Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Climbing Over Stone Walls

I've written about how excited I was about my new book. I've been writing ten pages a day, which is a lot for week days, after eight hours at work plus two more hours of commuting.  Today I hit a stone wall. Sometimes life seems to contrive to keep you from your creative work, and this one was a doozy. I'm going to go to bed without having written a word. Maybe tomorrow will be different.

I have to be extra dilligent, because I'm afraid it will be like starting a new diet or a new exercise program. Everything goes fine until you slack off one day. What's one doughnut? Or piece of office birthday cake? Why not skip the treadmill today?  And before you know it, your newfound habit is no longer a habit, but an inconvenience and a source of guilt.

I'm climbing this stone wall. No way I'll stay stuck on this side of it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The thrill of a new project

I've been plotting a new book all weekend and it's so much fun to have the time to do it wholeheartedly, instead of sneaking in ideas while I'm writing on another project. I've been under deadline for months with three different books, not to mention galleys and copyediting. Now my time is my own, for a little while anyway. 

All this work is done with an eye towards April 18th, when Deb Dixon comes to Atlanta to present a writing workshop. I've taken her Goal, Motivation and Conflict workshop three times and always get something new out of it. 

I learned long ago not to get married to an idea when writing. Flexibility keeps you from going insane in this business. Critique partners, my agent, and my editors have all pointed out ways to better my books, and while grateful to them all, I've also learned to distinguish between "change" and "improve" and to implement only those suggestions that will indeed improve my work. 

So I know that what I write today may be changed tomorrow. I don't like to waste time, my most valuable resource, so I've been working on character sketches, writing the story out from the point of view of the heroine, the hero, the villain, the secondary characters. This will make  the story more well-rounded, and has pointed out flaws, gaps, and places where I can deepen the conflict. The writing process is crazy-making sometimes, but I love every step. Plotting just happens to be my favorite one.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Blog Award! Free martinis all around!

My friends over at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales have awarded the Premio Dardas to this blog. As is traditional, I must explain that this is an award that acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day. 

The rules to follow are:

1) Accept the award, then post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to another 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I'm not tagging the full 15 required for this meme. It would take a ton of research, and the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales snatched up my faves, Barbara Vey and Stephanie Bond, so here are mine:

Blake Snyder, who blogs about screenwriting and is the author of Save the Cat, THE best book on plotting novels, cleverly disguised as a book about screenwriting., John August, another screenwriter, and his great advice and sometimes random real life advice, such as useful instructions for washing tennis shoes in the washing machine. Really. He's the Martha Stewart of screenwriters.

Mary Castillo, a Latina who writes funny contemporary chick-litty books and blogs about the writing life, living in California, and being the mom of a very energetic toddler son.

Neil Hollingsworth's blog, Painting in Oil. Neil is an Atlanta artist who blogs about his own and other's paintings and makes me feel a little connected to my previous life as a visual artist. I keep saying I'll paint again, but it's an all-consuming passion. I'm afraid it'll take over and then I won't write again. At least not while I have a day job. There's only so much room in life for all-consuming passions.

Okay, I'm done for now.  There are many other blogs I follow, such as The Seekers (writers), Sugar Mountain Farms (advice on running a small farm), and the Chicken Whisperer (keeping pet chickens for eggs, and skirting anti-livestock laws in the Atlanta area), but I'll save them for another day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Divine E-books for E-books Week

I've been enjoying catching up on Sookie Stackhouse's adventures on my Sony eReader now that the Redwood book is turned in. I purchased the Charlaine Harris bundle from the Sony bookstore and got the whole library at once. Thank goodness, too, because although she's one of my BIH (Buy In Hardback) reads, I lend her books out so often that I can't recall which ones are where. Some of them eventually come home, but I miss them.

Another point in the Sony Reader's favor: you can't lend e-books. Mwa ha ha. I'll still buy the darn hardback, just to keep her on the NYT bestseller list so that she'll stay so spectacularly published.

Imagine my surprise last night when I got an email from the delightful Debbie Kaufman, she of the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales (not sure if she's a cakelet or a saucy tamale--I think those ladies take turns being one or the other), informing me that this is Read an E-Book Week and sending a delicious link to a whole page of wonderful downloads. All legal, all great press for the publishers and authors who support this ever more popular way to read. I started downloading left and right, and bookmarking great bookstores that I'll be sure to revisit once the week is over. Hurry over and grab your ebooks now, because at midnight on the 14th, the links will vanish.

Visit the download link for yourself. I think the new iPhone/Kindle app was just what was needed to push the industry over the slope and down the hill, in a yay-we're-sledding-fast-way, not a geez-bail-out-now-before-we-wipe-out-like-the-economy way. Interested in more about epublishing? Check out literary agent Richard Curtis' blog at He comments on all the news.

Singing and Driving

Anyone who's had the dangerous pleasure of driving in a car next to mine will be treated to a view of my tonsils as I try to sing along with my favorite music. Sometimes it's Van Halen, sometimes Dianna Krall or Amy Winehouse, or a Donizetti aria sung by Anna Netrebko, but whatever it is, I give it my all. Music enthralls me. The artist creates the recording, but I get to play along. You can't do that with a painting, and acting along with the TV is too weird (but hey, that's CosPlay, isn't it?). Books have a bit of that pleasure baked into them. You read the text, and the story unfurls in your head, like magic.

I was hesitant to try audio books for fear that the magical element would be lost. If someone read the story, it would be the reader's voice I would hear, their intonations and characterizations. A few years ago, when my commute became hellish, I checked out an audio book from the library. I remember that it was a Nora Lofts novel, although I'm not sure which one. Just as a new bicycle rider spends a while concentrating on balance and maneuvering before thrilling to the wind in her hair, I spent a little time hearing the narrator and not the story. Three tracks into the first disk, I was hooked. Now audio books take the chore out of cleaning floors, dusting furniture and scrubbing bathrooms.

It took much less time to appreciate ebooks. Before I asked (begged, pleaded) Santa for my Sony reader, I tried them out on my computer. I loved the experience. Maybe my audio books gave me practice with accepting stories in different media, different formats. My only annoyance is that not enough titles are available. I still buy paper books, but I'm now duplicating all the titles on my "keeper shelf" with electronic versions.

I've been thinking a lot about new media as I plot a post apocalyptic young adult novel (it's actually more of a Peak Oil novel). What happens to ebooks without electricity to charge the reader? Paper books are always ready to be enjoyed, barring darkness, illiteracy, or misplaced reading glasses. I'm giving this a lot of thought, and for that, I have to remove my headphones. Can't think if you're listening to someone else's story.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The sap is rising...

And no, I don't mean the Fed Ex guy that I accidentally knocked out when I swung my laptop case around in the elevator. Kidding.

Temperatures are expected to be in the 70's this weekend, my book is turned in, and I'm going to put on my wellies and hit the garden. Roses to prune! Garden beds to prepare! I'm an indifferent gardener all other seasons, but I enjoy digging and planting this time of year. I'm not sure whether I'll listen to the new audiobook I downloaded from the Gwinnett Public Library, Nora Roberts' HONEST ILLUSIONS, or just let birdsong and ideas for my next book waft around in my head. I guess it depends on whether any of my neighbors are playing "git 'er done" with chainsaws, blowers, and mowers.

My little mp3 player looks like an oversized cough drop, red with a white circle on it, and it holds 2g of audio - a pittance if you're my daughter, but plenty for me, and I use my iPod Shuffle for music, anyway. This little red baby is just for audiobooks. I was forced to buy it when I discovered the wonderful world of downloadable audiobooks from the library, none of which could be put on an iPod (this has since changed). It died the other day, and I almost chucked it, but the $40 I paid for it (lus the fact that it's so cute and tiny) made me grit my teeth and look online.

I googled "dead mp3 player"and got back many angry hits. I googled "repair Zen Stone Plus" and bingo! I downloaded a little patch of software, ran my mp3 through it, and it works good as new. I love the internet. This weekend, I'll share that love with my garden.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Make a Referral - jump start the economy

I'm pledging to make a referral to a business I want to help as part of a national campaign to make 1000 referrals March 9-13. What a great small business stimulus plan.