I'm leafing through <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0898799465/qid=1105288068/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/102-3345722-6826549" target="blank">Plot</a> (Ansen Dibell, Elements of Fiction Writing series from Writer's Digest Books) once again because I've just done three outlines, one of which is a salvage job, and now's the time to go over the four questions to see if my plots hold water or if there's some other useful tidbit that could help me at this stage.
Plot is an incredibly useful book. Highly recommend it. Many technical books are very inflexible, so I always like it when I find one that isn't. Plot is fluid and organic (the process, not the book) so a book that treats it like everything is set in stone is impossible for me to work with.
Did lots of outlining this week, using the fabulous Outlining from Inside method in Plot. I've got the Great Rewrite of my first ms. outlined, and Human outlined. That's not shabby progress for my first 5 days back at work. For both of these projects I've got the live characters moving around and talking and scenes are rolling. I go to bed at night and get more scenes. There's actually a third project in there, too, also alive and outlined.
It's not entirely unusual for me to work on multiple things at once, because I'll do so many pages on project A and then stall out, and then I can move over to project B and do the same amount of pages. Once it reaches a certain critical point I work on only one until it's finished, but at this stage I'm fine with outlining all three and getting those scenes down before I lose 'em.
So that's my week in summary. Three things outlined, good stuff in my head, the story world is alive and well and active. My week off did me good.
The story I had scenes popping into my head for after 5 days of break is an oldie that's been sitting around for a while. Every once in a while I give it a poke, but this time it poked me. I'm thinking of making a collage for it. I've decided that The Rock looks enough like my hero to be a good model. He'd make a nice collage base. I also need to go find the MP3 for "Human" by the Human League.
Collage making is something Susan Wiggs teaches, and long before I took her workshop I actually clipped photos that looked like people and places in my stories as visual aids. It's helpful, especially if you're in and out of the story a lot. A nice collage of images over your workspace can draw you right into that world. I think to start with, though, I just want the music.
Also, we had a few snowflakes yesterday. May get actual snow on Saturday and Sunday; that would be kind of neat.
Intrepid members of my writer's group are doing another Book in a Month to get 2005 off to a good start. It's actually supposed to be <a href="http://www.sff.net/people/april.kihlstrom/BIAW.htm" target="blank">Book In A Week</a>, but we give ourselves 30 days. It works much better that way if you have too much Real Life (TM) going on around you to hole up and do nothing but write for a solid week.
Having to report your daily progress is a huge motivator, believe me! Nobody wants to post "Today I set a new high score in Solitaire". And 30 days is actually a good time window to work in. I need to do about 1200 words a day to reach my goal. I think BIAW (or month or however you modify it to work for your life) is one of the best ways to get new words on the page and keep the Dreaded Critic from butting in. Try it, you'll like it!
The <a href="http://www.theromancestudio.com/capa.php" target="blank">2004 CAPA award</a> nominees have been announced! Several Ellora's Cave authors are up for CAPAs, and so is Scheherazade Tales author Tricia McGill. Cheers for the nominees! The winners will be announced on Valentine's Day.
Ellora's Cave has a <a href="http://www.crescentblues.com/8_1issue/int_ellora.shtml" target="blank">great interview</a> online! Very informative, and the shot of cover model C.J. Hollenbach is just a nice bonus.
And today I had another prenatal appointment, where I got to hear the fetal hearbeat for the first time. Very exciting to hear that sound.
Last news item: webmaster/husband Pat has updated the front page with a blurb and excerpt for Under A Spell. You can get a sneak peak at my anthology story now!
I've just been notified that Under A Spell was chosen for Ellora's Cavemen Legendary Tales II. There are four Ellora's Cavemen anthology releases throughout the year, each featuring 6 stories by different E.C. authors. I screamed when I saw my name on the list; there was tremendous competition for these slots and there are only 24 of them. This is a huge thing and I'm very, very happy.
Under A Spell was my October project, the one that came together when I started listening to Offspring's "Want You Bad". I think I referred to it in the blog as Project C. I will get a blurb up with a "coming soon" on the home page shortly, but in a nutshell this is a contemporary paranormal with my usual humor.
While New Year's resolutions are in the air, I thought I'd mention how individual changes and actions can make a big difference. We can support companies that are environmentally responsible. Buy organic and support organic farming. Buy environmentally friendly household products. Recycle. Little things, but if everybody did them, the impact would be enormous.
You can even buy a <a href="http://www.peacecereal.com/index.html" target="blank">cereal that donates 10% of the proceeds to peace</a>. If you eat cereal for breakfast anyway, why not support a company with a humanitarian world vision? We could certainly use more peace on earth.
Tsunami relief is another great way to make an individual difference. <a href="http://www.google.com/tsunami_relief.html" target="blank">Google</a> and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/subst/home/home.html/104-0157772-4256766" target="blank">Amazon</a> both have donation links set up, and help is pouring in.
Individual efforts really add up. There are global problems that are too big for any of us alone, but working together we can create a future we can all live with. Go ahead, make a small change in the new year. Switch to a vegetable based laundry detergent instead of petroleum based detergent. Make a decision to recycle your soft drink cans. It doesn't have to be an enormous change to make a big difference.
It's a new year. And many of the things I'm looking forward to in 2005 are due to work done in 2004 (and even stretching back much further), which means that if I want 2006 to be equally exciting, I have lots of work to do this year.
Results sometimes take a long time to appear, which is why a lot of people probably get discouraged about their resolutions and give up. We live in a microwave culture of instant gratification, and if a goal is going to take months or years to achieve, it's easy to say, "It's not working" and quit after six weeks. We've been conditioned to expect that nothing takes that long.
This is one good reason not to tell anybody you're writing a book or sending it out to an editor who's asked for it. Instant results perception will lead people to think you're a failure if you don't have a contract in hand a week later. But the wheels tend to turn pretty slowly. It can take months to finish a book, or for an editor to evaluate it and get the publisher to agree to buy it even if they've requested it. The longest I had a book anywhere was a year. Other writers have had a ms. under consideration for twice as long. And it can be another two years from the time of contract before the book appears on shelves.
Is it worth the wait? Hell, yes. But it's good to remember in the frenzy of New Year's good intentions that if you really want something, it might take a long time to get it. If you really want it, you'll keep working and waiting for it. If it wasn't really that important to you, it'll drop off the radar.
Happy New Year!
Received the <a href="http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=378&item=4500092935&tc=photo" target="blank">2005 Ellora's Cavemen calendar</a> along with a lovely holiday letter yesterday. 12 months of inspiration! And this is just more of why I love working with this company. They are every bit as wonderful to work with as Oatmeal Studios, where I started freelancing. Oatmeal Studios treated writers well, sent out freebies like notepads and cards, handwritten notes of praise from my editor; all this, and they paid me for being funny. It seemed too good to be true. I moved on from greeting cards because I really wanted to write novels, and now I have an equally terrific book publisher with the same business practises I loved from Oatmeal Studios. Ellora's Cave is fun, positive, encouraging, enthusiastic, incredibly professional and they make work a delight.
Aside from that, I'm enjoying a break from projects. I vegged out and watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban last night, Princess Diaries 2 the night before that. Both terrific movies I'd highly recommend, by the way. I plan to keep watching movies and resting up until New Year's and then I'll get back to work.
Things that will be coming up soon: the edits from Dangerous Games, news on Under a Spell, and a Scheherazade Tales anthology is getting underway.
Now that my head is out of Love and Rockets, here's an update on other news around here. First, Yule Be Mine is still the #1 romance best-seller on Fictionwise, a 3 week run! Between the best-seller status and the rave reviews, this should be a sobering thought to writers everywhere: I nearly left the ms. in a drawer for good instead of sending it out one last time. Never give up, you have no idea what door might open if you persist.
Second, I learned this year that if you forget the words to Hark the Herald Angels sing, you can substitute these lyrics:
Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil be done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum...
I won't post the whole song here, but you can keep going through all the verses.
And third, when a <a href="http://ptleader.com/main.asp?SectionID=36&SubSectionID=55&ArticleID=11124" target="blank">sea lion</a> gets loose on Highway 101, chaos ensues. Thanks to our local heroes, this sea dweller has hopefully learned an important lesson about the dangers of hitchhiking and will stick to the water in future.