Friday, March 19, 2010

I'm doomed by clever kids

My husband and I are both smart people. Little doubt our kids would be smart. But they amaze me all the time. I was told that I had to post this story about E3.11, so here it is:

Recently, E3.11 climbed up on my bed where I was laying, staring at the ceiling. Instead of cuddling in next to me, she stretched out on top of me, so we were both laying there, staring up. Then she farted on me. It was loud, long and stank. The conversation following it went like this:

Me: "Oh, gross E3.11! You don't climb up here and fart on me! Go fart on daddy!"
E3.11: "I didn't fart." (in between giggles)
Me: "Uh, yeah, you did and it was disgusting."
E3.11: "No I didn't."
Me: "Yes. You did. Don't lie to me."
E3.11: "I did not fart. Just ask Sister."
Then she shifted a little bit to the right, looked back at where she had been and said in a slightly deeper voice: "She's telling the truth. She did not fart."
She slid back over to her original position and using her normal voice, said: "See. Even Sister agrees. I didn't fart."

Can you believe that she came up with that?!?!?!? Not even 4 years old, and she's creating eye-witnesses to defend a lie. She's headed for a life of crime. But she's cute and silly and keeps us smiling.

And she didn't fart. Even Sister agrees, and you can't argue with that.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Problems with Plotting - Part 2

Ooookay, lots of progress here on the writing front... NOT. I did figure out that my "ending" isn't really an ending. It's an integral step to the ending but not an ending in and of itself unless the book is already like 750 pages long and I need a quick ending where the reader is left to assume that after this breakthrough, everything works itself out perfectly and the good guys all ride off into the sunset patting their backs after a job well-done. Since right now I'll be lucky to eke out 75 pages for this story, let alone 750, I don't think a quick ending is in the cards. So I still don't have an ending and the rest of the plotting isn't going all that great either.

One of the things I was trying to do for this story is make it like a snippet of the MC's (main character's) life instead of a whirlwind however many days where the sky is falling and everything else is put on hold while the catastrophe is dealt with. I want to show her dealing with other life difficulties and everyday stuff that either challenge her or provide some much-needed balance. Regardless of what purpose these events serve, they're not going to be cryptically tied into the main event by some weird collection of coincidence and circumstance. They're just other aspects of her life so we can see the fullness of it and her character.

Why is this important to me for this book? There are a few authors who do this regularly in their writing and I think it really adds something to the reading experience. Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake books are the ones that come to mind first (and no, not only the "Early AB" era as some readers refer to it). Anita will have all this monster drama going on and still be juggling her animator job, bridesmaid's fittings, and friend emergencies. I like that. Also, I've been reading my critique partner's novel recently and the whole thing is like "Everyday Man Experiences Life" but not in a "And then I brushed my teeth. Scrub. Scrub. Scrub." boring way. It's more like seeing everyday events through his eyes - how he sees the situation, what he thinks about the other people involved, how he hides stuff from his parents even when he can't figure out why he's bothering to hide it in the first place. It's a bunch of experiences that we often relate to, even if we're not proud of our showing at the time.

I don't intend to do this to the same degree that he did, but again, I think it will offer the reader an interesting experience - to be able to relate to some of the mundane aspects of the MC's life even while the MC is battling demons or whatnot in an alternate reality. And that's where I'm stuck - trying to pin down her other interests. She's being cagey. I'm also at a bit of a loss concerning how to move my main plot forward. I'm stuck in the "icky-sticky mud" as E3.11 would say (thanks Dora the Explorer...). Or is it the "icky-gooey mud?"

Anyways, that's where I am on the writing front.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Random Web Links

Go check out Lisa Shearin's blog this week - she's doing a mini-workshop on book synopsis and even posting examples, bless her heart. Even if you're not ready to submit to agents yet, I'd recommend going over there and bookmarking this stuff for later reference.

A very cool idea for a book trailer - the making of the book cover (hours of work condensed down to just under 2 minutes) for Gail Carriger's 3rd book, Blameless. Check it out here:

I've been meaning to pick up the first novel, Soulless, having heard a great many good things about it - Victorian alternate history/comedy/romance.

Dear Author is holding an ARC contest for some Putnam and Riverhead books if you all want to go enter by March 13th at noon CST. The new Amanda Quick book in hardcover is up for grabs.

Finally, The NY Times has an interesting comparison of the cost of publishing a print book as opposed to an e-book and why the publishers aren't really saving all that much by offering the electronic format.

Problems with Plotting - Part 1

I've been in a massive writing funk lately. Once I finished my SciFi novel, it seemed that all my writing ambition decided to up and take a walk - to the next state. I can only assume that it's having a grand old time, because it hasn't even bothered to call or drop me a postcard. Stupid ambition...

Back a while ago, I told you guys that I was going to try to plot out my dark fantasy novel. Many authors have said that they have the whole story planned out before they start writing. I usually have an idea of what kicks off the story, a few main characters defined, and.... that's about it. Sometimes I don't even have a desired ending figured out until halfway through the novel, and that just strikes me as a bad habit to continue. If I don't know where I'm going, I can't be sure that I'll ever get there. Sure the journey is fun, but it's just not orderly enough for my engineer's brain.

So this time, I decided to start by writing out each plot idea, hitting the high points - characters, what led to this point, what it should accomplish, the emotions that come into play, etc - and then moving on to the next one. It's basically the same process I have done when writing in the past, but I'm not actually writing the scenes as I go now. Occasionally I go ahead and put some actual dialog down if it comes to me, or scene building, but that's it. I move on to figuring out the next point. This was working pretty well for me. I wasn't writing every single day, but when I did sit down to write, it was flowing nicely. Once I had the initial scenes and interplay figured out, I took a look at what this book should accomplish - how it should end (in a very general sense). Amazingly enough, it worked! I came up with an ending and I wasn't even a quarter of the way through planning out the book. Remarkable.

And then I sat there. And my brain sat there. We twiddled our thumbs. We haven't come up with a single idea since then (it's been a week now, and I'm starting to get antsy). I have no idea what happened to bring everything to a grinding halt. Is it somehow not the right ending and my subconscious knows this but isn't sharing with the rest of the class? Could be. Is the idea for this novel only strong enough for a short story or novella? Maybe, but I don't think so.

Are any of the rest of you in a work/writing dump right now? I'd like to know that I'm not alone in here...