Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ancient Chinese secret

Sometimes I just feel like saying that. Also? "We call it maize."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Raise your hand if you're not depressed.

Man, half the bloggers I know are being felled by sadness. I was one of you just last month. Go for the medication! It works wonders.

What is up with the blogosphere, anyway? Is winter wreaking havoc with people's moods or what? Damn you, winter! (shakes fist at sky) Let my people go!

But I digress. Feeling blue? Go check out Matt's prospective names for the fruit of his loins. My favorite: Smoke McManmuscle. tee hee.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Procrastination equation

Via Maggie, who found it at Wil Wheaton's site: Science magazine surfaces the procrastination equation. Which, incidentally, took the author 10 years to write.

Suddenly I don't feel so bad.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Moving on

OK, so I spent the weekend outlining the first draft of Pere - in other words, scanning it to see what's there (and what's not).

And really, it's not all bad. I mean, my list of sins is long - there's at least one arc that just flatlines there at the end; I have mistaken dialogue for action; and a landfill should be opened for my infodump, it's so rampant.

But there are good things, moments here and there that are actually dramatic and could be built upon. So now I'm looking at arc.

In theory, I am good with arc in general - but in practice, I have a hard time stepping it out. How do you move a person from being the kind of person who allows her controlling mother to run her life to being the kind of person who steps free? That's what I'm dealing with in Pere.

I should say, right up front, that I HATE that she lets her mother run her life. It makes me lose respect for her, and I'm having a hard time with that. So I need to look at that more closely. That reaction tells me there could be hidden gold there.

So I'm going to play around with the idea of arc and character by doing this exercise:
1. Figuring out the main character's primary trait - honesty? greed? ambition? whatever.
2. Stating its opposite.
3. Envisioning a scenario that would force the character to do or become the opposite, however briefly.
4. Then step it out - how does a character move from being entirely honest to lying? What has to change, what forces have to be in play, for that character to do something so out of character?

I'm hoping it'll shake some things loose.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Not writing

So I haven't been very good about updating since switching blogs, have I? Bad little writer. ,I haven't been very good at writing, full stop. I've been rereading Pere and having little flashes of insight, which will require a rewrite, but mostly I've been aghast at the sloppy plot and the way things just seem to happen out of the blue.

It's a first draft. All first drafts suck. I know this, and yet I'm still clutching my head in pain. Actually, in shock and awe that I could write such a grotesque little fakery.

And so, of course, I start strategizing. Maybe I shouldn't be rewriting mythology; maybe the problem is that it's not real enough. Then I remind myself that the last book was as real as it gets and it ran me in circles.

But the main problem is that I'm not sitting down to write. I'm doing a lot of studying and a lot of thinking about it, and sometimes that's critical, but it's been about a month since I've written anything on the book, or much here. Time to get back into the swing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pull yourself up by your bootstraps

I have discovered Maggie's blog just in time.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Local girl does good

Miss Eileen got a terrific review in Romantic Times for her upcoming debut novel, In the Stars (Berkley, June 2007). They predict she's going to be top of the bestseller lists one of these days, and we will all nod and smile proudly because we always knew she would.

Here's the review - did I mention, four and a half stars is damn near as good a review as RT gives?

by Eileen Cook
RT Rating: 4½
Publisher: BerkleyPublished: February 2007 (it's actually coming out in June)
Type: Contemporary Romance


Cook's debut novel seems destined to climb to the top of the bestsellerlists. It's laugh-out-loud funny, and readers will immediately fall in lovewith her style. This book reaches a new level of comedy with its hilariousheroine, exhilarating plot and fresh new approach to this well-loved genre.


Summary: After being dumped out of the blue by six-year boyfriend DougChase, Sophie Kintock becomes so determined to get him back that some peoplemay call her crazy. She sneaks into his apartment complex and finds himasking out a woman who believes in psychics. From there, her plan is set inmotion: Pose as a psychic and tell Melanie, Doug's new girl, that they arenot destined to be together.To obtain proper training as a psychic, she begins working with cute skepticNick McKenna, who knows the trickery behind the psychic business. When her"psychic" advice makes her famous, she must decide whether she wants tocontinue the charade and remain single, keep pursuing her ex or give herheart to someone new.
(BERKLEY, Feb., 288 pp., $14.00) MILD—Autumn Harrison

Writing a screenplay

Over the last few days, I've had a couple people tell me they're starting to explore writing screenplays. The folks in question are very visual writers, so I can hardly wait to see what they write. Watch out, world.

If you're also looking into writing for the silver screen, or even if you're interested in strengthening your story-telling skills, you owe it to yourself to check out the unfortunately named How to Write a Movie in 21 Days by Viki King. It's a quick read but a good one, and covers story development in a concise, readable way.

Of course, Robert McKee's Story and anything Syd Field ever wrote are worth checking out, too, but if you're short on time and long on ambition, read the King book and you'll be off. Another terrific resource is Laurie Hutzler's Emotional Toolbox site (and she's taught at UCLA, which offers an online MFA program in screenwriting), and of course, if you're writing romantic comedy, no matter what medium you're in, Billy Mernit's Writing the Romantic Comedy belongs on your shelf.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Two terrific resources

Have you read Lawrence Block's Telling Lies for Fun and Profit? If not, go get a copy. It's 20 or so years old but it still reads fresh. He tells every secret he knows, and has a good time doing it, too. Good book.

Here's something else that you might find handy: Jenny Crusie's and Bob Mayer's yearlong writing workshop. Discussion will happen on the Cherry Forums Online Writing Workshop forum. You have to join the Forums as a member to see the forums, but it's free (and worth it).

Monday, January 01, 2007

Creative procrastination

For the last two days, I've been holed up in my basement, painting with wax. It's called encaustic, smartass, and it's been used for centuries. The Egyptians used to use it to paint the faces of the dead on their mummies' caskets.

I gave myself the last half of December off from writing, because of lots of things but mostly because I was starting to force it, which results in nothing quite so much as a forced story. And there were the holidays, and gravy to make, etc etc. And when my husband asked me what my plans were for our last few days of freedom over the holiday break, I didn't even think about it. "I want to try encaustic," I said.

My friends Carrie and Dave tried it a couple years back and had terrific success with it. You need lots of ventilation and LOTS of wax, and you need to free yourself from your inner editor while you're working, because hot wax has a mind of its own. So that's what I did.

And after two days, I have some funky Rorschach-looking paintings and my soul feels like a stiff breeze has blown through it. And now I'm ready to write again, I think.

Sometimes that's all it takes: giving yourself the smallest of breaks, and then taking a deep breath and wading into the stream once more.