Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yesterday . . .

. . . I said good-bye to my cherished cat Jordy. He lived a good life (16 years). Yesterday, was a crappy day all around. I just knew when I got up that something was wrong. Boy, was I right on that count. I made the painful – trust me, I kept Kleenex in business this morning – decision to have him put down. He’s just not been doing well, arthritis was setting in, and he was just having a really hard time of it lately.

Jordy was the best cat ever. Not that his sisters Tasmyn and Squeaky aren’t good cats, they just have an attitude most of the time. Jordy, on the other paw, was just Mr. Laid Back. He accepted life (the addition of Tasmyn to the household, then Spanky and Arthur when Frank and I moved in together, then Squeaky after Arthur passed away, and finally Jesse and James once Spanky had journeyed forth into the great beyond) as just another day.

I went to the pound sixteen years ago looking for the most adorable kitten ever. They had no kittens that day and kept showing me cat after cat. None of them seemed “right”. I’d finally settled on a cute cat, when all of a sudden I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there was Jordy – cute as could be, just looking at me with those big green eyes saying “Uh, excuse me, excuse me, but I’m the best there is!!!” Truer words could not have been spoken. He melted my heart with that simple tap on my shoulder. I took him home that day and despite the neutering two weeks later, oh, and then the declawing incident two weeks after that, he was my little sack of flour that I could carry around like a baby . . . for sixteen great years. Okay, there was the diabetes in 1999 and two shots a day, but he took the shots like a trooper and showed up in the kitchen every night around the same time to take his medicine. I rarely had to hunt him down to give him his shots, though there were twenty or forty such occasions where he made me look for him. He was a cat after all, and had to remind me that I was at his beck and call, and not the other way around.

I went to the vet alone yesterday morning, just Jordy and me, kind of like the beginning of our lives together. Frank offered to go, but we had a contractor due at the house, and I think I just needed some “me” time with Jordy. Frank said his good-byes at the house, giving Jordy a ton of treats and petting him while he ate them. I said my final good-byes at the vet, just Jordy and me!

No one ever tells you when you adopt a pet, that the final day just sucks big time. Trust me, it does. Still, he brought joy to my life for a good long time. I miss him terribly. I’m still keeping Kleenex in business. He was the best!

There are so many good memories of Jordy . . .

  • The Closet Incident - okay, there were many times when this sneaky cat of mine snuck into the closet without either Frank or I knowing. We would only learn of his closet presence when he woke up from his nap and began to bang on the door to be let out.

  • The Scratching at the Door Incident - Jordy was an indoor cat who just loved to go outside. I would take him out every now and then and sit with him while he prowled around the yard. At one point, after finally adjusting to Spanky and Arthur (the dogs), Frank would take Jordy and the dogs out together. The three of them would run side by side across the driveway to the fenced in backyard. Jordy, at least for a time, was one of the dogs. Well, when Jordy wanted out, he would scratch at the door in the den. No, Jordy, you're not going out - was my normal response. One night, he was scratching at the door, and I made my usual response without even looking. It wasn't until the next morning, when I couldn't find Jordy to give him his shot, that I realized he was not in the house. I went outside, shouted for him, and here he came from the deeps of the wilds of the backyard. He was not a happy camper. Little did I know when I said No, Jordy, you're not going out, that he was scratching from outside wanting to get in. Boy, did Frank get a talking to that morning about not bringing Jordy back in . . . and not for the first time, I might add.

  • The OMG What Did You Bring Home Incident - this was when, after only having Jordy a few months, I brought Tasmyn home to join the family. Jordy went up to the carrier, sniffed at Tasmyn, turned his back and walked away. If you think I'm having anything to do with her, you're out of your mind. Jordy stuck to his word. He would have nothing to do with Tasmyn at all. He ignored her. If he was on the bed and she clawed her way up, he got down. If he was in a chair and she leaped over to sleep with him, he got down. He wanted nothing to do with her. Nothing at all. So, months go by and I come home from work early one day. What do I find? Jordy and Tasmyn curled up in a chair together. Jordy looks up in surprise and leaps out of the chair. After I stopped laughing, I told him that his secret was out. From that day forward, they were pretty much inseparable.

  • The I'll Protect You Incident - when Frank and I first moved in together we had the pleasant task of introducing the cats to the dogs (Spanky and Arthur). Let me tell you, Tasmyn drew blood from the dogs on many occasions. Finally, a truce was called . . . or so I thought. One night, the dogs are on the sofa with Frank, sleeping soundly, and Tasmyn struts by, reaches out, smacks the hell out of Spanky, and keeps on walking. Well, next day, payback time and Spanky corners Tasmyn. He barks. She hisses. From behind me a hear a low growl. Here comes Jordy, tail puffed up big as can be, eyes, wide, and coming across the room toward Spanky. Nobody, not nobody, messes with my sister, BUD!!! He might have disliked her to begin with, but she somehow wormed his way into his heart, and nobody was going to bother her, not even Spanky.

The memories go on and on, and the tears continue to flow. The picture above is of Jordy in one of his favorite places - on the dining room chairs beneath the table cloth. He always thought no one could find him there. His only problem - he always let his tail dangle out from beneath the table cloth. Still, when in doubt, no cat about, look beneath the tablecloth!!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Who knew . . .

. . . that ironing could provide inspiration??? Picture it - Sophia Petrillo, standing in front of the ironing board, the steam rising up (cheap facial), and her brow furrowed in thought!! Okay, so it wasn't Sophia Petrillo. It was me. I'm ironing, the steam rising up (cheap facial), and thinking about the fact that I have written very little lately. Suddenly - inspiration, the Orm, the Muses singing loudly and clearly - the ideas begin to gel together into some coherent form. I love it when that happens. Lately, coherence and writing did not seem to go together. Today - perhaps the steam reached deep into my brain and caused the synapses to start synapsing - the coherence slowly began to emerge. Whew!

I just haven't felt the desire in my writing lately. There are brief, transitory, moments of feeling, but nothing that lasts beyond a chapter or two. I want the feeling, the passion, the drive, and the obsession! I want the DESIRE to write - here, there, and everywhere, in a box with a fox, in a house with a mouse, in a train, in the rain, with green eggs and ham, Sam I am (not). I feel lost and bereft on the days (weeks, months . . . or so it seems) when I don't write. Try as I might (and trust me, I've tried . . . again and again, to the moon and back), I have not been able to write, to feel, to experience the driving passion. I get an idea, brilliance in motion, and the brilliance quickly fades like the semi-permanent dye I might one day (soon) use to cover the grey in my hair.

So, I'm ironing, thinking, ironing, thinking, and . . . what if I combine this, with that, and add a little bit of something-something . . . whoa!!!!, is that brilliance beginning to emerge??? How long will it last? Am I, like Maria in the convent, chasing moonbeams on the sand? Will this idea work? Will the DESIRE explode from within and become an obsession? Will I think constantly about the project, dreading the fact that I owe, I owe, so off to work I go??? Will the ideas slowly wane like the full moon until they disappear, so it seems, all together?

I have no clue. I'm grasping at proverbial straws and hoping beyond hope, that this time the idea will stick, the words will flow, and the obsession can begin.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sing Them Home

Stephanie Kallos' (Broken for You) new book Sing them Home has been released. The first chapter made me cry. Heck, I sobbed through the last third of Broken for You. I'd better stock up on tissues before I immerse myself fully in the book. From what I've read so far - EXCELLENT! Oh, well, there was the one typo on Page 30 . . .

Did I ever mention I cannot stand finding errors? What are editor's for in the first place? Okay, it was a small typo, easily missed, and I've made similar mistakes with my writing as well. It happens. Everybody makes mistakes. The mistakes, however, should not end up in the final version of the book . . . which is why I read through my drafts constantly to find any tiny little errors that might stop the flow of a potential reader once I am published.

Now, does the little error take away from the brilliance of her writing? No. Does the error take away from my reading flow? Yes. Will I stop reading because of the one little error? No. It just sort of grates on my nerves when such a little error is not caught somewhere between the rough draft and the final publication process. Have computers made us far too lazy? Yes. Should someone have caught the error? Yes. Am I going to tell the readers of this blog what the error was? No. I gave you the page number (30). Now, if you're reading carefully, before you finish page 31 you'll find the error. I'm just saying . . .

Also, please, please, please don't take this post as detrimental toward the brilliance of Stephanie Kallos. I absolutely adore her writing style. As I mentioned, I make mistakes with names, with words (there vs their - not intentional, of course, just the fevered pitch of brains and fingers), and other things. I normally find these mistakes as I do the various read throughs of my projects. I just think that someone should have caught this error before the book went to print.

Okay, I'm done for now. I am thoroughly enjoying the book.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Still alive . . .

. . . just busy with the hectic holiday life. I'm still writing - little bursts of energy. Perhaps things will calm down later this week and I'll have more time to post a witty (and/or snarky, perhaps a little bit of both) entry to my blog. Then again . . .

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Monday night . . .

. . . I did not write. Surely there is a reason for such madness. Surely the world has come to an end for me to forgo the journey - the absolute pleasure, except on the days when I'm blocked (boy, that sounds wrong) - of writing.

Alas, no such calamity - world ending event - has occurred. I did not write because my mind was soaring across the boundaries of music. Song after song - at quite a high volume, I might add - issued forth from the speakers and I, as off key as my mother, sang right along with the music. Linda Eder - Man of La Mancha (boy, can she belt 'em out or what????). Glen Carter - Gethsemane (from Jesus Christ Superstar 2001 - I absolutely adore this version of the musical, the best vision ever). Then there were songs from Chess, Jekyll & Hyde (yes, more Linda Eder), The Scarlett Pimpernel, oh, and some Christmas music as well - Josh Groban, Bare Naked Ladies, Lorrie Morgan, Celtic Woman, Il Divo . . .). Ahh, the joys of music. In fact, it was a feast of music.

In music . . . there is inspiration. With music . . . my fingers fly faster across the keyboard and my imagination soars to unimaginable heights.

So, I did not write Monday night, but in no way did my creative juices sit idle. In no way did I slack off and - heaven forfend - do nothing. I sang, my friends (again, quite off key, it is an inherited trait - we don't allow Mom to even sing in Church, so sad, so sad indeed), and I let the music surround me, encompass (yes, pretty much the same as surround, but I like the word) me, caress me, and carry me to far away places.

I was . . . the music of the night (sorry, couldn't resist)!


Note: As I've mentioned, dear Mother cannot sing. Do you know that she was president of the glee club in high school? I kid you not. My sisters and I were absolutely stunned when we discovered that intriguing little fact about dear old Mom. Then again, there were only 13 people in her graduating class, and she might have been the best of the singers!! Seriously, we love Mom to death, but you really don't want to hear her sing. There was one time in Church when Mom started - quite loudly, and definitely off key - singing. My sister elbowed my mother, which I happened to see. All three of us began to laugh in Church. I'm sure the priest didn't appreciate it, but we sure did. I'm just saying . . .

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Random Act of Kindness

First - this entry has absolutely nothing to do with writing. This entry is in response to something that happened to me on the way to work this morning, and that I posted on my other blog.

Second - this entry is of such importance to me, and it is my blog after all, that I am also posting it on this blog. So, here goes it . . .

What is a random act of kindness? Well, it's pretty self defining, don't you think? I was the victim of a random act of kindness on the way into work this morning. No, not a victim, but rather the surprised recipient! I'm in the drive-thru line at Starbucks - waiting, waiting, waiting, and waiting some more - and I finally get to the window to pay. I was informed that the woman in the car in front of me paid for my order as, her words, a random act of kindness.

I was surprised. The Starbucks employee was surprised. A stranger - total, complete - bought my peppermint mocha twist grande and apple fritter. She did not know me. For all she knew, I could be a serial killer. I'm not, btw! She just - randomly - paid for my order.

Now, I know you're wondering whether I paid for the order of the person in line behind me. No. Why? It is not a random act of kindness, though I'm sure it would have been appreciated, to automatically buy the person in line behind you something because something was bought for you. To do so, in my opinion, cheapens the act in itself. I would have been reacting out of instinct and a sense of obligation, and not out randomness. I will perform a random act of kindness at some point . . . today, tomorrow, this week, next week, and maybe quite often at that.

My challenge to any who read this blog: Sometime, today, tomorrow, next week, next month, maybe quite often, perform a random act of kindness. Buy some one's coffee, tea, Big Mac, whatever. Hold the door open for somebody. Say good-morning. Smile. Perform a Random Act of Kindness.

Lastly, I must say, the random act of kindness had a profound effect on me. I'm still slightly dazed. In a world of chaos, a time when the simplest things - a smile, a nod of the head, a thank-you - are pointedly ignored, a stranger bought my coffee. I hate to say it, but it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I'm just saying . . .

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


. . . and once again, Lucy Van Pelt suckers Charlie Brown into believing she would not pull the football away!!! Once again, Charlie Brown goes up in the air and lands on his back with a THUD! In the meantime, Snoopy is slinking up behind Linus with only one goal in mind: to steal Linus' security blanket. Across the street, Sally Brown is staring longingly at her Sweet Baboo, even though he did ruin Halloween for her by convincing her to sit in the pumpkin patch with him all night waiting for the elusive - and totally imaginary, at least to her - Great Pumpkin. Woodstock, meanwhile, is perched atop Snoopy's doghouse. He's tired. He needs a nap. He needs the comfort of Snoopy's chest rising and falling to lull him to sleep.

Okay, that's not why I'm going AAAAGGGHHHHH. Today is the day before Thanksgiving and I have waaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyy too much stuff to do. I've already made the brine to soak the turkey in - I was up at 6 to start the brine, it is currently decreasing in temperature. When it reaches room temp, I'll immerse the lovely bird in the brine. Oh, but wait, that's only one of the gazillion things I must do on this day before Thanksgiving. I have desserts to make, cornbread for the dressing - which must then stale overnight, cranberry sauce, go to the wine store, clean the house, oh, and get lights to decorate the holly and cedar trees outside the house, and . . . and . . . and the list goes on. Does it end there? Of course not, there is still much cooking to do tomorrow as well. Ahhhh, tomorrow, the smell of roasting turkey floating through the house. Mmmmmmmm . . .

So, in the spirit of trying to do it all, I have already written today as well . . . and not just on the blog. I hope to get some more writing done later today. I'm just taking things slowly, and hoping for the best. In the end, that's all anyone can do.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all, and just Happy Day to those who don't celebrate the American tradition of overeating to the point of insensibility!!!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Tonight was . . .

. . . not a night of hugely flowing words. Tonight was a night of quality (not that everything I write isn't quality) versus quantity. The flow was there, the inspiration, and a sense that every word (okay, not every word, but almost every word, and it's my little world) I wrote had meaning and substance. It was definitely a good, if brief, writing session.

Writing during the week, at least lately - though there was a once upon a time in the way of fairy tales and happy endings time when hours were spent in front of the computer every night after work - is rarely a long-term commitment. I just don't seem to have the time, or rather I don't make the time, to sit down for hours on end and write. I do, however, treasure every moment my fingers are dancing across the keyboard and the words are flowing across the screen. Every moment - seconds, minutes, hours, etc. - of writing is all part of the journey. It does not matter if I only write one sentence each night, as long as I write.

I wrote more than one sentence tonight. I wrote many sentences that formed into paragraphs that formed the next section of my current project. I find myself content right now. I wrote when I did not think I would write - not for lack of inspiration, lack of ideas, but only for lack of time in a crazy world where I go, go, go, and go some more and then wonder where in the frak the time went! Sigh! Such is life . . .

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The weekend . . .

. . . did not - thankfully - stop the words from flowing. Did I spend as much time writing as I should have? Heck, no! Do I ever spend as much time writing as I should? That would be - heck no, again! I write when I write, and do the best that I can.

There was a time - the project I'm currently searching for an agent - when I wrote with a driving obsession. I could think of nothing else except the project. I kept a pad of paper with me in the car. I jotted down notes at stop signs and stop lights. I emailed myself twenty times during the day. I rushed home from work so I could write. I spent virtually all day on Saturday and Sunday writing. I lost weight because I barely ate at night. I neglected my poor partner. I'm surprised our relationship survived the two week period in which I - as Lynn Behler commented - banged out the 50,000 word rough draft. That was probably the best writing experience of my life. I miss that passion, the drive, the all consuming obsession that highlighted the days and nights that - ultimately - led to some of the best writing (at least in my personal opinion) I have ever done, and might ever do.

Oh, what am I saying. I continue to write brilliantly. Sorry, but I'm the only one currently available to pat myself on the back. If I don't have confidence in my writing, how can I expect an agent to have confidence in my writing? I'm not, however, one of those writers (people) who believes I can do no wrong. I can write crap with the best of 'em!!! In fact, I've written my share of crap. It happens!

So, advice for new/experienced writers - write when you write and don't stress about (okay, I know, my recent blog posts don't support this) when you don't write. Not everybody is a "write everyday" writer. Some people (myself included) are "write when you write" writers. I'm just saying . . .


Friday, November 21, 2008

In two days . . .

. . . time I have written more than 5,000 words. That breaks down to approximately 2,500 words per day. Woo-hoo!

Okay, now that I'm done patting myself on the back. As anyone following this blog knows, I have experienced a period of frustration due to the fact that the brilliance that is my writing was not happening. The words were there, the ideas as well - the words/ideas just could not find their way out of the labyrinth maze that is my brain. Well, two days ago the floodgates opened and the words have flowed quite well - that sound you're hearing is me knocking on any available wood products so as not to jinx myself. The tone of the current project - very snarky - has shifted as well. The snark is still there (it's a daily part of my life and the current project is overflowing with snark), but so is a darker, more emotional tone as well. Snark is good and well, but maintaining an aura of snark throughout an entire project is not an easy thing to do. Also, the story needs the depth and emotion that is emerging in some of the sections.

This project is also emerging differently than other projects I have worked on in the past. Normally - Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter . . . The End. I'm not doing the traditional chapters on this project . . . at least not yet. I'm just writing, section after section, moment after moment, and will worry about the separation into chapters at a later point . . . then again, maybe not ever. I'll just have to see what I feel like doing when the mood strikes me.

In many ways, even though I infuse much of myself into every project, and huge chunks of reality as well, this project is the most personal of all . . . even though it is a complete - well, almost - work of fiction with no basis (well, some) in real life. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!!! The emotions - love, anger, resentment, frustration, hopelessness, devastation, a few OMG moments - are real. I've been there, done that, and have the multiple t-shirts to back up my claim. That is what is pouring into this current project. I don't know why now, and not before. I don't know what propelled me to begin writing this project. I only know the words are flowing and I'm not about to question the motivation behind the flood waters!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

The floodgates . . .

. . . seemed to open yesterday afternoon, not long after I posted the blog entry about my current frustration with the words not flowing. Well, they flowed yesterday afternoon. I don't know why. I'm not even going to try and figure out why. I'm just thankful that the floodgates opened.

Picture it: me in front of the computer, fingers poised over the keyboard, and my brow furrowed in thought. I begin to type - clickity clack, clickity clack, clackity click. CRAP. I just wrote a load of crapola!!! Delete! Delete! Delete! My brow is furrowed even deeper now. I begin to type again - clickity clack, clickity clack, clackity click. CRAP. I just wrote another load of crapola!!! Third time's the charm. I begin to write about my frustration with not writing and - voila! - I write the blog entry from yesterday afternoon. Okay, so it was not the ultimate work of fiction, but it was writing. I'm a semi-happy camper. Still, the urge to write is upon me. I stare at the computer screen. My brain is in a fever. The words are there. They just need a good hard shove to burst forth into brilliance. A title pops into my mind. I just love it when that happens. I type out the title. I begin to write - clickity clack, clickity clack, clackity click at a fevered pace. Whoo-Hoo!!! Brilliance in motion. It's my world, people, and if I want to semi-delude my self with allusions of brilliance, I'm allowed. The words flowed easily. I was snark in motion. The tone was absolutely great. I'm not sure I can maintain that snarky tone throughout the entire work of fiction, but I'll give it my best shot.

At the end of all the clickity clacking, I was happy. I was satisfied. I was . . . satiated!!!! Give me a cigarette, people. Okay, kidding on that part, I don't smoke, but the feeling was that GOOD!

So, I have the idea for the next great work of fiction. I'll follow the idea, the words, to wherever it/they lead me. Writing is a journey, and one I'm happy to go on whenever I can.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I write . . .

. . . with no meaning, no intent or purpose. I want to write. I want to put words to paper – sentences, paragraphs, chapters, from beginning to end. I want conflict and resolution. I want, I want, I want, and I want some more. The problem: the ideas flit around in my mind, but I can’t seem to put proverbial word to paper. FRUSTRATION. Why can’t I seem to write lately? Is the moon not full? Are the stars not in alignment? Has the orm officially abandoned me? Am I just not meant to write right now? Try saying that sentence three times fast.

I stare at the blank page. I type. I type some more. I don’t have the feeling. Where are the goosebumps that propelled my writing obsession two years ago? Where is the knowledge that this is it? Was it only a one time thing? Am I doomed to endlessly search for the next best thing? Am I an Afternoon Delight? Okay, so most people have never heard of that song – the one hit wonder – from my childhood. Still, it was a catchy tune. Too bad the group never went past that one tune. I can’t even remember the name of the group, but the words and melody of the song are still in my mind. Go figure.

So, have I mentioned that I’m frustrated? Didn’t I do a blog entry about this the other day? Oh, yes, I did. Dang, I’m so blocked that I’m repeating myself. SIGH!I know that – eventually – the words will come to me. I’ll have a moment of inspiration, probably at a most inopportune time (my partner hates when that happens), and the words will flow once again. Until that happens, I guess I should be content with the fact that I am – technically – still writing through my blog entries. I just long for the days of passion where I could not stop the words. I'm just saying . . .

p.s. Starlight Vocal Band . . . no wait, a quick google and it is Starland Vocal Band. Dang!

Query Letters

Here's an interesting article about query letters and the fact that some agents just aren't reading them anymore. It seems that some agents are just skipping to the "please submit first five pages" part of the query. OMG!!!

First - I hate writing query letters.

Second - I seriously hate writing query letters.

Third - have I mentioned that I hate writing query letters?

Fourth - I write query letters because agents insist I write a query letter to sell my work. I must come up with a hook and an intriguing synopsis for my query letter.

Fifth - OMG, some agents aren't reading all the hard work - teeth gnashing, nail biting, hair pulling (trust me, my hair is receding fast enough as it is, I don't need to pull out clumps of hair while attempting to write the perfect query letter), and all the other angst associated with writing the perfect query letter - I put into the query letter.

So, it seems that with all the advice on the Internet, on all the different writing and agent blogs, all the books available at your local bookseller, the art of the query letter has reached the point where some agents are tired of the query letter and skipping to the good (or bad in some cases) stuff of the requested first five pages, first chapter, first 1,000 words, or first whatever. Why? Because the excellent query letter is a clever facade, giving a false impression of an excellent writer, for - sometimes - bad writing. Go figure!!

I mean, can you really sum up the brilliance of a 70+ thousand word work of fiction in one page? Can you truly synopsisize (I know, not a word, but I'm taking the personal liberty my English Comp teacher told me I could take with my writing) 70+ thousand words into a single paragraph? How is such brilliance (no, I did not add Bailey's to my coffee this morning) compressed into one page? And, if it is compressed into one page, and an agent skips over the brilliance of the one paragraph synopsis, then what was the point in the first place?

Is my frustration showing yet? If so, sorry. I'm just in one of those very snarky moods today. I know agents get tons and tons and tons of queries every single day. I know they have to plow through them all and, for those that do, send polite declines to the majority of the queries they receive. I know that query letters are supposed to set the proverbial stage for the agent. Wouldn't it be more simple to just request the first five pages of every manuscript and just forget the query letter, the hook and synopsis? I mean, if some agents are skipping the letter part anyhow . . . I'm just saying . . .

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The words . . .

. . . did not want to flow this weekend. The words, in fact, fought dramatically against any attempt on my part to pull them from my brain and force them onto the computer screen. The battle raged. I fought and fought and fought and fought. I stared at the screen. I typed. I deleted. I typed again. I deleted again. I struggled, minute after minute, and still the words would not flow. I persevered. I would win the battle. I won a small victory - some excellent, but brief, writing. I gave up. That was yesterday. Today was not much better. In fact, today equaled only a sentence or two.

Why? Why won't the words flow easily? Why is it so difficult to write? What am I doing wrong? Am I blocked? Is there some type of laxative I can take to make the words flow? Where is the inspiration, the orm? Where are the days of obsession when I could not stop the words or ideas? Where is the passion that drove me to distraction? Why is it so brief and ephemeral? Why does it not stay with me always and forever? Can the human mind/body not sustain such passion forever? Must I go through the periods of frustration to truly appreciate the fervor that defined my life for a time?

I have no clue. I only know frustration - today, yesterday. Does it have to do with doubt? Do I suddenly doubt my abilities? I can write. I am a good writer. I have talent. Is it all psychological, some trauma brought on by the constant wait for acceptance/rejection from the query letter I sent out? Do I base the rest of my life, the writing I love so much, on what might not be right for the agent I sent the query letter? Do I move past the doubts, the fear that I have no talent, and rely on the kindness of strangers? Okay, so that didn't make much sense. You can see how my mind is working right now. I think I need some wine.

I think I need more than wine. I need inspiration. I need encouragement. I need some sign that . . . well, hell if I really know what I need right now. Hey, at least I brought a smile to my face and, amazingly so, my fingers are currently flying across the keyboard. The blog might not be the next great work of fiction, but it is writing. I'm just saying . . .

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Writing: Talent or Learned?

This morning I received my normal (5 days per week) email from my best friend. His question to me this morning, in response to my recent prolific amount of blogging, was: do you just get "lost" when you are writing? What I mean by that is, do you get some sort of daze where it all just pours out? It certainly appears to be a gift.

My response:

I sometimes think the words flow more easily on the blog because - often - those words are fueled by anger at the stupidity of society. Sorry, couldn't resist. The blog is normally a response to something specific, where writing a novel is a combination of so many things - inspiration, creativity, plot, characters, start, finish, etc. So, writing a blog entry is normally much easier than writing twelve chapters of a book. I do, however, get lost in my writing, both blog and otherwise. It's not necessarily a 'daze'; but rather a transition to a different place. I really can't think of accurate words to describe the experience. I do think writing, no matter what other people might say, is a gift, a talent. Anybody can learn to write (heck, we all learn to write at some point), but not everybody can write well. I know, I'm probably not explaining it properly. I can play the piano - I took the requisite lessons, I practiced. I just don't play very well. My sister, on the other hand, is a proficient piano player. She took the lessons, practiced, but she also has talent. I think that the prolific writers (authors, some bloggers, journalists) have an inborn talent that transcends the writing everybody learns in school. Does any of that make sense?

So, my question to the few people that actually read this blog: is writing learned or is it a talent, i.e., is it inherent?


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What's next . . .

Well, I finished the rough draft and have set it aside for a few weeks - the requisite rest period to create the necessary distance. I have editing to do on another project while I wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait - did I mention waiting - wait, wait, wait to hear back on the query I sent out for another project. I'm not the most patient person in the world. Still, I wait and write, or wait and edit, or wait and read, or wait and blog, or wait and drink (once I get home from work in the evenings, and only one glass of wine that sometimes takes me three hours to drink), or wait and walk the boyz, or wait and do the laundry, or wait and . . . Anyhow, the current idea is to finish the first draft of another project, which means inputting the changes I made during the initial read through of the rough draft.

The road to hell, btw, is paved with good intentions. Ever since last night, little ideas have been flitting around in my mind - flit, flit, flit, and flit some more. I tried to resist those ideas (again, the best intentions); but this morning, those ideas just flitted and synapsed their way through my mind and the next thing I knew I was jotting down ideas and then the words began to tumble forth and I typed out the beginning of my next project. DANG! Okay, so now I have to do the old balancing act - edit one project while writing another, oh, and live my life. Can I do it? Of course I can, for I am Superman! Well, not really, but the latest incarnation of Superman did look good in his tights. I'm just saying . . . I'll do the best I can, edit/write, and probably just file the notes away in a folder until I'm ready to sit down and write the rough draft of the project that flitted out of my mind this morning.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I just love to write. I may hate the query (with a passion) process; but I still love to write. I may get dejected when I get the form rejection; but I still love to write. I began to write solely for me, not for any other reason, and maybe that's the key to success. Who knows? I sure as heck don't.


Sunday, November 2, 2008


Need I say more? Of course not, but I will. I spent the day completing the rough draft of my latest writing endeavor. I have - technically - done so in month (which was my goal) if I take into account my vacation. Yes, I'm taking into account my vacation. I'm finished, done, finito. The project now gets to sit and rest for a while. I always take a break before I begin the read-through/editing process. It's what works for me.

What I did today:
  • Finished Chapter Eleven
  • Started/Finished Chapter Twelve
  • Finished the Rough Draft
  • Total Words = 56,520
  • Total Days of Writing on the Rough Draft = approximately 28.

So, I've finished the rough and now I go back to the editing of another project. I've done the read through of the rough draft and need to input the changes into the computer. I'll then do another read through/edit, make the changes, do another, make the changes, and the process goes on until I feel the manuscript is ready for the inevitably painful agent search. I want to find all the little mistakes - wrong words, wrong names, wrong whatever - before I even think about querying an agent. There's nothing that irritates me - well, there are a lot of things, but it just sounded right - more than finding mistakes (wrong words, wrong names, wrong whatever) when reading a book. Mistakes like that should not happen. Somebody should have caught them. Since it is obvious that somebody is not doing their job; it's up to me.

On that note, I need to make a salad for dinner. I was quite industrious in the kitchen today, not to mention I also washed my car. I put beef stew in one crock pot early this morning, spaghetti sauce in another, and I made a pumpkin pie. I like to cook at least two meals on Sunday so there are plenty of leftovers during the week, which means I don't have to cook every night, which means more time for writing. It is all about me after all. I'm just saying . . .


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Day After Halloween

Boo! Last night was terrific. There's nothing better than a gay bar on Halloween. The costumes were great. The music - fantastic as always. Burger King was even there. Let me tell you, those commercials are freaky enough, let alone running into Burger King in the gay bar. He kept staring at people all night long. He even stood with my friends and me for a time, disappeared, stared at us, came back, danced a little, went away, and finally came back to reveal the face beneath the mask. A very good friend of mine who repeatedly told me I just don't feel like going out this year, I'm going to stay at home. Liar! Okay, it was a good lie and he freaked all of us, and most of the other people in the bar out by just staring at them. Still, a good time was had by all. The best costume of all, in my opinion, was two women wearing red shirts that had the word Revlon (as in the make-up) on the front and they both wore funny red, slanted hats. I could not figure out their costumes . . . at first. I kept staring at them, at the familiar looking red hats, and, then - a moment of inspiration - I began to laugh. The red hats were lipstick - bright red as it comes out of a lipstick tube. The women were . . . lipstick lesbians. Too dang clever!

Well, now that I've told you about last night. I'm two chapters away from completing the rough draft. I hope to complete Chapter Eleven today, and Chapter Twelve tomorrow. With my 3 day vacation taken into account, I'm still on schedule for the rough draft being complete in a month. It's been a rough road some days. I've changed a lot from the original concept. I'm still changing things as I write. I've been experimenting with the voice yesterday and today. I want a familiarity, a comfort level, with the voice. It is an experiment. It may or may not work. The editing process will be the true test of the workability of my voice experiment.

At this point:
  • Chapter Eight - completed
  • Chapter Nine - completed
  • Chapter Ten - completed
  • Chapter Eleven - started
  • Total Words - almost at 50,00

I'm off to take a nap right now. My beloved partner thought it very amusing to open all the blinds this morning and let me know he was going to take the boyz for their walk. I was not amused. I did get up, however, and stumble to the kitchen for a much needed cup of coffee. I've worked quite a bit on my writing this morning. I'm now going to nap.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lack of Posts Does Not Equal Lack of Writing

Yes, I'm still writing and attempting to meet my goal of completing the rough draft by month's end. Is it going to happen? I have no clue!! I'm just writing when I write, thinking when I think, and hoping when I hope that I'll meet my goal. Will the world end if I don't? No. I just do the best I can with a life that - sometimes - becomes so overwhelming that writing just doesn't happen.

Currently, I am working on Chapter Eight. I'm on vacation the next few days, so hopefully - if the creek doesn't rise - I will have ample time to write. If I finish, I finish, if I don't . . . well, I'm close, and sometimes close is good enough.

Okay, back to my writing. I'll update this post later today.

  • Finished Chapter Eight
  • Words So Far = 51,000 +

I find an amusing sense of irony in the fact that the chapter I just completed takes place in October on Halloween night. Could I have timed things any better? I mean, we're in October, and Halloween (the Gay New Year, just in case any one was wondering) is only two days away?

I just love Halloween, btw. If you ever have a chance, go to a gay bar whenever they have a Halloween event. Fun beyond belief. I must say that my people do Halloween the best - costume wise at least.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Best Laid Plans . . .

. . . of mice and men, rarely seem to work out the way you planned. I'm just saying . . .

This morning: walk the boyz, make my coffee, and then - irresistibly drawn - into my office to write. The words flowed freely this morning - no doubts, no hesitation, just a constant stream of words in a series of very unexpected situations for my characters. Go figure. Sometimes, real life is unexpected. Sometimes, fictional life takes those unexpected turns as well. Such was the case this morning. I'm definitely not complaining. I love what I wrote this morning - the revelations, the unexpectedness, the twist that not even I - creator of this fictional Universe - saw coming. Such is life.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Today - Saturday, October 25, 2008

This morning has been an equally mixture of ease and struggle. There were times my fingers - almost literally - flew across the keyboard of the laptop. There were an equal number of times when my fingers hovered expectantly over the keyboard, just waiting for the words to form in my mind, synapse at the proper moment, and propel my fingers downward to type the letters of inspiration. SIGH. All in all, a productive morning of writing. I am done with Chapter Six and now at the half-way, at least in the way of Chapters, point of the rough draft. There is a sense of accomplishment and pride, a feeling of satisfaction.

So, as it stands at this moment, on this day, at this time:
  • Revamp of Chapter Six - complete
  • Words So Far = 46,879

I have no clue what writing I will do the rest of the day. For now, I am going to recharge the batteries of both the laptop and my mind. Wicked is calling my name - read me, read me, read me - and the boyz need to go for their walk.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Today - Thursday, October 23, 2008

What I've Done Today:
  • Completed Revamp of Chapter Five
  • Started Revamp of Chapter Six
  • Total Words Written Today = 5,181

The writing has been intermittent today - a little here, a little there, and a little bit there and there and there as well. There was not just one big sit down session. Still, I did accomplish quite a bit. I hope to finish up Chapter Six tomorrow which puts me at a half-way point of sorts (the plan is for twelve chapters total). I'll see what happens tomorrow.


Character Charts and other stuff . . .

As of last night . . .
  • Chapter Four Revamp - Complete
  • Word Count = 38,000 +

Yes, very brief and to the point. Last night was a juggling act of cooking dinner, writing, taking the boyz for their walk, finding time to read, and then settling down on the couch with the cats (Jordy and Squeaky - dear Tasmyn cannot be bothered to get up on the couch) to watch Pushing Daisies. I absolutely adore that show. Then, walk the boyz again after my tv watching was done, plot out what I was going to work on with the writing today, and finally snuggle beneath the covers and attempt to go to sleep. Did I mention that I'm not allowed to go to sleep before I pick Jordy up and put him in bed with me? Oh, and I have to let him lie down and my chest and rub his head for about ten minutes before he's had enough. It is only then that I am able to roll over, curl up in the fetal position, and attempt (I use that word very lightly - I do have three cats and two dogs after all) to fall asleep.

On a totally different subject . . . I was thinking about characters this morning. I read some article, message board, or some such recently that mentioned a character chart. Basically, you create a chart with the highlights - hair color, eye color, height, weight, etc. - of the various characters. I have done this a few times. The one warning in the article (or whatever) was not to overdo (get too in depth) with the character chart. I agree 100%. I do the basics, as mentioned above, and then go with the flow of the writing to add things as needed. Personally, I think it's important to have a good visual of your character in your mind, but not that important to fully visualize the character for the readers. Say What!!!????

Let me explain. When I'm reading a book I don't need every aspect of a character to know the character. Tell me the color of hair, eyes, weight, and I'll fill in the rest. Give me a few hints about what the character wears, not a complete description of the character's entire wardrobe. Again, I can fill in the blanks myself. That, my friends, is the joy of reading. I mean, really, how many books go through all the different clothes a character might wear? Very few. I've done my research. There's usually a brief mention at the start of the book, maybe another mention later on if the character is going to the theater or a fancy dinner; other than that, there is very little mention. Why? In my opinion, because the clothes are unnecessary. I mean, could I tell you what my co-worker wore to work the other day? No. Could I tell you what shirt I wore to work on Monday? No. Why? Because the clothes are not important. I could tell you that one of my co-workers was not feeling well on Tuesday and went home early. I could tell you that another co-worker received some bad news on Monday and was stressed out for most of the days. Those are the important things. Clothes, not so much.

In the end, yes, it's important to know if a character always orders chicken fajitas with extra sour cream when they go to the Mexican restuarant. It's also important to know that a character bites his/her lower lip when thinking. It might be important to know that a character absolutely adores - within context - everything Gregory Maguire every wrote, or will write. The importance of things about the character all depend on the writer.

So, make your chart - if necessary - but do not lose yourself in the chart, or limit who your character might become if he/she does something totally crazy outside the chart. One day, your stable, reliable, character who presses his jeans (yes, gets out the iron every Sunday and irons every frigging pair of jeans they plan on wearing for the week) might suddenly decide not to press his jeans. The world might not end, but your chart might suddenly become a little less important. I'm just saying . . .


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sometimes I Freak Myself Out When I Write

Sometimes, I freak myself out when I write. Okay, not really freak, but maybe semi-freak. Why? Well, as everyone - the 1 or 2 people - that reads this blog knows, I have begun a revamp of the current writing project. Things just weren't working. Hate it when that happens. So, I took a look at the current Chapter 4 to see what I needed to do to finish it up in the revamp process. Amazingly enough, I had ended the 2nd section just perfectly to insert the 3rd section. Fraktastic (in the realm of Battlestar Galatica)! I couldn't have ended the section any more perfectly. The perfect setup, my friends.

Now, did I have a moment of precognition when initially writing Section 2? Did I somehow know, deep in the dark places of my mind where even I don't dare to tread, that I would add the 3rd section? I have no clue. All I know is that I did what I did, and it worked. That is what sometimes amazes me about my writing. Things just seem to fall in place - sometimes - without any apparent effort on my part. There are other times when that does not happen. I'm just grateful for the things that work, when they work, and figure out the rough times are some sort of life lesson.

The current stats on the project:
  • Revamp of Chapter 3 - complete
  • Will start Revamp of Chapter 4 tonight, after I watch Pushing Daisies
  • Total Words So Far = 35,000 + words

On another note, I have come to the conclusion that it will take more than 30 days - most likely - to finish the rough draft of this project. I plan on writing a lot this weekend, but the way my weekend is plotted (get it, plotted . . . sorry) out socially, it's going to be tough. Don't hate me because I'm popular. Okay, I'm not really popular, this is just a busy weekend coming up.

Last, I started reading Wicked by Gregory Maguire last name. Have I mentioned that I absolutely love that book. Shear genius. I don't know why it has taken me so many years to read the book again. I'm an avid re-reader of books. Why? In my opinion, a great book cannot be truly appreciated in only one reading. I have read the entire Lord of the Rings series about twenty times. Yes, twenty times. I used to read the series - Hobbit through The Return of the King - once a year. I haven't read it in many years, though I have watched the movies a number of times. No, watching the movies is not the same thing, but it does in a pinch. Perhaps once I finish Wicked I'll pick up LOTR and start reading again.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Status - Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Last night was a combination of writing and reading. I finished Gregory Maguire's A Lion Among Men. The man is a truly talented author. I really think the absolute best part of the book was the last few chapters. Funny how that happens. The book as a whole was good, but the last part bordered on shear genius. I can't wait for the next one, potentially the last according to an interview with him, in the series. He painted a stunning portrait of the Cowardly Lion. I'm just amazed at how he can take perceptions of familiar characters - the Wicked Witch of the West, Glinda the Good Witch, Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow - and totally reinvent those characters. I remember thinking after reading Wicked, damn, Glinda the Good Witch was an absolute bitch, Dorothy an airhead, and Elphaba, just purely misunderstood. It is just great that he can take familiar characters and infuse them with so much more literary life. I'm definitely going to have to reread Wicked, and probably its sequel Son of a Witch (I just love that title, btw).

I finished the revamp of Chapter Two as well last night. Okay, not really a revamp, just an added section - still, an additional 1800 words. Whoo-hoo!! At this point, I'm at around 35,000 words. Again, the word count will go up/down over the next week or so as I finish the reinvention of this literary wheel I'm working on right now. I keep telling myself it's all a process.

I long for the days when the words flowed so easily that they were an obsession. The words are flowing, don't get me wrong, but not near as strong as the project that I finally honed close enough to perfection to begin the agent search. Then again, each project is different. Things happen as they happen, and my frustration level only matters to me, and not the muses singing in my ears as I write. I just wish they'd sing in a language I could understand.

Take care.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday - October

The house is filled with the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, a hint of cloves, and pumpkin. The loaves of pumpkin bread will come out of the oven in just a few minutes. I'll slice the bread while still warm and slather some butter over the bread. Mmmmm, mmmmm, good.

On the writing front, here's what I've accomplished today:
  • Totally refinished revamp of Chapter One - yes, you're having a moment of deja vu, since I already stated I did that. There are times when things change. Today was one of those days. I was in the process of making the pumpkin bread and my mind, as it has a habit of doing, started to wander over what I had already written on this project, and what I needed to write. In a moment of inspiration, I found one of those pesky missing pieces. I inserted that piece into Chapter One today. I'll be inserting a few more pieces in the other chapters as well.
  • Semi-finished revamp of Chapter Four - I still have to add the missing piece. That will come sometime this week.
  • Total Words So Far = 33,496. Note: this count will go up/down in successive days as I omit things that are no longer necessary, and fill in the blanks. Such is life.

Now, I must go pull the bread from the oven.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday - October 18, 2008

The writing continues.

This is what I did today:
  • Revised/Revamped/Add New Section - Chapter Two
  • Ditto - Chapter Three
  • Total Words So Far = 30,167

At this point, I'm on schedule for the 50,000 word goal. The revamping of the chapters is fairly simple since it is just omitting some of the exposition parts of those chapters, and changing the dialogue just a bit. For the most part, the sections already written are only be mildly edited to fit the changes in format of this project. I write, therefore I am content.

I continue to read A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire. The brilliance shines forth. The man knows how to write. I read a recent interview in The Advocate with him, and he mentioned he is planning at least one more book in the Wicked Years titled Out of Oz. At this point, he has not clue as to the main character of that book, though he is considering Glinda or possible even Dorothy. I guess we'll know once he writes the book.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quick Update

Last night was Wednesday night which meant Pushing Daisies and Project Runway. Last night was also cook dinner for my loving partner night. Okay, a little bit of smarm there, but I'm allowed. It is my blog after all. The only problem with cook dinner for my loving partner night was the recipe was not a quick cook recipe. My beloved partner had to eat leftover lasagna instead. The stew I made last night was not ready until well after he left for week. The stew, btw, was out of this world. I'm just saying . . . Since it was Wednesday night TV, and I absolutely had to see the finale of Project Runway, I did not write. I do that every now and then. I step away from the laptop and let the brain veg out for a night of tv watching. It helps the creative process. I swear, it really does. No, it's not the Bailey's (I wish) in my coffee this morning. Seriously folks, no Bailey's in my coffee.

I plan to get back on track with the writing tonight. Did I mention I'm also attempting to read two books at the same time? If not, I am. A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire is absolutely brilliant so far. I'm about five chapters into the book right now. Brilliant! Did I mention it was brilliant? The man is an absolute genius.

Tonight's agenda: exercise, dinner, walk the boyz (Jessee & James), bid my loving partner good-bye and safe journey to/from work, and, finally, sit down and write.

Jesse & James

Poor Jesse, James is always smacking him down.

Just a note: the creative juices flow even when I'm not writing. Sometimes, the best writing is done solely in my mind as I consider, discard, reconsider, discard again, totally annihilate, start from scratch, and just do my thang as I consider where I've been and where I'm going with the current project.

7:42 PM - Update

Dinner is cooked, dishes cleaned, and the boyz have been on their walk. I have also read some in both of the books I am currently reading. Exercise did not and will not happen tonight. I did write. Whoo-hoo!!! I decided that what I thought was working on this current project, really wasn't working, so now I'm doing some really creative editing, and adding a section to each chapter. The one perspective novel just gained another perspective. Yes, I know, many agents hate novels with more than one perspective. Here's why I like them: no two people see the same situation in the same way. I find it more interesting to see events through multiple (2 in this instance) viewpoints than in one. So, two perspectives it is.

What I did in writing today:

  • Revamped the concept of the current project
  • Wrote the 2nd section for Chapter One
  • Revised the 1st section for Chapter One
  • Completed Chapter One
  • Total Words So Far = 27,848

Even with the revised concept, the basics of what I've already written - situations/conversations - will remain pretty much the same. A little tweaking here and there is all that is necessary, plus the 2nd section to each chapter already written. I'm still on schedule for my 50,000 word rough draft goal. Take care.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What Works and What Doesn't Work

Sometimes, even the best laid plans turn into a pile of doo-doo! Okay, not necessarily doo-doo; it is just a figure of speech after all. I'm always amazed where the writing process takes me. There are times, as mentioned in previous posts, where the words flow so easily it is scary. There are other times (the majority, I sometimes think) where the words are just a bit sluggish and need some definite coaxing. This current project has been a mix of both. There was just something not working about the current project. I ignored - always a foolish thing to do - my instinct and just kept writing. Perhaps I should have paid a bit more attention to that nagging voice (your hair's too long, you're not wearing that to school, eat your brussel sprouts - oh, wait, sorry, momentary flashback to childhood - hate it when that happens!) that kept telling me that something was wrong.

I finally listened to that voice. Well, not technically, but I did have a moment of inspiration while driving to Borders to pick up A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire. Do you know how hard it is too write legibly while driving down the road? Okay, neither do I, since I waited until I parked my car to jot down the notes of brilliance that will transform my current project. Yes, a little bit of confidence thrown out there just for good measure. I am famous (at least in my own deluded world) for jotting down notes at every stop sign and red light on the way to/from work. I can't help where inspiration will strike me. I could wish for inspiration to happen only when it's convenient for me; but I don't think that's going to happen anytime in the near future. I'll take what I can get.

So, now that I've digressed like Sophia Petrillo (and if you have no clue who she is, then you're definitely missing something in life - google, google, and google some more), I finally realized where I was going wrong with this project. I will correct those wrongs over the course of the next few nights. In the end, some clever reworking on my part will solve my dilemma and let the brilliance (no, I've not been drinking, it's definitely too early in the day for wine) shine through in the best way I know how.

As I said with my very first post with this blog, the blog is all about the writing process. I stumble every now and then, but have been lucky enough not to - splat - fall right on my face. I'll keep you updated on the changes/progress of this current project.

Oh, and if anyone in the Universe cares, I will be curled up on the sofa with the dogs (Jesse & James) reading the first chapter of A Lion Among Men at some point this evening.


Monday, October 13, 2008

What I Did Today

Back from vacation and back to my writing. I have officially reached the halfway point of the rough draft (25,892 words - 25K was the halfway point). There's a nice feeling of accomplishment right now. As much as I obsess, yes, obsess, about 2,000 words per day (really not necessary when I'm going for 50,000 words total on the rough draft status), it's nice to know that I'm really not behind schedule. I have made it to the halfway point. Whoo hoo!

This is what I've accomplished so far:
  • Reached the 25,000 word mark
  • Finished through Chapter Fourteen
  • Introduced the major characters and conflicts
  • Set the stage for the resolution of the conflicts
  • Total Words So Far = 25,892

This is where I plan to go with the 2nd half of the rough draft:

  • Begin the resolution of the various conflicts
  • Show the evolution of the characters from where they were to where they are going
  • Finish the rough draft by October 31, 2008

Life, at least from this moment in time, is pretty good. The getaway to Savannah, GA was good. I had lots of fun, toured the fabulous historic district, went out, and met some really nice people. I'm glad to be home. At the end of the day (yes, obvious reference to Le Miz), I like to be at home - familiar surroundings, the dogs, the cats, my partner of 14 years, and all the comforts of home.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Status Check

Behind schedule. Enough said. I've completed Chapter Thirteen. I'm behind, and that's not going to change until I get back from vacation next week. Such is life. I have been doing writing things, so it's not like I'm not writing at all. My blogs do constitute as writing. It takes time, energy, and creativity. The words do not just leap from my mind to the page without some effort on my part. Take care.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Synopsis & Query Letter Writing

Today I worked on the synopsis for the project for which I am in the middle of an agent search. First, I've already done the one paragraph synopsis necessary for the query letter. I just know that an agent will (notice the line of positive thinking here) want a more detailed synopsis. How in the heck am I supposed to convert 70+ thousand words into 2 - 3 pages? Will the torture never end?

Of course, it will. Sooner or later, even the most painful moments - writing a query letter rates in the Top Ten, full synopsis is right up there as well - come to an end. The broken heart eventually heals. The mosquito bite eventually quits itching. The multiple drafts of the query letter eventually coalesce into the query that will sell my project. Whoo-hoo! Sorry, I rambled off there for a bit.

I wrote the rough draft only of the detailed synopsis. It, like everything else, is a process. The query letter was a process. Thankfully, I had just stocked up on wine so I was able to survive the writing the query letter process. I mean, how do you actually convert 70+ words of brilliance into one paragraph? Okay, that was a little bit more than positive thinking. I'm allowed. This is my blog after all. If I don't have confidence in myself . . . no, it's not the wine talking. I know it's 4 PM somewhere, but not here. Drat, and double drat! Kidding. I'm a one glass per night wine drinker, and that glass normally takes me three hours . . . just in case anybody was wondering. What I am - in the most rambling way possible - trying to say, is that do not expect the perfect query letter or synopsis on the first try. I am not saying don't aim for that perfect query/synopsis on the first try, just don't be disappointed - as in my case - that the first of anything is just absolute drivel. Okay, mine wasn't absolute drivel, but it wasn't perfection either.

I think the key to anything is brevity and - even more important - the realization that the brilliance of your writing might not shine through in either your query or synopsis. A glimmer of that brilliance should shine through. Positive Thinking 101!!!! Write your query or synopsis and then let friends, family, complete strangers on the side of the road, read them. If they a) don't start laughing hysterically, b) don't give you the look, c) don't go running screaming into the night, or d) don't say anything at all, then you might have succeeded with an okay synopsis and/or query letter. Do not, whatever you do, immediately send it off to the agent of choice. Set it aside, give it a day or two - last time I checked, Armageddon wasn't right around the corner, but it might arrive on Election day - and then reread and rewrite if necessary. No matter what, make sure that the glimmer of brilliance is evident, and the tone of your writing is evident. Time waits for no (hu)man; but agents have Inboxes full of queries to read. One more day on your part might give that agent one more day to plow through the less than brilliant queries and get to yours. I'm just saying . . .


Sunday, October 5, 2008

What I Did This Weekend

I played catch up this weekend. I'm behind in my goal by about 2,000 words. It's only going to get worse next week when I head to Savannah, GA for a few days. Such is life. I do what I can do, when I can do it. At this point, here are where things stand:
  • Up to Chapter Eleven - completed
  • Chapter Twelve - started and almost finished
  • Total Words So Far = 20,601

Life is good. The words still flow, the ideas form in my brain, and - luckily - come out easily. Will I finish by my set deadline? Yes. This is the rough draft, my friends, and is only one step in the writing process. Life has a nasty habit of interfering, when you least want it to. Balance. Everything is about balance. I must balance life with art. Life is sometimes heavier and demands more of me. Art must sometimes suffer a setback or two. In the end, balance returns and life and art are in harmony.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Lion Among Men

Just a tidbit of information - Gregory Maguire's A Lion Among Men (book three in the Wicked Years) is due out on October 14. If you've never read Wicked, or it's sequel Son of a Witch - what rock have you been living under? The man is a brilliant writer. I could only hope to have a 1/3 of the talent that he has.

His books in order of appearance:
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West - a truly brilliant book.
  • Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister - a retelling of the Cinderella story from the perspective of one of the ugly stepsisters. Again, brilliant.
  • Lost - a somewhat retelling of the inspiration for Dicken's A Christmas Carol. I truly hated the book, but read it because he wrote it. Not brilliant, at all, at least in my opinion.
  • Mirror, Mirror - his delightful retake on Snow White. Hints of brilliance, but not as good as Wicked. Still, the genius is evident. Definitely an excellent read.
  • Son of a Witch - the long-awaited sequel to Wicked. The brilliance shined in this book as well.
  • A Lion Among Men - the tale of the Cowardly Lion. I'll update this entry once I've read the book. Yes, I'll have it on the release date and begin reading it that night.

I read voraciously at times. There are some authors that I just have to read: Gregory Maguire, Guy Gavriel Kay (The Fionavar Tapestry, Tigana (my ultimate favorite book of all time), The Lions of Al-Rassan, Ysabel - and a few more books), Mary Higgins Clark (sorry, but I absolutely love her mysteries), Lisa M. Goldstein (who hasn't written a book in years), Stephanie Kallos (Broken for You - go buy a box of Kleenex, set aside a weekend, and totally immerse yourself in the shining brilliance of this novel - truly, truly phenomenal), Carol Goodman (The Lake of Dead Languages, Ghost Orchid - just to name a few) and so many others as well.

What am I trying to say with this blog entry? Absolutely nothing. I'm just encouraging people to read, read, and read some more. Go outside your normal reading, take a chance on a different genre. Read until you can read no more. Explore the literary world - every genre; pick up a book because of it's cover, flip through it's pages - you just never know where brilliance might lurk.


Thursday, October 2, 2008


I absolutely love Project Runway. It's just about the only reality show I watch. In the current season on Bravo, they are down to the final four: Kenley, Leann, Jerell, and Korto. In the beginning, I liked Kenley. I think she's a great designer. I'm not so hot on her as a person any longer. The more the show progressed this season, the bitchier she became; to the point that she is now rude and disrespectful . . . to everyone.

I'm all for having confidence in yourself. As a writer, if I don't believe in my work, how can I expect anybody else to believe in my work? I'm not so vain, though, to think that everything I write is perfection. Sometimes, I write some pretty crappy stuff. I admit that I write some pretty crappy stuff at times. It's all a process. Nobody, no matter what they believe, is perfect. Nobody, at least in my humble opinion, creates perfection every time they write or design a dress. Kenley, however, believes that everything she does is perfect and gets highly defensive, and disrespectful, when faced with criticism of her design. There comes a time when any artist - writer, musician, painter, fashion designer, etc. - must step back from their work and face it with a critical eye. If that critical eye does not exist, no matter the artist's confidence level in themselves, then true art does not - in my opinion - exist. I feel that it is only when we recognize the crap we sometimes produce, that we truly grow as artists - writer, in my case.

Is there a point when disrespect is acceptable? Perhaps in the face of harsh criticism? I guess it all depends on the situation. I know Project Runway, like all reality shows, is cleverly edited to present as much drama as possible. Perhaps Kenley is not as rude and disrespectful as I think. All I know, is that such disrespect - even in the face of criticism - is not necessary. I know I don't always handle criticism well, I get defensive; but I do not disrespect the person providing the criticism. I step back from the situation, analyze the criticism, and then - sometimes - think, "hey, that person was right". Perhaps Kenley needs to step back a bit and realize that even the best artist in the world does not always create perfection. In the end, we're only human.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What I Did - Yesterday and Today

Well, obviously what I did not do yesterday was update the blog. I had the best intentions, and probably added a few more paving stones to a very hot place, of updating the blog yesterday. It just didn't happen. I did write yesterday, though not as much as I intended. Today, has been a different story. So, between yesterday and today (so far), here is what I did:
  • Started Chapter Nine (yesterday)
  • Finished Chapter Nine (today)
  • Started/Finished Chapter Ten (today)
  • Total Words So Far = 16,577

The story/plot is progressing nicely. It's still the rough draft, so there will be lots of work to do regarding story/plot/characters as I progress into the other drafts at some future point in time. As any reader of this blog should know, I don't do outlines. I have a general idea of what I want to accomplish from beginning to end. The middle is the hard part. Seriously, it's not really hard. I just sit down, write, and tell the story I want to tell. I try to maintain my daily writing goal. I try to make sure that the story is always moving forward. Hey, backslides happen every now and then. That's why writing is a multiple draft process.

BTW - finishing this project in a month might not happen since I am going on vacation part of next week. I'm trying to stay ahead of schedule to make up for the down town. Maybe I'll still be on schedule when I get back from vacation.


Monday, September 29, 2008

What I Did Today

Tonight's post is brief and to the point:
  • Started/Finished Chapter Eight
  • Total Words So Far = 12,874

I'm a day ahead of schedule right now. Not sure what tomorrow might bring. Tuesday is always an extremely busy day in my week. As it stands now, I can - technically - take tomorrow off from writing. I do that sometimes. I do that quite often at times.

The chapter today came out of no where. I had a very vague thought and then voila the words poured forth and I somehow formed them into enough coherency to make a chapter. Go figure!


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Writing in My Mind

Do you realize that a lot of the writing I do occurs solely in my mind? I kid you not. I never know when/where inspiration will strike. I keep notepads throughout the house, in my car, and on my desk at work. A lot of times I jot things down, but sometimes, I just write them in my mind and - hope beyond hope - that I'll remember them later.

When I'm working on a project, I'm thinking about it constantly. I might be reading a book, yet thoughts of the project are in the back of my mind. Every now and then, a thought leaps to the forefront and I quit reading so I can concentrate on the thought. Many times, I'll stop and jot down notes. This morning, I just let the thoughts free-form, coalesce, and gel into some type of coherence. I continued to read. I continued to think at the same time. Multitasking at it's best or - possibly - worst. Whatever the case, this morning helped clarify where I was going with the new project - the chapter formats and how to change things up, while still keeping the integrity there, of other projects. In the end, if something works, keep doing it. In the end, I like a little bit of diversity in both my life and writing style. The changes to the format of this project, from the project I am currently searching for an agent, are minimal, but enough to stand out.

What I Did Today:
  • Started/finished Chapter Six
  • Started/finished Chapter Seven
  • Total Words = 10,983

If any one's keeping track - I've been working on the project for 4 days. At 2,000 words per day, I needed to have 8,000 words by the end of today. I'm obviously ahead of schedule. I may or may not be done writing for the day. Right now, I need to go iron shirts to wear to work this week.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

What I Did Today

Saturday and Sunday are often intensive writing days. Today, not so much. I still did something, though, and something counts in the grand scheme of things.

Today I . . .
  • Started/Finished Chapter 4 & 5
  • Total Word Count = 7,774

My normal daily goal when doing the rough draft is 2,000 words. I met that goal today. I normally plan for the rough draft to equal a minimum of 50,000 words, and a maximum of 60,000. At 2,000 words per day x 30 days (did I mention I normally try to write the rough draft in one month's time??) = 60,000 words. What does this mean? It means that, with some effort, and catch up on the weekends (perhaps 5,000 words per day on the weekend to make up for any shortfalls during the week - life happens, you have to cook dinner for your partner, go out for margaritas with friends, take the dogs for a run, ET phone home, etc.) a person can write a rough draft in a month. I learned this nifty trick by participating in National Novel Writing Month - it happens every November. Google it and do it, just once. It was definitely a learning experience for me and taught me that a rough draft is possible in 30 days!


Friday, September 26, 2008

What I Did Today

This is what I did today:
  • worked out initial kinks in concept of new project; in the words of Project Runway's Timm Gunn, I made it work!
  • created bullet point document listing what would/could/should happen (not a true outline - don't do outlines) in the project.
  • asked these questions: what are the conflicts of this concept? and what needs to happen in this concept?
  • answered the above questions
  • created Excel worksheet containing character descriptions (age, hair, eye color, height, family, books they like to read, movies they like to watch, favorite adult beverage, etc.)
  • finished Chapter 1
  • started/finished Chapter 2 & 3
  • total words written so far = 5,564

The above is what works for me. I don't do traditional outlines. I just write and see what happens. This process does not work for everybody. I'm constantly asking myself questions as I go along. I also know that thins can/will change as I go through the editing process. I look at the writing process as the building of the human body. First there is the skeleton (rough draft) and then there are the muscles/etc. (first draft), the organs (second draft), the skin (third draft), and lastly the characteristics (fourth draft) a person human. Each subsequent draft, each read through and edit, brings the manuscript closer to completion. The manuscript does not, just like humans, emerge fully formed. Conception has to occur first. It is a process.

It's All a Process

The joys of a writer's life. For the last few weeks I've been jotting down notes - the normal pre-writing procedure - for the latest project. I had a general idea of where I was going with the new project. What'd I do yesterday - before I created this blog? Tossed all that info out the window and started from scratch. It worked. The words flowed easily for the first section, the characters are in place, and the main conflict is in place as well. I'm changing the format somewhat from the project I currently am doing an agent search. On that project, the story unfolds from the perspective of three characters. It works, for that project. I'm not really sure I'll do three perspectives this time or not, especially with the conflict going on with one of (or the) main characters. I could very well limit this one to just one perspective. Hey, it'd be different from what I've done before and different can be good. It's all a process.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Orm

What is the orm? It is, at least according to Walter Moers, inspiration. He talks about the orm in his wonderful fantasy novel called The City of Dreaming Books. This is an odd little novel all about books . . . and writing. It is one of those books I picked up on a whim and bought because of the nature of the book and the pages (the feel, the texture) of the book. In his words, the orm is as follows:

You'll understand the instant you sense it. Yes, you can sense it. there are moments when ideas for whole novels rain down on you in seconds. You can sense it when you write some dialogue so brilliant that actors will recite it on stage, word for word, in a thousand years times. Oh yes, you can sense the Orm! It can give you a kick up the backside, transfix you like a shaft of lightning or turn your stomach. It can rip the brain out of your head and reinsert it the other way round! It can sit on your chest in the middle of the night and give you a frightful nightmare - one from which you'll fashion your finest novel. I've sensed the Orm myself - oh yes! - and I wish I could sense it just once more. (p. 406)

That, my friends, is inspiration. Does it happen to me every time I write? Of course not. Have I experienced the full force of the Orm? Yes, once upon a time in a major way, and many times in a minor way. The project which I am currently searching for an agent was written with the aid of the Orm. I wrote the rough draft - 50,000 words - in two weeks. Yes, two weeks. It was an obsession. I took notes at red lights and stop signs. I jotted down notes whenever I could and sent myself dozens of emails. I could think of almost nothing else from the moment I wrote the first paragraph until I wrote the last paragraph. I neglected my partner (12 years at that time) something horribly during those two weeks and lost some weight as well since I would come home from work, sit down at the laptop, and type away. Food - at least for dinner - was not a main priority. So yes, I have experienced the Orm and wish that every writer -at least once if not a hundred times - experiences it as well.


The Beginning

I began a new writing project today. The words flowed easily. Perhaps my Muse was perched delicately on my shoulder whispering into my ear. Perhaps the stars were in alignment. Whatever the reason - and trust me, I'm grateful - the words flowed easily and my fingers flew across the keyboard as I wrote the first section of my latest project.

Sometimes, the words come at a snail's pace. I hate those days. I sit in front of the computer, fingers poised over the keyboard, my brow furrowed, and my - often overworked - mind working furiously as I try to force my fingers to type coherent sentences that string together into paragraphs and chapters. Some days, nothing happens. Today was different.

Today inspired me to write create this blog. I'll update the blog as often as possible. Just don't expect everyday updates. I have a life, after all. I work, I have a partner and together we have three cats (Jordy, Tasmyn, and Squeaky) and two dogs (Jesse and James). I also have projects to work on, another blog to update on occasion, and now this one. So, you just never know when you'll see an update.

My plans for this blog are to chronicle the writing journey of this current project, plus just blog about other things - query letters, inspiration, the agent search, and tons of other wonderful stuff that have to do with writing. When I have good writing days, I might blog. When I have bad writing days, I might blog. You just never know when I will or will not post an entry. There might even be days - as with my other blog - when I post three blogs in the same day. Some days just provide that much information.

To that extent, in case you're still reading, let me talk about my new project. I've been tossing around ideas for a while, taking notes, creating (and changing) characters, and doing all the stuff I always do before I begin a project. Today, taking notes, etc., everything seemed to gel together. I have no idea why. It just happened. There are things I question in this life, and there are things I don't question. The gelling together of ideas is one of the things I don't question. I just go with the flow. It works. Why mess with something that works? Anyhow, I started to type and kept on typing through 5 pages. I was going with my instinct, which seemed right on target today. I also got the familiar chill - goosebumps, the good kind - while writing. I never argue with the goosebumps.

That's it for this post. Check back every now and then.