Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Clicking "Send"

just shot off through cyberworld to the editor's desk. I still am not sure which is harder, sending off and unsold proposal or sending off a finished product that's been purchased. It's at times like these, when I click the "send" button, that I feel the weight of the publisher's investment. I am coming to grips with the fact that there's always going to be better writers than me, unpublished writers, and all I can do is work on my own writing skills. Hey, I've been there, reading someone's work and thinking a bit smugly, "I can write better than that." Now the shoe's on the other foot and I find it's uncomfortable. Yet there's nothing I can do about opinions, except write the best story I can and keep working.

Tonight as I've worked, however, I found many pet words. I should buy them all collars and leashes and cute little crates so they don't mess on the floor and sleep on the furniture.


I could go on, but you get the picture. What I watch for is repetitions that might catch someone else's eye. There's nothing wrong with using any of those words, but can't you tell when there's too much ginger in the pumpkin pie? Or I should choose a boring flavor. One time I put sage in my homemade meat stuffing, and I could tell the sage was a bit stale. The stuffing didn't taste right. But I digress. The same novella whose ending made me sniffle also had plenty of stale words inside. Interesting.

Now that I've made myself a bit hungry and it's midnight here, I think I'll sail off to bed.

And dream of my next project. Night-o!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Cryin' Like Joan Wilder

One of my favorite writer movies is Romancing the Stone. I'm sure you remember when Joan Wilder is sitting at her typewriter (!) and finishes her book? Well, she was sobbing. I'm bawling too right now.

Joie de Vivre is done. For now, at least.

When I finished the epilogue and skimmed it, the tears came. Only if you are a writer will you understand this, the feeling that it's wrapped up and over. The first draft only comes once, with its freshness of ideas and characters springing to life as the cursor skims across the computer screen.

Oui, Edouard found Josee, and together they fought off the gator who did not like the pirogue coming so close to him. I will miss them, in a strange way. Like I said, if you are a writer you will understand.

I will pay dearly in the morning. It's 1:00 a.m. here and I just shipped off chapter 9 to my critique partner in South Africa, where she's probably getting her brood off to school.

I already went to Christianbook.com, where Bayou Brides is listed already--no cover yet--and its release date of Sept. 1, 2006 is there for all to see. I'm picturing the cover in my head. A line of cypress trees, dripping with Spanish moss. A tiny bayou cabin underneath their canopy of green. A beautiful brown bayou flowing past.

So I'll turn in for now, and bask in this glow of the first draft, the draft from my heart. My editor hat will go on my head starting tomorrow, which isn't nearly as emotional but very necessary.

Thanks, Lord, for making me creative. You are my best reader and fairest critic. Merci.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Completion, not perfection

Novella Progress

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15,612 / 18,000

I am almost done, and I can feel it happening already, like when you know you're car's going to stall. Josee is still lost on the flooded bayou in a storm. She's found a pirogue and now is lying there, shivering in the dark. Edouard still cannot find her and is a bit ticked off at le Bon Dieu at the moment. Their issues are coming to a head. And I'm trying to shut the thing down. I'm not worried. I'll get there. I know it's important to push through to the end, then edit later. Completion, not perfection.

One exciting bit of news: I've just submitted a proposal to Spyglass Lane Mysteries for my book A Suspicion of Strawberries, a cozy mystery with a southern chick lit tang. When amateur sleuth Andromedra (Andi) Clark dropped into my head, her story followed. Rarely has my keyboard burned with the fury of my typing, a combination of fun and hard work. Perhaps cozies are my thing, allowing me to use my odd sense of humor and create a puzzle for readers at the same time. We'll see. I sure hope so.

Coming soon: Q&A with Mary DeMuth, author of Building the Christian Family You Never Had. I'm not one to read lots of nonfiction, but in reading the overview and listening to Mary share on her blog and various web sites, I believe it's worth checking out. To use one of Mary's terms, it's relevant.

Back to work I go!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Web Of Lies...

Open the cover...if you dare!

Author Brandilyn Collins has done it again. She's woven a riveting tale where, of course, spiders figure prominently. If you get the creepy-crawlies, read this book anyway.

As a reader, I loved how Brandilyn brought Annie Kingston and Chelsea Adams together in one story. I enjoyed seeing Annie through Chelsea's eyes, where in the first three books we only see Annie's view of herself. Brandilyn also kept me questioning the possibilities that a suspense reader loves to guess at--Who's causing the trouble? Why? How? What's next? While the noose got tighter and tighter around Annie, my nails got shorter and shorter. I prided myself on guessing one of the story lines, but only one. The others snuck up on me. I can say this much: Never assume everything is as it seems. Never think you have it figured out. It's quite a tangled web.

As a writer, I feel like I'm going to B.C. Writers' University whenever I read one of her books. The first time, I read for fun. Then I let the book sit a while, and go back with pencil and paper and outline the book (as much as my distractable mind will allow; I don't do longhand for very long). I figure somehow, her techniques will start sinking into this writer's subconscious and I'll start using them too, in my own way. Brandilyn makes the rollercoaster ride of her book seem like an effortless trip. But rollercoasters are designed very carefully, and that's why hers holds up so well.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Coming Up For Air

Novella Progress

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
9,434 / 18,000

Well, neither the Redskins nor the Patriots are going to the Superbowl. That cuts my excitement factor wayyyy down for Superbowl Sunday. I hope at least the chili's good

Writing in a flurry, reading too. And flu season has arrived at the hospital, which means more work for us in Transcription. People, if you're sick, try to stay home. Don't share. Drink your fluids. Wash your hands with warm soapy water. Get enough sleep at night.

The novella is coming along, although this week I really want to plow through most of it so my reader and critique partner can both read the story. I'm working on other novella proposals. A few are in the research stage, and in the proposal stage. I'm working on a mystery. In short, I'm busy and loving it.

Hannah turned 14 today. Yummy food specially requested by her, and a party coming up on Friday night, which means giggling teenage girls overnight. Oh my.

I'll cut it short. My next post will be a review of Brandilyn Collins' latest suspense novel, Web of Lies. I am absolutely thrilled at where Brandliyn's career has gone. I first 'met' Brandilyn in 2000 through the then-named American Christian Romance Writers, when she visited my critique group and worked with me for a month. Her first book was due out. I had no idea then that she would become a household name in Christian suspense. She's a gem of a person and a true wordsmith, always seeking to improve her craft. The lady has a love affair with words, and you can tell through her stories. I'll save more for next time. Night-o!

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year, New Stuff

Novella progress:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
8,226 / 18,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
8,226 / 20,000

Instead of new stuff, I should say new habits.

I have encountered many people who are dissatisfied with aspects of our lives, and only a few have made the changes they so desperately wish to make. Why do we resolve, and then fail? Those of us who are believers, why do we still fail if we "have God"?

We complain about family. Complain about money. Complain about jobs. Complain about physical shortcomings (and I don't mean diseases). Many things have but one cure, but few of us actually find the cure. The cure is choice.

Free will. I thank God for free will. Without it, we'd be puppets on a string, or characters on a game board, like in Clash of the Titans. But many people blame God for what goes on in their lives, or if they decide not to believe in God's interest in their lives, it's because of the often-heard "If God loves us so much then, why--?" Or, some who choose not to believe resent the idea of having God stick His nose in their business. It sounds a bit wishy-washy. How can we say, "God, come to my rescue, but otherwise butt out?"

I have seen tragedy. I've seen a loving father and pastor, a well-respected man, ripped from his family in a horrible motorcycle accident. I still see the effects of that today in his widow's and children's lives. So I have asked "Why?"

At the brink of this new year, I'm reminded of free will. God's greatest gift to us (besides Jesus, of course). My prayer is that my free will bends to His, and that I will not raise my fist in anger or harden my heart in unbelief because He does not interfere with my poor choices. The world is full of billions of free wills treading on each other. Often, we're the brunt of others' poor choices.

This year in 2006, I pray to make better choices. There are many things which I cannot control, but I do have a choice. I can say, "God, what would You have me to do?" and then listen.