well, it sure is a good thing that I like a challenge. Throw in balancing a laptop on my knees while nursing a baby and you get an idea of how difficult this rewrite is shaping up to be. BUT, I am determined (and stubborn), which are excellent characteristics in a writer.

Happy writing.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Plan

Okay, step one was a success. I finished reading BS by Saturday afternoon and I can't tell you how good that felt. One, it was super cool reading my book on my Nook. It's probably the only way I'd actually read the entire MS without making an edit. Although, I did break down and crack open a notebook so I could copy down some ideas before I lost my thoughts completely.

Two, I learned a lot. Time adds a lot of perspective. It had been a year since I worked on BS and that time allowed me to read the story objectively. Here's what I can say about the story as is: the writing is good. I'm really proud of what I wrote and how it sounds. I spent 6 months off and on editing the piece and that shows.

What else? The story is complete in that there's no unanswered threads. Everything concludes with the last page in a neat little package, which to me is super important. I finished reading a novel last night where this wasn't the case and I was completely annoyed.

Unfortunately, good writing doesn't equal a good story. BS is close, but not quite right. I read on Nathan Bransford blog last week (How to Craft a Mystery in a Novel) that "A character's desire + Consequences/stakes + Obstacles + Delay = Mystery". This got me to thinking, is there enough at stake for my protagonist? No. I struggled with this throughout the first draft, and I thought I fixed it, but it's not good enough. So, this is one part I need to fix in my rewrite.

Upping the stake also ties heavily to a critique (read: three lines of opinion) I received from a super cool agent. This über agent said she "didn't understand at all what all the fuss about a missing husband was. It just didn’t seem big enough to write a novel around." Never mind the fact that the husband's actually dead, because you don't find that out until page 77, and by then I've already lost your attention. So, that's changed. Über agent also said that she "didn’t think it [the beauty aspect] was integrated enough into the story itself," so I'm upping the ante there, too.

What does that mean for my revision? Well here's the plan: there's gonna be more at stake, more beauty business, more lies and more personality in my protagonist. I've already been hard at working outlining the changes and I can't wait to implement them. Off to work I go!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Step One

Right now I'm downloading the software Calibre so I can transfer my MS over to my Nook. After that it's time to read. The mighty red pen and equally eager backspace button don't have a say until I get at least one read through. After that, we'll see.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Food as Frenemy

Just wanted to give a shout out to my BFF and fellow writer, Sheri, and her awesome new blog, Food as Frenemy.


Here's her bio:
I’ve been anorexic, obese, and everything in between. I’ve counted calories, fat grams, carbs – and how many (insert sweet food here) I’d eaten in one sitting. I’ve eated out of boredom, stress, sadness, because it looked good, because it tasted good, and (gasp!) because I was hungry. My relationship with food has been an ongoing struggle in my life; now in my 40s, I’d like to stop wrestling with it and simply live alongside it in harmony.

Even if you and food get along like peas and carrots, you'll love reading Sheri's open and honest writing. In addition to her blog, she's a brilliant writer who's editing her first MS, which BTW will be published because it's that good (I've read parts of it). And unlike me, who spends too much time online, Sheri actually spends her evenings writing and editing. Such a good role model.

Anyway, go check it out. And Sheri? You rock!

Fly Away?

Do you know the song from Poe, Fly Away?

I put the lyrics below. It's a really beautiful song, and for whatever reason, I've been singing it in my head today and thinking about Beauty Secrets. Is it worth the revision? Should I scrap it and start over? Should I let the story fly away?

No. Well, I don't think so. Starting over with a new idea would be easier then putting more of myself into a novel only to have it not published. But then again, is that my only goal?

Gesh. You know, I think I need to stop being so philosophical and just start writing. Enough said.

Here's the lyrics:
It makes sense that it should happen this way
That the sky should break, and the earth should shake
As if to say: Sure it all matters but in such an
unimportant way
As if to say:

Fly away, sweet bird of prey
Fly fly away
Nothing can stand in your way
Sweet bird, if you knew the words
I know you'd say: fly, fly away

It makes sense that it should hurt in this way
That my heart should break, and my hands should shake
As if to say: Sure it don't matter except in the most
important way
As if to say:

Fly away, sweet bird of prey
Fly fly away
I won't stand in your way
Sweet bird, if you knew the words
I know that you'd say: fly, fly away

It makes sense that it should feel just this way
That you slowly fade and yet still remain
As if to say: Everything matter in such an invisible way
As if to say: It's O.K.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


It happens to the best of us, doesn't it? I was totally going to write this past week, but then Amazon just had to recommend a book to me that I just had to buy, and there you go.

What's the book you ask? It's called A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It's not so much that the title is anything great, or the initial jacket flap wooed me (witch who doesn't do magic anymore, parents dead, hooks up with a vamp, etc. etc.), but it's the quality of her writing that did me in, well, that and the academic setting (remember, I'm an academic girl, too).

This of course got me thinking. The fact that "it's all been done before" is irrelevant if you can do it better, or different. Sometimes I worry that my characters or setting are too clichéd. While that may be true, and part of the reason for my major revision, I don't think it's a story killer. Do you? Surely there are more examples out there. Do share...