Wednesday, April 24, 2013

This Is The End

Not going to post here any more, but I can't bear to hit delete in the hopes that people still come across my old posts and find some good advice, sympathy, and maybe a laugh or two.

Catch you on Twitter, y'all!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Can I Get a Re-Do?

Hope everyone had a nice relaxing Memorial Day Weekend! I would have if it weren't for an uninvited visitor named ISAAC. I hate rude visitors. Hmph!

Before Isaac blew into the Gulf, I was all set to start revising my new novel based on some awesome feedback from my agent's amazing assistant. But as they say, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." Actually, hurricanes are what happen when you're making other plans. ;) Instead of having five days over two weekends where I'd be free to brainstorm and type my fingers to nubs, I worked them to the bone prepping the house for the storm, and then cleaning up after it.

Now, I was one of the lucky ones who had a generator, so while I technically could have gotten some writing done, I was a leetle-beet preoccupied. You know, watching the bathroom ceiling come down and picking up shingles and debris from my yard. Normal hurricane stuff. In fact, we were lucky we were there to move all the stuff out of the bathroom and two adjacent rooms (still in boxes from our recent move) before the leaks got too serious. I live right near the Mississippi River, so no worry about flooding, but the wind that came from that direction tore the shingles off a good quarter of the roof, and blew one of our 8x8 wooden fence gates right off the hinges. Makes me glad I'm only renting, lol!

Now I'm back to work and busier than ever, and I can't help but think of how much work the me that lives in a alternate reality where Isaac petered out over Florida got done over Memorial Day Weekend. Lucky girl!

But dwelling on alternate reality me's amazing luck will get me nowhere. I've really got to put some solid work into this manuscript over the next two weeks if I want to get everything done in time to get it to my crit group later this month as promised. Which is fine, I guess, since I won't be tempted to finishing unpacking, anyway. I guess there's a silver lining, after all!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Soulless... In a Theater Near You?

Ack! I know I haven't been posting and I'm sorry, but I had to share this awesome news from Publisher's Marketplace:

NYT bestselling author Gail Carriger's SOULLESS, a humorous Jane Austen-style steampunk fantasy about an avowed spinster who, being soulless, can negate supernatural ability and is thus shunned by London's society vampires until one rudely attacks her, upsetting the social balance and revealing a dark cult, to Parallel Films with screenwriter Ted Elliot (Pirates of The Caribbean and Shrek) attached, by Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency, Michael Cendejas of Lynn Pleshette Agency, and Wayne Alexander of ANLF.

That's right, folks! Film rights to SOULLESS have been sold! For reals! I loved this book and can't wait to hear more about a film adaptation. I know that doesn't guarantee it'll be made into a movie, but with a screenwriter attached, that's a good sign. I just hope the movie can match the amazing imagery in my head! ;)

Anyone else love this book, or am I the only one? I kind of have a bit of an author-crush on Gail Carriger, to be quite honest. I mean, who wouldn't after reading this author bio?:

Ms. Carriger writes steampunk urbane fantasy comedies of manners to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. Ms. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She now resides in the Colonies, surrounded by a harem of shoes, where she insists on tea imported directly from London and cats that pee into toilets. She is fond of teeny tiny hats and tropical fruit. Her Parasol Protectorate books are all New York Times Bestsellers.

Yay! I can't wait!

Friday, July 6, 2012

I Ain't Got it Right...

But I got it written! Yes, folks, I have finished my rough draft of SKIN! (synopsis pending)

It was a slippery sucker—the ending kept changing on me, the theme just wouldn't cooperate, and the main character kept hounding me to wrap things up. But I pulled most of my loose ends together, sat my butt on the couch with headphones in, and tapped laptop keys with a vengeance until I had an ending!

I'm never happy with my first ending, so it'll probably change, but that's just the denouement. My final conflict is completely wrapped up in a way that satisfies me (for now), and I'm sensing the emergence of a theme. All in all, I'm excited to get back to work on it. But not just yet.

Now that I'm finished, I'm going to try to relax, crit a few manuscript I've been promising to do for weeks, read some books (got any recommendations?)... and do a hell of a lot more research before I get to editing.

I know that if I try to jump back in and start editing now, my eyes will just skip over the words, too familiar with them to see what changes they need. Like when my husband gets in the car and looks in the rear view, and asks me why I didn't tell him he needs a haircut. I'm just too close to see the changes, or what to do to make things better.

I'll probably only wait a week or two with this manuscript, then start editing. But this one is shorter than the last novel I had on submission by about 30,000 words, and I made myself do fewer full read-throughs while I was drafting, so I'm not as familiar with the text as I will be on the third or fourth draft. *sigh* I've got a lot of work ahead of me, so I'm going to enjoy it.

How long do you all let your first drafts simmer? Does that vary? I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Endings are HARD!!1!

I'm actually closing in on finishing my final conflict (for serious this time), which explains why I haven't posted in nearly a month!

Except to tell the truth, I haven't done much actual TYPING lately. *ducks tomatoes*

I've still been working, I swear!! I've been brainstorming up a storm over here!

Endings are HARD. I want everything to wrap up neatly—poetically, even—so I need some time to think about it. I mean, I barely thought of how it was going to end the entire time I was drafting. It's strange having to decide what happens at the end while you're actually writing it. My plotter tendencies have always saved me from having to do this in the past: usually I'm writing toward an ending that I've more or less plotted to death while I'm writing the rest on the novel.

Now this method has its advantages: easier to lay in things like foreshadowing and subtle reinforcements of theme. While writing the current WIP, theme has honestly been the last thing on my mind, so I'll have to go back now that I've figured it out. But I'll have to be careful I'm not being too heavy-handed and preachy. Ugh.

Of course, not knowing the ending has its advantages, too. I want to know how it ends so badly that I'm writing much faster than usual. It was only three months ago that I came back from my vacation in Puerto Rico and sent my first few chapters in to my agent's assistant. Crazy, I know, I can't believe it either! I know some people could have written three times as much as I did in three months, but I'm very happy with my progress.

Do you have an inkling of your ending before you start? 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tell the Truth Tuesday: Great Moments in D'Oh!

A funny thing happens with my brain sometimes. It manages to think of the most inappropriate things first. It's a blessing and a curse, really.

Like when I'm drafting my WIP, and I need to think of a good name for a Storyville bordello. No, I say to myself, there's no time to think of a good name, the perfect name. Just throw something lame in there as a stand-in, a temporary place holder.

Okay, myself says to I. Will do!

The name that spurts from my lazy-ass brain to my fingertips to the keys: The Spotted Cat. A great name for a nightclub. Not the best name for a whorehouse. Ew.

This has been your daily dose of D'Oh! You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Psuedo-Plotting

I'm stuck.

I've been pantsing like mad to the main conflict, but now that I'm here, I have no idea how to resolve it. *sigh*

What do you pantsers do in this situation? Sit and wait for inspiration to strike? I'm going to have to do some major notebook plotting/brainstorming at this point, but I'm surprised at how stuck I am.

Here's the thing—I usually have some idea of how the final conflict is going to happen before I start writing, which is what I write toward. It also means that I am thinking of how to resolve that conflict while I am writing the rest of the book, so by the time I get to that point, I know exactly what to do and how. Which can come sometimes lead to the plot and characters seeming contrived. And no one wants that.

Writing with minimal plotting, on the other hand, has helped me to develop more depth in my characters. Instead of doing what I say to lead the plot from point A to point Z, they are basically doing whatever they want most, since I'm not getting in the way of their motivations. I've come to realize I need to strike a balance between plotting and pantsing, but maybe a tiny bit more plotting would be good. :)

Lest ye think I've been sailing without a compass, rudder or sails, I HAVE been using a Nine-Step Plotting method that I read about a few years about in a QueryTracker blog post. It's more or less like separating the parts into three acts, then three acts within those three acts, and provides enough of a vague outline that it keeps the action moving forward, but you don't have to plan actual events to plug into the steps, you can simply write toward them. You can write it in a list, or keep it in a cube! You can write out a long description or just the headings to remind you. It's very versatile!

1. Triggering Event

This is the inciting incident, the moment that sets the story into momentum. While this can be an event that happens in the past, even long before the birth of the main characters, it's best if the inciting incident is on page one.

2. Characterization

Here is where we get to know the main characters. No, no, no, not through use of infodumps and/or telling backstory. Because you've set up the inciting incident on page one, the reader will be able to enjoy getting to know your characters through their actions, in the way they react to step one.

3. First Major Turning Point

Often called the "key moment", this is when your protagonist reveals to the reader how invested he or she is in resolving the conflict. But more should happen at this stage than just the protagonist's decision. It's not just chance that Box 3 touches Box 6 below it: Box 3 may introduce the motivation of the antagonist, which then justifies the events in Box 6.

4. Exposition

More cube-fun-goodness! This box should be meaty, juicy, and raise as many questions as it answers. It should also relate to points both before and after it within the manuscript. Relating to Box 1, here's where you delve into the incidents surrounding the triggering event. In relation to Box 7, you should use this part of the novel to foreshadow your protagonist's "darkest hour". Box 4 should "reveal a relationship, character flaw, or personal history that contributes to the dark times ahead."

5. Connect the Dots

No sagging middles here! In order to support its own weight, Box 5 must connect to all the boxes around it. Box 5 should refer back to elements introduced in Boxes 2 and 4, giving the impression that the mc will win the day... until they get to Box 6. Mwah-hah-hah! But the most important relationship Box 5 has is with Box 8. No one is going to believe the revelation the protag has in 8 to save the day unless it is hinted at, foreshadowed, in the middle.

6. Negative Turning Point 

I call this one, simply, All Hell Breaks Loose. Reference what you've done in Box 3 to intensify the conflict, and keep your focus. Notice what box sits below this one? Pretend it doesn't exist for now and put your characters through HELL!

7. Antagonist Wins

At least, the antagonist takes the advantage, let's say. Now, the protagonist must react to this defeat. How they keep their hero-cool in the face of certain doom depends upon the characterization you've established in the above Box 4. And how this leads them to the events of Box 8.

8. Revelation

Here is where the protagonist overcomes the obstacles of Boxes 6 and 7 via the device introduced in Box 5. Put simply, the hero triumphs over the antagonist only because of those flaws or character quirks you've introduced earlier. The key is to introduce these quirks in a casual way, or in some way that at first seems to cause the character grief or angst.

9. Protagonist Wins

Huzzah! The negative turning point in Box 6 is rectified while the character's resolve from Box 8 is brought into full bloom. And the loose ends are tied up here, too. Whether that leads to a happily ever after, or something more open-ended, you need to tie up most of the plot-lines to your reader's satisfaction. Unless, of course, you're going for a series. :)
You may be noticing that you can plug nearly any movie, book, play or even some video games into this module for examples: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Great Expectations... The amount of prose each writer devotes to the squares may differ, but the elements are nearly always used in this order for the greatest impact. Hope this helps you as much as it has helped me!

How do you plot? If you're a pantser, how do you stay on the right path?