Thursday, October 28, 2010

my Novel's Journey: Mind Over Mind Edits

Three's a charm?

Got the third round of MIND OVER MIND edits, and still had a couple of issues to work out. One was making tomato soup. Gabrielle wanted the tomatoes mentioned at the beginning, and I wouldn't do it because you put the tomatoes in last. What I finally understood this edit was that she didn't need them in the pot, necessarily, just mentioned--stick the can of tomato sauce on the counter or something. It's the same idea as putting that gun in scene 2 if you fire it in scene 6. I'm facepalming.

The other issue was one where I was too subtle in showing something. I think a couple of phrases fixed it.

The last thing was a rewrite, changing another flashback into a present-time event. It was one she'd asked me to do before, but I had two flashbacks in one spot (I think. It's fuzzy now.) and missed the second one. So I rewrote it, which was fun, because I got a little more of Josh's reactions in. Josh really is a fun character.

So, now that's off, and I spent the rest of last week and this finding homes for all the stories I'd had languishing in my files. I also went back over Coyote Fires and need to find a home for it. It's been a difficult time at home, so I've not had much heart for DISCOVERY; however, that isn't stopping me from my other writing.

Know what I need for DISCOVERY? An editor like Gabrielle. Maybe I should start asking myself WWGD?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bless Me, Father, For I Have Kids by Susie Lloyd


The uninterrupted life is not worth living! Lifelong Catholic, devoted wife, diligent homeschooler, and mother of seven, Susie Lloyd is too busy to give advice: busy giving home haircuts and finding missing socks; busy teaching her teen girls to drive, cook, and diagram sentences; busy praying for divine protection while she races off to church (late) in her full-size van. But every so often, Susie finds a few moments to record the shananigans of her family in a Dave Barry style that will have you chuckling from the first diaper to the moment her daughter remembers to put the car in "park."


You don't need seven kids to appreciate Susie's humor. Her misadventures and funny but touching insights into the busy family life, especially the busy Catholic family life are bound to resonate in you. Mixed in with the anecdotes and the irony ("God makes you go to church with all the kids to keep you humble") are bits of wisdom and the comfort of knowing that Mom's you are not alone.

I often advise parents (and myself) that you know you'll laugh about that child's misadventure in a couple of years, so why wait? Laugh now. Susie does a great job in helping us see, though her family, the virtue of laughing now.

Attention Government Regulators: I saw Susie handing a copy of her book to another person at the Catholic Writers Conference Live in promise for a review and jumped in to get one, too. The title was too good to pass up.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Novel's Journey: Rediscovering Discovery

Last week, I attended the MuseOnline Writers Conference.

This is a totally free, totally online and totally awesome conference, and my favorite thing to do there is take Devon Ellington's classes. Her exercises are basically the same each year: specific writing challenges that push some writing skill. They're the same each year, but I always go in with a plan to use them on a specific project and always come out with something great. This year, I used her storybuilding class to write a story about Grace and Coyote that I'd been meaning to do for awhile. (Love Coyote--he's so fun to write!) I used her dialog workshop to build on Discovery.

As you know, I've been having a lot of trouble writing this book. It's "done" as far as word count, but there are holes and logical inconsistencies and not enough character development. One thing in the back half that I've struggled with is the finding reasons why certain people can't be at x or y at a critical time.

One exercise that really challenged me this year was the "multi-task" exercise. The protagonist has to do something while talking, it has to be important, and things have to keep getting in her way. Of course, I'm trying to build up the front half of Discovery, but I didn't have anything to for my characters to do that hadn't already been done. So I decided to let Rita check the rover they needed for the mission.

By the time I was done, she discovered the rover had been sabotaged! It was wonderful! It gave me the perfect reason to leave people safely on ET while a small team (including, unbeknownst to them, the saboteur) goes to the Discovery on an urgent mission and gets in serious trouble.

So today's lesson: take advantage of workshops or writing exercises, and when you have a problem in your story, sometimes it helps to attack it obliquely.

Monday, October 18, 2010

More Cover Art! Perfect Ten!

This is the month for cover art.

Here's the cover for "Perfect Ten," done by the talented Denise Clark. (See more of her stuff here.) Perfect Ten comes out in March from MuseItUp. It's the hilarious story of a first date gone terribly wrong.

Insurance actuary Sheila Mars just wants a quiet sheltered life, but her program for assessing health risks wins her a trip to Vegas, and her life coach talks her into going--and into trying new adventures. One of those adventures includes a blind date with the Faerie Kyle Lote. Gorgeous, sweet, attentive--could he be a Perfect Ten? Kyle, however, turns out to be Coyote, the Trickster, and as his true nature shows, Sheila realizes Ten might not be so perfect after all!

It's a short story, but full of Coyote fun!

Too early for pre-orders yet, but contact me and I'll let you know when it's out--or just stay tuned.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review of Creative Calisthenics by Terri Main

No Novel's Journey today. I'm at the MuseOnline writers conference, teaching, learning and having a great time. However, I've been meaning to review this book for a long time, and I can't think of a better time than during the MuseOnline Writer's Conference. For you MuseConners: Terri is teaching. Go check out her forum workshop!

About the Book: (Taken from Creative Calisthenics, page 8)

Unlike physical training which is often boring and always painful, training your creative muscles can be fun. That's what this book is all about – pumping up your creativity and having a good time doing so.

Most writing books tell you how to write something. They give you information about sentence structure, passive versus active construction, plot elements, characterization, organization, research, writing a query letter and the list goes on. Creative Calisthenics is different in that we don't tell you how to write. We give you prompts and let you write. These prompts may help you learn some of those other things, but that is not as important as the fact that it is helping to get you to writing. To switch metaphors for a moment, these exercises are jumper cables for the brain. Don't know what to write about today? Flip to any page and you have an exercise to help you. With over eighty articles detailing more than 175 different exercises, writing prompts, story starters and idea generators, there is always something that can shake loose those mental cobwebs and get you writing.

My Review:

I highly recommend this book for beginning writers, writers who struggle with finding or pursuing an idea, and anyone who teaches creative writing. I recommend it for any writer looking for a way to freshen up their writing life or who feels they need some fun challenges to spice it up.

This is not a workbook. This is a book to play with. Terri has come up with fun ideas and story starters that you can use to warm up your brain, break through writer's block, find a unique angle to your article or scene, or just toy with when you have 15 minutes of writing time and no pressing things to write. I didn't try to read it front to back; I just picked exercises at random. I found all of them interesting and potentially fun. A few ideas, i'd seen elsewhere, but others were new to me. Even though I didn't do them all, they all caused a firing of creative synapses in my brain.

Check it out--and while you're at it, go visit Terri's Creative Calisthenics website, where she posts more fun ideas.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Alex O'Donnell and the 40 Cyberthieves by Regina Doman

Summary (from Amazon)
: When his computer hacker dad discovers a secret website, Alex O'Donnell and his girlfriend Kateri become embroiled in a mystery that leads to sudden wealth, and murder. A modern retelling of the classic Arabian Nights tale Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.


My teenage daughter and I love Regina's Fairy Tale series, and 40 Cyberthieves doesn't disappoint. Although Regina calls it a technothriller, it's a refreshing change from the over-adrenalined, constant danger, singles-only novel you usually associate with the genre. The characters are ones you can relate to on an everyday level. In fact, I was feeling very in tune with Kateri as I cleaned house that day. However, the adventure is still engrossing, the romance strong, and the heroes just enough larger than life that you can enjoy a happy escape from reality.

Attention Government Regulators: I bought this book, and I'm not even counting it off as a business expense. It was entertaining and I want people to know it. So there. Nyah!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

My Novel's Journey: Rediscovering Discovery

I'm asking Santa for one month of NO DRAMA in my life.

As I said Monday, this was a hellish week on big and small levels, but I still got some writing done--not a lot, but still a few thousand words, which, given the amount of time taken away from my writing to handle problems, is about as good as I was going to get. This also doesn't count the two writing workshops, the newsletter and the blogs I wrote, which I consider part of the "business" of writing and not the creative art of writing.

But you can imagine, this week was tough for writing, and I was not only fighting a lot of distractions, but also a lot of self-doubt and the "why should I bother?" attitude. There's only one way for me to handle this, and that's slog through, giving myself permission to write stupid drafts if needed and trusting that my characters will talk to me.

I also had the challenge this week of killing a scene I really liked in favor of one that moved more slowly, because the old scene no longer fits the logic of the story. This was tough to do! And, unlike the first chapter, which I scrapped, I cannot remake this into a short story. So it took a lot to just make myself junk a great group dialog-and-action scene for a couple of small scenes of one-on-one conversations. However, it did give Sister Ann another chance to shine in her own many-faceted way.

The next scene, the fire rescue, was pretty easy to mesh back in, but here I re-experienced grief over the manuscript I lost in December 2009 when the computer died, taking the backup with it. I'd melded two characters into one, which gave a lot of energy to the story, but I could not remember much about the new character but general details. In the fire scene, Sister Ann meets OvLandra for the first time. I only needed two lines of description, but I was stymied because I could not remember what I'd written and loved.

Finally, I whined over IM to my best friend, who gave me a virtual pat on the back. Then I told myself that whatever was good before can be better now, but not unless I write it. I'm not sure it's better, but it is written. I can move on and I can make it better in the edits.

Rather than post a before-and-after snippet, I'm going to post a scene I added a few sentences to, with the new sentences in bold. Ann is going to be having a lot of visions of saints and angels during this trip (more than she ever has in her life), and I wanted to start introducing them slowly.

She peered in, saw the flames arching and dancing on the bed and broken table, climbing across the walls, arching along the ceiling. She reached into a belt pouch, pulled out a grenade and pulled the pin.

"Father, Son, Holy Spirit!" She tossed the grenade into the room.

A pause, then a THWOOM! that she felt more than heard.

She peeked back in.

Droplets of fire-suppressant foam dotted the room, expanding quickly, snuffing the fire as they grew. Still, there were pockets of flames merrily fighting for dominance. She'd bought herself some time, that's all.

The door was scalding hot. She grit her teeth and set a gloved hand on its edge and one on the threshold and pushed it apart. Even through the gloves, she felt the heat on her skin. She pulled away with a frustrated hiss.

St. Florian, patron of fire brigades, help me! She pushed her hands against the reluctant door again. Again the heat seared through her gloves, but this time as she was about to pull away, she felt a pressure on the backs of her hands. She knew St. Florian was helping. She leaned in with her legs, and
the door at last gave way.

She ran across the room to the bathroom door and pounded on it.

PS. I'll be at the MuseOnline Conference next week, so I'm posting some reviews of terrific books I got to read over the summer. Please check in and if you're going to MuseCon, I'll see you there!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Even on the road to hell, we see little glimpses of heaven.

"The road to Hell is paved with good intentions," is an adage that goes back to the 1600s, but it still applies today, and in several ways. My life last week got pretty road-to-Hellish because of things I did with the best of intentions. I don't want to go into details, but it's been one thing after another and has left me feeling like anything I touch is going to turn to dust. (or something more foul-smelling, but that's not as poetic. :) )

It's been very tempting to sit around the house, crying and alternately trying to convince myself that it's all my fault and that I can't do anything right, or believing that the whole world is against me. When I was younger, I probably would have. But I had the good fortune, the tangible blessing, to marry Rob Fabian. Not only does Rob love and support me, he also watchdogs my bad habits. After many years of patient (and sometimes not-so-patient) chiding, he broke me of the habit of spiraling into self pity. Now, too, we have four FABulous children that I need to be strong for, writers (friends and students) who depend on me--not to mention, a whole lineup of imaginary characters who resent the time and emotional energy taken away from them! Finally, I have grown in my faith and realize more than ever that not only can I take things to God, I need to.

We live in a new state, and I don't make live friends easily. I'm not good on the phone. So I sent out an SOS via Twitter and Facebook, asking for prayers and love.

I have received well wishes, and prayers and hugs and Mass intentions and rosaries and offers of support (even some practical help from those I could explain one of the situations to). Each one has been a little bit of heaven on this road to hell.

I may be on the road to hell, but that doesn't mean I'm going there. I have too many angels in my life preventing that from happening. Thanks, everyone! You are more than I deserve and I will do my best to be worthy of you. I love you all.