Archive for July, 2011

Escape from the Seiser Alm!

July 26, 2011

My characters and I have been trapped up on the Seiser Alm for weeks now. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a beautiful place to be. I’ve enjoyed the research. But today, I decided that I had to break out. After studying pictures and video from the web–not to mention our old photo albums, I knew almost exactly where they were going. I knew most of what they were saying, but I just couldn’t smooth things out to the semi-polished rough draft that I usually like to have in my pocket before.

So how did I fight my habits? I inserted cliches. As writer Sharon Darrow noted in one of her lectures, they can be signposts to go deeper in a later draft. I also used my own personal signpost of “Transition Needed” in strategic sections instead of banging my head againt the keyboard in the struggle to come up with something with flow and fluid. Just after midnight, I took the Seiser Alm Bahn down to the valley station with my characters. I’m going to try to stay away. Plus, I think that this important scene will need some tweaking as I think more about the characters’ relationships.


Over 11,000

July 22, 2011

I’m finally digging in again on PORTRAIT.  This week I managed to pull together over a thousand words.  It really shouldn’t be that difficult.  I try not to get jealous when my Facebook friends manage to pull together three or four thousand words a day.  But one of the problems with this chapter is that my characters are moving through the Seiser Alm, the Alpe di Siusi.  It’s a high alpine meadow surrounded by some of the most amazing rock formations in the world.  So my job is to evoke the the stunning views without completely slowing things down. Not easy!   I’ve spent a lot of time going through family pictures of our trips to the Dolomites as well as checking out various videos on YouTube.  It’s extremely convenient to have tourists film the very lifts that my characters are taking.


Finding a Way to Win

July 17, 2011

I”ve been watching the U.S. Women’s Soccer team with delight.  Less than 10 minutes after this blog post goes up, I’ll be plopping myself in front of the TV to watch them take on Japan.  Both teams arrived at this moment because of their skill, determination, conditioning and desire.

Players like Abby Wambaugh, Hope Solo, and Christie Rampone are experienced international players.  They’re used to listening to the women on the other teams shout out encouragement and orders in a different language.   The first time I experienced something like this was at a soccer match for my son’s club team when we lived in Italy.   I had become used to the sound of his coach shouing “Die, die, die!” at his players. (It was really the Italian word “Dai,” a shout of encouragement.  But it was odd to hear the German coach roar, “Schnell! Schnell! Schnell.”   (Fast, fast, fast.)  I managed to work some of this disconnect into my soccer novel, Defending Irene.   

My guess is that Japan will dominate the time of possession, but that the Americans will find a way to win.  Go, USA!

Juggling Projects

July 9, 2011

Some writers out there are jugglers.  They can easily switch from project to project.  In fact, there are those who strongly feel that you should have more than one project out there so that you can jump to something else if you feel blocked.  Since I am by nature both a plodder and a polisher, I prefer to keep myself completely submerged in a single project.  If I can’t move forward, I’ll go back and tweak things so that I’m staying involved with my characters.

One of the reasons that I don’t like picking things up and putting them down is that I can lose a lot of momentum.  It isn’t easy for me to get back on the rails of the story and start chugging along again.  In fact, it can take four to six weeks to get up a good head of steam. But I’m hoping that it won’t take so long to get back to work on PORTRAIT after turning in a revision to my agent for her reading week.

If I hadn’t had a high school graduation, a college graduation and a visit from my sister who’s been working in Egypt to enjoy, I might have been able to spend about a half an hour a day on my Italian chase novel while spending the chunk of my productive mornings on the revisions of Calyn’s story. Then I could have kept some forward momentum.  But here’s a near paraphrase of a quote from Newbery Medalist Katherine Paterson: “The things that keep us from writing are the same things that give us something to write about.”


Promoting the Backlist

July 1, 2011

Peachtree Publishers does such a lovely job of promoting the books on their backlist.  My friend Sondy was at ALA and took a picture of SUSPECT being promoted even though it came out last fall. She also found SAVING THE GRIFFIN face out. It does have an extremely tempting cover.