Monday, July 30, 2007

Getting Medieval
Today's goal is to clean up my sewing area and get everything organized so I can start on the medieval garb. I think I can get all the sewing done in a week and two weekends. Then I'll probably need to make a few adjustments.
So, for the next week, you probably won't hear anything from me but talk about fabric and measurements and patterns.
It's a lot of work but I enjoy sewing. I remember when I was about 4, I was at my grandmother's house and I wanted another outfit for my doll. this tells me it must have been raining or freezing because otherwise I was always outside. Dolls were just something to mess around with if you couldn't get to the pine thicket where we played.
So, my grandmother found some fabric scraps, looked at the doll, cut the fabric and stitched (by hand) together a dress. At that moment, I was certain I was seeing magic. I made my first dress at age 12, and almost all my clothes for high school. I made my prom gown and my business suits and my daughter's prom gown.
Soon after the husband and I were married, I announced that I was going to the fabric store to look for fabrics for our medieval garb. The husband said "I'll come with you." Possible this was because I'd be getting fabric for his garb and he wanted to have a say. So, we're at the fabric store and after about forty-five minutes, the husband said, "Are you almost done?"
I laughed. "No. I haven't looked at everything."
He frowned. "You're going to look at everything in the store?"
He rarely ever goes tot he fabric store with me now.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The things that drive a writer to drink (heavily)

This is a sentence I wrote about a year and a half ago for a book that's still in progress because--well, I'm sure I've had really good reasons for shoving this one onto the back burner.

"During what I consider a previous lifetime, I’d been married to Nick for about ten minutes."

This is from Janet Evanovich's LEAN MEAN THIRTEEN, PAGE 4:

"Is this the Dickie you were married to for fifteen minutes in another life?"

So, you might be thinking that I can somehow hack into Ms. Evanovich's computer and lift such a little gem from her hard drive. Or possibly, I'm psychic enough to lift thoughts form her creative brain?

No. It's just one of those horrible coincidences. For me anyway. I now have to delete that line from my manuscript. No, it's not plagiarism. Even if I left the line the way I wrote it. I'm sure Ms. Evanovich wouldn't even furrow her brow if I kept my line.
But it would come off looking like I didn't have enough creativity to think of my own smart lines.

What's a little weird to me is that I bought the first Stephanie Plum book as soon as it was released because I was working on a mystery (my first, which explains why it no longer exists, even on my hard drive) that I had entitled "One For The Money". Yes, I wanted to write a series with numbers in the titles. I'm pretty sure Janet and I weren't the only writers who had that idea. Anyway, I wanted to read an author who'd had a similar idea to mine--even if it was only for a title. And I was impressed. I remember telling my sister about it. She read the book and loved it too. At the time she managed a bookstore and hand sold that book and all of the subsequent Plum books.

Still, even though it's just a couple of strange coincidences, I'm hoping that it means I can aspire to write as well as she does.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The 'other' kind of writing
No, I'm not talking about porn. I'm talking about Technical Writing. I met with a gentleman yesterday who wants met to bid on a Tech Writing project. It actually involves more than the writing. He needs someone to manage a few projects, do the writing for them, bid them out to printers, place the orders and follow up. Then there's the job descriptions and policy and procedures manuals.
I am strangely qualified to do all of this. Before I had the pleasure of only writing fiction, I was a Technical Writer. I wrote end-user documentation, procedures manuals, scripts for computer help desks, a bit of web site content, as well as retail ad copy. I was a Project Manager, Production Artist and Production Manager, and a Copy Writer and Copy Chief.
So, today will be spent working on the bid and dragging my writing samples out. I happened upon this by accident and the timing is perfect. I'm always bemused when these things just sort of happen in life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Life intrudes
This seems to happen on a regular basis. I'm working away on a new WIP, just getting to the point where I've got a lot of kinks worked out and I'm ready to hunker down and pound out a few thousand words every day until I've got a first draft.
Then, my mundane life rears its ugly head.
This morning I suddenly realized that I only have 5 weeks to make a medieval wedding gown, a medieval tunic (both taken from the Lord of the Rings movie), two bridesmaids gowns and a flower girl gown. Now, I have to admit, a medieval gown (at least the ones I'm making) are a LOT easier than a standard wedding gown. Still, it's a lot of sewing, so I need to get started on it.
And last night, the husband says to me, "We need to clean out the guest room." ACK! I just remembered we have guests coming for the weekend in a couple of weeks. The guest room is a mess because in my effort to attend a medieval event, I pulled tons of crap out of the closet and it's all over the room. I also have to find the sheets for the guest bed. I'm hoping that it really won't take me that long to clean up the guest room and make it presentable.
And all I want to do is WRITE!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Seriously, people.
Yesterday Nathan Bransford shared his query stats from the past week. I'm dismayed by some of the stats:
9 mass mail queries (often with every agent's name visible)
2 misspelled his name
1 addressed to Mr. Brown (Nathan works at Curtis Brown, Ltd.)
2 angry replies to his rejection
23 personalized
11 began with a rhetorical question.

OK. I'll over look the rhetorical question starters. I'm sure the authors really, really believed that was the best way. Or they read a book that told them it was good. I'll even pass by the misspellings. It happens. Although I will say, check the name, then check it again. The two angry replies? Get over yourselves. This is a business and if you can't take rejection, you really don't want to be a writer.
But the rest? That is just laziness. Someone actually addressed the letter to Mr. Brown. I'm pretty sure they meant Mr. Albert Curtis Brown who passed over to the whatever a long, long time ago.
The nine who sent out mass mailings--I don't know what to say. Do you really believe that's a good way to contact someone that you are asking to read your work and possibly represent you? Do you think that impresses them or makes them feel they are dealing with a considerate professional writer? Um, not so much.
The 23 non-personalized. I read Nathan's blog about this and I know he's talking about personalization beyond "Dear Mr. Bransford". I've read about agents who really prefer this (Nathan, for example), and agents who really don't give a rat's ass one way or another. The thing is, if it's done well, it can't hurt and could possibly help a lot. But don't be smarmy or stupid. If you're going to personalize say something about their clients, their blog, a recent sale, the fact that you met them at a conference or heard them speak somewhere. This requires research, but really not that much.
If you are looking for an agent, Google (or the search engine of your choice) is your friend. Use it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Poor Choices
Yes, I made one today. At the crack of dawn, actually. Instead of getting up and going to the gym, I decided my workout today would consist of mowing the lawn. It doesn't sound like much, but we have a ginormous backyard. And it's uneven, just one pothole after another. Makes mowing difficult at best. We have plans to have the entire thing rototilled but we don't want to do that until we've decided what to do with it. I want more (all) garden areas and less (none) lawn. Although what we have now can't even be considered lawn - even in the loosest sense of the word. I'm not mowing grass, I'm mowing weeds. The stupid front yard is also devoid of any nice little garden areas, so I'll be mowing that later too.
And to think I could be at the gym, sweating on a treadmill.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Writing is a business
Right now I have several projects that I could be working on.
A cozy mystery that I sold on proposal, but the manuscript isn't due for over a year.
Another cozy mystery that I want to query agents with.
A proposal for the fourth book in my Parker Investigation series.
An Urban Fantasy that I just recently started and is a lot of fun to write.
The writer in me would be perfectly happy just getting up each day and working on which ever project calls to me. But the published author in me wants to do what's best for my career. Each project has its pros and cons.
Writing the cozy that's already contracted would get one more thing off my To Do List, but it's not urgent. I have the synopsis done and plenty of time to write it. The Urban Fantasy would be fun. I love stretching my writing skills and letting my imagination run wild. But, I'm not published in UF so it would be taking my career on a different track and I'm probably not quite ready for that. The proposal is almost finished anyway and I'm not going to submit it for a while. The new cozy series I really like but it involves another agent search.
What did I do? I called the husband. He played devil's advocate, argued every point I made and got me to think it all through so I could make the decision that I knew was right. Now, I can get down to the business of writing it.
I don't think it's ever too soon to treat your writing as a business. Even if you're writing your very first book. If you want to have a career as a writer, you have to treat it as a business.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Yes, I forgot to blog yesterday. And it's not easy to forget because I have a reminder in my Outlook which pops up at the most inconvenient times to remind me that I'm not blogging.
I also didn't get my reading in. Well, the little bit that I read when I go to bed. But not my designated hour of reading. Why do I need a designated hour of reading?
Because I write. So, reading is part of my job. Pretty cool job, huh?
I need to stay up on what's being published in the genres I write, and also in the genres I don't write because often a trend will begin in one genre and kind of work its way through to some other genres.
Also, I think reading a really good book is what initially made most writers want to write their own book. Either that or reading a really bad book. You know, the kind where you struggle to get through the damn thing, then end up throwing it at the wall before finishing it. I used to always read the entire book. Even if I decided it was crap by the second chapter. Now, I don't do that. As soon as I'm sure it's crap, the book gets tossed. But that usually doesn't happen until midway through the book. I mean, I want to give the book (and author) a fair chance.
What about you? Do you read the whole book even if it's crap?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Writing a Series
I'm writing the fourth book in my Parker Investigation series. The series centers around three private investigators and the first three books each featured one of the women. Now that I'm on the fourth book, I'm questioning my writing.
I think it's the voice thing.
Each of these women has a very unique voice. Now that I'm writing a second story about the first character, I want to make sure I'm writing her with the same voice as the first book. Also, this book involves all three women more than any of the other books, so I'll have to make sure I'm keeping all the voices separate and clear.
I never thought that I'd go back and read the books I've written. I mean, by the time a book is on the shelf, the writer has read it at least a dozen times. But, I'm thinking that reading the previous books will be the best way to keep the voice and personality intact for the 4th book.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Life gets in the way of Art
Well, in the way of my writing anyway, which may or may not be art. Husband took the motorcycle to work today, leaving me the truck so I could run some errands later or possibly even go to the gym. Except. He called just minutes after leaving the house. Seems the bike was out of gas. Am I surprised? Not so much. Husband has a habit of believing there really is gas in the tank when it's only fumes. Must admit, this works for him most of the time. So, I take the gas reserved for the mower to him, but it doesn't do the trick. So we drive home, get the trailer, drive back and pick up the bike, then come home again and he takes the truck to work.
Now it's almost 10 and I'm a couple of hours behind my regular schedule. Which means I just read blogs and groups but haven't started writing.
Unfortunately there is still gas for the mower so I won't get out of finishing up the backyard today. Also, evidently all we did this weekend was trash the house so cleaning is now a priority. Writing is drifting further and further away.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday the 13th is a Lucky Day
At least it is for my friend and fellow mystery writer Lori Armstrong. Her second book, Hallowed Ground, has been nominated for a Shamus award. Way to go, Lori!

I'm hoping that it will be a lucky day for me as well. If it is, I'll figure out what the hell I've done wrong with this stupid WIP.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Smack on the Forehead
So, the WIP has been a problem. It's just going so slow. At this point, I'm usually flying along. I know my characters pretty well, and my world. I haven't gotten so deep in the plot that I'm seeing any mistakes yet. But, that's not happening with this one.
Than it hit me.
I mentioned yesterday that I've been writing this in third person. Even though most Urban Fantasy is written in first person. Maybe that's why this doesn't feel right?
I'm going to go back and rewrite it in first and see if that feels better than what I've got.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tense Person
Actually this is about both tense and person. Nathan Bransford had an interesting post about first or third person and some of the comments delved into the present or past tense. It seems some people really prefer one and hate the other. To the point that they won't even read a book if it's in the offending tense or person.
I write my cozy mysteries in first person and my thrillers in third person. Cozy mysteries are really stories about the characters--especially the main character. So, writing in first person feels more immediate. Also, I really prefer cozy mysteries where the reader only gets to know what the main character knows.
In thrillers, there's usually a need for more than one pov, so third is easier. Although I like James Patterson's way of using first and third in his Alex Cross series.
My current WIP is an Urban Fantasy. Most Urban Fantasy is written in first person, but for some reason I'm using third. We'll see how that goes.
The debate about present or past tense was interesting. Almost everyone preferred past tense. I can handle present tense with first person in some books, although it's not my favorite.
But once I picked up a book for a best-selling author. She's one of my absolute favorites and this was about the 8th book in a series. It was written in third person present tense and I just could not handle it. I put it down after about 5 pages. It was worse than fingernails on a chalkboard.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Book Titles

I've been lucky so far. My publisher hasn't changed any of my titles. Although it remains to be seen on the last two they bought. I wouldn't have minded on the first two books, Breeding Evil and Natural Selection, although I felt the titles were good ones for the book content.
I was in love with the title for my first cozy mystery, If It's Not One Thing, It's A Murder. And I was very happy that they kept that one. The next book in that series is Let Sleeping Dogs Die.

But I'm stumped for the title of the third book in the Parker Investigations Series. The title that really fits is It Takes A Thief. Kay Hooper wrote a Loveswept back in 1989 with that title. The other title that would work is Once a Thief, but she also wrote a book with that title. Neither of those books is anything like mine as far as plot, characters, etc.

Still, I'm reluctant to use the titles. Yesterday I saw a new book with the title Natural Selection. So, it's not like no one else is borrowing titles. Probably I'll leave this one up to the universe. If the book is meant to have a different title, it'll happen.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Yay Monday!
Probably most people aren't all that happy with Monday. I used to be one of them. It meant that the weekend was over and I had to go back to work. Even when I liked my job I didn't look forward to Monday. But now I do. Now Monday means I get to write again. I write a little bit on the weekends, but not much. Weekends are normally spent with my husband, family, and friends. So, after two days of not being able to write, I'm eager.
Maybe I'm more eager today than usual because yesterday I realized a major change I need to make to the plot of my WIP. Hopefully this change will make the book different from the rest of the genre. At least a little.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Puppy Love
I came this] [ close to having a puppy this weekend. My sister-in-law called to ask us if we wanted a Pug puppy that her son was giving away. We thought about it for a day and said yes. Our dog (a wolf hybrid) died about a year ago and we've gone back and forth on the puppy issue. But, really, we're both dog people and we really miss having one. Our two cats are entertaining, but they just aren't dogs. Sadly.
I've never had a pug. Actually, I've never had a small dog. But from what I read, Pugs are big dogs in a small dog's body. Perfect.
But this morning we found out that our nephew and his wife decided to keep the puppy. So, we're puppyless.
It wouldn't be so bad, but I had really gotten myself ready for a puppy. Of course, there's still the pound. And I know how to get there, too.

Friday, July 06, 2007

From the War Front

Here are a few pictures of the Medieval war. This particular was was between The Kingdom of An Tir and the West Kingdom. Keith fights with The Ermine Company--the ones with the white shields and tabards with the black ermine spots. I think Keith is the one in the red sleeves. The second pic is a closer view of these guys. I have no idea of which ones they were or even which side they fought for. An Tir won.
Now, back to writing.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Dream Agents
There are several blogs I read every day. One of them is Bookends, LLC. Yes, Jessica Faust is in the top ten of agents I'd be thrilled to have represent me. I'm sure there are about a hundred thousand other writers who feel the same way.
Anyway, today, she talked about her dream client and her favorite client and then asked who our dream/favorite agent would be. This is a good thing to think about occasionally. And not in the Wouldn't it be great if so-and-so were my agent and there was a bidding war over my next book and then Ron Howard paid me millions for the film rights kind of thinking. Not that there's anything wrong with daydreaming now and again. But thinking about what you really want in an agent is good. Because you just might get lucky and have an agent offer representation and you'll need to know what you're looking for.
I want an agent who can do some editing for me. Sure, I edit myself, but I don't see everything. And sometimes, I'm in the middle of the damn forest and can only see the individual trees. And the individual trees may look fine, but the forest is kind of a mess. So, that would be good.
But the first thing I thought of was that I'd like an agent who could magically produce the last one or two sentences I need to wrap up the synopsis I just wrote. The entire synopsis needs another go around, but I can't even come up with the last couple of sentences. This is the part where I need to resolve the romance. I so suck at this part.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Birthday to our Republic!

A lot of Americans think we live in a democracy. Nope. We don't. Our founding fathers went to a lot of trouble to make sure of that and with good reason.
A democracy is majority rule and there's no law to prevent the individual's rights from being trampled. You might say a lynch mob is a good example of democracy in action.
A republic, on the other hand, consists of public officials who have been elected by the people to serve them. Hopefully the people made a good choice and the public officials are well suited for the job (you may all laugh now). A republic also requires a constitution and a system of checks and balances that keep everything running smoothly and protects our individual rights.
So, it seems that it's really up to each individual just how well the Republic runs. Have you done your part?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I like to be organized. I like lists. I like things that are sorted by color or size or use. I like being able to look in my file drawer and find exactly what I'm looking for.
Once when my daughter was about five, I organized her toys in plastic crates and on shelves and then showed her what I'd done. She looked at me like she couldn't believe this lunatic was going to raise her.
But as much as I LIKE organization, I don't do enough of it. I keep thinking that if I cleaned one room in the house each day, then it would always be fairly clean. Doesn't happen. I do other stuff all week and then take a whole day to clean the whole house. It's the same with the yard work. And the laundry.
Not with the writing, though. I write every day. Sometimes it's a lot of pages, sometimes it just a lot of crap. But it's writing.
Now, why can't I do that with the cleaning and the yardwork?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Back from the Middle Ages
We had a great time. I sat in the shade and did some cross stitching while Keith put on heavy armor and stood in the sun beating on his friends with a big stick. You'd be amazed at how many men (and a few women) think that's fun.
I made 5 gallons of really, really good red ale and it was all gone in one night. The King and Queen of The West (TRM Jade and Kaaren) roasted a pig on Saturday night and everyone brought side dishes.
And now I'm home. After I finish unloading the truck and do some laundry, it's back to the writing. There's nothing like a few days of not being able to write to make it seem like the best thing in the world. Hopefully today, I'll get a lot of the synopsis worked out so I can finish up the scene outline.