Sunday, July 29, 2007

Four, and definitely counting

Shadowrose Publications offered a contract for A Fair Trader, the Americanized version of my Rocky River Romance book, A Fair Trade and I accepted it. This will be my fourth contract for this year and I have two possible additions in the pipeline. To say I'm a little elated is a major understatement.

Sleep last night was an unattainable illusion beyond a few catnaps and I was up early toiling away at administrative tasks such as updating my website and spreading the news. This is the last of those tasks before I open my WIP and get down to my real work.

It's a great life


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Great Day at the Office

I began writing as a detailed planner, my engineering background demanded it. I’d take an idea and play with it until I could see its potential and then build a structure to present all its elements in a logical pattern, with mini climaxes dotted a precise intervals, subplots initiated and carried forward to their culmination, everything in its precise place. Only then would I start to write. (I tell the story of using a very complex project planning software, one I used professionally and taught others how to use effectively, to plan one story, complete with critical paths etc, and it’s true.)

These days I’m more likely to begin with a character, a general idea of how I’d like him/her to develop, and dump him/her into a situation I think might provide this development. I then write forward with the only goal of having my character react naturally and let the situation develop, making me as much the observer as the reader and probably with less idea how the story will develop(which requires a gigantic leap of faith on my part).

What happens next always surprises and delights me. A some point in the story, nearly thirty thousand words into it in this case, everything clicks together and I have the complete structure in my mind.(Not the details, just he structure.) My reaction is always the same. I sit grinning like a fool, then get up and prowl around the house, hugging to myself the feeling of success, until I can sit down at the keyboard and begin turning it into reality.

The two thousand words, I’d struggled to produce each day to this point, flow onto the screen so easily I’m tempted to keep going, but I don’t. I have a life away from the keyboard and it deserves my attention.

The end of the first draft beckons now, (from thirty thousand words in the future) with its final skim through before I put it aside and begin another manuscript and go back to the struggle until its time to return and do the hard work of crafting my creation into a readable whole. (It usually takes me twice as long as the first draft to achieve this and I have one waiting for me.)

Back to writing for me.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Critique Groups

I joined an online critique group a few days ago, my first foray into this area. I've always been wary of such things, partly because I'm not a natural joiner and few of the group forays I've previously made proved worth the time they consumed. (I find writing time precious and anything that competes with it has to pass stern tests)

I made my first critique too quickly, I should've read more of the previous crits first, and, because this was the writer's most obvious weakness, I chose to "show" rather than tell.

It was not well received and I wondered initially if it were worth the effort I'd put into it..

My second crit was more cautious (not in content, but in approach). The writer was much more competent and it only needed minor errors highlighted, but I'd discovered a basic fact about these groups--doing a crit requires much more trust than offering your work for one. (you can choose to ignore another's words)

It was a moderately long passage and I finished the crit(using their recommended method of inserting the comments direction into the text using capitals) and then I sat and read it several times (It is a measure of my focus that I still missed a simple typo that turned "think" into "thing"). Still not satisfied, I put it away for several hours and enjoyed the visit of all, bar one, of our grandchildren. After tea, when they'd been bathed and gone home, I sat and read it again. It was the balance between highlighting effectively what I saw to be errors and the method I had to use to achieve this that bothered me the most.

In the end, I sent it off and returned to my real work, Kayelle, having forgone five, possibly six, hours in the exercise.

It's a great life (but I sometimes wonder)


Monday, July 16, 2007

Works in Progress

My current work in progress is the fourth story of the First Family from New Blood. It has the feel of a good story, particularly as I'm attempting a different structure from the others, but there are many more judgement calls to be made and each one has taken time. Achieving some success with the previous stories in this series has raised the bar considerably.

There are times when the work creeps forward as I juggle possibilities, sometimes even stalling as the moment of decision looms. Other moments have me jumping from place to place in the manuscript and writing furiously as a decision opens up unforeseen possibilities and I hurry to record them. Always my internal editor questions, demands excellence, derides foolishness and taps an impatient rhythm on my shoulder.

In the beginning there was occasional applause for this piece of writing or that from this conscience figure. Now, the best I can expect is grudging absolution and a demand for more and better writing.

It's great life.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Workaholic Blues

I was not always a workaholic.

The malady grew, undetected, through the years, parallelling my increasing responsibilities, until it became so much of me I had to arrange a physical separation between my work and my home life. The strategy worked most of the time, but there were outbreaks to be curbed.

It is more difficult now. My office is only a few steps away and writing has a tempo imposed by the release of new books. This makes it easy to impose self deadlines to meet some imagined advantage of keeping your name in the public eye, especially when the failure of a publisher reduces the body of your work available to readers. There's a terrible temptation to work harder, write faster, to replace those books in the market.

Marketing is another excuse. Small house publishers, the ones likely to take a chance on emerging and makee-learnee writers like me, do not have the funds to promote their books and the burden falls to the author. I've gone through the initial stage of frenetic energy, interrupted by trips to New Zealand and Europe/UK, and have settled to a level of measured effort directed as intelligently as I can, although the prime requirement still seems to be a sufficient body of work in the public domain to sustain interest.

I guess I'll just struggle along, trying to balance the conflicting demands of my family, my muse and commercial realities.

It's a great life. (I think)


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Demanding Muse

There are moments in writing when the muse needs wooing, others when she teases and tantalizes, but the toughest are when she demands total effort and is satisfied with nothing less than your best.

The fourth story of the First Family series creeps forwards, ideas tested and discarded. Six thousand words trashed because they led into a blind alley. What remains is good, but my muse demands more, forcing me to dig deep into all I've learned since I began this mad obsession with writing.

Kayelle, the heroine of this story, is twenty-two and younger than the others. Headstrong, willfull, hungry for life, she frets at restriction and is impatient with delay. Jean-Paul, on the other hand, is wary of his attraction to this beautiful child, particularly as he finds himself doing uncharacteristic things, his emotions taking charge and tempting him into what seems in retrospect, little better than rape in his eyes.

Kayelle doesn't see it that way.

I'll leave you and get back to the problem.