Saturday, April 29, 2006


Friday night at the chocolate reception at the conference, Linda and I and our table-mates were discussing doing pitches the next day. Everyone else was relaxed until I explained how and why to be nervous. Worst-case scenario: sleeping late and missing your appointment completely. That would have been really bad, since my appointment was at 1:30 p.m.

We woke up on time, I made it, and I didn't give my speech as wooden as it sounded when I was practicing. I might have been a bit on the manic side due to all the chocolate and coffee, but the editor didn't recoil in horror. She slipped me a card with a specific editor's name on it.

Great! But uh.... I haven't finished the book yet. CRAP! Why don't I have it ready to send out this minute?? I can't remember her exact words - maybe she said "Ohmigod, if only you were done RIGHT NOW I'd print it this minute" or maybe she said "You're not done yet? LOOOOSERRRRR!!" and she made a big "L" sign on her forehead and laughed at me. Ok, no - she didn't, but it would be nice if I could send something before any reference to this conference sounds old.

So yeah, gotta get cracking, but now I'm en route to Mtl - that means packing plus 2 days of driving, then miscellaneous freelance work plus E. visit time. I'm going to have to get organized.

I really HATE packing. I need to unwind a bit first...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

On the Move

Linda and I are going to a writer's conference tomorrow and Saturday, then Sunday I'm off to Montreal to do some freelance work ($$) and see E. Busy weekend! I am currently in the packing paralysis stage. I hate packing and haven't started. I'm going to go visualize what I need, then make a list.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Plagiarism scandal rocks chick-lit world

From the NYT: Harvard Novelist Says Copying was Unintentional

I am apparently going about this all wrong. I think I'll scrap my current project and change to Brenda Janes' Journal. It's sure to be a big success.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Defining 'voice'

As part of my pitch for this upcoming conference, I have to be able to define my writing - dark, intensely emotional, witty, whatever. Right now, I'm calling mine dry, witty. Here is an example of my 'voice' from a freewriting exercise (topic: bad hair day) that I did in a workshop. Any ideas othr than dry, witty? It's difficult to describe your own voice - that's why I'm asking for help.

Bad Hair Day

"Did you get a perm?"

Any time the humidity level is over 80%, someone asks me that question and they always give me a 'you're lying' look when I tell them no.

Having naturally curly hair can be wonderful when it's cut right and falls on my shoulders in perfect waves. Unfortunately, I have little control over when those days occur.

On days when I'm giving a presentation or having a picture taken, I make an effort with Bed Head Control Freak Anti-Frizz Serum, masochistically wrapping two-inch sections of hair around a circular brush, then blasting the curls into submission with a high-wattage hair dryer. For the first hour it looks ok, maybe not pin-straight, but presentable.

The minute I step outside and away from my curl control center, my hair knows it and the curls take over. If disaster strikes and I get caught in the rain without an umbrella, I know I'm doomed - the perm question or worse, "What happened to your hair?" will follow me the rest of the day.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My bad(s)

Thanks to being a shy kid who spent most of her time reading, I know the difference between their, they're and there; whose and who's; and your and you're. I do not write lose when I mean loose and I know that compliment and complement are two different words. I am not perfect. I have trouble spelling words with double consonants like recommend; I make mistakes with past perfect verb tenses; and until a few days ago, I did not understand when to use bring vs take. Oh - I also like to write long run-on sentences. I often pick up 'common writing pitfalls to avoid' books, but I never find the information useful.

Recently, I found a wonderful exception:
Getting the Words Right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney

FINALLY someone explained bring/take!

On Wednesday afternoon, the teacher tells her class she'll see them the next day for a field trip and reminds them, "Don't forget to bring your lunch"

On Thursday morning, each mom tells her child to have fun on the field trip and says, "Don't forget to take your lunch"

I learned that I make a couple of other mistakes (see below), but these might be the result of the language changing. I double-checked my Oxford dictionary to make sure it wasn't just a case of Us 'Mercians don't cotton to that there formal-like Queen-talk.

What do you think of the below examples?

Example 1: livid is a bluish-leaden color. If you write that someone was livid, it's like saying he was blue - you expect the reader to understand what caused the color change. My Oxford dictionary lists 'furiously angry' as a colloquial definition - used in informal spoken language.

Example 2: nauseous means you cause others to feel nauseated. So if you eat some bad baba ganoush, you should say "I'm nauseated." If you fall into a dumpster full of rotting baba ganoush and dog poo and walk into a tea party, you could announce to the ladies, "I'm nauseous."
My Oxford dictionary gives 'sick' as a definition for nauseous, so maybe this one has changed.
Does everyone else say nauseous or nauseated?

I'm actively putting my new-found knowledge to good use:
A woman with a mullet stepped into the metro car reeking of Calvin Klein Obsession.
Clarissa's face turned livid before she cried, "You're nauseous!" and keeled over.
A doctor rushed to Clarissa, examined her quickly and shouted, "Bring me my medical kit! We've got to take her to a hospital right away!"

Too bad this year's Pulitzer has already been awarded.

Monday, April 17, 2006

No, no, no - that character isn't you!

Linda has been editing and commenting on my book. I love her edits because she makes little drawings that are much more interesting than proofreading marks. For example, I moronically wrote that someone 'popped her head in my door' and Linda drew a door with a head in it. I wrote a stupid scene involving a sister and her husband slow-dancing, and Linda drew a stick figure barfing into a barf bag. Those are the two WORST examples - the whole book isn't rot.

In one scene I have one of the sisters being completely obnoxious. The sister just happens to be a mom and she happens to use one of Linda's favorite phrases. Linda drew a crabby face in the margin and wrote "Hey - Is this ME? I'm not the basis for this, RIGHT?"

She isn't - HONESTLY. Yes, I stole a few Linda- isms, but the character is a composite, as are almost all of my characters. REALLY! So if/when the rest of you read it, do not freak out if you recognize little bits and pieces, and do not assume that the main character is me - she isn't. REALLY.

Friday, April 14, 2006

2nd draft done

Yahoo! I'm starting my 3rd revision. You're thinking - oh, she's just making sure she used commas correctly - she's prety much done.
Uhh, no. Between the first and second drafts I had to dump three secondary characters by merging them in with other characters, and my theme shifted a little. I also had to fill in all the parts I skipped over in the first draft to keep myself from getting stuck. So this second draft is probably what you'd normally call a first draft. NOW I can start revising it.
Still, it's a good thing (aagh - delete that - cliche!)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Bring on the Nightmares

Yesterday I got completely jammed up with my book - I had to do the Starbucks escape with a notebook and pen thing to get moving again.

I also had trouble falling asleep, but not because I was thinking of this book - I thought of a complete plot for a horror story - beginning to end. I had to turn on a light and write it down. This morning I looked at it again and ran it by Linda. She likes it - it still makes sense, not like some crazy undecipherable dream.

How weird is that? I don't even read much horror. Apparently there's a lot of unexplored stuff simmering in my subconscious soup.

So now I am motivated to finish this chick lit novel so I can move on and scare the crap out of people. Much more fun.

: )

p.s. heard a real-life horror story today: e. only read 5 books last year! 3 on military stuff and 2 on kayaking. Now THAT'S scary. He needs me to dig him out of that deep, dark bookless well. I set him up with One for The Money, King Leopold's Ghost and Timeline for the long Easter weekend.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Never for me is almost 40 years

I like Agent 007's recent post.

I'd like to post a clever 'I've never' list here, but I can't think of anything good. Of course, I haven't done it all, but I can't come up with a comprehensive, inspirational list. What is one 'supposed' to have done by age 40? No idea. Not interested in doing what I'm supposed to be doing anyway. Where's the list of stuff you shouldn't do? I'm sure that's much more fun.

As for universal themes, I'd love to explore a revenge theme. I don't think I've ever actively sought revenge, but I do think about it a lot. I hold long grudges and I enjoy thinking of ways to smite my foes. Nothing quick and painless. I prefer sneaky and underhanded. Stephen King has written some excellent short stories about revenge. Those are my favourite of his works.

What am I doing?

I am supposed to be completing 30 pages of book revisions today. I have 4 done so far.

I still haven't crafted my 'ride-along' story. By the time I do, it will be old news.

I write, I complain about writing, I miss e.

I went to a martial arts exhibition with Q Friday. Board-breaking, brick-breaking, impressive self-defense. Inspired me to bump up my weekend workout. Now I'm tired. Running uphill fast hurts and I don't envision it helping me break any bricks.

I took Em to see the movie 'She's the Man' last night. Pretty good for a PG-13 teen flick.

I miss the kids already and I'm not gone yet. I make no sense.

If I haven't spelled it out yet, I am planning on moving back to Canada. In June. In with e. Yes, e. is aware. He might change his mind after reading this post, but as of a few hours ago, he was on board.

Time to stop playing with blogger. Time to go work on the book revision already.

I never do what I should be doing.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Rubbing Shoulders With a Six-Figure Freelancer

Kelly James Enger is giving a series of presentations about novel writing and freelance writing at the local libraries. I have Linda to thank for finding out for me. I went to a 'getting published' presentation last night. KJE has done and is doing exactly what I am trying to do. I'm hoping some of her success and wisdom rubbed off on me.

She gave a lot of good information - straighforward and honest. Yes, it's doable, but you have to do it - no one is going to approach you and ask you for your writing - you have to send it out there.

I own her book "The Six Figure Freelancer" but of course I forgot to bring it last night to be signed. grr. Next time.

I'm working on not being 'shy Karen' when I go to these things and making a point of saying something to the presenter afterward. So far no one has recoiled in horror at me. KJE was extremely nice and encouraging and even responded to an e-mail I sent her. Nice.

Sorry I haven't been posting much - I went on a 'ride along' with a county sheriff patrol car Sunday night and I've been meaning to post details, but can't seem to get it crafted just right. Please be patient...
one tidbit: I got to tour the jail and hit my head on the wall of the 'rubber room' - it's not really made of rubber.