Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I Am Not Worthy.:)

There are a lot of writers out there.

There are fewer published writers.

There are even fewer published writers who are so talented you simply cannot ignore their brilliance.

Then there is that elite group that writes such fabulous stories, such deft prose, that if you are not careful, will make you want to quit writing all together because never in your life could you fill an entire novel with the quality they seem to fit into every sentence.

Can you tell I've been reading Niel Gaiman?

I don't know how he does it.

My husband and I have taken to listening to books on tape together at night after out kids go to bed. It's way fun. Two nights ago we finished the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. (Which I personally think hit its high point in the first book and it's low point in the last, had a very disappointing ending, and still managed to be one of the best books I've read in a long time.) So we needed a new book and my husband pulled out Stardust by Neil Gaiman. (You really should check out the link. His page currently has a picture of him holding up this tomato with a tail. Trust me, it's funny.:) )

Oh-my-goodness. I am stunned and amazed. I sat there listening to his words and it's not your typical literary experience. It's . . . I don't know . . . quirky. But quirky in such a brilliant way!! This is what people mean when they say that you can break all the rules you want, so long as you do it well.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Neil Gaiman does it well.

This is the first couple of lines. They belong to Neil Gaiman, not me, and I got access to them via amazon.com . . . (Is that enough of a disclaimer?) Oh yeah, Fair Use.:)

"There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart's Desire.

And while that is, as beginnings go, not entirely novel (for every tale about every young man that ever was or ever will be could start in a similar manner) there was much about this young man and what happened to him that was unusual, although even he never knew the whole of it.

The tale started, as many tales have started, in Wall."

I was hooked.

Why? No scene, all exposition, third person omniscient narrator. All things you should not start your book with according to many, many professionals. In fact, the first scene continues with more of all three of these rules being broken. And you know what? It just keeps getting more and more interesting. I can't wait for my kids to go to bed tonight! (Can anyone say Nyquil? . . . Kidding! Kidding! I would never drug my children! Even for Neil Gaiman.:))

Anyway, in the absence of any news to share, I thought I would share this recommendation. Try Neil Gaiman. Check out his book of short stories, Fragile Things. (As many of you know, I have an almost worshipful awe of people who can write short stories because I, quite frankly, cannot. Actually, I think my favorite short story ever is Stephen King's "Theory of Pets" which you can find in his collection Everything's Eventual. I actually have a copy of it on tape with Mr. King himself reading this story aloud. Aaahhh!! My second favorite is "Boys Enter the House" which you can find in Rick Moody's collection Demonology, but only when it is read aloud. Seeing the words jumbled on the page in the format he decided to use make it look messy and unorganized. But read aloud (by him and in person, of course;), it flows like a poem. Incredibly beautiful! . . . but I digress.) And if you like fairy tales at all, go find Stardust. It was published eight years ago so I bet your local library has it. I'm all of about 30 pages into it, and I can already tell you it's going to be a great book.:)


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Switching Gears

As most of you know, I've been working rather frantically on my latest project which I just turned into my agent. So until I have revisions or something to work on from her, I don't have anything else to do on that particular project. However, since I am still enjoying my four writing hours a day, I am returning to the book that was my first priority until my latest book came along. This one, actually, from the famous final Crapometer of the dearly missed Miss Snark.

Now, it's the same genre as my last book, but the voice is totally different. I spent most of my time yesterday just re-reading through it, because I have to recapture that voice if I am going to be able to finish this thing at all. So I'm really doing some gear switching. I think it's going to be fine, but it made me wonder how you all go about switching gears. And how drastic are your gear switches? Do you write series? Do you write searate books within the same genre? Are you a genre dabbler? Is it easy and refreshing to switch gears (I think I am falling into that category) or is starting a new book like pulling teeth? You tell me.:)


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wish Me Luck!!

I am sending my new book to my agent today! Yea!

(No, really, I'm shaking in my shoes. Sshh! Don't tell.)

I have to say, I have yelled, pouted, sulked, stressed, despaired, and sweat over my books in the past, but this is the first book I have shed tears over. (Of course, that may also have something to do with being over eight months pregnant . . .) It's been quite an experience because I have two very major de-railings that I had to fix and both required me to really sit down and let go of my ego.

So, anyway, I'm excited and extremely nervous all at the same time. *Laugh* I also am apparently a glutton for punishment because after today I will be waiting to go into labor, waiting to hear back on my book that is still out on submission to six houses, and waiting to hear back from my agent on my new book. How's that for torture?;)


Monday, June 04, 2007

I Loooove My Husband!

You are looking as a mostly stress-free woman!!!!

This is an oddity because last night I was an enormous stress ball and have spent the last several days shedding many tears over this book of mine that was just not working!!!!

A few days ago (almost a week now, good gracious!) I finished my new project enough that I was ready to send it to my "soft" betas. i.e. my family. I know they will give me honest answers, but they will do so gently and they will read with an eye toward liking. It's always been a good first step for me.

So I sent it to my two sisters who I knew would really like the subject matter. (Which is a secret, by the way. Top secret!!;)) So they both came back saying that they loved the first 90% of the book (they actually both read it in one sitting) but they were bothered by the end. The things I intended just did not come through and the ending fell totally flat.

That's okay. I've been doing this long enough to accept criticism and after hashing out some ideas with my hubby, I got back to work.

And you know what happened? The ending just got flatter and flatter. Nothing was working!!!

Now you get some history.

I came up with the basic idea for this book on my own and I told my husband about it. He got really excited about it and jumped onto the idea bandwagon with me. At least half of the ideas in this book are my husband's. Seriously. I wrote it, but he was a humongous contributor in every step. He even did some fabulous editing for me.

So he knows this book inside and out and has really been working with me on it. but at this point, we both are at this standstill. We've made the book somewhat better content-wise, but it just didn't have that zing at the end that wraps everything up and gives you a smile as you turn over the last page. And who wants to end their book on a low note?!?!

So I was stressed out when we went to bed last night at about 11:00 PM and I was going through the end of the book (the epilogue specifically) in my head and wondering how I could ever make it work enough to feel confident sending it to my agent and that dark voice in the back of my head was even suggesting scrapping the whole project entirely. (Which would be silly. The first 90% of the book is really fun!)

Then, at about 11:30 I hear this little whisper. "Ps-t-s-t-s-"


"I asked if you were awake."

Asked and answered, I guess.

So he proceeds to make one little suggestion. "What if, in the epilogue, Character A is talking to Character C, instead of Character B?"


Seriously! I thought about this for about five seconds and everything clicked! I began writing in my head that very moment. It is amazing how one fairly small change can make all the difference in the world.

I got up the next morning and rewrote the epilogue. I sent it to my sister along with the last two chapters, which had also been revised. She loved it! It was the "right" ending now. It's out to my dad now, and we'll see what he thinks.

But I have a feeling he'll like it to. Because it just worked and I had that same feeling when I finished my last round of revisions with Jodi. It's at that "right" stage.

And that makes me very happy.

So my husband is my special person today . . . for more reasons than just because he's a great husband.;)