Sunday, December 6, 2009

On Maintaining Momentum

One thing I'm finding out is that reading and revising on a compressed timeframe can be a very valuable thing.

There's this series of chapters in the first half of the book that take place in a town called Conarzon. I have been revising these chapters all weekend, and they are the chapters that have always given me the most trouble. They are also the chapters during which Awesome Agent Who Requested My Full Twice could not make it through. Kristy also warned me that there were momentum problems here, and although I tightened it up quite a bit, I never saw this particular problem until this reading. I wasn't reading it quickly enough -- like a reader would, not a revising author. Right now, I'm devoting major back-to-back hours to reading and revising, and I was humming right along, snipping here, tightening here, down to about 13,000 words from over 115,000.

And then I got to a scene where it becomes evident that it was time for Abriel to leave. As a reader, I was all set up that it was time for her to go, and for the next part of the story to take place.

Except she couldn't leave. There was this dangerous chimera loose, and before she can travel, a hunting party must find it and kill it. Which takes another three chapters.As a reader, this would frustrate me. I would SO want Abriel (and the plot) to move on. Problem is, as a writer, I really like the actual chimera hunt.

So I cut the 6000 words that included the chimera hunt, the aftermath and her leavetaking, and I slowly spliced the leavetaking back in. Abriel must now deal with the chimera on her way back home. She only has one companion, and they are both new to the sword.

Much better, I think! Now, I'm off to write that scene. As it stands now, I have revised almost 44,000 words out of 111,000.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Single-Minded Focus

As I hinted in the comment thread of the previous post, I have a hot query lead which means I need to finish this revision of Forging a Legend pretty close to now. So I have suspended blogging at Debuts & Reviews for the weekend in the hopes to get the most done possible.

I have a question for you. What is "literary" fiction? I'm trying to determine if Forging a Legend qualifies. Justin Allen's Slaves of the Shinar is often spoken of as "literary" and I'm thinking that the tone of his novel isn't all that different from mine. However, I'm not sure I want to qualify Forging a Legend as literary if it holds the novel up to a standard that will make it even more difficult to get published.

So I'll leave you with that question while I get my nose back in my book. I'd love to hear what you think.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Tonight, I wanted to work on East of Yesterday. Things are really coming together in my mind. However, I was disciplined and I opened my file for Forging a Legend instead. Nighttime writing time is for revisions. I can draft on the weekends, using my Neo.

I'm really trying to be more disciplined about not hopping from work to work. I recently finished a novella and a short story, and they are in simmer mode, where they will stay for another week or so. Once I started working on each of them, I made sure I finished. I'm trying to be better about this.

I also need to be better about submissions. I do fine for novels -- I query dozens of agents, then I revise, then I query dozens more. I don't seem to ever give up (except for the trunk novel). But for short stories, I fizzle out at about five submissions. Which just about gets me through the pro magazines, where I have almost zero chance of acceptance anyway. I really have to force myself to keep submitting. But honestly, I wonder if I shouldn't just display the short stories on my website and forget about trying to sell them. At least that way, some people will probably read them. But as far as novels go, I think my plan of drafting one work on the Neo and polishing another work on my computer might satisfy my apparent need for variety.

I started working on Forging a Legend in 2004. That makes it five years, now. But in the same amount of time, I wrote another novel, a handful of short stories, one novella and 20,000 words of two additional novels (East of Yesterday and A Hollywood Miracle), both of which I do want to finish. A third novel start, Any Woman, is trunked, probably permanently.

There must be some reason I keep going back to Forging a Legend. And the biggest reason I can think of is I really want to finish it. I love Abriel, and I love the story that I've come up with for her. Book 2 -- if I can ever get the chance to write it -- really ends with a bang and it's got twists and turns you'd never expect. Wait till you get to meet Husband #2! And Book 3 is where I finally get to tie up the many plot threads that I laid the foundations for in Forging a Legend.

Have you ever written anything that has stayed with you like this, and resisted all your attempts to set it aside?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Catch-Up Post

Ok, I'm posting too infrequently -- so infrequently that I have to review what I posted before so I don't repeat myself. I'll try to pick up the pace.

The foil character who I blogged about last time is working out excellently in East of Yesterday. (I know I said I'd be working on Forging a Legend, and I am, but I can't revise when my daughter is awake, so I revise FAL at night and draft during the day on my Neo. EOY is the only novel I'm drafting at this time.)

Anyway, I decided to call him Brad, and he's a muscle-bound moron. I decided that too many muscle-bound guys are the romantic love interests, so I'm going for muscle-bound villains instead. It will make the job for my good guys all the harder. Here's a brief description from Ashley's eyes. It's short because she tries not to look at him much:
He was about 5'8", with spiked brown hair and arms as big as his head. He wore a tight golf shirt and a thick gold chain.
And that's about all her glance takes in. This isn't one of those she-hates-him-but-grows-to-love-him stories. She really despises him. They've known him since they were all about 1o or 12, and he's been trouble every moment.

Here's an example of the kinds of trouble he's going to get them into. This is just after they found out they are traveling back in time. Mike has sent Brad into a convenience store to find out what year it is. This excerpt has stronger language than you have ever seen on this blog; my apologizes; I'll bleep it out to keep this blog with a PG (or so) rating.
"What do you think?" Mike asked.

"I think Brad's voodoo woman theory has merit."

"How the heck are we supposed to -- oh s--t!" He sat forward in his seat. Brad's posture was evident -- he had pulled a gun on the cashier.

"Where the f--k did he get the gun?" Ashley shrieked.

"He always carries one -- he's got a concealed carry permit."

"Yeah, but you're only supposed to use those in a LAWFUL manner."

Brad came running out. Mike threw it in reverse. By the time Brad was opening the door, Mike was putting it in first gear. They pealed off.

"Money problems over," Brad said, flinging a fistful of twenties in the air.

Ashley whacked him on the side of the head. "Don't you ever do that again!"

"Look, all you have to do is go down the road a mile or two, and the crime never took place and no one is looking for us. It's the perfect crime!"

It's fun. I just get them to a certain place and I think, what's the worst thing that Brad can do now? I've barely started and already the word count has gone up 2000 words.

Have you ever just had fun writing about a complete jerk?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Novella Finished

I finally finished my novella version of "The Sevenfold Spell". I sent it off to my writing mentor and I'm putting it out of my head for a few weeks. This is the first time I've ever written a happily-ever-after, and I had to write it four times before I ended up with a version I liked. It still needs lots of work, but my head needs a subject change.

I came up with a great new foil for East of Yesterday. Kimber An taught me about foils in one of her amusing Protagonist Cafe posts. My two main characters are twins and while they squabble, there wasn't enough conflict in the time travel scenes. Now, they're going to have Mike's annoying semi-friend along for the ride, for what they think is only about 80 miles. Boy are they in for a surprise. Brad (the new character) is a major jerk, and he's going to be a huge thorn in their side. Should be fun.

But I'm not ready to write that yet. I asked myself which story would give me the most bang for my buck (or time)? And I decided that the answer was . . . Forging a Legend. I've had enough distance from it that I think I can work on it again, ONE FINAL TIME. (Yeah, I know I've said that before.) And when I'm done with this revision, I'll be sending it directly to publishers. And I really need to get it done before January or so, when all the NaNo novels will start swamping every publisher in existence.

Then, I'll have had closure with all these novels, and I'll be able to work on East of Yesterday with a fresh brain.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Purchased Publisher's Marketplace Subscription

I broke down and purchased a subscription to Publisher's Marketplace. It's 20 bucks a month, which is pretty expensive when you consider the accumulated annual price. However, I've already sent a query package (which included a partial--love it when they let you send partials with the query) to an agent I hadn't seen on any of the public boards. And today I'm going looking for more. Some of them look like absolute noobs -- or scammers. One guy only has a yahoo account listed as his contact method. Another was broadly discussed and ultimately dismissed as a scammer at Absolute Write. But there are some gems in there.

Now that everyone is NaNo-ing (well, not everyone; you guys all seem to be skipping it), I'm hoping the agents have a noticeable drop in queries, thus having time to give some attention to mine.

Friday, October 30, 2009

On Writing Sexy Stuff

Most of my writing is pretty clean. But occasionally, sensual situations come up and depending on the mood of my novel, I go ahead and write them.

In Forging a Legend, things got pretty steamy, but I keep the sex scenes short. In A Spy and a Lady, the most sensual scene is a make-out scene on a rooftop. Which I tried to make more humorous than sensual. In future novel, when Tory actually gets married (in a scene long envisioned!), there will be no sex scene whatsoever. These novels are definitely have a "sweet" heat level. I have not run into any sex scenes yet in East of Yesterday, and I'm thinking it would be mildly sensual at most.

I have a brief sensual situation in my flash fiction, “Under Observation”. (That reminds me—must find another market!)

But my novella, The Sevenfold Spell, is turning out much more sensual than anything I’ve ever written. As some of you know, it’s a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. However, it’s told from the point-of-view of a homely young woman who, along with her widowed mother, made her living by spinning before spinning wheels were banned. It opens with the confiscation of their spinning wheel. With the loss of their livelihood, they must live on her dowry, thus ruining her chance of marrying a certain homely young man, who cannot afford a wife without a dowry. He gets sent off to join a monastery, and she and her mother must fend for themselves. Woven into all this is the actual princess, the prince, the evil fairy and the good fairies.

As with Forging a Legend, I’m trying to keep the sex scenes short. I don’t like reading long, involved sex scenes, so I’m not going to write them either. I am going for short and powerful, without using any explicit language.

Here is a scene that shows the mood of the novella.
My infrequent confessions went something like this:

"I have not been chaste, as a maiden ought," I would say to the priest.

"With whom have you not been chaste?"

"A butcher. A baker. A candlestick maker. Plus those I've mentioned before."

"And are you sorry for this sin?"

"No, I can't say that I am."

"Then until you are, your soul will bear its burden."

The local bachelors talked about me, I know, they traded stories--but they always went happily to my bed.

To the aisle? Never.

I spoke of it to Harla, sometimes.

"I would make a good wife," I said.

"I've no doubt of that," she said.

"I'm ready to be faithful to a good man who would have me," I said. "I would devote myself to him and his children."

"You're thinking of Willard."


"Did you love him, then?"

"Love? I didn't think of it as love."

"We all thought you went mad for him."

"I did. I wanted his child."

She looked at me in shock. "Out of wedlock?"

"I couldn't have him, so I wanted a piece of him."

"You were mad."

"Maybe," I said.

"Either that, or you really did love him."

And I wondered about that. Why did I offer myself to him? Although to lie with him had been my own choice, it would have never been a choice I would have made had we been able to marry. I often thought of the child I had wanted so badly, of little Aurora who was never conceived. She would be coming on her menses about now, had she been born.

I was picky about men, in my own way. True, I did look for the men so often rejected by other women: the too thin, the too chubby, the too pocked, the too graying. But I also looked for shyness, for awkwardness, for the socially inept. Was I looking for another Willard? Perhaps. I never found one, but I did find some men who stayed with me for lengths of time that measures in months rather than weeks. One even stayed with me for over a year.

Only one was handsome.
The scene that follow surprised me. I thought I’d have at least one more sex scene, but it turned into a scene where my plain protagonist turns down the most handsome man of all. She walks away. With no regrets whatsoever. I figured that my character needs to grow, and while she turns to men to ease her loneliness in her past, at some point she must grow beyond this. And I didn’t even realize that the story needed this until I wrote that scene.

Don't you love it when you muse takes over?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This Blog is Staying Put

Even though I've semi-officially launched my new blog at Debuts & Reviews, I'm still going to blog here. This blog is much more personal than my review blogs, and I intend to keep it that way. I actually don't have any obvious way of finding this blog from my domain, which is just fine by me.

I've still been working on "The Sevenfold Spell" and I'm really having to crack the whip to keep myself on a project long enough to finish it. I will allow myself to interrupt novel writing to write a short story--they come along rarely enough--but I simply must finish what I'm doing with this short story (or novella)  before I will allow myself to move on to another. Discipline! Must have it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Short Fiction E-Book Market

A writing mentor of mine has given me the gift of knowledge. And that knowledge is the fact that e-book publishers accept short fiction. I never knew this!

My sleeping beauty retelling, "The Sevenfold Spell," is long. I have always tried to keep it under 8000 words, because that is typically the maximum short story length, but in truth, it has tried very hard to be longer. It's also somewhat racy. Not really racy; just somewhat. I don't normally write racy stuff, but when the story insists on being racy, then I, as the mere writer, cannot fight it. It's racy in a rather sad and tragic way.

But the fact that it was racy limited my markets. Very few short fiction magazines will take short stories that aren't teen friendly.

And now my friend tells me that e-book publishers routinely publish novellas as short as 10,000 words. I checked around with some of them--like Samhain--and she is absolutely correct.

So I've been on a writing tear. My 7000-odd word short story is now over 10,000 words, and I thought of several great subplots that need to be in there, which should increase the word count by at least 5000 words. I thought of a great way to change the ending that made me throw my head back and laugh. Better yet, it enables me to bring the story full circle, which is always a plus.

I love it when I get to unleash the true story.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

There's a certain agent . . .

. . . and if you read agent blogs, you know her name. She's requested at least partials for both my books . . . twice. And she keeps rejecting them, usually with little encouraging notes at the bottom. I suppose it's a good thing that she keeps requesting to see my stuff. But I do wonder if I'm beginning to be a pest. Oh, well. (Heavy sigh.) I do have other queries still out there.

I won't be making another round of agent queries with Forging a Legend without a contract. However, I will be submitting directly to publishers soon. I've been dithering about a recent rewrite. I sent it to one of my beta readers and she really liked it--in fact, she said she loved it. However, I thought of another way to frame it, and so I made a copy of it and was attempting to make this latest frame work. However, I don't think it will. I really don't want to do another major rework of it, and if I attempt this latest idea, it will require exactly that. So I'll be going back to the rewrite that my beta reader read and will be sending it to another beta reader this week.

One of the things that's been on my mind is the fact that I'm glad I'm branching out into another genre. Historical fiction may be harder to write, but it does seem to be more friendly to females. You guys know that I am intimately familiar with debut novels due to my work at Fantasy Debut. However, the bulk of epic fantasies that have come out since I started FD have been written by men. If you count small presses--old Juno Books and Avari Press--then I can think of a few. If they're not by men, they're about men, such as Naomi Novik's novels. The only exceptions seem to be urban fantasies and YA fantasies, both of which I have not written.

But some of the biggest names in Historical fiction are women like Phillipa Gregory and Diana Gabaldon. It also has a wider readership. I'm also hoping that by the time I am ready to query, this recession is over and time travel historicals are the next big thing.

Maybe--if I get very daring--I'll serialize Forging a Legend at Fantasy Debut. I have a large readership there; I might as well see what they think. What do you think? Good idea, or bad?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Writing Break, plus a Sneak Peek

I took a break from writing this weekend. Sometimes, you just need to get away from it all. I did send queries to four or five agents today--they were requeries to agents who requested partials from the first batch of queries I sent out, back in November, December and January.

I do admit to getting discouraged. True, I have known a few writers who snagged agents recently, but they all wrote YA, the one area that seems unaffected by the economy. Those of you who have read my novel have been so supportive and encouraging--thank you!

I had an idea for a nonfiction article, and I'm going to query some of the smaller national women's magazines. But I haven't even written the query yet because, as I said, I took a writing break this weekend.

And now, a sneak peek. Since you guys have either been here since before I started Fantasy Debut or followed me from there, I consider you my most loyal readers. I've created a new domain at I would appreciate it if you would visit it and leave any suggestions you may have here. I'm not going to announce it at Fantasy Debut for a week or so.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Scrub, Scrub, Polish, Polish

I forgot that I had not sent "Under Observation" to Analog, so I prepared a submission this morning. I made three editing passes through it:
  • Pass 1 examined the whole thing for sneaky little phrases of telling instead of showing. I want as few words as possible. Every one must count.
  • Pass 2 used an advanced Word feature called Search by Word Form. This allows me to do a search and replace for "to be" verbs. Some of them--like those in dialog--were necessary. But those outside of dialog is where more telling instead of showing might be hiding. Therefore, I scrutinized each one.
  • I didn't do it this time, but another thing to search for are -ing words. Gerunds can infuse blandness into your story. I'll think of it next time, but I usually avoid gerunds, anyway.
  • Pass 3 examined the document for words ending in "ly". A few adverbs snuck in there. I zapped them.
This was after I had printed it twice. For both printings, I had made a lot of red marks just trying to tighten it up. For some reason, I continue to see problems better in hardcopy than on the computer.

I have an old typewriter that someone gave me. I use it to type up addresses on my envelopes. Luckily, the carriage is wide enough for a 9 by 12 envelope. I kind of like typing on the typewriter, but not enough to give up my computer.

I don't read many of the larger short story magazines. I find the taste in certain magazines far outside mine. It seems to me that they're writing to win awards rather than attract readers. But I do like Analog. If you've never read them, give them a try!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Recently, I've been writing six-sentence plots that covers all the major events of my book. I had one for my Christian novel, A Hollywood Miracle, which is currently stalled. I also had one for my romance, Any Woman, which is also stalled. For my trunk novel, I knew the ending up front.

When I wrote Starcaster, I just let the plot carry me along. With Forging a Legend, I had a plot to begin with, decided it didn't have enough oomph, and rewrote the whole thing--several times.

At this point, I'm wondering if I should bother forcing myself to write the six-sentence plot for East of Yesterday. So far, I'm letting the plot carry me away, but I'm a little nervous because I don't know where I'm going. But, such ambiguity seems to have helped me finish novels in the past. I end up rewriting them backwards, but it seems to work for me.

So I'm thinking I'm a panster, rather than a plotter.

I had some radical ideas today during a brainstorming session today, including the possible heartbreaking death of a major character. I also had a cool idea wherein the headings of my chapters will contain excerpts from my characters' travel journal.

But before I go any further, I'm going to take down my copy of Donald Maass's Writing the Break-Out Novel and peruse some things I've been thinking about. It's my favorite writing book because it give you so much to think about.

Which are your favorite writing books?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Productive Weekend

I love three day writing weekends at home! I got a lot done this weekend, including:

1) I started my East of Yesterday Gazetteer. I do one of these for every novel I write. I use TiddlyWiki for my gazetteer, which, despite its odd name, is a wonderful tool. Look at the sort of connections I can build using this wiki:

    Each hyperlink opens to another wiki topic. Building these wikis are a breeze, and the software has grown to the extent that it doesn't take a long time to learn it. Things like the bullets are intuitive - just use an asterisk when you enter the info and the software converts it to a bullet. It works especially well with FireFox. Want to try it? Here's the TiddlyWiki website.

    It also helps me think of connections between characters. Sammy Jones, one of the employees in the above example, is quite a bad character who sprang wholly formed after I wrote the entry for his father, the Reverend Oscar Jones. Sammy is a driver and a thug for Felix the gangster. You can just imagine the conflict. And what of Dorothy Latham? Exactly what is she doing to work her late husband's debt off for a gangster? Even I'm not sure yet.

    2) I organized my various POVs. This is the first novel I've written in many years where I have more than one points-of-view. Oath of the Songsmith, the novel of which I never speak, had multiple viewpoints, including the various villains. Forging a Legend originally had three, but I cut it down to two by rewriting all of Thesk's points of view. Starcaster had one. East of Yesterday has at least three, possibly four. Plus, EOD does more POV switching than any novel since OATS. I had a terrible time keeping track of POVs with OATS, so I created another Word Style called "POV". Now, they all appear nicely in my Document Map along with all my other stuff. What am I talking about? Refresh your memory by reading my primer to the Document Map here.

    3) And lastly, I wrote another 5000 words, cut 2000 words for a net increase of 3000 words (just in case you can't add), for a grand total of just over 20,000 words! Plus, I do believe I have already gotten through my mid-novel slump! I might be due another one, because I'm shooting for at least 100,000 words. But we'll see.

    And that was all on the weekend! It made up for a rather unproductive week.

    Sunday, August 30, 2009

    The Sunday Night Post

    My blogging here is getting to be a weekly thing.

    I saw some buzz on Absolute Write that indicates my four-week-old full manuscript request may yet get a response. In the meantime, I have been less than enthusiastic about sending out my rewrite of Starcaster. I guess I still like the old way it was written. Which means I'm working on East of Yesterday while it's all so ambiguous in my head.

    And I'm encountering more ambiguity there. I have a bunch of stuff in my notebook that I need to transcribe. But I've gotten hung up on a subplot and today, after writing a bunch of stuff, I started wondering if that subplot shouldn't just be cut out. It takes the novel in a different direction and gives it a very different tone. So I'll probably read a book tonight and go to bed early!

    On the bright side, I've discovered something in my research that makes my plotting much easier. US-1 as it exists in Florida and Georgia has not changed routes since 1926. I haven't pinned down the year where the bulk of my story takes place, but 1926 is more than far back enough. Once I determined that the route has not changed, I was finally able to figure out where all the stops are on my characters' road trip. I have actually traveled up 95 as far as Waycross in the researching of this novel, and we are talking of going as far as Swainsboro. Who knows; we may take a long weekend and drive clear up to Columbia.

    Driving along these old highways really helps. I got the idea of Ashley's close encounter with an alligator while on the road to Waycross. What I can't research in person, I will attempt to make up for by using Google Street View (a marvelous tool).

    In the meantime (or have I said that already?), I am waiting on two short story submissions. I am now subbing to "semipro" markets (it doesn't take long to go through the pro markets), so I'm hoping to attract some interest there. I am currently submitting "Petroleum Sunset" and "Under Observation". I'd like to submit "The Sevenfold Spell" as well, which is my Sleeping Beauty retelling, but it's a bit racy and I'm having trouble finding markets that take racy stuff. I may run into this problem with "Under Observation" as well. It only has one tiny little racy part, but it's very powerful and I think the story would lose something if I take it out. I think Kristin would agree with me here.

    Ordinarily, my writing is squeaky clean. I don't include sexual stuff unless the plot calls for it, so when it does, I include it for the impact. So it can get rather earthy.

    And that's my weekly update! Maybe I'll surprise you sometime with a post mid-week.

    Sunday, August 23, 2009

    Coming Up for Air

    Two weeks since I've blogged! Yikes!

    I've been keeping busy. It occurred to me that I needed to get serious about querying Starcaster again because soon it will be November and after that, the Christmas break and after that, another post-NaNoWriMo query flood. I was caught up in that last year; I don't want to repeat the experience this year. Agent after agent stopped taking queries altogether, and many agents stopped replying at all. I ended up wishing for rejections! So it occurred to me that I needed to send my next batch of queries out now.

    But I wasn't ready. Before I could do that, I really needed to revamp my opening because it is obvious that my old opening wasn't working. I very reluctantly dis-engaged my East of Yesterday brain and re-engaged my Starcaster brain. And I got to work.

    I deleted the entire opening scene and started the novel with (for those of you who have read it) the arrival of Miss Henry. Just as Tory's running down the stairs of headquarters to meet her student, she meets Crowley coming up. He takes her into the men's dorm (!) where together, they listen through a convenient heat register to a conversation between Miss Henry and Mr. Bradburn, in which Mr. Bradburn assigns Miss Henry the task of spying on Tory.

    I'm hoping this opening is much stronger. I have also renamed the novel, but I'll keep using the old name here in the blog.

    This involved some major re-arranging, the inclusion of one backstory scene as a flashback, and following all that, an entire revision. I started out with 94,000 words. After my cut, my novel was bleeding profusely at barely 80,000 words. When I added most of the scenes back in their re-arranged and flashbacked places, and finished going through the whole thing again, I was still down to 88,000 words.

    Which, to me, is uncomfortably short. A fantasy novel is generally between 80,000 and 100,000 words. I wanted to be comfortably in the middle. So I started going through deleted scenes. And I found a gem. It was where Tory briefs the king. None of you have read this; I never finished the scene because it just fizzled when I was trying to write it. Well, timing is everything because I thought of a great way to end the scene. I put the scene back in the novel where I originally envisioned it (the next morning after Crowley is shot), and smoothed everything that came after.

    Now, it's 91,000 words. And I'm very happy with it.

    Now I just need to rewrite my query. Some of you will be getting emails about this; thanks in advance for any help you might be able to give me!

    Oh, and I also have a potential short story. My old opening could very well be a standalone adventure. I think I'll spiff it up and send it to various fantasy magazines.

    Sunday, August 9, 2009

    Time Travel Historical

    I'm homing in on 20,000 words. I know historical novels run longer than your average novel, but I'm not sure how much longer. Fantasy, by average, runs longer as well. So I'm going for 100,000 words and we'll see how it goes. Almost 1/5th way there.

    I'm writing this novel in a rather episodic manner. This week, I wrote a couple of scenes from Mike and Ashley's final destination in the 20s, and now I'm writing a scene that takes place during their journey back in time, in the 60s. I'll smooth them all out at some point in the future. I'm not sure if I'll use them all, but I'm trying to make sure they each are relevant to the plot. Even fun "fish out of water" scenes must advance the plot, somehow.

    I also have to figure out the rules of time travel. I decided to rule out the possibility of two "copies" of a person in the same place at the same time. If someone goes back to their own past, they become the only copy, even if the person must vanish in one place and appear in another. This means that Mike and Ashley would have vanished for brief periods in their own past while their future selves were visiting that particular time. I'm not sure if this will have an impact on the book, because I really don't get into their own personal past very much. But it will be an interesting possibility.

    I'm also wondering if it wouldn't be fun to have someone they meet in one timeframe come looking for them in another. For example, they save a black teenage boy from a beating in the early 60s. Wouldn't it be fun if they run into him in the 70s--before they ever get to the 60s because they're traveling backwards through time--and he knows them and just wanted to try to find them to convince himself that it wasn't all a dream. And of course, they wonder if he was crazy until they finally meet him in the 60s.

    Fun? Oh yeah.

    Monday, August 3, 2009

    Rewrites and First Drafts

    I'm sort of tackling two projects at once, a rewrite of Forging a Legend and the first draft of East of Yesterday. Although I like my rewrite of Forging, I can't help but get the feeling that I've put too much effort into it, and maybe I should just move on . . . for now.

    I have a history with this. My first novel was called Oath of the Songsmith. The strange thing about it was that the oath was really not all that earth-shattering, and when he breaks it, he loses his voice, so for a good half of the novel, he isn't a songsmith at all. The rest of the book kind of . . . doesn't make sense just like that. It was my journeyman novel.

    I spent ten years writing and rewriting it. It took one agent rejection for me to set it aside.

    I don't want to get sucked into that trap again. Although I think Forging a Legend is worlds away better than Oath of the Songsmith, I'm thinking I should just leave it and move on.

    Why? Because I think East of Yesterday is worlds away better than Forging a Legend.

    I know some of you loved Forging a Legend and don't get me wrong--I love it too. And I'm thrilled that it found readers who loved it. Abriel's story is something I want to finish one day. But I'm coming to a conclusion that I've come to before, and I really need to listen to myself. I think I need to be in a better position as a writer in order to interest a publisher in Forging a Legend. I think I need to "write" this as an established author, rather than have it be my debut novel.

    I think East of Yesterday has great potential as a debut novel. It's a standalone novel. The genre of historical fiction has a much wider audience potential than the fantasy genre. And I'm having great fun writing it. As I write it, I have sort of a goofy half-smile plastered on my face at all the situations I'm putting my characters in. I'm tackling difficult subjects, such as racism and segregation in the South. It's almost . . . but not quite . . . literary.

    My time constraints do not allow me to work on two novels at once. I'm still in love with the concept and the characters in East of Yesterday, so I need to focus my efforts on it. In a few months, when I hit the inevitable roadblock that I always hit, I'll turn back to Forging a Legend and finish up my rewrites and maybe even enter it into RWA's annual contest. So I'm not setting it aside for good. I'm setting it aside for now.

    In other news, I've finally resubmitted my short short, "Under Observation", to another market. I think this story could be "the one" that finally nets me a fiction bio entry. Wish me luck!

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Writer Wednesday at Fantasy Debut

    I should mention that it's Writer Wednesday at Fantasy Debut. We have a Featured Writer--Jennifer Estep of Bigtime (the name of her series) fame. We're having a roundtable on Unsavory Protagonists and Assorted Bad Guys. Jennifer is friendly and accessible, and it's been great fun.

    Join us! This will be going on at least another day.

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    Random Updates

    Wow; it's been over a week since I last blogged. Busy week. We spent the weekend at a homeschooling convention. Homeschooling is our last choice because we tried EVERYTHING else. Most schools won't take my daughter and the ones that will are either bedlam or frightfully expensive. My daughter can't learn in bedlam--who can?--and our resources are better spent elsewhere than tuition. So, homeschool it is. Or rather, "nontraditional private school" since we aren't technically homeschoolers.

    Not conductive to the muse. So I am editing. I finished incorporating Katie's edits into Forging a Legend--thanks, Katie!-- and now I am polishing. Lots of things have changed since 2005, when I wrote this novel, including my word choices. So I'm going through the whole thing, paragraph by paragraph. The lovely Lisa and Kristin have both volunteered to reread it when I am finished. I don't know what it is about this book; I'm just not willing to give it up.

    Regarding East of Yesterday: I'm feeling grateful that I had a grandparent born in 1895. She was very old when I was in high school--much older than my friends' grandmothers. No one else had a grandparent born in the previous century. She had WONDERFUL stories when I was growing up. She always called Woolworth's the "five and dime". I learned all about the lunch counters that they used to have there, and various other details I was able to incorporate in this brief scene:

    A waitress stopped before him. "What's your name?" she asked.

    "Mike," he said before he remembered to use his last name.

    She seemed unfazed by his informality. "Well, Mr. Mike--what'll it be?"

    "Oh, some coffee and scrambled eggs, I guess."

    Someone joined him on his right. "Morning," he said as he opened his paper.

    Mike glanced at him. He was in a suit similar to his. "Morning," he replied.

    The waitress thumped a teacup and saucer before him, and filled it with coffee. He looked around for creamer, but all he saw was a little metal milk pitcher. He took it and poured some in, then dug some sugar cubes out of a bowl with a spoon and dropped them in.

    He decided to start his housekeeper search here. He would probably be seeing these men every morning, after all. It would be a step above hiring someone through an ad.

    "Anyone know of someone looking for a housekeeper job?"

    Silence. Then a "Nope," and a "Not me."

    Mike stirred his coffee and wondered how long it would take for the sugar cubes to dissolve.

    "If you don't mind a Negro, I know someone," the guy on his left said.

    And ugh--an agent has had the complete MS for Starcaster for almost four months!

    Monday, July 13, 2009

    I've Decided - It's Historical

    Despite the warnings of my fellow bloggers, Kimber An and Katie, I am writing a novel that fits into the classification of "historical." It's my time travel fantasy, but I've decided that it fits into the genre of "historical" more than anything else. It's about as much fantasy as Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is. No one considers Outlander a fantasy, although it has fantasy elements to allow for the time travel. My novel is much the same. Therefore, when I shop it, my top choice agents will represent both fantasy and historical.

    I even have settled on a historical-novel-sounding title: East of Yesterday. That's definitely not a fantasy title.

    Since it's a time travel novel, I'm not limited to one particular era. Here are the eras I'm writing about so far:
    • Colonial St. Augustine, during which time it was under British rule,
    • The last Spanish occupation of St. Augustine,
    • St. Augustine during the Civil War, during which time it was occupied by Union soldiers,
    • St. Augustine during the and after the 1914 fire,
    • St. Augustine during the 1964 Civil Rights demonstrations,
    These eras are visited by Henry, a Colonial-era farmer, as he travels "north" in time. Ashley and Mike take a road trip south in time, starting in Columbia, SC and ending in St. Augustine, all of which I've already written about in the posts below. They meet in the 1920s--except they've met before. It has been so much fun to write.

    So my novel covers almost 250 years. Since the South was segregated during the 20s, I'm also writing about that. Right now, Ashley is interviewing a young black woman who was fired from her last housekeeper position after being falsely accused of stealing a ring.

    Since the novel is recent history, I'm wondering if I should avoid any historical names. The Flagler family was very prominent in St. Augustine during this timeframe. Do I mention them by name, or do I invent a different family? They won't have a big role in the novel, but they had such a huge impact on development in St. Augustine (and much of the East Coast of Florida) that it would almost be remiss to omit them.


    Ok, I wrote all of the above last week, and then forgot to post it. I was in the middle of dealing with all these questions when Katie's feedback for Forging a Legend arrived in the mail. I just wanted to send a public thank you her way for her wonderful feedback. She discovered a VERY LARGE inconsistency resulting from a deleted scene that I probably would have missed despite a rereading because I'm just too close to the novel, and I've read it too many times. So now I'm sitting here trying to decide whether I put the scene back in, or rip some more scenes out, with possible more repercussions down the line.

    Writing -- it's a wonderful, crazy life!

    Thursday, July 2, 2009

    Time Travel Fantasy

    I've plunged right into the middle of my time travel fantasy, leaving the opening chapters incomplete. I did this on purpose. There's absolutely no use spending a lot of time on the opening chapters when I know I'll go back and rewrite them. I have the first chapter written, where my characters take a road trip from the 2010s to the 1970s. Then, I just jumped back in time to the 1920s, their destination. In the final version, they'll take the road trip all the way back in time. When they get to the 40s, they are going to trade their vehicle in for a 1920s model, which they'll use to cruise all the way to their destination. But I'm not going to bother writing that yet.

    As part of my "research", we took a road trip up US-1 into Georgia. We stopped off at the Okefenokee Swamp Park. At the entrance, the alligators were right there; no walls between them and us. They could have easily run up the bank and chased us to our car. However, it was a hot day, and alligators are cold-blooded creatures. They're just not going to move fast for any old reason.

    It made me think of my characters. There's a long patch of nothing between Waycross and Folkston. Imagine them cruising along in some rattletrap vehicle when Ashley--who drank too much iced tea in Waycross--can't hold it in any longer. She makes a pit stop on the side of the road. And there she is, with her dress hiked up, when she finds herself in a staring contest with an alligator.

    Is that too cruel? (Imagine diabolical authorial laughter here.)

    And railroad crossings. I can imagine Mike breezing through them until they have a close encounter with a train in an era where there are no crossing guards. (In Arizona, many rural railroad crossings still have no gaurds. There's simply a stop sign. Here in Florida, every road--no matter how insignificant--seems to have a crossing guard.)

    I'm having to do a LOT of research. I don't know whether St. Augustine was electrified in the early 1920s. Since the Rural Electrification Act wasn't until the 30s, I'm not sure. Most urban areas were, but I would hardly think that St. Augustine would qualify as "urban". For that matter, did St. Augustine still have gas lights during that era? The lighthouse--which is on an island--wasn't electrified until 1936. Oh, and I see the lighthouse's keeper's house was electrified in 1925, which might indicate that St. Augustine proper was being electrified a few years previously. I might have to actually go and look through the microfiche of the St. Augustine Record, something I have not done since my college days. Or, I could look up the local electric company's history. (Microfiche sounds funner.)

    And that's just one of my questions!

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    Getting to Know Characters - Pilot Scenes

    Thanks to everyone who wanted to read Forging a Legend.

    I've been writing a series of pilot scenes for my time travel fantasy. I came up with the term "Pilot Scene" after the concept of a pilot chute in aviation. A pilot chute is a small parachute that drags out the larger one. My pilot scenes are independent, sometimes disposable scenes that draw out the larger story.

    I realized that I didn't have any emotional connection to my main characters, Mike and Ashley (who are twins in their late 20s). I needed to write some scenes to get to know them and to form a bond with them. So I jumped ahead in the story and wrote about them acclimating to living in the 1920s.

    In this scene, Ashley has been trying to get to know 1920s household technology. It's a bit spare on description for now.
    Mike's first day of work was the longest that Ashley ever spent. When he got home, she opened the door and announced, "I want a housekeeper."

    He took off his hat as he entered, exactly as if he had been born in 1900 rather than 1985. And where the heck did he get that thing, anyway? "Why?" He asked as he put it on a peg beside the door.

    "Good lord." Ashley said.

    He shot her a level look. "What?"

    "Next thing, you'll be telling me to fetch your cigar and smoking jacket."

    He scrunched up his nose. "Not likely. The cigarettes here smell terrible. The men at work couldn't believe I didn't smoke. I was actually glad for the open windows, even if the screens had holes and let in every fly in St. Augustine." He pulled off his jacket. "So why do you want a housekeeper?"

    "Because I don't know anything. I can barely operate that stove well enough to boil water. How the heck do you tell how hot the stove is?"

    "By how red the heating element is, I guess."

    It made so much sense she wanted to smack him. "Well, that's not all. Come look at this." She led him into the kitchen, opened the cabinet under the sink and brought out a washboard. "This overgrown cheese grater is how we wash our clothes. Do you know how long it would take to do even one load of clothes? So don't count on having a fresh shirt every day unless we get a housekeeper."

    She caught a smirk on his face. "Don't think you can hack the 20s, Ash?"

    "You can't either. Come see this."

    He followed her out to the backyard. She gestured over the neglected lawn. "How do you expect to mow this grass without a power mower?" She was satisfied to see the smirk melt off his face. "The neighbors won't put up with all this grass now that someone lives here."
    Shortly afterward, they discover the local speakeasy. Ashley's been night prowling, and here she has a bit of a shock when she takes a shortcut back home to the back porch.

    Michael met her on the back porch with a gun.

    "Where'd you get that thing?" Ashley asked as he lowered the gun.

    "I thought it advisable."

    "Well, I want one too."

    "Why? Did something happen?"


    She made sure the door was locked behind them, and then took him upstairs before she would talk, and then she insisted on talking in the stairwell, well away from any windows.

    "How much did you check this neighborhood out before you decided to rent this house?"

    "It seemed like a residential neighborhood to me. Why?"

    "Well, there's a speakeasy around the corner."

    His eyes lit up with interest. "Really? Where?"

    "I'm not telling you!"

    "Really, Ash. There's nothing to be alarmed about. If it's really a speakeasy, they're not going to want any trouble with the law."

    "Yeah, that's what the guy said, too."

    "What guy?"

    "The guy who wanted me to go in."

    He frowned, then tromped back downstairs and grabbed his coat and hat. "Come on. Let's go check out the place."


    "They're not going to be open every night. I want to see it."

    "Well, have fun, then."

    "Come on, Ash. They're not going to let just any stranger in, and they've already invited you."

    She stared at him and crossed her arms. He grinned. "Where's your sense of adventure? You afraid?"


    "No you aren't. Let's go."

    "Wait." She went over to her purse. "I want to take my camera."

    "They'll never let you take pictures."

    She held up the thin, pink plastic device. "And they'll never know it's a camera unless you tell them."

    Thursday, June 18, 2009

    Forging a Legend Rewrite Complete!

    I finished my revision of Forging a Legend. For those of you who have read it, Verit is now a first-person point-of-view character, and his POV is the framework through which the story is told.

    My problem is I'm too close to the story. I'm wondering if any of you want to read--or reread-it. I need to know if the story still bogs down in the Furdi chapters. I've cut about 8000 words.

    Here's the first chapter. It is short. If you've read it, it refers to things that don't happen until the third book, only bits of which are written.
    Chapter 1
    The Fallen God

    It took me many years to forgive her. For most of those years, I wanted only to kill her.

    Then one day, she showed up at the doorstep of my hovel one day with that husband of hers behind her. Once, I lived in a castle on a cloud with a vista that seemed to encompass all the world. Now, because of her, I was here, forced to scrape an existence out of the stubborn earth.

    For a moment, we just stared at one another. Forgotten was my wish to kill her as I absorbed the impossibility of her presence. She looked to be about fifty--the age I felt, although we were both much older.

    "I never renounced you, you know," she said.

    I opened my mouth several times before I managed a reply. I lived the life of a recluse by then, and had not spoken to anyone in months. "I know. You just stopped believing."

    "You can't compel belief. You can't give it if you don't have it."

    "So you told me, once."

    We were silent for a moment.

    "This is for you." She handed me a square package, wrapped in sackcloth and tied with string. "If anyone deserves an explanation, it's you," she said. She turned away.

    "Do with it as you will."

    She walked away, her husband beside her.

    I took the parcel inside, set it on a table and stared at it. An explanation. I hadn't realized until that moment how very much I wanted an explanation. I untied it with increasingly eager hands and yanked away the layers of sackcloth.

    It was a codex. No, many codices.

    I opened the top one. The brittle sheets of papyrus were crowded with words. I flipped through it, reading phrases here and there.

    It was her story.

    It was clear that the words did not come easily. She was no writer. Parts of it showed heavy editing. In many places, words had failed her and she had simply drawn pictures instead. In these, there was no sign of hesitancy, no stray marks, no rubbed-out lines.

    Her drawings demonstrated her true genius. In these, I saw the world through her eyes. The aqueducts of Ulrith. A Furdi shepherd on a clifftop. A snarling chimera. The placid lake of Fermere. The pyramid of Thesk with his bright light shining through the storm. The arena within the pyramid.

    A dying god.

    At the bottom of the stack was a scrap of papyrus, upon which she addressed me directly.

    "I would have done none of these things had you not made me what I am."

    She was right. She would have lived the simple life of an artist, had I not intervened. I had seen that as a waste. I saw her only for her heroic proportions, for her strong arm, and I made her into the legend I required.

    She became a myth all on her own.

    Do with them as you will, she had said. I saw nothing for it but to write, to take her words and pictures and stitch them into a coherent whole. I took her story and rendered it in my words, while adding my own side of the story.

    Therefore, what follows is my last great act as the Lord of Truth.

    She had started with her childhood, but I see no need for that. The divorce. That is the true beginning of her story.
    If you'd like to read more, please let me know at tia dot nevitt at gmail dot com, or leave a comment below. Thanks!

    Saturday, June 6, 2009

    No Middles

    I figured out my problem with both Any Woman and A Hollywood Miracle. For both novels, I plotted out beginnings and endings, but I didn't end up with enough material for a decent-sized novel.

    I have no middles.

    I suppose I could keep throwing complications at my characters. I would have plot in the beginning, a long string of complications, and plot at the end. I think that would be annoying to read. And to write. And I'm not sure if the result would be a strong enough novel to pursue. For either novel.

    It makes me wonder if I'm a panster, rather than a plotter. As in, do I write by the seat of my pants, rather than plot?

    The evidence is clear for the "panster" approach. When I wrote Starcaster and Forging a Legend, I was a panster for both. For Starcaster especially, I had no idea where I was going. I threw Tory in a sticky situation, and I let her figure her way out of it. The same for Forging a Legend. No clear ending, but when the idea for my ending did come to me, it was like a bolt out of the blue. And I really liked it. Abriel really faces what you would call "insuperable odds" to achieve a worthwhile goal.

    The drawback was both took about five drafts. For Forging a Legend, which is the novel I wrote first, I had about 30,000 words in deleted scenes. For Starcaster, about half of that.

    Fortunately, I always have something on a back burner. I've just started Highway of Time. As of right now, it's definitely a panster. I have some glimmers of ideas, such as a girl lost in time, and her brother looking for her. 1920s gangsters and gun molls. Time-traveling magic. Old cars. Telegrams as the fastest means of communication.

    I think I'll write for 10,000 words and see how it goes.

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    When in Doubt, Throw Yourself a Curve

    I was writing the other day, feeling a bit spiritless, when I decided to throw a curve at my character, Karen. I made her take a plane trip with a demon. Not just any demon--an arch-demon; one she'd been warned against, and one she will have to "prepare herself" for before she can attempt to exorcise it.

    Yup. I have an exorcist in my story. I sure didn't see that coming when I first started it. The New Testament can be excellent story fodder if you let it!

    I wrote this scene after-the-fact, when she just got off the plane and met up with Max. But of course, I'm going to have to go back and write that scene on the airplane. It will be one of those corporate jets, so there will only be about six to eight people on board. And naturally, he will taunt her.

    His name is Armonde. I know demons usually have names like Azrael, but I figure if I'm going to have angels named Leroy and Butch, then a demon named Armonde is perfectly acceptable.

    I'm modeling my arch-demon after the demon in the movie Fallen. Somewhat. Since my story is based on New Testament-style exorcisms, lots of changes will be in order. And that's a good thing because I wouldn't want to just make my demon a Fallen knock-off.

    There's nothing like a bit of a curve to put some life back into your plot.

    Sunday, May 31, 2009

    Another Blog Buddy Gets an Agent!

    Yes, agents are still taking on clients, and here's the proof. Congratulations, Cheryl!!!

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    Weekend Update

    I wrote about 3000 words this weekend. Some of it is still on my Neo. It was all for the same novel--A Hollywood Miracle. I decided to go with this novel based on pure logic--it was closest to being finished.

    When I sat down to write yesterday, I really didn't want to. My husband and daughter were taking up both computers by playing a networked game (Doom of all things. I can't believe I'm letting my daughter play Doom. At least it's the 90s version), so I couldn't even get to my manuscript. So I got out my Neo and my notebook and tried to find an untranscribed scene. But they were all transcribed. I looked at my outline (which is in my notebook) to see what should come next, and I started working on some scenes to up the tension between John (the actor), Max (the stunt man) and Karen (Max's friend). That accounts for about 1000 words.

    I was very proud of myself for a) sticking to the same novel all weekend, b) writing even though I didn't feel like it and c) managing to come up with a good, conflict-filled scene anyway.

    Which title do you like better, A Hollywood Miracle or The Stunt Man's Miracle?

    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    Chewed Out By My Muse

    This morning, I gave myself a harsh talking-to. Or rather, my muse chewed me out. In case you didn't know, my muse is a Drill Sergeant. From the Marine Corps. I may have served in the Air Force, but my muse is a Marine. He looks something like this, except he's younger and more good-looking:

    Any, DS Muse told me in no uncertain terms that if I want to be a writer, I need to act like one. No more letting stories languish just because I'm waiting on the decisions of agents and editors. No more vascillating between my favorite book-of-the-week. I was told that I need to sit down, shut up, and write.

    So yesterday and today, I hammered out a synopsis for my time travel fantasy. I now have to choose between the following projects (not counting my low reading level young adult novellas, which are languishing in maybe-land):

    Title: A Hollywood Miracle
    Genre: Hollywood Mainstream/Inspirational (it's too edgy for Christian, I think)
    One-sentence blurb: Martial arts expert meets angel and is given the ability to work a single miracle in order to rescue the soul of his childhood hero, actor John Raven, who has sold his soul for worldly success.
    Progress: 20,000 of 80,000 words

    Title: Any Woman
    Genre: Hollywood Romance
    One-sentence blurb: Small-town girl refuses to date big-time actor unless he can remain scandal-free for an entire year, but the media learns of her challenge and she finds herself at the center of a scandal of her own.
    Progress: 10,000 out of 80,000 words

    Title: On the Highway of Time
    Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
    One-sentence blurb: Brother/sister travel writing team take a road trip back in time to rescue a girl from Colonial times who got lost in time and ended up an opium-addicted gun moll in the 20s.
    Progress: detailed synopsis only

    I like 'em all, and I keep floating between the three of them. I'm asking myself, what would Nora Roberts do? She would pick one and go for it. So that is what I must do.

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    "Under Observation" Released Into the Wild. Plus Other Stuff.

    My short story, now renamed "Under Observation", has been released into the wild.

    Many thanks to those of you who read it. The feedback I got for this story is the most enthusiastic feedback I've ever received. Let's hope it's not met in the publishing world with a yawn.

    My membership with a certain online writer's organization has expired, and I've decided not to renew. It wasn't what I expected, and it's not worth the 40 dollar fee when the only benefit you get is membership of yet another bulletin board system.True, agents hang out there, but agents hang out at blogs as well, and lots of blogging agents take questions from readers.
    Instead, I am thinking about joining Online Writing Workshop. I was a member years ago when it was free. It's a great system and I was an idiot for not fessing over the money and joining years ago. And it has an added benefit of specializing in fantasy, science fiction and horror. It's 49 dollars a year, which is only 9 bucks more than that other system. The drawback to this system is that I don't always have something to critique, and I tend to only critique works when asked, or when I have something for which I am seeking critique.
    So I might just save the money and join the Romance Writers of America later this summer.
    Blogging has actually been tremendously helpful to me as a writer, so I may join nothing. Are you a member of any writing organization?

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009

    Teaser Tuesday - The Facts of Life Briefing

    First, some almost-news. The editor at that publishing company liked the two synopses I sent her! Now she has to clear it with the CEO/Publisher.

    This scene is not quite the same as the one in the version I sent out to beta readers. It's when Tory tries to give the Facts of Life Briefing to her new protegee.

    Since most young women were kept in a state of ignorance about the ultimate relationship that occurs between men and women, the Ministry had developed what they officially termed the Reproduction Briefing. My mother had tried to prepare me for this briefing before I entered the Corps, but her tentative instruction had nothing on Miss Young's excruciatingly detailed drawings of parts of the body usually covered by clothes.

    "Since we lack more dignified terms," Young had said during that briefing, "I will refer to the male parts as the "butterfly" and the female parts as the "flower."

    Oh, how my cheeks had burned. We sat in a briefing room, and she used a pencil to point at drawings that looked nothing like either butterflies or flowers.

    "As you know," she said, "the butterfly has between its wings, a long shaft. You may think of a man's . . . organ . . . as a butterfly without wings." She moved on to the female parts. "And like the flower, the female organ has a tubelike structure hidden among the petals." At this point, she had pinned her gaze upon me. "Now, anyone who has ever seen a butterfly pollinate a flower knows that the butterfly actually inserts itself into the flower. . . ."

    I had emerged from my briefing much worldlier--and perpetually red-faced every time I looked at a man for weeks.

    As I blushingly stumbled my way through the briefing, spots of color appeared on Miss Henry's cheeks. She listened in studious silence. However, when I got to the part about the insertion, Miss Henry began to giggle.

    I looked at her with my brows raised.

    "It's just that . . . that . . ." she gave up and giggled again.

    "Yes?" I said, trying to keep my dignity as an instructor.

    "I saw our dogs doing something like that once before my brother threw a rock at them. Are you telling me that all men and women do this?"

    "Any couple who has had a child, yes."

    "But it seems so undignified!"

    At this point, I couldn't help it--I began to giggle as well. "Can you imagine?" I said, "Iron Mark?!"

    We both sniggered like schoolgirls.

    However, our newfound rapport vanished the next time Bradburn summoned her into his office.

    Sunday, May 3, 2009

    Edgy Science Fiction Story

    A couple of weeks ago, I had an idea for a very short science fiction story and I wrote it in my notebook. It sat there for a few weeks until yesterday morning, when I woke up knowing how it ends. Don't you love that? It's not even a thousand words.

    Yesterday, I read it aloud to my husband. He was heaving heavy sighs when I started reading it, but he got interested quickly. He found one part rather shocking. And last night while I was trying to go to sleep, he kept talking about it. I take these all as hopeful signs. It involves an alien species and humans kept as lab rats.

    I could use some feedback, so if you want to read it, please email me at tia dot nevitt at gmail dot com. Or, if you know my personal address, email me there. If you've read any of my other work, don't expect anything similar. This is very dark. Thanks!

    Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    Freelance Fiction Writing

    I've become friendly with a tiny handful of authors since starting Fantasy Debut. One is Janet Lorimer, writer of children's novels and more recently, the adult fairy tale Master of Shadows. Here are my reviews. It's still in print, so if it sounds good to you, go buy it!

    Anyway, Janet and I have stayed in touch ever since. She read a few short stories of mine, and I gave her my opinion on the opening of one of her novels and several synopses. She also went into detail about her freelance career, where she write a great deal of educational fiction and nonfiction.

    I've done some freelance writing in the past ten years, mostly for the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader humor book series. I wrote one history article for them ("Port-a-Fortress") and twelve science articles.

    Now thanks to a referral to from her, I have the opportunity to pitch a short YA novel to the educational publisher. It's a specific type of writing called high interest/low reading level, aimed toward "struggling readers". When Janet described it to me, it sounded a lot like what I did for the Bathroom Reader. I sent her contact at the publisher an email introducing myself, and she sent back an overview of the types of novels they're looking for. I already have an outline, which I thought of on the way home.

    It will be work-for-hire, but I'll get a byline. It's for trade paperback style books. And if the editor likes my idea, I'll get a contract to actually write it. Therefore, I'll potentially be selling the novel on proposal.

    I did an interview with Janet where she discusses this type of writing in detail.

    Wish me luck! This will be great for my bio. And my pocketbook!

    Sunday, April 26, 2009

    Writing Mainstream Fiction

    I've been doing all the "time to get serious" stuff that I always do for a book once I realize that it's a "go." I've created my storybuilding wiki (which I use TiddlyWiki for). I've given all my characters first and last names. I've numbered my chapters and named my scene breaks. I've come up with a six-sentence outline of the entire plot.

    The genre is Contemporary Romance. It's not a genre I read much of, but it is a genre that I've read a great deal of, in years past. Like most romances, it's a standalone novel. This will be the first standalone novel I've contemplated. Even with my Christian novel, I envision a five-book series. I seem to think in series. Not this time. This means everything will have to resolve. No dangling plot threads. And such genres usually have an 80,000 word limit. It will be my shortest book yet.

    My approach is quite different. With Starcaster, I held on tight and let the plot take me for a ride. Here, I'm being a lot more deliberate. When I came up with all my characters in my wiki, I tagged a bunch of them if they could be classified as protagonist or antagonist. While doing this, I came up with another antagonist, because I needed someone to betray my heroine. I also realized that a good supporting character was, in fact, an antagonist. He's a good antagonist, but since he's working against my character, that makes him an antagonist in my novel. Another neutral character turned out to be an antagonist, and a while back, I realized that another antagonist will turn into a protagonist over the course of the story.

    And I'm giving myself a deadline. I have to be able to enter it into the Golden Hearts contest by December. Sometime over the summer, I'm going to join RWA. That way, I won't have to pay both rather expensive fees at once.

    And no, I still haven't finished the Christian novel. I figure I can work on them both. When the muse goes silent for one, he just might speak for the other.

    Saturday, April 25, 2009

    I Love Your Blog

    Lisa of Life's Goulash has nominated this blog for an I Love Your Blog award!

    She posted this an embarrassingly long time ago, and I'm so sorry that I didn't post about it sooner.

    Thank you for the award, Lisa!

    1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
    2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
    3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs
    4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
    5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

     Here are my nominations:

    Kristophrenia - my critique partner, whose been on my blogroll since, like forever
    Katie Lovett - a beta reader who I met through one of Rachel Vater's query critiques.
    Star Captain's Daughter - intrepid Alaskan, fellow reviewer and fellow aspiring author
    Initial Draft - who recently self-published his novel, The Ninth Avatar
    Jen Haley - recently agented, pre-published, with fascinating insights on the newly agented.
    Robin's Mystery Blog - writer of my other favorite genre, mother of great-sounding kids.
    Kelly Gay - recently contracted but still pre-published author who occasionally guests at Fantasy Debut.
    West of Mars - another longtime member of my blogroll, who has amassed a legion of fans around her unpublished novel.

    And, of course Lisa, who gave me this award and who blogs on fun stuff, beta reading, cats, and occasionally, writing.

    Thanks again, Lisa!

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    Snippet Tuesday

    Here's a snippet from one of my works in progress. John is a big-time movie star, and Max works for him. Both of my WIPs are about Hollywood. It's getting hard to keep them straight.

    In the nightclub, Max spotted Karen near the entrance, looking out-of-place. She wore a knee-length black dress with a high neck, which he suspected was risqué for her. Here, it was impossibly modest. And impossibly lovely. He went over to her and found himself hugging her before he even said a word.

    "Rough week?" she asked. He thought he could hear a smile in her voice.

    "Yes. I'm sorry." He released her.

    "It's okay," Karen said.

    "You're sure?" He wanted to hug her again.

    "Sure. Did you know this place has a twenty dollar cover charge?"

    "I'm sorry--let me pay you back."

    "It's okay, really. The only reason they let me in is I claimed to be meeting John Raven. See that big dude over there?" She nodded toward a large bouncer-type. "He's given me five minutes to join John Raven's party or he's throwing me out."

    "Well, let's go, then."

    He drew Karen back to the group. They had settled at a set of tables in the corner, which had apparently been reserved for them.

    "John? I'd like you to meet my friend, Karen Johansen."

    John looked up at Karen. Then, a smile like Max had never seen before spread over John's face. He looked as if he illuminated from within. Max was taken aback. For the first time, he really saw what had made John Raven a star.

    John stood up and came over to them. He held out his hand. "Any friend of Max's is a friend of mine," he said. Karen hesitantly took his hand, at which time John covered it with his other hand and then--Max couldn't believe it--lifted it to his lips. Karen's brows rose.

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Getting Back in Gear

    After weeks - no, let's be honest here, it's months - of writing laziness, I'm starting to think about getting back into gear.

    I have a good excuse, not that I need one. I do most of my writing on the weekend, and this is the first free weekend I've had since February. It will be bliss. My daughter and I are going to rent movies and hang out. My husband too, but he doesn't like the kind of movies that my daughter and I like. Although he did think High School Musical was cute. That's my daughter's new fave. We're going to rent 2 and 3 this weekend. Vicky will think she's died and gone to heaven.

    And while she watches her tween flicks, I'll be in the background with my Neo, reading old works-in-progress. I want to see if any of them re-ignites my imagination. I might work on my Christian novel, but I've gotten in a bit of a plot tangle, and my head is too muddled to work it out. I could polish up a short story I wrote recently. Or, I could work on my Hollywood romance.

    I wrote to a long overdue zine editor two weeks ago, asking the status on a short story that was tentatively accepted. At this time, I'm going to have to conclude that the magazine is defunct. I find this annoying. If you're going to let your magazine fold, the least you can do is notify all the writers whose work you were sitting on. Especially the writers who you tentatively accepted.

    So back to the drawing board with that one. I'm working on taking it from an R rating to a PG so I can submit it to more markets. I'm thinking of Fantasy Magazine next.

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Teaser Tuesday - A Carriage Chase

    This Teaser Tuesday has been taken down. I'm leaving the post up so Google will re-archive it over the original. If you are interested in future teasers, then tune in each Tuesday! I will only leave each teaser up for a week.

    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    Tuesday Teaser

    This Teaser Tuesday has been taken down. I'm leaving the post up so Google will re-archive it over the original. If you are interested in future teasers, then tune in each Tuesday! I will only leave each teaser up for a week.

    Sunday, March 29, 2009

    Starcaster 2 - Resurrecting Old Characters

    I think I finally found my major conflict in Starcaster 2, and I've begun to outline it in my head. I wrote a thousand words and I think it's off to a great start.

    I intended to bring in a minor villain from the first book and I decided to put her in a position where she can be not only a major annoyance, but a major villain as well.

    She's now a cop. Detective Meyer, my crooked cop from Book One has decided that he needs some starcasting help. So he's recruited a few starcasters who don't necessarily have the sterling character so essential to good policework. But that's OK. Meyer isn't looking for good cops. He's looking for good toadies.

    And I have the perfect older brother for her. Introducing: Clyde Yancy.

    Clyde is a character I developed WAY back in the 80s. Yes, I said the 80s. Some of you were kids back then. But that was when I started my first novel, Oath of the Songsmith. Clyde was a highwayman in Oath. In A Spy and a Lady, he's pretty much the same, but he's a gang member rather than a highwayman. He fits rather perfectly into my Regency-era timeframe. He LOVES having a sister as a policewoman, and he has stepped up his criminal activities accordingly. I'm thinking Meyer offered him a job first, but when he refused, his sister convinced Meyer to take her on.

    He's also a thug, which makes him a perfect nemesis for Cecil Crowley, Tory's gentleman friend and fellow starcaster, who's something of a thug, himself.

    Clyde is six feet tall, so he is significantly taller than the 5'7" Crowley. But Crowley has one advantage over Clyde and almost every other man. He regularly hoists around his six foot tall mentally disabled cousin, and he is therefore very strong and tough.

    I'm having a lot of fun putting together all these conflicts.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    Scattered Focus

    My writing has been scattershot lately. I've worked on a new short story based on Native American myths, which I finished and is simmering right now before revisions. I've also had ideas for two more short stories, one a mystery in Ancient Rome, the other a futuristic fantasy. And I wrote 2000 words for my Christian novel. It was a conflict scene that's been on my brain lately. I wrote it out of order, but that's okay. I found the perfect point in which to tuck it into my novel.

    For some reason, scenes with conflict come effortlessly to me. I guess as a writer, that's a good thing. In order to get this novel written, I just need to write a long string of conflicts. The novel will be done in a month and a half, and then I can go back and fill in anything else that might be necessary, such as description.

    S0unds like a plan!

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    I Passed!!! I have a Credential!!!

    It's official! I am a Microsoft Certified Word Expert! Check out the logo, which I can officially add to my email signature (which I won't):

    The test was difficult, probing into all the little nitpicky corners of Word. I got a 906 out of 1000, with 630 needed to pass. The cool part is I googled "Microsoft Word Expert" and came up with all these help wanted posts for people looking for certified Word experts to design courses, fly out and train people. Cool! Maybe I can quit my day job!

    The best part about this is it is a credential. Credentials are critical when writing nonfiction. A while back, I thought about self-publishing my Word for the Novelist articles. Well, now I can conceivably put together a proposal package and sell the idea to a publisher like . . . maybe Writer's Digest Books? I'm thinking it can't hurt to try?

    On Friday, I take my test for Microsoft Access. It is for a specialist-level test, because that's all they offer. The only other expert-level exam they offer is for Excel, and I don't think I have that much expertise in Excel. But if obtaining such a credential might help me eventually change careers into Instructional Design, then I might just start studying.

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    New Short Story

    I decided to write another short story because, to be blunt, I need some fiction sales. I went to my bookshelf and took out a book on American Indian mythology for some story fodder. This time, I didn't intend to cripple my efforts by writing in dialect, or by writing a racy story. You would think that raciness would help, but it hurts. 75% of markets won't take a story with racy content. And I went and made it integral to the plot.

    Not this time. I'm going for some drama here, but I also want the weird plot twists you come to expect when reading short stories. I'm definitely approaching this one with more of a business sense than any of my recent shorts. No sex. It's not even in first person.

    I'm finding the Native American concepts of totemism and fetishism (not what you think) to be excellent story fodder. I'm not going to focus on any particular tribe--I don't have enough expertise for that. It will be a fictional, unnamed tribe. The hardest thing so far is the names. Do I make up my own names, or attempt to find Native American names? I haven't decided yet, but I'm using made-up names as placeholders.

    I definitely do better with short stories if I have some sort of idea to glom off of. It's like I need a writing prompt. Recently, it's been fairy tales and gas prices. I'm also started plenty of stories that went nowhere after writing myself into a corner. That's probably my single biggest problem when it comes to short stories.

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    A Big Decision

    I am considering putting all publishing attempts on hold.

    I still have queries out, so I have not made the decision yet. But I am questioning whether, at this time of my life, it would even be a good thing to get a publishing contract. Whether I even want one at all. Sound strange? Read on for an explanation.

    I am 43 years old. When I was 35, I had my first child. She has Autism. I don't talk about it much here because I consider it an invasion of her privacy. She has a high-functioning form of Autism, which means it will be possible, with a lot of hard work, for her to lead an independent life.

    Assume I get a publishing contract. If she fails to become independent, do I really want it on my conscience that I didn't work with her enough because I was trying to meet publishing deadlines?

    I write in my spare time, mostly when my daughter is in bed, and odd hours on the weekend. After all, I don't have to spend every minute at her side, and my Neo makes it possible for me to write and still be accessable to her. I don't think I'll ever stop writing. What I'm considering changing is my attempts to publish anything I write. Like Emily Dickenson, I'll just let my writings accumulate. Unlike Emily Dickenson, I hope I don't die before any of it is published.

    It's actually a pretty exciting thing to contemplate. I could finish Metamorphosis, which is the temporary (and probably defunct) title of my Forging a Legend trilogy. I've been sitting on Book Two and Three in my brain all this time, hoping for a publishing contract--or at least an agent--before I write the rest. Were I to unleash the muse, the words would just flow from me. I could also write several books in the Starcaster series (which is the name of that series, as well as the name of the first novel). In seven years, I will be fifty and my daughter will be fifteen. How many novels can a stifled muse write in seven years? I'm thinking five or so. Add that to the books I already have, and that makes three Metamorphosis titles and four Starcaster titles. So I wouldn't have all my eggs in one basket.

    And my beta readers--the ones who have been wanting to read the next books--would be able to read them as I write them.

    Far from being disappointed in this line of thinking, I'm finding it oddly liberating.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    Fun with Cuts

    I did a 6,000 word cut today. I'm so proud of myself!

    Actually, it was several cuts. I had already red-penned my manuscript, X-ing out long passages and removing entire subplots. When I took the MS to my computer today (it was a day off!) I discovered even more passages that could be deleted.

    Now, of course, I'll have to read through the 4 chapters that are left to see if 1) I can cut anything else and 2) if what I left still makes sense.

    I'm thinking of skipping the whole agent hunt and just submitting directly to the publisher. I've already sent this novel (Forging a Legend) to several agents more than once. Tor, Baen and Ace Books all still take unsolicited manuscripts. Submitting to all three of them will take about a year. I also could go for some contests, but not very many are for novels. I have two languishing short stories I could enter. "The Sevenfold Spell" was supposedly going to be accepted (good news), but I think the magazine is now defunct (bad news). The other--"Petroleum Sunset"--I just haven't sent anywhere lately. I know. I can't sell it if I don't send it.

    Sunday, March 1, 2009

    Printer Recommendation

    Since Starcaster is in query limbo and A Hollywood Miracle is in peculate mode, I decided to work on my revision of Forging a Legend. I decided to print a large chunk out of the middle (the Conarzon chapters, for those of you who have read it), because having it in print in front of me makes for much easier editing. I want to cut out large chunks of this part, paring it down to only what is absolutely revelant to the plot. It will probably revisions further on, but that's the writing life, isn't it?

    Anyway, I thought you guys might want to know about my whiz-bang printer. I got it at Office Depot. It holds 250 sheets of paper in the paper try and prints very fast. It is not your typical photo printer. It is an HP OfficeJet Pro K4500. I got it when I was mailing manuscripts to beta readers, because I quickly learned that buying a new printer would be almost as cheap as photocopying several copies of a 300 page manuscript.

    It's big and clunky. It's noisy. But it's great for lots of printing. Each black cartridge prints something like 2500 sheets of paper. I was able to print two and half manuscripts on the sample cartridge that came with the printer.

    In the time I wrote the above, it printed from page 64 to page 204 in draft mode. I didn't have to stop and feed it paper, and I didn't have to pull any pages off an overloaded tray. It's truly built for printing thick documents. I recommend it highly. It cost me about a hundred dollars on sale at Office Depot. I think the original price was something like $120. The black print cartridge cost about 35 dollars, and each color cartridge--there are 3--costs about fifteen dollars. I paid 35 dollars for a three-pack. I hardly ever use this printer for color--we still have our photo printer for that--so I expect the color cartridges to last a while.

    Here's that link again. I only bought it about six months ago, so it should still be available.

    Thursday, February 26, 2009

    Rejections on Partials

    I'm going to break my own rule and write about rejections. I figure I'm not giving away any big secret here. You guys know I'm querying; I haven't announced an agent yet, so you know I'm getting rejections.

    Problem is, these rejections are on partials. Requested partials. More than a few of them.

    Rejected requested partials are a problem because 1) the agent was interested to begin with and 2) something about my writing disinterested them. They didn't want to see the rest. I did better than this with Forging a Legend. Something is obviously wrong with those opening pages.

    I expected to do better than this. My readers--all writer-types who I know online, and who are unlikely to blow sunshine up my ass--used words like "I loved it" and "I couldn't put it down." I never got feedback like that before. Maybe I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up, but I am human, after all.

    Yesterday, I finally got some feedback from an agent. Something I could work with. She said that she loved the premise, but I was showing more than telling and I had too much authorial intrusion. What brutal words for my fragile writer psyche!

    I promptly wrote a thank you email to the agent for taking the time to provide such priceless feedback.

    Then, I went in draconian mode and cut 12,000 words off the opening.

    By this morning, I had come to my senses. I needed those opening chapters. They lay all sorts of foundations and set up a bunch of conflict. So I went back to the previous version of the manuscript. And I read the opening pages. And lo and behold . . .

    Yikes! I was telling! For three pages--three out of five of the critical opening pages--I was delving deep in to my character's psyche with--yes!--authorial intrusion! My goal was to make my reader like the character. But if my character's actions can't make the reader like the character, than nothing can.

    I skimmed until I got to the action. Then, I discovered a gem of a sentence. I decided to open my story with it. Here is my old opening sentence:
    Mr. Julian Crain was late.
    This evokes mild curiosity. Late for what? But nothing more. We aren't dying to know what this guy is late for.

    Here is my new one.
    I hurried up to the embassay as if I belonged there.
    I like this better. I think it evokes curiosity. Why is she hurrying? Why is she going to the embassy if she doesn't belong there? And why is she trying to look like she does belong there?

    Still waiting to hear back on some other partials, requested and otherwise.

    Friday, February 20, 2009

    Writing Unleashed - Larger Than Life Characters

    I feel like my current novel has unleashed some latent quality in my writer's voice, because it is intense. Yet, I'm also trying to make it fun. Like this:
    He was leaning against a water truck on a cactus-covered hillside in a tiny mountain range southeast of Phoenix. Behind him, he could hear a bike rev. He turned around. The director yelled for action and after a few moments, the bike came sailing over a gully. It was a beautiful sight. Not for the first time, Max thought about learning how to jump.

    He'd spent the past few days tearing around the desert for the camera. He took a nasty spill early on and slid right into a cactus, and ended up with cactus balls sticking in his rear, right through his leathers. He could have sworn the cactus balls actually jumped off the cactus onto him. One of them left a thorn behind that the paramedic had to yank out with a pair of pliers. Then, he had to drop trou and let the paramedic prod his butt cheek with tweezers and antiseptic wipes. It was humiliating, but it gave him a healthy respect for the damned things.
    I found a cute intro to Jumping Cactus on You Tube.

    It's all true! Even the location of this scene. It's the Santan Mountains in Chandler Heights, Arizona. My husband and I spent a lot of time, driving around, exploring old mines, shooting the .44 and listening to the coyotes.

    Anyway, I'm learning there's a fine line between larger-than-life and over-the-top. I think with Abriel, I strayed perilously close to over-the-top. With Max and Karen, I needed to keep them as realistic as possible, while also having them do things that I wish I had the guts to do. When Karen and Max first meet, Max is so impressed by something that Karen has done that he's a bit in awe of her. And by the end of the book, Karen is so impressed by something Max has done that she is in awe of him. What I'm aiming for is for the reader to have the same reaction that Karen and Max have to each other.

    I'm also enjoying writing a novel that takes place in the here and now. I have never been able to use a term like "drop trou" before. It's pretty fun.

    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    Write Every Day! And Delete With Impunity!

    I hit a small snag in my novel and I stopped writing for a week and a half. Today, I slapped myself around some, uploaded my Neo files to my computer and started writing again. And I wrote a great scene.

    It's all too easy to get out of the habit. Sometimes, the amount I write is very small--not even a thousand words. It's not easy trying to be a writer with a disabled child and while working full time. But I still have an hour or so to myself in the evening, and I still have my Neo, which I can use to write almost any time. I have no excuse.

    Slow but steady was how I wrote my 75,000 word first draft of Starcaster in five months. Progress is progress, even when you occasionally have to delete a scene. So if you are a writer--and I'm thrilled that not all the followers of this blog are writers, since that means they are READERS interested in my work--if you are a writer, be sure to scribble something down every day.


    On a related note, I've noticed that the number of discarded scenes for this novel is sharply down. Here's a rundown of my discarded scene for all my novels:

    Oath of the Songsmith - All of it
    Forging a Legend - 55, some of then quite lengthy
    Starcaster - 40, most rather short
    A Hollywood Miracle - 2, so far, each very short, of 12,000 words

    I don't know if this is because I'm working from an outline this time. All my other novels just grew, and required extensive reworking even while I was writing it. With AHW, I'm doing a lot of thinking before I actually write anything. Or, I write it in my notebook first, where I appear to plan things better.

    Oh, and I should add that my motto about deleting is "delete with impunity, but save everything". This is why I have all my deleted scenes in dozens of tiny files on my hard drive.

    What about you? Do you write every day? Do you delete a lot of scenes?

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Something Special - Sneak Peak

    I'm starting a new program at Fantasy Debut and you guys get to be the first to know about it because you read this blog. I call it "Discovery Showcase", and it's where I will post the first chapter of unpublished or self published novels. The details will go live tomorrow at 6 AM EST.

    I won't be vetting or editing these chapters in any way. I'll simply format them as I do a debut showcase, and post them. I won't comment. But others probably will. I will post them in the order that I receive them, once a week on Saturday morning. Not sure if any of you will be interested, but if you are, stop by Fantasy Debut tomorrow for the full details.

    (Yes, I deleted a post. Sorry about that. I appreciate the encouraging words from everyone who commented.)

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    An Absurd Dream

    I dreamed last night that I got not one, but two offers of representation. One was from an agent who has my full right now. Another was from my daughter's language therapist, who apparently--in my dream--wants to moonlight as a literary agent. Her only "sales" (in my dream, mind you) were self-published novels. Through a comedy of errors, I accepted both offers, and had to retract my acceptance with the language therapist. So now, my daugher's language therapist hated me. And she's the school language therapist, so I can't exactly fire her.

    In the meantime, other agent was showering me with attention by flying out to meet me, sending a photographer to do a photo shoot and alerting the media. People who I know in blogs were stopping me in the street to congratulate me. Kimber An--who lives in Alaska--was one of them. She looked just like her Meez.

    It was a completely absurd dream. But with dreams like these, it's no wonder I write novels.

    Monday, February 2, 2009

    10,000 Words! Plus some thoughts on Plotting

    I'm drafting again. It's been a year since I seriously drafted a new novel (Starcaster being the last one). After false starts on various Starcaster II drafts, I decided I needed to work on something different while querying Starcaster. So I loaded up my Neo with the first three chapters of my Christian suspense, deleted the scene that caused me to get stuck a few weeks ago, and started writing. I'm not sure how many words I got in this weekend, but overall, I am at the 10,000 word mark.

    10,000 words seems to be an important milestone for me. Once I reach 10,000 words, I know I'm in it for the long haul. I start thinking about long-term word count goals, like where I want my novel to be by the time I reach 25,000 words, 50,000 words and 75, 000 words. That's the count I'm going for with this novel.

    This is the first time I've started a novel with the opening scene that I know I want to keep. I know where I want the novel to end. Going from A to Z is the fun part.

    I'm having to do some interesting research. The point-of-view character is a stunt man. The antagonist is an actor. A secondary antagonist is an actress. Another point-of-view character is a courier. I'm not big on Hollywood. I don't know much about this stuff. Right now, I'm just getting the story down and I'm doing the minimal amount of research it takes to plot it out. I'll go fill in all the fun details when I get this story out of my head.

    I know they say to "write what you know", but I needed my antagonist to be someone rich and famous. So no matter what I did, it would have to be something I had no experience with. So I went with Hollywood because it had the biggest wealth/fame potential.

    I can feel my three-novel experience as I write this. The plotting is coming smooth and easy. In my most recent scene, Max, my hero, has brought in his friend Karen, the courier, to help. He had to introduce her to John, the actor, for whom he works a stunt double and a sort of bodyguard. Max recently met Karen, and he really likes her. John suspects this immediately. Well, I thought, what would John do? He's a famous actor. Of course he would pour on the charm, because he really doesn't like Max at all, even though he trusts him. And Karen is doing her best to keep objective, but damn! John keeps flashing that knee-melting smile and is treating her like she's the only woman in the room. Which makes Renna, the secondary antagonist and John's female lead in his current movie--and who, by the way, is possessed by a demon--distinctly irked.

    And then something magical happened. Remember that scene that I said I deleted? It suddenly came back to me, significantly morphed. It will be perfect for upping the conflict between John and Max, and it will make Karen nicely indebted to John. And John likes having people in his power.

    Next post: why I decided to write a Christian novel.