Thursday, September 29, 2005

Get 'er Done

Does anyone know the origin of that phrase/fragment/saying? It's on a comedy CD I've been listning to. I don't want to use it if it's some sort of negative/sexist thing. Of course, I've just used it here, but I could always delete it or plead ignorance.

So yes, I am plowing forward, plot and characterization be damned. That's not true. Characters are taking shape and morphing further away from actual people. It's kind of cool, really. I'll be taking my act on the road soon - first for TrackRick's wedding and then a trip to Montreal. I'll have a spiffy desk/computer setup in Montreal so I'll be working and posting from there.

Gotta go get 'er done.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Even My Angst is Unoriginal

I followed a link that was posted in my Yahoo Chick Lit group to read an old online diary of an author in her pre-pub days. It was pages and pages of ups and downs, whining and "this is crap" talk. It looked exactly like my blog! Apparently I am on a well-travelled path. My new plan is to track words per day in a paper diary so I can see patterns and hopefully not freak out when I have a slow day or two. If I'm really organized, I'll post weekly tallies here.

I finished We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirly Jackson. I loved it - great story about two crazy sisters living together :)

Now I"m flipping between a couple of chick lit books - Coffee and Kung Fu and Making it Up As I Go Along (this one is more women's fiction than chick lit)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Getting On With It

Once I stopped screwing around and just sat down and forced myself to finish, I finished. I am now re-revising the synopsis and first 35 pages so I can send them in to a contest. The point isn't to win - there's no cash involved. The point is to get feedback in the form of a scoresheet. Friends and family are great readers, but I doubt they can be as brutally honest as I need them to be. Except Dad. He can be brutally honest, but I doubt that he would make it past the first page of any chick lit book.

After sending in my contest entry, it's full speed ahead. I have 8,000 words done and I need 80,000 - 110,000. So all I need to do is repeat what I just did nine more times. My goal is to have a first draft done by Christmas, take a break and then revise it. In the mean time, I need to get some cash coming in. Plan: call library - am I still being considered? Possibly apply at Kohls - they're hiring stock people for Christmas. Work on corporate freelancing - this is probably my best option for maximizing earnings per hour. Need to get a real web site going, polish my "flyer" and do some mailings.

Today I am taking a break from all that. I am dressed to go for a run in the humidity soup outside. Then I will wrestle with my fright wig humidity hair to get ready to go downtown for a bridal shower tea at the Drake. I'm quite fancy and important.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

It's Better to Fall on Your Butt Than Not Try

That's what Nate's skateboarding coach told the 7-year-olds in the Skateboarding 2 class last Saturday. Good advice. I wish that lesson would sink in to my 38-year-old head.

Have I ever regretted trying something and not achieving it? No.

Have I ever regretted not trying something? Yes.

Lesson learned? Apparently not. All those A's in school and a basic life lesson still eludes me.

What do I regret not trying?

- not going out for the basketball team in junior high. I was tall for my age and we used to shoot baskets in the driveway all the time. I would have done fine and probably really liked it. For whatever reason, I had it in my head that I was "not athletic" so that was the end of that.

- not getting a job at the Daily Illini during my University years. I started in Journalism and my academic advisor told me to go get a job at the university newspaper (the DI). For whatever reason I decided I was "too shy" and didn't do it, but would constantly compose "columns" in my head. What a moron.

- not going hang gliding when I had the opportunity. I actually did want to try it. I really don't know why I didn't - at the time I guess I didn't realize how important it was to seize the opportunity when it presents itself.

There are probably more but those are the three big ones that bother me the most.

As for my giant failure - do I regret geting married even though it ended in divorce? No. I would have always wondered what if... and always compared every relationship to some mythical one I would have built up in my head. I didn't end up where I thought I would be, but my life has been and continues to be full of incredible surprises.

So, what's my problem? Whenever I hit a rough patch with the book, my head floods with those evil "What the hell do you think you're trying to do?" demons. My inner Buffy is still working out the kinks in her roundhouse, but she is really trying to keep the demons under control. My inner Giles is trying to help by providing all the past "trying/not trying" evidence that the demons are wrong. Maybe I need to work on my inner Spike. Spike would stop agonizing so much and just bloody well get on with it.

Lost It

I'm revising and it's hard. All the stuff I skipped over in the first draft I have to fix now and it's hard. I'm making progress, but it's slow. I'm trying to be patient and take the time I need, but patience is not one of my virtues. grrr. Oh, and the online dating spam comment to my last post is not helping any.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Am I Creeping You Out?

I'm not sure why my eyes look like they were scooped out in my picture. It looks fine in my profile. Can't troubleshoot right now - I've got a book to write. It's still going well. I gave the first four chapters to my literary advisor (aka Linda) over the weekend. She gently suggested NUMEROUS revisions, so I am busy. I am not discouraged because the story itself is holding together. The revisions are mainly about polishing the language and some rearrangement. No re-do's or start-overs. Could this be actual progress?
Currently reading: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What Have I Been So Busy Doing?

Too busy to blog? I must be WRITING! Excellent. Yes, three days post-festival and I am still motivated and the ideas are flowing. Knock on my simulated cherry desk.

Monday, September 12, 2005

They Keep Pulling Me Back In

The Literary Festival was definitely worthwhile! I have a much better sense of the industry, the community, what it takes and what I need to do.

Ugly truth: It's all about marketing. NOOOOOOooooooo. I feel like I'm trapped in the freakin' mafia. Apparently it's ESSENTIAL to market yourself. First by providing a "hook" for your book to help your agent and editor "sell" your book to the all-powerful marketing people who have been known to kill many a project. Yes, yes, I know what you're saying, "but you know how to do it - what's the problem?" I know, and yes I can, it's just.... ugh.

Scary part: Master pitch session. Writers got to stand at a microphone and pitch their stories to a panel of 8 agents, editors and publishers and get instant feedback. It wasn't pretty. Comments were harsh,"You just generically described every mystery on the shelf." or "Why should I care about your opinion on this subject?" ouch. I didn't get the opportunity to pitch - it was done by lottery number and mine wasn't called.

New best friends? Yes, I made an effort to be "friendly Karen" instead of scowling Karen, and I managed to more or less befriend a couple of fellow writers I plan on keeping in touch with. One is a forensic chemist by day and one just relocated here from Maine. As for authors, I used the "Stephen method" of seat selection at dinner and it worked! The idea is to sit at the emptiest table and then see who ends up there. I ended up with women's fiction author Maria T Lennon and sci fi/ fantasy author Tad Williams. I didn't know who they were at the time, which is probably a good thing or I wouldn't have been able to talk at all. Tad Williams was incredibly nice and gave me tons of advice. Chatting with him was definitely a highlight of the weekend.

On Sunday Linda and I went back to the festival to hear Peter Straub talk and get him to sign some books. Linda even asked him a specific question about Ghost Story. If you ever get the chance to go hear him talk you should.

I am definitely motivated and inspired!

Oh, and for the record, I have been eating sugar. I had two pieces of cake on Linda's birthday, 1 1/2 scones at the tea yesterday and miscellaneous scoops of ice cream during the week. I didn't mean to mislead you into thinking I had actually kicked the sugar habit for good. no no no. :)

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Friday is the Midwest Literary Festival. I signed up for a one-day writer's workshop. I hope to find a mentor, a celebrated novelist best friend, and tons of inspiration and motivation. That's not too much to ask, is it?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Need a Talisman

I'm afraid of jinxing it because... today was a good day! Ksl came in my room with paper in hand this morning at 7:30. I was technically awake, but still lying face down in bed. That wasn't going to stop ksl! She held out her paper and read the whole game plan to me. She figured out where each major turning point and crisis had to happen and plugged in the events we had discussed in the previous days.

I think she might have transmorgrified a ksl duplicate because ksl is incredibly busy. I have no idea where she found time to do all of that book planning. She has to get all 3 kids dressed and off to school each day - this involves helping complete homework, making breakfast, filling out countless forms, keeping track of who needs to wear which shoes for P.E. days and remembering who is/isn't buying lunch at school each day. In addition, fall is quickly approaching so she has been lugging up the storage bins of fall clothes and sorting them for herself, fits and all 3 kids.

I had to get myself out of bed and make my own coffee. Once I was fully awake and caffeinated, I ran with the plan, and - this is the jinx part - the plan is working!! She's a genius! I'm related to a genius! Neighbours think we're the same person so I'm often mistaken for a genius!

I hope I still feel the same way when I wake up tomorrow and re-read what I did today. Maybe I'll place a rush order from first. Just to be safe.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pulling the Curtain Back

We are learning. There is no *one* way to do this. We've read a lot of "how to" books, and everyone has a different process. Some need a detailed outline, others just write "whatever" and let the story flow.

I like having an outline. We had an outline for our stalker story but then got really stuck on the stalker and scrapped it. Then we were working on a two points of view story about two females on different tracks - gee, kind of like me and ksl... We were trying to show that neither track is perfect or easy and that both require tweaking and self-awareness to make them work. Grass is greener effect blah blah blah. This story was getting very complicated and intimidating. It is shelved for the moment.

The new story is much simpler. One main character. Short time frame. Simple plot. We're analyzing our favorite chick lit books and using them as an example of how to arc the story, how much detail to go into for minor characters, how much description is really necessary, etc. We toyed with the idea of trying to crank out something that follows a formula, like romance, but for now that idea is shelved.

We're also learning how to best work together. With 2 POV you can have 2 people writing, but ksl was really miserable. Now we're back to me doing 1st drafts and ksl fixing up the holes, revising to show/don't tell, etc.

Now I'm blatantly not following the advice in the books about not talking about the process. Too bad. I'm doing this for me as well, so I can go back and see the ups and downs, and hopefully see and learn from my mistakes along the way.

I'll keep you posted on our progress. Get it? Posted?


Monday, September 05, 2005

Chieti Goes Down

She ran smack into a hurdle and has a huge knot on her head. It doesn't appear to be a concussion, so she's up, but staggering a bit.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Potato Head Perspective

This morning I was rewriting Chapter one AGAIN, even though I keep saying I will stop doing that and move forward. I was feeling aggravated, annoyed with myself and tired of being stuck at the same place.

Emma stomped into my room with Mr. Potato Head, grabbing at the back part where he stores his accessories. "Dis stuck. You help me?"

I unstuck the accessories compartment and she raced out of my room, looking at all the endless possibilites now available to her. She came back a few minutes later with him fully accessorized: cowboy hat, bug eyes, handlebar moustache, mismatching ears and big orange feet. "You win 'dis as a pwize!" she said and handed it to me.

He's been sitting next to my monitor all day, sticking his tongue out at me. I'm not sure how long she'll let me keep him here, but for now he's helping me keep the faith: as soon as I get unstuck it will all come together. Thank you, Emma.