Sunday, November 22, 2009

Who do we blame for the downfall of society?

Wow, what a week. If you've been following the Harlequin Horizons debacle, you know what I mean. Soooo not going there....

Instead, I must talk about a dream I had last night. Okay, yes, I get it -- you want to stop reading because other people's dreams are so freaking boring to hear about -- but wait!! This is too bizarre to miss and probably the product of the headache pain relievers I took last night.

I'm sitting in a lecture hall for a media relations class. It's exam day. On the board is a series of essay questions. ACK! I didn't know what any of it meant!! But wait... on the last section of board was an OR question. The essays or we could list seven famous people who contributed to the downfall of our society by association.
Ha! I read gossip blogs. This should be easy:

1. Britney Spears for giving us Kevin Federline (the prof was so pleased he wrote it on the board!)
2. Lindsay Lohan for giving us her wackadoo parents
3. OJ Simpson for giving us the Kardashians (cause really, that's where it all started)
4. John McCain for giving us Sarah Palin
5. Sarah Palin for giving us Levi Johnson

Not sure who's to blame for Speidi or the Hiltons (Paris and Perez!) but I think I should have gotten 2 points for the OJ Simpson link because for a short time we also had to put up with Kato.

Anyway... I woke up before I completed the task and I'd love for you to help me :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'm sorry, Kristin Nelson

Oops... it's been awhile. I vowed to do better after that long blog-holiday during the summer, but I keep forgetting about this little sucker. Especially now that I'm on Twitter. Gosh - it's so exciting over there. Short and to the point. Well... sometimes it's pretty pointless, let's not kid ;)

This past week, while I continue to spit polish the novel, I jumped into the next exciting phase of composing the query letter and synopsis. And of course, the dreaded agent hunt.
And I've a confession... I was so excited to have a piece of work to sell, I prematurely sent out 3 queries before I could really nail the tone of the letter. And, I did it after midnight, completely ignoring my strict rule to NEVER send an email after midnight (it's like drunk dialing, people!)

So... to the agent who rejected me a mere handful of hours after I hit send, I'm sorry you had to see my first lame attempt at a query. I hang my head in shame. I'm sorry for wasting your time. You should have the power to kick someone's butt for doing that.
Same goes for the next 2 agents, btw... 'cause it was only marginally better.

My advice to anyone jumping into the Query Wars: Stop. Wait. Revise. Put it aside then revise again. I know you're itching, I know you think 'This book is IT!', and it just may be, but don't undermine all your hard work by covering it with a hastily written piece of garbage.

I have very mixed feelings about the agent hunt...
Yes, it gets you giddy and hopeful because it means that you actually have a book finished, something you worked hard on, a piece of your heart and soul to present to the world. On the other hand, it also renders you naked and vulnerable.
I liken it to standing in a boxing ring with your hands tied behind your back. You know the blows are coming, you know they're going to hurt. You can't duck, you can only brace yourself and hope it's not a shot to the face, hope that you'll recover before the next punch comes. Because each hit erodes you, your self confidence, your hope, your dream.
YES, you will recover, eventually, and write another book or revise your query and send to the next agent on the list, but in the meantime, you'll feel like shit, eat chocolate and mope.

Back to query revision and chocolate.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Writing = Puzzles

I had the pleasure of going on a weekend writer's retreat with my fellow Toronto Romance Writer authors - JK Coi, Leah Braemel, Christing d'Abo and Kimber Chin. Much fun was had, words typed, brains stormed, wine drunk, chocolate consumed...

Over a week later and I'm still reflecting on how different we all worked, how we structure not only our writing time, but how our stories unfold.

While I write this, my son is sitting on the floor doing a puzzle. We usually do them together, me in the lead, so he follows my method: I begin with the four corners, then find all the edge pieces. Once those are in place, I like to sort the pieces by color so that I can quickly identify which part of the puzzle they belong. Then I start filling in the middle.
Left to his own devices, my five year old started from the bottom up.
The bottom up!!
Imagine that. It makes no sense to me, but he's plugging away and by the time I'm finished this post, I'm sure he'll be done.

Back to writing...
My method, what seems to work for me, anyway, is to get the four corners down, so within the rough outline (no, not synopsis... this is more of a mind dump) I identify the hero and heroine, their internal and external conflicts, how it affects them within the framework of the story.
Then I figure out how the hero and heroine meet, a few critical turning points and an ending (or at least a glimmer of an ending). Voila - my frame.
Then I begin - usually with 'Chapter One', but not always! I often write the critical scenes or turning points (the sorting of the colors) then go back and fill in or further flesh out the plot that lead to the critical scenes.

Other writers in the group write in a linear fashion -- from Chapter 1 to The End. Something like what my son is doing with his puzzle (he's finished, btw -- every little Spongebob piece in its perfect place). The beginning to end method makes the most sense, doesn't it? It's logical -- can't argue with that -- but this method doesn't work for me because if I come upon a part I don't know what to do with, I get paralyzed, unable to move past that point. (I know, I know, stubborn like mule.) I feel like I don't have an aim.
I'm strange like this. Y'know how some people go for a walk? "Hey - let's go for a walk, get some fresh air, some exercise."
This isn't me. I need a destination or it seems like a pointless task. Tell me to walk to the mailbox, to the store for a paper, to the closest Tim Hortons for a coffee, and hell ya! The fresh and exercise is a bonus. But just to go for a walk... uh un.
(I get it, btw, why people do, so don't misread this as me being judgemental --It's totally me being strange!!)

What works for you? Are you a corners and border first, a one end to the other, or a grap a piece and see where it fits?