Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More tidbits...

  1. Chinese food can cure any bad day.
  2. so can a cool gin and tonic (no matter how flat the tonic).
  3. I open my wallet this morning to give someone my driver's license number and realize...oops... license is expired (and has been since my birthday in January).
  4. this is in addition to the fact that my car's tag has been expired for months.
  5. in my state you have to retake the written test just to get a license.
  6. oh, and it's up to them if they also want you to take the road test... say... if your license has been expired for a while.
  7. rather than write I spent the evening studying for the written test.
  8. No, that's a lie, I spent it watching Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
  9. I am waaay behind in my writing.
  10. I miss the beach... oooh, I miss the beach.
  11. Is it Friday yet?
  12. No, the week can't end until I have a new license and tag.
  13. sigh... better get studying...
  14. Just because it feels weird to finish at 13... not that it's unlucky or anything...

Thursday, May 25, 2006


(A) I wasn't the only one thinking about word counts.

(B) I'm out through Tues - Yeah (even better I'm at the beach!)!

(C) I love Love LOVE my WIP

(D) Anyone want to read said WIP when done and critique? Please? Pretty please? (in all seriousness...I'd love the help!)

(E) Adult beverages I love as well...

(F) I can't say how much I appreciate all the other bloggers out there... I learn so much through y'all so here's a hearty THANKS!!

(G) Have I mentioned lately how cool The Story Game is? It even has nifty reviews now! Check it out!

(H) Thank you to The Boy for negotiating our rental contract and doing such a fab job. Long story, but it's enough to say that The Boy did an awesome job!!

(I) Can't wait to move into new house!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Word count

Today's topic is word count. Oh, and what a rich topic it is!

Now, as many of you know the first thing people think of when they hear word count (or at least what we authors think) is how exactly do you measure it? I cannot count the number of times I have read message boards arguing over this topic: to use the Word word count or to multiply every 25-lined Courrier 12ed, 1 inch margain page by 250? And to a beginner this is not an insignificant topic as the two different methods can have drastically different outcomes.

For example, according to word my current WIP is 44,064 words. If I use proper formatting count then I have closer to 50k. When you're working category (which I'm not) those 5k words can make a big difference, at least to the new writer (and perhaps to the editors as well, I don't know since I'm not that versed in category).

Anyways, one of the things I used to love to do with my second MS was to reformat at the end of the day to see just how many words I'd written manuscript style because it always seemed like a bigger accomplishment. Ah, good times.

Another topic that seems to always come up in word count discussion is the various "requirements" of different houses. I must admit that I'm always surprised by people who write a book and send it off to ST publishers only to be told that 50k words isn't within ST range. Now, if you're totally new to writing I can see this mistake, but some people are members of big groups of writers and this knowlege is easy to get ahold of. Maybe I'm just the type of person that NEEDS to know what I'm getting myself into and so word count was the first thing I looked at when I started writing. After all, a girl's gotta know what to aim for.

But I digress... the real reason I wanted to bring this topic up is because of my desire and drive to always be moving my word count bar higher and higher (see sidebar to the right for word counter). This means that it has become physically painful for me to cut words that I KNOW need to be cut. Because to do so seems to lessen my progress even though I know in the end it is only for the best.

Is anyone else out there like that? This weekend I finally cut some scenes that needed to be axed and it was so sad to have rewritten two whole scenes but to barely see my wordcounter move (though it has moved by 5% since then which can only mean that I've kicked some personal ass writing).

Since I'm only working on the rough draft right now I've given myself permission to leave the dregs in there if it makes me happy. I'm not worried about not having enough words. I always start out a project afraid that I'll never have enough to write and then I find myself almost (or more than) half way through and think "crikees! I've barely just gotten started!"

That's how I feel now. Turns out I didn't need to kill anyone off just to get the word count. Who knew?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

See, e.g., title of this blog...

So, have I mentioned that I tend to procrastinate? Yeah, well, that might be why my blog has been short of content recently. And I'd like to tell you that I'll write a nice meaty entry tonight, but I'm a bit far into my wine for much writing... it's The Boy's birthday and we've had a bit of celebrating.

So what do all of you do when you procrastinate?

For me it depends on what I'm delaying doing. In school when I had a paper to write I'd clean. My room never looked so good as when I had a deadline looming. Well, as it turns out, I've taken that habit into my working life. This past week I had a memo due and I'd done all the research. All that was left was the sitting down and the writing. I even knew what I was going to write!

So what did I do? Cleaned my office. It was about time too. I had stacks on top of stacks of paper. See, there's this client who sends a copy of every filing to the partner I work with and then faxes a copy to me in our main office (who faxes it on and then sends the original fax interoffice). This means that in this one case where we're one of like 6 defendants I get three of everything filed: discovery, letters, etc.

It piles up pretty quickly. And for a while I felt like I had to keep everything. Until I realized that - hey who knew! - we keep files of all of this stuff. And it's organized too! So rather than me digging through my desk looking for that one discovery request, it's far more efficient to trudge over the file room and pull it. So easy, so wonderful. I love the woman in charge of marking everything for filing and the woman who files it all.

Anyway, so while I was in the middle of cleaning my desk I recognized the behavior for what it was: procrastination. Didn't stop me from finishing cleaning. After all, like I said my office was a mess and with the summer associates starting I figured I should put on a good face. Oh, and I got that memo written, no problem (and having a clean desk really helped!)

With my writing I procrastinate differently (oh, I wish it were the same procrastinatory behavior because then I'd have a spotless abode!). I tend to try to organize and plot. Organizing means pulling out notecards and then trying to determine if I want to color code them or not (rarely do I end up using the notecards because I can't come up with a good color scheme). Plotting means lounging in bed or on the couch thinking up scenes and sometimes getting up to write them and sometimes falling asleep.

More of the latter.

That's what I did this weekend: orgainze and plot (in both senses of the word). It was brutal. It hurt. And I'll write more on it later. But until then, what do you do to procrastinate?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

To be read...

I think I may have mentioned this, but much to The Boy's chagrin, the one thing I promised myself when I graduated from law school and started earning money was that I could turn back on one-click shopping from Amazon. That way, I can sit at my desk at work and just click click click for books. Why even bother with the "are you sure you want to buy this?" Yes! Yes I love books, I love to own them and hold them!

And so recently I received many packages from Amazon filled with yummy books I've been dying waiting for. Ally Carter, Scott Westerfeld, Suzanne Brockmann! Oh how I love all of you!

But no. I'm writing now. And with the home buying I'm not writing as much as I had been. I've stalled a bit (though I think I've cleared up much of what was stalling me). But I need to spend my lounge time either plotting, writing, or organizing thoughts for the book. Not that I have a deadline, but I'd like it done and polished before RWA nationals in July. Plus, I have Agent Kristin already lined up to read the partial.

It makes me sad to see those books just sitting there, stacked haphazardly by the bed. Especially since I've waited so long for some of them. Sniff sniff. There's a naughty part of me that says "oh, just read one... just a little a night." But I know, one taste of Specials and I'm a goner! One peek into I'd Tell you I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You and I'm done until the end.

Oh the curse of it all!

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Story Game

For a few days there's been a new link up on my sidebar for The Story Game. For those of you who haven't clicked over yet, I thought I'd tell you more about that site, maybe perhaps convince you to follow that link.

The Story Game is something that The Boy and His Brother came up with during the fall of '05 (in fact the first pitch was written during The Boy and I's bar trip to Curacao - boy should I post some pics from that trip!) Anywhoo, back to the topic at hand... their site gives a short spiel on how it all got started but basically they decided that they wanted to do more writing and that it would work best if they had some sort of deadline. You know, the pressure to write. They also decided that they'd try writing on one topic per week (called The Pitch) and that they'd limit the writing to around 2 pages.

And almost without fail they have followed through on their promise to each other. It really is truly amazing to watch. There were some glitches to be worked out in the beginning (early on we were all on a trip together and the deadline was looming and neither had written their story and they were about this close to just extending the deadline but they didn't and that's caused them to push through every week since). Not only do they write the pages, but then they call each other and spend hours on the phone talking about not just about writing, but about life.

I have to say, I think the whole thing is amazing. Not just that these two brothers continue to write, continue to pitch and to amaze each other, but that they have the type of relationship where this matters, where sometimes a pitch isn't just about the writing.

I'm not gonna lie - it makes me love The Boy even more.

But I digress... the reason I point this out is because they are great writers. Their stories range from the humurous to the haunting (in more than one way) to the to very succint. There's folklore, sci-fi, and just plain silly. And they post every week.

There are many reasons I think you should bookmark their page. Not only is it great writing, but it's also a lot of fun (and not high maintenance). The page is there for when you need a brief diversion, a reminder of writing for the love of the craft. Plus, if all else fails they post the new pitch for the week on Sunday (the same time they post their writing on the pitch from the week before) and it makes a great writing exercise. Go ahead, write something. I know they don't have comment availability but if you feel the need to share I'll post it on my blog. At the very least it shows you just how many ways there are to approach the same topic (some of you may be familiar with Diana's Great Blog Voice Experiment).

So give it a shot and enjoy The Story Game! The stories are snack size and we all need a little snack every now and again!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Picture Day!

Recently someone posted a question on one of my writers loops about where we all write. There's also this really cool website that has pics of well-known authors' writing rooms (really worth the look! Oh, and here's another one!).

So I thought I would post mine. I tend to have a friend while I write. That's my cat Sam - he's a very big help! See how he's sending good vibes into my notebook? You can see The Boy's leg back there as well...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Whose voice is it anyway?

Recently I posted a little about writing what you know and I promised more on this topic. As I mentioned in that post, my current WIP is based on some of my own life experiences. And I must admit, there are times that I feel as if this has stymied my creativity. These experiences are so ingrained in me that it's hard to twist them, to change and manipulate them.

Let me back up a bit. Actually, this book is based on two separate experiences - essentially two different jobs that I held that are quite contradictory (and the juxtaposition is part of the book). One of them I have no problem parodying at all. We'll call that Job A. In fact, I have such a terrible memory that I can barely remember the facts of that time and so am forced to make it all up. But the other experience or job is one that's hard to play off of - Job B. I find myself constantly referring to a journal I kept during that time and having a hard time veering from anything that didn't happen in my experience. I'm certainly less creative with those aspects of the story.

Tonight I wrote a scene that deals with Job B and in the end the writing felt a bit flat. It wasn't that it was BAD writing, it was just, sorta, there. It got the point across but not the voice. Suddenly I realized that this was the case with almost all of my Job B scenes. They're all written more like reporting rather than a character experiencing them.

I mentioned this to The Boy and together we realized that when I picture those scenes in my head I don't see them from my protagonist's point of view, but from my own. And since this WIP is written in first person it gets very easy to confuse the two. I've been writing Job B scenes in my own voice! Not good.

It's amazing how stubborn we can be about breaking apart an old memory and recrafting it for our own nefarious purposes. These memories are almost sacrosanct to me and it's been hard for me to scavenger them. But them's the brakes - if scavengering is what I gotta do then that's what I gotta do.

After struggling with a few of these scenes I have to admit that it was nice to have that "duh" moment. Now that I've realized this mix-up in voice it is so clear to me that this is what's been going on. I can't believe I missed it before! And here I thought that it was just hard for me to channel this protag's voice. That's not it at all! When I'm writing fiction it's actually quite easy to get the voice that I want. It's only when I impose my world on my characters that I lose it. What a relief this revelation is - this hopefully means that I can edit the consistency of voice back in!

The Boy says I should think of all of those scenes and then imagine how my protag will aproach them. I agree. At the same time I think I also have to reimagine those scenes differently - not feel the need to be quite so true to real life. This isn't a memoir, it's fiction.

How do you deal including your own experiences in your work? Do you feel your own voice trying to come through at all? Am I the only one who gets the two worlds and voices confused? And is it really a bad thing if you do?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

"based on my experience..."

There's the age old advice to write what you know. I'm sure all of y'all are familiar with that. Many people have commented on that advice - some accepting it, some rejecting it. Along those lines I've also been told that when writing a query letter it can be helpful to put down (somewhere towards the end) any special experience you bring to the table that's apropos of your writing. This can be writing credits or it can be as simple as having some sort of specialty in the subject of your writing. For example, if I were writing a legal thriller I might put in my query letter that I'm an attorney, etc. You get the point.

That's why I was somewhat surprised to read the following on The Knight Agency website under their submissions guidelines:
The suggested one-page length leaves no room for the digressions that bedevil many of the query letters we see. If it's not directly relevant to the project under discussion, leave it out. Mentioning that a work of fiction is "based on a true story" or "based on my experience" actually hurts, rather than helps, one's case: all fiction is based in fact to some degree, and by emphasizing one's experience as a key element, one inadvertently suggests an inability to produce other works of fiction.
Now, for those of you who don't know, Deidre Knight is a very respected agent who appears to be very very good at what she does (and she's a romance author herself!). For me, that's enough that when she gives advice, I sit up and listen (but that doesn't mean that I follow it blindly - that's never a good idea no matter who is giving the advice!).

Based on what I said at the beginning of this entry about how it's generally advisory to point out that you have some experience in what you're writing about (if you have it, it's not like you can't write about something you have no experience in) I found Deidre Knight's advice intriguing. There are plenty of people who have posited that some writers - especially young ones - have one good book in them based on experience and then the well runs dry. I can easily see how that's true (more on that to be posted later). And it seems to me that this is what Deidre Knight is getting at with this advice.

But the first time I read it I got chills and thought, "uh-oh" because my WIP - while not based on a true story at all - is very firmly rooted in experiences I have had, in worlds I've lived in. To me this was one of the strengths of my proposal, that I HAVE lived that life and that I kinda know what I'm talking about. Would I be shooting myself in the foot by mentioning that? I'm not really looking for specific advice here (especially because I know I'll end up mentioning the experiences) but I find it a generally interesting question.

In the end I think that the thing about advice is that sometimes you heed it and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you get conflicting advice and you choose to go with your gut. I'm one of those who reallly advocates not getting too terribly bent out of shape about query letters (I'm not sure spending 3 months drafting them is the best idea...but some do advocate it). Of course I say this now before I've had to draft one for my current WIP.

I guess that's the thing about advice. As a writer I crave it, I like to know the path of others and what they have learned. But it can get tricky because every path is different and I think that there are writers who spend so much time trying to take the contradictory advice of others that they've stopped thinking for themselves. Boy, isn't that a topic for another day!

I'm curious, anyone else have thoughts on writerly advice? Do you really think that we young folk have fewer stories and is it really a bad idea to write based on life experiences (and to mention those experiences in your query letter)?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

My first tag (and I feel so cool)

I got this tag from Bren and, as the title of this entry implies, it's my first tag ever. Here goes...

Six minutes to yourself - how would you spend them: sponging up the sun and daydreaming.

Six bucks to spend right now - how would you spend it: as much margarita as possible.

Six items you’d leave behind if your house were on fire:

  1. my law school books (those suckers are frickin' heavy!)
  2. those boxes in my storage bin that I don't even know what's in them
  3. my fat clothes (hell, all my clothes and I'll throw in the shoes for free!)
  4. my old file of rejection letters (I hear they make great tinder)
  5. my journals (I love them dearly but there's a time to let go I guess and what better way to go?)
  6. my CD collection (is this cheating since all the songs are ripped onto my laptop?)

Six items you’d grab if your house were on fire:

  1. my cat (and I'd grab The Boy's cat too cause I'm nice like that and she's kinda cute even if she smells a little)
  2. my two stuffed bears (sounds lame but the fact that one is named Drunk Bear should mitigate any lameness)
  3. a charcoal nude that I drew in college
  4. my grandmother's jewelry (and heck, I'd take mine too since it's all in the same place...)
  5. my cell phone (I feel like I have to pause and be practical here... someone has to call 911)
  6. my laptops (both old and new) with all my writing on it

Six words you love: (ok, is this supposed to be a phrase or individual words? I'm going to go with individual cause that's easier for me right now...)

  1. Natch (my new fave word right now. I'm sure it will get old soon)
  2. Whatev (such a ridiculous word I can't help but laughing when using it)
  3. luscious
  4. machiavellian
  5. sated (ooh, there is a good story behind that one that I'll have to remember to share later)
  6. me :)

Six things you want to accomplish before you leave the earthly plane:

  1. become a full-time writer and be able to live comfortably off of that writing
  2. litigate and win a case for someone who really needs it
  3. travel to New Zealand and Australia (and we'll throw in some pacific islands while we're there)
  4. become a mother (we're working our way up... we started with cats (don't ask how the first step with plants and the second with fish went...sufice it to say the cats are doing quite well, thank you))
  5. learn how to be less critical, less bitchy, less whiney and much much more appreciative, laid-back and happy.
  6. spend a week on a private island with The Boy
Um, I'd pass this along but er... no one really knows me yet and I'd end up passing it right back to Bren or Rachel and that could just create a vicious loop...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A little more about my writing...

Rachel asked what I write* which is an excellent question, especially since this is a blog at least partially about my writing (it's supposed to all be about writing but I like to rant at times).

I just wish I had a quick and easy answer. Soon I'll write a few more detailed posts about my process to date because I think that every writer has a backstory that really influences where he or she is now.

But, that backstory aside, I've been finding it difficult to classify my current WIP. My first completed (and submitted many times) manuscript was very clearly a romance. More specifically it was a very dark Western historical (what was I thinking!?). No way was I branding myself with that. Then I realized that I liked to read contemporary light hearted stories and decided to write that (plus I really stunk at the historical aspect - the details of it all such as at what point in time "hang on a second" became a phrase because when were we conscious of the second as a division of time?) So, I wrote a romantic comedy (at least I hope it was comedic).

Then when writing the synopsis (back cover blurb style) for that manuscript I realized that I'd killed off a guy in the first few pages that should have lived (it being a death made it too dark). Yet the whole story revolved around his death... what to do... what to do... apparently law school was what to do so off I went.

In between writing those two mss, taking a haitus from writing to apply to and attend law school, and now the market changed. Yes, it's partially that there are so many more sub-genres but it's also that there's just more openness. New styles are being allowed, it doesn't seem like there are quite so many rules. With the rise of chick lit there can be a happily ever after that doesn't involve a man or a proposal but involves figuring out who you are (as they say: not Mr. Right but Mr. Right Now).

Having been away during this change I feel it very keenly. Maybe all this was out there before and I just missed it, but I either way it IS there now and it's very freeing. But with that freedom comes a difficulty in classification.

I'm a big believer in knowing where your book will fit into the market because at some point someone is going to care about that. For my first two I knew exactly how to describe them: a sensual 100k Western Historical single title or a sensual 100k single title romantic comedy. And anyone reading those descriptions knows what those books are (if you know the market). I used these descriptions to tee off my query letters, to tell agents and editors EXACTLY what they were looking at.

My current WIP? Not so easy... it's in first person (much more acceptable these days). It has a chick lit voice but I'm not sure it's actually chick lit (at least not the traditional single girl in the big city way). The protag just finished her Junior year at college, she's gone into a world she's not familiar with but has to figure out (and in so doing figure out who she is and how she fits into that world) but I'm not sure it's a coming of age story because, well, she's come of age. It's not really a traditional romance because there are a few love interests and none of them are central to the plot - the main thrust of the story is not her relationship with a member of the opposite sex.

With a protag that age I think I could go Young Adult but I don't know where that division lies... and I think the final word count will be closer to the 80k range than the 100k range.

For once I don't have that easy one line description and it has me slightly worried. I think you can really shoot yourself in the foot for not targeting somewhat but I know - just know - that my book fits SOMEWHERE, it's just hard to figure that out (and it's not that type of thing where it tries to be all things at once like a romantic sci fi cozy horror mystery written in verse - not that something like that wouldn't be entertaining).

While I've found this one to be easier to write in many ways, figuring out the story arcs had been a bit harder. So much that I know about writing and plotting is traditional to the romance world and that's changing. It's not all about having the heroine's external conflict be in opposition to the hero's internal conflict, etc (not that there are rules, that's just a for example).

So when you ask what I'm working on right now that seems to be an easy question with a very complicated answer (as you can see). Right now I'm just going to try to get it written because I'm enjoying the writing. I think I could be happy having this book be just for me (and friends/family) which is a big shift in the way I've always approached writing... but that's a topic for another day :)

*Ok, technically she didn't ask what I wrote but if I wrote chick lit... I took artistic license and ran with it...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Roof, part tres...

World, welcome to our new house*...

* Ok, right now we just have a contract and who knows what will happen between now and closing but I still have high hopes and fingers crossed this will all be ours on July 7 (oh, the debt!)