Thursday, April 26, 2012

Poem in Your Pocket

Today was Poem in Your Pocket Day. Here is my PiYP Day choice for my blog peeps, before the day is over.

Understand, I'll slip quietly
away from the noisy crowd
when I see the pale
stars rising, blooming over the oaks.

I'll pursue solitary pathways
through the pale twilit meadows,
with only this one dream:
You come too.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I used to hate revising stuff. I would put a roughdraft in a drawer for the customary two weeks, then leave it there two months because I dreaded revising it so much. I always ended up doing it, but grudgingly.

Then I wrote my first novel. After tucking it away for a couple months, I slowly began revisions. And I discovered something.

Revising is AWESOME.

It's amazing to begin with something that is just OK, and slowly make it better. And better and better and better (depending on how many revisions you do). Watching the transformation, knowing you are making it happen, is a wonderful feeling. In life we rarely get the chance to revise, so doing it to your story is a great relief.

I don't know why it had to be the novel that made me realize this. Maybe because it was closer to my heart, having taken so long to write; maybe it was just worse than what I usually write and needed more help! But it was what catapulted me from hating revising to actually looking forward to it.

Since that first magical revision, my novel has been revised twice more, and now it is better than ever. This last revision gave me another great realization about the how of revising, one I am going to share with you, my friends:

For this revision (it was done for a real live editor), I wrote a detailed chapter outline, including every tiny thing that happened in each chapter, every single thing I wanted to convey to the reader. It was tedious, sure, and it took me more than a month (for a 140,000 word story). But when it was finished I discovered I had the greatest tool ever for revisions. By reading the outline, I could clearly see what was could be excised, what was inconsistent, which events needed to be rearranged a bit. It also helped me see how much was still unnecessary, and I was able to cut an additional 20,000 words. I have no idea why I never did this before. I will definitely do it for all subsequent novels, and am working on a chapter outline for the book I am writing now. It's marvelous.

So that is my gem of wisdom for today. CHAPTER OUTLINES! It's a beautiful thing, fellow writers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Doing the Animal Thing

Giraffes are pretty much my favorite animals ever, followed closely by cuttlefish (the cutest of the cephalopods- hey, the Blogger spell check is telling me that's not a word...idiots). I like animals a lot, so I tend to have companion animals in my stories. They're not usually all helpful and crap like Disney companion animals though, nor can they talk except in exceptional circumstance. They just do their animal thing, and my characters react accordingly. You can tell a lot about a character by how they act around animals.

A Video About How Awesome Cuttlefish Are

A Baby Giraffe Doing Its Awesome Giraffe Thing

Monday, April 16, 2012

Part-Time Writer (and Full-Time Mommy)

"What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window." - Burton Rascoe

Luckily I have a husband who does understand. Usually all it takes is an, “I'm working.” and ta-da, instant alone time! He's awesome.

It's often hard to find alone time, especially if you have a family of your own. For instance, I am a stay-at-home mom. Well, how hard can it be for me? All I do is watch soap operas and eat bon-bons while the child plays in the street, yes? Nope. I get up at 6 am every day, about an hour before he rises, and go to bed between 11 and 12. Between 6 and 7 I work out; between 7 am and 8 pm I am caring for the toddler, doing 100% of the housework and cooking, tending the garden, doing the shopping, going to the playground/story time/the library etc. My son has very strict limits on his TV time and computer use, so I get an hour a day while he is awake, tops, to clean the house/wash dishes/write blog posts.

After he goes to bed there is laundry to fold, dishes to wash, a (charming and funny) husband to converse with, and the ever-present lure of that modern Charybdis, the Internet, to pluck at my mind. Not to mention that by 8 I am usually so tired I have to force myself to pick up a pen and face that blank sheet of paper.

But then I think of Stephen King. I am not a huge fan of his work, but I recommend his sharp, useful, honest memoir On Writing to anyone who wants to write anything, ever. King wrote his first novel, Carrie, after a long day of teaching and grading papers, after his kids were in bed, while sitting in the laundry room. I at least have a desk and my kid goes to bed at a reasonable time. If King can do it, so can I.

I write all day, really, despite my duties (or because of them; being a stay-at-home mom is simultaneously the most challenging and most boring job I have ever had). I feel that I do the real work while staring out the window- or digging in the garden, making monster masks out of paper plates, listening to the children's librarian read some book that fits today's story time theme- and the actual writing is just the drudge bit. I am not a fast writer, particularly because of my need to write longhand first, but I get it done. When I worked full-time, I always spent at least 30 minutes of my lunch break writing. Now I don't get lunch breaks (or sick days, or time off) so I do what I can.

I don't believe people who say they want to write but have no time. As my husband told me once, everyone has time to do whatever they want; it's a matter of priorities. If learning to crochet is that important, you'll give up something else- watching a movie or washing the dishes- to do it. Same with writing. My house isn't a showplace, but I'm published. My husband wants a happy, productive wife more than he wants organized cupboards. I wouldn't have married him otherwise.

It's hard to be a part-time writer in a full-time world, but not impossible. Lots of people do it. If you really want to, you can too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Saving the Novel

HOLY CRAP. If I found out 26 pages of a novel I'd just written had vanished, I'd lose my mind. That poor woman! I can imagine her panic.

Lost Manuscript Recovered by Forensic Experts

What an amazing thing for the fingerprints expert to do. The moral of this story is, write longhand first, and press hard.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

No, It's Cool

No, it's fine. I'm not trying to revise that novel manuscript for an editor or anything. Go right ahead and lie down on it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Catching Up

Been busy with a big project lately and also sick (spring colds suck) so I haven't had much to say. I still don't really, but here are a couple updates:

* Earthbound Fiction's anthology Dark Stars, featuring my one and only SF story, "Christmas Eve in New London", should be out in July.

* Just had a story accepted to Fantastic Horror. It will be available in the Lovecraft-themed issue, which is still several months away.

* I just joined up with Broad Universe, a neat organization promoting female specfic authors. There are some impressive names in the list of members, so that's cool. I'll post here about BU events I might be attending.

Also, here is a funny Foxtrot cartoon about the premiere of the second season of A Game of Thrones: MLP GoT

I will never watch the new My Little Pony series even though a lot of adults seem to like it; I grew up on the original and the new character designs looks weirdly anorexic. And ponies should not have the same eye-to-head ratio as a giant squid. Creepy.

And last of all, here is a wonderful article about Elmore Leonard and his son. Leonard is a real American treasure and every writer, no matter their preferred genre, can learn something from him if they listen. It's an entertaining and insightful piece, definitely worth a few minutes of your time: Grit and Wry: A Dinner with Elmore and Peter Leonard