Just wonderin’….

Yesterday, while eating chocolate doughnut (notice I spelled it correctly?) holes while finishing up a book by one of my favorite authors, Georgette Heyer.  One thing I noticed is that, based on today’s standards, her pacing was a little slow.  You must understand, I hadn’t re-read a Heyer book since I started my professional career as an author.  And I’m guessing, if I wasn’t writing professionally now, I still might not notice her pacing except for one thing.  I’m used to a faster life now.  And that’s what set me wondering…is it possible that one reason some of the authors of yesteryear sold those long epics because life wasn’t as fast as today?

In the ’60s, I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and thought it was the bomb!  When Peter Jackson released the first of his movies, I rushed out and bought the re-releases.  I sat down to read and went to sleep around page seven.  Oh my God, how could I have I thought it was so great?  Peter should have been Tolkein’s editor.  Then I thought of my life back then as compared to now.  Mail took 3-4 days to arrive.  Flying by jet was only for the rich and very few people flew at all.  Most long-distance travelling was done by car, bus, or train.

Now we have computers and cell phones so communications are lightening fast.  You don’t even have to wait until after 7:00PM for the cheaper rates.  Eating out meant ordering, waiting for food, and eating.  Now, you drive through, pick up your food, and sometimes even eat it while driving from soccer game to swim meet.  Most of us don’t even get eight hours sleep anymore!  So is that why book pacing is so much faster today?  Are we so used to the faster life style, we no longer are willing to take the time to read massive descriptive scenes like James Michner wrote?  Because we can Google any culture, do we HATE reading all that research the author offers us to increase our knowledge of other peoples?

What do you think?

Self Image

 A few years ago, I found an artist to make caricatures (the ones Marilyn and I use) That’s sorta my writer persona.  On a SCUBA forum, I’m using

On that same forum, I use a signature line created by a friend of mine who took the SHADOW GAMES cover art by Cody Frusher. This is the persona I want the world to see.

Strong, self-asssured, daring, a bit scary, and in the top 5 friends on your side in a fight.

Misled

The engine sputtered; the car jerked. The Check Engine light came on, soon followed by all the other lights on the panel.

“What the . . . ?”

She’d had the 10 year-old car in the shop for general maintenance just the week before. What in the world could be wrong? No time to ponder the cause, she pulled the car as far off the busy highway as possible. Once she’d killed the engine, she laid her forehead on the steering wheel. Why now? Why here, a hundred miles from no-where? And why on one of the hottest days of the summer?

She checked her cell phone. Dead. “Figures.” This had been a crapper of a day from the get-go. Should’ve listened to her sister and just stayed put. The lead she was chasing was probably a dead-end, anyway.

The only house in sight had to be a half-mile down the highway. No time like the present, she thought as she headed out, grateful she at least had on tennis shoes and not her normal three-inch sandals.

“Sorry. We don’t have a phone,” the woman said before she quickly closed the door in her face.

Stunned, she turned and retraced her steps.

The late afternoon sun beat down on her as she trudged back to the worthless piece of junk that had previously been so reliable. Right now, she’d give the world for a hat, or a shade tree, or a cool bottle of water.

Passenger side doors open, she sat in the car for what seemed like hours. No one stopped. Dusk settled and she began to get scared. Would she have to spend the night out here? Alone? No one would even miss her for a couple of days.

Finally, a car pulled up behind her. The driver left the lights on high, pretty much blinding her. A door slammed. Boots crunched on the gravel. All she could make out were the legs of a very tall man as he came even with the driver’s door.

He leaned down and . . .

You continue the story. Where does it go from here? 🙂

I’d Hate to Hurt an Aardvark But . . .

If I have to read Arthur‘s Halloween one more time in the next three months, I’m going to consider it.

I’m thrilled that my 3-year-old grandson loves stories. I think it’s pretty cool that our version of Arthur’s Halloween belonged to his daddy and is 27 years old. (Yep, I dated the books he got as a little kid.)

But we read Arthur’s Halloween at least three times per visit — before, between and after all the other books. He knows it so well now that I can’t even have a little fun and revise it on the fly because he knows if I’ve left something out or added something new. He even expects the same voices for Arthur, DW, Buster, Mrs. Tibble and everyone else.

Just a side note: For 27 years, I thought Arthur was a funky-looking rabbit. Who knew he was an even funkier-looking aardvark? (Well, besides the grandkiddo and about a million other rugrats.)

Like I said, I’d hate to hurt an aardvark, but if I have to read it again any time soon, I’m gonna snatch out somebody’s hair. Wonder how he’d look bald?

More from the Tech World

Along with my Kindle, I recently purchased an iPad. Tell you right off the bat, the keyboard isn’t made for word processing. Actually, it’s more like a giant iPhone…except it’s hard to take phone calls with it. But you can do small pieces like blogging, which I’m doing right now. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.

There are some things I really like about using the iPad. First, it’s light, so now I can sit curled up in my chair and do my email. Before, I used my laptop, but the weight of it put my legs to sleep and I kept hitting the touchpad by mistake. Also, the screen is easier to see though I haven’t tried any major editing on it.

I’m a big fan of hidden object games and iPad shows them off perfectly. Many off my iPhone apps loaded to the iPad when I first synced it with iTunes. But there is a world of difference between the regular apps & the High Def apps that work best on the pad. And this difference really shoes up with books.

Of course, the first apps I wanted on my iPad were my eReaders, like Kindle, Nook, etc. What’s that? I already have these same apps on my laptop, netbook, iPhone, as well as a dedicated Kindle? And your point is??? Anyway, I’d heard about interactive books and was eager to experience them.

The first one I bought was a history of dragons. It did have a very cool opening, but it basically was an audio book with some artist paintings of dragons. Oh, don’t get me wrong; the pictures were beautiful! But my idea of “interactive” was touching the dragon and it flies off or roars or something. It’s a nice book, but not what I expected.

Tonight, I downloaded a free “interactive” children’s story book. It had several stories & there were areas where the child could touch the screen, activating action & speech by the characters. Very simple and because the app was evidently designed by people whose English was a second language, there were several spelling and grammer errors.

I bet you think I way impressed by this concept, but think about it. When my children heard stories read to them, they cuddled up to the reader, safe & warm, with a loved one who shared their love of reading. I may be a geek, but truth be told…I think interactive books should be restricted to those 21 & older. There isn’t any cool device or app that can match the wonder in a child’s face when they hear you read them a story.

So, unlike many other geeks, I vote that children never hear their stories from a computer, no matter how cool!

Tenacity

Tenacity:  doggedness: persistent determination.   The quality or state of being tenacious.   I’m not blogging about vocabulary, but continuing on WS Linda’s post. As writers, we must have tenacity. Developing a thick skin helps also.

But there are times when I have neither. The latest rounds of rejections on TAME made me seriously question my ability. (I got a kick in the pants from my closest friends–and major reason WHY TAME isn’t working.) So….I should be tenaciously working on revisions. I am not.

I don’t want this forced break from writing. My skills tarnish as fast as silver in open air. I have to write every day–not emails or blogs–to stay sharp. And I’m a habit person. That is how I work.

Sadly, I’m lacking tenacity–and the joy that writing gives me.   As my HS/TS & WS alum Marilyn tells me, “This too shall pass.”   Until then, I revel in the lawn like 19 acres of pasture, 3 projects ready to weld, 2 stained glass pieces to solder,  a 12 X 12 garden plot and the fountain in Meg’s World to assemble.

How Do You Grow?

As writers, we all start out with baby steps. Whether we display those steps to anyone else is beside the point. We take those first steps in the quiet behind closed doors, trying to get our bearings. Sometimes we have plot lines and characters slam into us and we can’t stop writing until we’ve gotten every last word on paper and typed ‘The End’.

But once you have the initial draft done, what then? Are you ready to step out into the open and display your baby to the world, either to a critique group or contest? And if you don’t get the response you think you’re going to get, do you stop, put pen down and walk away dejected?

It’s so easy to burst on the scene like a raging inferno, all gung ho and ready to take the writing world by storm. Except we aren’t always ready. You have to take the time to learn the craft. Believe you me, it does take time. Which is when you can start feeling defeated. You lose your momentum, your desire, your passion. You give up.

This is a tough business.

Repeat: THIS IS A TOUGH BUSINESS!

We’ve all heard stories of the writer who pens their first story and after one submission, sells to one of the major publishing houses with a lucrative contract. Um, hello world! This is the exception, NOT the rule. The majority of authors have to pay their dues. They take the time to attend conferences, take writing classes plus on-line courses and learn how to critically review their work as well as learn the business.

As I said in the beginning, take baby steps. Start with that wonderful seed of an idea, plant it, fertilize and water it. Nurture it and it will eventually blossom into a beautiful rose. I honestly believe that if you don’t, then your wonderful idea will wind up as a weed, destined for the compost heap.

Let’s go get our hands dirty! 😉

There’s An App for that!

Back, when I sold my first book, the main way to promote your books was with bookmarks.  You handed them out at conferences, left them in your dentist’s waiting room, and mailed them in all the bills you paid.  You had to schedule your own signings or pimp yourself out as a public speaker, but most of us depended mostly on those strips of cardboard, whether homemade or not.

Then came websites.  Oh, my Lord!  The savvy author learned HTML and put together a smart, sexy website guaranteed to set your books above those of the author who only used those old-fashioned bookmarks.  Music, banners, fancy cursors…all used to spice up the site enough to make it more appealing.  For those of us who were clueless about building sites, web designers popped up and for big bucks, would design and host a site for you.

Pretty soon, every writer, published or not, had a website.  Some were good, most were acceptable, and a few were really irritating.  Pretty soon, a new word was heard.  To be an author people take seriously, you have to blog.  I have to admit, one advantage to blogging is that the reader gets at least some idea of how well the writer writes.  But blogging does have a big problem.  Everyone and their brother blogs.  Heck, even my cousin Colleen writes a daily blog…and her’s is way better than mine.  Okay, mostly because she does keep it up.  Even my dad likes it!  But we’re all out there, blogging our little hearts out.

Well, guess what?  The next thing authors may find themselves announcing is “There’s an app for that!”  Those of you who have a smart phone will recognise the phrase.  Personally, I frequently check out free apps in case I want to download them.  And last week, I discovered a Susan Mallery app.  I swear to God!  If I’m lyin’, may I be dyin’.

For those of you who don’t know, Susan Mallery is a NYT bestselling romance author.  I’m a fan, so, of course, I downloaded the app.  It’s a slick site that showcases her latest covers, short news blurbs about her books,  photos from her life, links to her podcasts and videos, her bio, and links to her other web presence such as on Twitter and Goodreads.  There is also a button where you can sign up for her newsletter.

I have to admit, it’s a really cool app.  But one thought keeps drifting through my mind.  Is this the next “have to” promo idea I’m going to have to do?

*Arrrggghhh!*

Disaster Stories

Unless you’ve been living under a rock since the beginning of 2011, you can’t have missed what has happened in the world. Government upheavals, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, floods, nuclear explosions. Global destruction. My heart goes out to those affected. The stories of survival, death, and coping will create another tidal wave of books.

I’ve recently finished two non-fiction books–one a story of survival at sea (sorta important in my realm)–the other a brief autobiography. If the subjects had only had their names as authors, I would have been a lot more understanding while slogging through the material I was truly interested in. A very dear sister/friend does this type of ‘ghosting’ so I know there are quality writers ready available.

Would I help someone pen their life story without interjecting my own voice?   I’m not sure.

Could you?

Rewriting

There was a book and/or movie years ago about a woman’s journey through breast cancer. The first thing you do when you get the diagnosis, she said, is cry.

No intention here of diminishing the horror of breast cancer, but that’s also number one of my list of ways to get through a rewrite.

First I cry.

Then I rant.

Then I go mow the yard, clean the house, rant some more.

Then I start thinking.

Then I do the rewrite.

Some authors love rewrites. Okay, well, some people love liver, too. But I’ve always been a one-draft writer. I go back and make small changes, but in the end, the book I send to my editor is 99% original material, and after editing, the published book is 95-100% original.

Let me explain the words before I go on. Revision, to me, is making small changes–deleting scenes, characters, strengthening motivation, clarifying. Rewriting is actually having to write the bulk of the book again. I may be able to salvage some of the scenes and reuse some of the material, but not often.

Revisions are no fun, but rewriting . . . God, shoot me now. Being told all those weeks of working were in vain is bad enough, but having to do it all again . . . And then, sometimes, again . . .

I once did a few books with an editor who required major rewrites on each one. She wanted total rewrites, then after getting them, would usually say, “This doesn’t work. What if the characters did such and such?” Which would be the way I’d had it a time or two before.

I did a lot of crying with that editor.

Yeah, a grown woman — a professional! — crying over her work. Sounds a bit melodramatic, doesn’t it? But I’m a writer, which means I get to have all the weird quirks I want. And in writing romance, being emotional is part of the job description.