Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Spy and a Lady

I officially started my file for Starcaster book 2, A Spy and a Lady. In it, I took advantage of something that I had changed in book 1 after all my beta readers read it--Mr. Layfett didn't die after all. I figured he could be useful. So I made him disappear, instead. I don't leave it a mystery long in book 2.

I have 30 or 40 pages in my head, so I'll go ahead and get that down. After that, if it keeps on flowing, I'll keep on writing. I'm more hopeful about this novel than the last one, so I may just go ahead and write at least one sequel.

Here's about 300 words. It starts with Tory talking to Lucy, who is Sgt. Crandall's granddaughter. Sgt. Crandall is the owner of a pub on Tory's street. A mysterious gentleman just tried to talk to Tory, but she brushed him off in order to protect her reputation in front of a gossipy neighbor.
"I don't know," I said to [Lucy]. "But he obviously wanted to talk to me."

"Are you going to talk to him?"

"Discreetly, yes. Please tell your grandfather to tell him that I'll meet him in the history section of the bookshop."

"But the stranger is standing right there with him."

"Whisper it in his ear."

Lucy did so and came back inside. Shortly afterward, the Tarquillan gentleman departed.

I tarried twenty minutes before I followed. I couldn't make my visit much shorter than usual without making it stand out in the minds of my fellow patrons.

I entered the bookshop. As I walked in, I noticed that Sgt. Crandall had followed me and he now lingered outside. This didn't really surprise me and I appreciated the backup.

"Hello, Betsy," I said to the young woman at the counter. Her husband was the owner.

She gestured for me to come up close. "There's a man back there," she whispered. "A stranger."

Needless to say, strangers didn't often appear on our street. "Well, if he tries anything, I'll scream," I said with a wink, only half kidding.

She giggled.

I wandered through the fiction section, eventually ending up across from the history section. The bookshop wound and twisted behind the shop beside it, so we were out of sight of the cashier.

"Miss Lawrence?" he asked.

"You'd better talk fast," I said. "My neighbors can be somewhat protective."

"I represent a group of dissidents within Tarquil who wishes to make contact with the Alden intelligence community."

This was not what I expected. "You're not after asylum?"

"No. I intend to go back to Tarquil as soon as possible."

"How did you know about me?"

"Messer Luc Layfett said that you could be trusted."
I have this great scene in mind where Miss Young, Tory's mentor, feels that she must interfere in Tory's love life in order to protect her reputation. I can't wait to write it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Word for the Novelist - Revisions, Part 2

It's been an embarrassingly long time since my last Word for the Novelist installment, and now that I have some new readers, I decided I should make time for this.

Before we begin, you might want to review Revisions, Part 1. It discussed setting up a document for reviewing (which is really quite easy) and what all the menu items are (a bit more complex). This article discusses reviewing revisions by others, and making revisions yourself.

These instructions are for Word 2003. I'm told it's not too difficult to apply these instructions to 2007.

Protecting a Document before Distribution
You can protect your document and force any reviewers to make any changes as revisions.
  • Click Tools, and then Protect Document. The Protect Document pane will appear.
  • Under Editing Restrictions, pull down the menu and select Tracked Changes.
  • Click Start Enforcement and enter a password.
Unfortunately, you can only restrict editing to either tracked changes or comments. You cannot have both in a protected document.

A more friendly method of encouraging your reviewers to track any changes is to click the Track Changes button before saving and distributing your document for review.

Reviewing Revisions by Others

To review changes to a document, use these buttons on the Reviewing Toolbar:


The buttons with arrows let you jump back and forth among the change markups. The Accept button is the button with the checkmark, and it accepts the change. The Reject button is the button with the X, and it rejects the change.

The Accept and Reject button each has a dropdown menu with the following options:
  • To accept or reject all changes in a block of text, highlight the text and click the Accept or Reject button.
  • To accept all changes in the document, pull down the menu next to the Accept button and select Accept All Changes in Document.
  • To reject all changes in the document, pull down the menu next to the Reject button and select Reject All Changes in Document.
  • To delete all comments in the document, pull down the Reject menu and select Delete All Comments in Document.
The dropdown menus also contain options to accept, reject or delete all changes and comments shown. If you had chosen to hide any changes, choosing this option will let you accept or reject all comments that currently appear in the document. Any hidden revisions will remain in the document.

Selecting Reviewers

If more than one person made changes to your document, it will appear less cluttered if you only look at one reviewer's revisions at a time.

To look at a specific reviewer's comments, point to Reviewers. The names of all reviewers will appear.

Place a checkmark next to a reviewer's name. Word will hide all other comments and changes.

Remember to go back and unhide everyone's revisions by selecting All Reviewers.


Final Clean-Up

When you think you are finished, do a final check for revisions.
  • Ensure your document view is Final Showing Markup (see previous article if you don't know how to find this).
  • Ensure you have all options checked in the image above.
  • Click the right arrow button. If you see this box, you know that your document is clean.

Reviewing a Document
To Track Revisions

To review a document and track any changes that you make, click the Track Changes button, which is the highlighted one, below.


The button turns orange while Track Changes is on.

If you are viewing the document in Print Layout view (which shows your page as it would appear after printing, including headers/footers), your deletions will appear either as strikeout text or in balloons to the right of the page. Insertions will appear in color within the text. In Normal view, it looks like a legal document, with strikeouts and insertions. (To change your document view use the View menu.)

You can turn the Reviewing Pane on and off with the button next to the Track Changes button. The revision pane will show the complete text of all your revisions and comments.

Use the button that looks like a sticky note to insert a comment. Comments will appear as balloons to the right of the text, or in the Reviewing Pane, depending on your options.

In previous versions of Word, Word prevented you from accepting your own changes. This is no longer the case unless the author has protected the document.

Tips

If you have many changes in a small amount of text, such as capitalizing or converting the tense of a phrase, just delete the original and re-enter the text with your new wording. It is easier for the author to review.

When Word's grammar or spelling checker replaces text, it automatically replaces the whole word. To avoid this, you may want to enter the change yourself.

If you have the Show Formatting option turned off (which is off by default), you may see some apparently empty balloons. These balloons contain any spaces that you have deleted. You can see them if you turn the Show Formatting option on.

~*~

To read the rest of my Word for the Novelist series, click here. Previous articles include instructions on making a manuscript template, grasping Word styles, and making excerpts for emails and the web.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Slammed With a Plot

So I was driving down the road, on my way into work this morning. I live near a town called Bayard, Florida which the highway I was on, US-1, runs through. In Bayard, about three years ago, there were a bunch of old houses, motels, and restaurants, all abandoned. My husband and I took a photo trip through all of them before they finally tore them down. I don't know why, but I got to thinking about that particular stretch of road and all the pictures we took and suddenly I had a plot. It coalesced with some other ideas that had been swimming around in my head for years.

Since it's a time travel novel, I need to do some research. To make it even more difficult for myself, I decided that the trip back through time is gradual. Therefore, I need to research the entire twentieth century, back to the 20s. Yeah, I love a challenge.

The great thing is I even have the ending! But then, endings aren't my problem. Middles are.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Am I Brave Enough . . .

. . . to post a snippet of my work? Yes, I think I am.

Today on the way in to work I thought of a little sub-scene that I just had to write down. Once I got to work, I immediately grabbed a sheet of paper and wrote it out. I caught it at that critical instant when all the words were still spinning in my head. It was like I was taking dictation.

~*~ The Cast ~*~

Tory Lawrence: the protagonist, a spy with an inherent magical power called starcasting.
Cecil Crowley: a fellow starcasting spy. Referred to by his last name because Cecil and Tory are not on a first name basis. Is a muscular 5'7".
Robby: Crowley's simpleminded cousin. Has something like Downs Syndrome. He's about sixteen.

For those of you who have read the novel, this take place at Crowley's house, just after Tory and Crowley had their Eye Contact Moment. I'll add a bit of context. For those of you who have not read it, this is sort of like a Regency Romance, but it's a Regency Fantasy instead. Except the romance aspect is really quite light, this scene nonwithstanding. And it takes place in a fictional world, not Regency England.

~*~

Then, I realized that we were staring at each other. Crowley bowed and I found myself curtsying in return. We had never exchanged such courtesies before. I would not have even thought that Crowley knew how to execute them. I was beginning to find out just how much I didn't know about Cecil Crowley.

And, I wondered, how much did I really want to know?

Then, Robby barreled into the room and flung himself at Crowley. He climbed up into Crowley's arms exactly as if he were still two years old. Crowley handled him with apparent ease and administered a few spine-jarring thumps on Robby's back. Crowley looked over at me while I stood mute with astonishment. He didn't look a bit embarrassed.

"He thinks of me as a father," he said.

Robby looked over at me. "The lady!" he said.

"That's Miss Lawrence," Crowley told him.

"Hello, Miss Larrence," Robby said.

"Hello, Robby."

Robby looked back at Crowley. "Wanna run!" He bobbed up and down in Crowley's arms as if Crowley actually ran while carrying Robby.

"Not now. Look. I'm dressed."

Robby immediately climbed down. "Sorry," he said. "I didn't see."

"Go to your Mum and get some biscuits," Crowley said. "I need to speak to Miss Lawrence."

Robby barreled back out of the room, yelling, over his shoulder, "Bye, Miss Larrence!"

"Good heavens--you run while carrying him?" I asked once he had gone. "He must weigh at least twelve stone."

He grinned. "It keeps me in good physical condition."

I was completely impressed and not just a little charmed. He didn't give me a chance to dwell on it for long.

"I have news," he said. "You are now wanted for arson."

~*~

I just love it when the words flow like this.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Is the Recession Affecting My Writing?

I'd have to say, no. It's not affecting my querying, either. I got a bunch that I sent out just last week. I intended to send more this week, but sometimes, intentions are like . . . well, never mind.

Anyway, I'm not letting the recession affect my writing or my writing plans. Life goes on. What goes up must come down, and what sinks in the ocean eventually bobs back up. If I lose my job, that'll be another story, but my job seems good so my writing plans are unchanged. I'll still write my slightly off-the-beaten-path stories. Just this morning, I loaded up my Neo with a bunch of different possibilities:
  • A Christian thriller. I've blogged about this one before. The first three chapters zoomed by like a rocket sled, but now I'm a bit stalled in a "what do I do next" complex. Sounds like a good time to throw a problem at my hero, whose name is Max.
  • A Hollywood Romance. I've blogged about this one as well. This one will be unusual because it will have no sex scenes. The entire story takes place before the couple's long-delayed and much-hyped first date.
  • A modern fantasy. This is the comic book/graphic novel I alluded to in the previous post. I reread it today and hooboy! Have I ever improved! All the "telling" rather than "showing," even when I was describing something for an artist to draw. Anyway, it's sort of a superhero novel, but sans costumes. With immortals.
  • And Starcaster, Book Two. Tentatively entitled A Spy and a Lady.
  • A Snow White retelling short story. I have a very exciting plot but I've kind of backed myself into a corner. I need to think of something really clever to get out of it, and I'm not sure if I'm clever enough to think of it.
If you write, has the recession affected your writing plans?

Blogroll Updated

I added a bunch of blogs that I had been following in Google Reader to my blogroll, so some of you may notice yourselves there. If you haunt this blog and keep a blog yourself, but I don't know about you, please leave a comment.

I don't usually cross-publicize my blogs, but I think all of you aspiring writers who read this blog should check out my post at Fantasy Debut called Blogging Advice for New Authors. It has been widely linked (for me) and generally accoladed. There are additional hints in the comments section.

I'm not writing much. I read 4 books in about 4 weeks, which is a fast pace for me, but now I'm not reading anything. I feel a writing urge coming on, but I'm not sure if I'll dive back into my Christian thriller (currently stalled) or start something new. I've had an itch concerning an old idea of mine, an idea that I originally envisioned as a comic book but would work great as a graphic novel. And graphic novels are hot these days so maybe it's an idea whose time has come.

Trouble is, I have no idea how to submit a graphic novel. I know how to format a comic book manuscript (similar to a script), so maybe I need to do some research and see if graphic novels are formatted the same way. I'll check out my old comic book drafts--assuming they're on my hard drive--and decide if it is worth pursuing.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Funny Kid Story

So there we were, all chilling out after putting the Christmas tree up. I was snuggling on the couch with my honey, watching the lights of the tree behind me reflected on the TV screen. I was in sort of a mesmerized Christmas spell. Behind me, I could hear my child dancing around the tree and talking about the lights.

Then, all of a sudden, it got quiet and the tree began to lean.

Without turning around, I said, "Don't pull on the tree."

My sweetie said, "You have eyes in the back of your head."

Magical Mommy powers.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Welcome Back, Nano Survivors!

I hope you made whatever goals you set! Now maybe you have time to comment on my blog. Hint, hint.

;)