Monday, September 29, 2008

A Happy Beta Reader!

Wow--check out what Lisa Nevin had to say about my novel! The warrior princess reference surprised me--I never expected Tory to come across as that capable!

Lisa read my novel in two or three days, and she really made me feel great by sending me a note midway through, telling me that she could not put it down. She provided some wonderful feedback, which is printed up next to my monitor. She also has already sent my manuscript back to me, so I'll be able to see what she marked up on the pages.

Thank you, Lisa!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Dream Cover

I've been daydreaming about my dream cover for Starcaster. I would love it to have an Urban Fantasy look with a Regency flair.

So my vision is a girl in an empire-waist gown and a mop-cap, who is standing with her back to the viewer, holding a revolver behind her back with her right hand. There is some sort of scintillating light over her left hand, which she is holding out as if you would hold a tray. She is looking over her left shoulder, so you can see her profile. Her lower half is invisible.

(Here is a typical gown from that time period. Click to view a larger image.)

It is dark, but street lanterns light the street and stars are visible in the sky. A hackney coach is parked in the distance off to the left. Leaning against the side of the coach is a man smoking a pipe, wearing a hat from that time period and with his head ducked so you can only see the lower half of his face under the rim of his hat. Sorry, no abs. He's in a gentleman's suit from that timeframe, but his collar has been loosened.

Here is a typical man's suit, with hat and frock coat.

Hmm . . . I have some old costumes and a revolver. Maybe I'll try to recreate part of my vision. Of course, my figure isn't as good as Tory's . . .

Monday, September 15, 2008

Plot Tangles Detangled!

Finished! I forget if this is Draft 3 or Draft 4, I just know that this draft is in the bag. All plot tangles detangled. I ran into two scenes that required major tweaking, one that I knew about and the other that I compeltely forgot about. So it's a good thing I read the whole thing again. And I added a short scene to the end.

The scene that required major tweaking was interesting. The scene had to have the same outcome that it had originally, but my first attempts really made one of my characters look like a jerk. And he is not a jerk. It made me think how fiction is so different from reality. In real life, people act like jerks every now and then and we generally forgive them, unless it happens on a regular basis. But when I encounter it in fiction, I tend not to forgive the character. I never forgave Jondalar in The Valley of Horses and I eventually lost interest in the series because of my antipathy toward Jondalar. Since I don't want my characters to encounter a similar fate, I don't want them to look like jerks.

So I rewrote the scene. And it was ok. My character no longer came across as a jerk. He even came across as a the sensitive and thoughtful dude that he is. But it was only ok. In fact, it was downright ho-hum. A real yawner.

So I thought to myself, it needs some action. So I had my bad guy turn up. And instead of Tory trying a dangerous form of magic for the first time in a nice, safe environment, she must try it while on a carriage chase through the city.

Much better.

Because, you know, my novel really was missing a carriage chase. Since the novel is partially inspired by James Bond and Dirty Harry movies, it must have chases. So now it does.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Next Novel

I have been a VERY good girl and I have been working dilligently on getting my manuscript ready for my beta readers (thanks, guys)! However, I have not been able to help looking foward to my next project. I had two outlines ready to go, a Hollywood romance and a Christian thriller. I tried to work on the Hollywood romance, since it is probably my most commercially viable idea.

However, my muse wouldn't let me write it. I forced it for a page or two, and then set it aside. The fire isn't there. But it wasn't with the Christian thriller either.

Until a few mornings ago. I woke up at 5 with the following line as the opening stuck in my head:

"Max never dreamed he was arguing with an angel."

I rushed to the computer and banged out about six pages.

Why a Christian novel? Several reasons:
  • Fewer people are writing Christian novels. It might be an easier sell. Of course, fewer markets are buying . . .
  • Christian novels are short. I can probably get a way with a 50,000 to 75,000 word novel.
  • I have a great plot. It's funny and tragic.
  • I have an angel named Leroy. I love that.
My plot cannot exist in any other form but a Christian novel. It's unabashedly Christian. It's partially inspired by an old Anne Murray song, that goes like this:

"I sold my soul . . . you bought it back for me."

I love it and I can't wait to write it. Just gotta get Starcaster to those beta readers . . .

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Plotting Failed Plots

Often when I'm working out a scene, I have to come up with two plots: what the characters planned to happen, and what actually happened. In other words, I'm plotting plots as in someone's plan or scheme. It's usually a dastardly plan that my characters must thwart, but occasionally it's the failed plan of my character as well.

In these cases, I have learned to apply the KISS method. Keep It Simple, Stupid. There's no need for the original plot to be this complicated thing, because guess what? It doesn't happen. The plot that actually happens--that's the thing that can be as complicated and nuanced as I want.

Think of The Princess Bride. In that wonderful movie, Vizzini's plot is to start a war. To do so, he is going to kidnap the princess and frame Guilder for it. Simple, huh? Of course, things started getting complicated with the appearance of the Dread Pirate Roberts. And we all know who he was.

Take a more modern example--the movie Stardust. The witch Lamia's plan was to find the star, make her so happy that she shines, and cut out her heart. Instant youth. Only problem is, a lovestruck boy finds the star first, and there's more to that boy than anyone thinks.

In Stardust, we had overlapping plots to add to the complexity. The seven princes--at least the living ones--needed to be the one that finds the jewel that would declare him king. Of course, the star was wearing the jewel, because it knocked her out of the sky. And the star is now with the boy. Individually, each plot is simple. Woven together, it becomes much more complex.

But it's fun!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Something Different at Fantasy Debut

I don't usually pimp Fantasy Debut here, but I have something different going on and I wanted to call attention to it. Blog buddy Kelly Gay has recently gotten her first book deal and now she's on the road to publication through a Big Time Publisher. So, I asked her to guest blog at Fantasy Debut. She's writing about "switching gears" from query mode to signed author mode.

Here it is! I hope you like it. Please stop by and say hello to Kelly!