Archive for November, 2010

All the Way to the End

November 30, 2010

While I’m not completely finished with my revision of Calyn’s story, I did manage to make it through all the way to my notes at the end of the manuscript.  And even though I’m going to keep smoothing and polishing the manuscript for the next three weeks, I feel like I can say that I have a complete draft of this latest revision.  I know everything that happened even if I need to fill in some transitions and descriptions.  I also know that I’ll have to tweak at least one conversation.   And then there’s this new character who essentially popped out of the book’s chorus to take a small, but significant role in the darkest moment, climax and resolution.   This isn’t the first time that a character has arrived late and insisted on stepping into the action.   But at least this character didn’t threaten to take over the story.  

A quick check in the Calyn category revealed that I started this revision almost exactly eighteen months ago.  The first chapter literally took months as I struggled to find my way into the story. Fortuantely, my live group at the 28th Street Schuler’s in Grand Rapids gave me direction and approval.  The manuscript grew from about 42,000 words to 62,000 words.   I confess that I had some dreams of finishing this story up a year ago.  I had, after all, already come up with a new opening.  But this sent waves and ripples throughout the entire manuscript that I had to address.  Other characters came along.  I also devoted close to four months of that time revising SUSPECT with some horrifically tight skeds.  Yeah, yeah.  Excuses.  Excuses.  I’ve always been slow. 

I might still be lacking some transitions when the whole manuscript goes to my Schuler group for a complete read.  But there is absolutely no point in making things so polished that picking the words and scenes  apart for important changes is impossible.

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NaNoEdiMo Goal

November 23, 2010

In an effort to make my goal of finishing an edit of Calyn’s story by the end of November, I’ve neglected the blog.   But the additional focus on story has been helpful.  I’ve been able to find some transitions to link together the scenes that I’ve already established.  For me, such things have always been a challenge.  But I found great comfort when I learned that a great English author–I could almost swear it was Thomas Hardy–complained to a friend that he was having the worst time trying to figure out how to get a main character from the front door down to the road. 

But now, I’m pleased to report that I’m 23 pages away from the end.  Or at least I’m 23 pages away from “an end”.  Some of the complaints about SUSPECT were that I wrapped things up too fast.  But I think that I will roll the novel through my groups before I add anything.

The Booklist Review

November 17, 2010

Another positive review for SUSPECT:

“Mystery fans will root for Jen and speculate away as they try to figure out what really happened…” ―Booklist

Reading Reviews

November 15, 2010

One extremely wise writer compared good reviews to crack and bad reviews to poison.  And she’s right.  It would probably be wiser to stay away from places like GoodReads where you run the simultaneous risk of becoming addicted to the “Attagirl!” feedback and being injured by the people who just don’t buy into your book’s solution.  So why do I keep doing it?  Why did the elephant child risk his nose? Insatiable curiosity. 

And sometimes, it’s just nice when someone gets what you were trying to do. I didn’t mind it one bit when one reader observed that my book wasn’t stellar when she went on to note that she truly enjoyed SUSPECT for what it was:  ‘a fun, “I don’t wanna think too hard, just wanna be entertained, darn it!” read.’ 

That’s what I was shooting for with this project.  Mission accomplished!

Best Fiction for Young Adults 2011

November 12, 2010

SUSPECT was nominated to YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list! A group of fifteen will evaluate the nominees at the American Library Association Midwinter conference and come up with the 80 or so  finalists.  I’ll add the link once this list is updated.  Right now, it only shows the nominees through September 30.  My son wanted to know what kind of list this was. I told him that Megan Whalen Turner was on it and instantly received a high five.

Some Advice for Those in NaNoWriMo

November 6, 2010

Let me start with a disclaimer.  I tried NaNoWri National Novel Writing Month once about six years ago.  I wound up stopping about halfway through with a tangled mess.  It taught me that I really have to have one scene written up to the level of a semi-polished draft before moving on.  But it was the eighth novel that I both started and finished.   So it’s not entirely surprising that I have some writing habits that I couldn’t overcome.   

But the goal for all writers once they finish a manuscript is to sell it.  My essay called Prospecting for Gold Nuggets gives some reasons why it’s important to think about a book’s premise early.

That Which Does Not Kill Us…

November 5, 2010

Writers have co-opted an old expression for their own use:

That which does not kill us, gives us something to write about.

Right now I’m in the process of editing Calyn’s darkest moment.  As I work through it, I’m keeping in mind a couple of experiences that I had.  The first was being bitten by a husky on my paper route.  I was pretty experienced with dogs at that time.  I knew when to leave a paper undelivered.  This dog watched me calmly as I moved slowly up the walk.  It didn’t lower its head or growl.  Slowly, carefully, I slide the paper through the railing.  The dog stood up and walked slowly down the steps to meet me. Then suddenly it lunged forward, bit my forearm three times, and then went to sit back down. 

While I was grateful that it decided against continuing to bite me, it was pretty unnerving to see that dog calmly looking down on me from the top step.  I backed away slowly and then tried to continue my route.  I felt wobbly, but not too bad for the next two houses.  At the third house, I sank down on the doorstep. From what I’d learned in Mr. Zoeller’s fifth grade first aid class, I was pretty confident that I was going into shock.  I rang the doorbell of the house.  No one was home, so I sat their for awhile.  I was pretty confident that I wasn’t going to make it the three or four blocks back to my house any time soon.  I remembered one of the houses further back on my route had the front door open to let in a breeze through the screen door.  

I managed to walk back there and scare the heck out of the older lady who lived there.  Fortunately, her daughter was there.  I remember the rather odd sensation of one part of me listening to the other part of me explain what had happened. 

This part of my story isn’t necessarily about a girl getting bit by something, but it definitely how people react when going into shock and the utter frustration of not necessarily being in charge of your own body.

NaNoEdiMo

November 2, 2010

Since I’m deep into revisions for Calyn’s story, I knew that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) wasn’t an option.  But there are other options out there.  A few other writers I know have decided to embark on NaNoEdiMo where editing is the focus.  I’d originally been hoping to put the polish on by the third week of November, but that looks to be out of reach.  There aren’t enough hours in the day considering my other responsibilities, but I’m pretty confident that I can achieve this if I keep pushing forward instead of letting myself get tangled up by a single sentence for twenty minutes.  And yes, that does happen to me when I’m working on transitions.  So right now, I’ll mark the section with TRANSITION and move on.