Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Monday, January 31, 2011

Where the Magic Happens...

So, I'm finishing up another run through Secrets of Skin and Stone and it's come together. The plot flows. The voice is there, and I can hear their voices in my head even when I'm not reading aloud. The characters are alive, and they've got emotions that keep tripping them up. Their weaknesses and insecurities are just bleeding off the pages... and you can almost touch the passion they feel for what they want. It's that Dr. Frankenstein moment where you hold your laptop in their air and shout "IT'S ALIVE!"

This is one of those times where I feel lucky... no... sorry... this needs, swearing, Mom, I feel damn lucky to be a writer.

As most of you know, there are two types of writers in general... there are pantsers and plotters. I'm one of those who writes by the seat of her pants. It starts with a scene getting in my head... the start of a story. In this case, it started with a single portion of a sentence....

"In the quiet hours following my dog's death...."

and the frustration that comes with OCD in which you have a constant stream of violent and awful thoughts in your head which make you sometimes wonder if you could have done something violent and terrible. I'd just read this short story about a gargoyle/grotesque and I'd thought... that's interesting but what if.... and a story was born.

If you're lucky enough to be a pantser, the magic happens all throughout the process. The story creeps into you and runs through your blood and you get to experience it all along the way. I don't usually know how it ends until I'm at least half-way through. Each time the plot moves forward with me typing away fast enough to light my fingers on fire... it's magic. When you finish off the story and it's worked... this crazy process of throwing things on the screen as fast as they drop into your head... and it's worked... it's impossible, and it's magic.

Normally, it's not quite as magical in revisions, I'll be honest. You've read it so many times that sometimes you add in a sentence thinking it belongs... only to find that sentence in the next paragraph. There are the commas that you push from place to place... and the descriptions that you just wish would write themselves. Sure, there is the feeling when it's all said and done that you've improved it... and that's good. This time, adding in the accent, it's definitely magical again. Maybe it's just how much heart I've put into this particular story... because I still cry when I'm reading it, and I'm still anxious to get to my favorite parts. I still love this story... even after my tenth revision. This manuscript is no longer a manuscript... and it might not even just be a story anymore... it's alive.

I might not ever be famous. I might not ever be published. Today, I'll do laundry and dishes... and when the kids come home, I'll feel a little underappreciated and I've got a lovely cold dragging me down and making piles of kleenex. I've got bills to worry over and my house needs to be cleaned. I swear, some days are a drudgery where you just plod on to the next one just because you know you have to. On the outside, I'm thirty-four and today I'm feeling every year of it. I'm a mother of two Special Needs kids, wife to a guy that loves me and works too hard and too many hours in order to be a good provider. I'm lousy at cleaning. I drink too much Mountain Dew.

On the inside, I've got OCD. I'm insecure. I'm not just a little irreverent and life strikes me as quirky more often than not. The only way I survive some of these days is with my sense of humor leading the battle. More importantly, for today anyway, inside I'm a writer. I'm not an author... an author is what the world calls you once they've gotten their hands on things. Inside, even authors are writers. Inside, I've taken something that was just words in my head a year ago and made it come to life. Inside, I swear to you, I'm magic.

You don't believe me? Here's proof:

In the hushed hours following my dog’s death, I knew I had to get out of the house. The house felt too full like there were ghosts in it, creeping around and sucking in the air before I could. If I closed my eyes, I swore I could hear them breathe. Their voices were always in my head, whispering around and filling it. I’d once told my parents about that… about the voices that spoke in my head. I was a little girl when I told them that. I’m not a little girl anymore.

I did that. I wrote that story. I made that. I'm magic, and it's alive. The wonderful thing about being a writer is that tomorrow... I'll do it again.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Losing My Voice To Find Theirs

So, this has been the strangest revision I've ever done. Adding in a southern accent into a first person POV just isn't something you do every day... thank heavens. It's brutal. I finally finished with the read aloud late last night.

I did a comparison document, and it's just staggering how much changed in the name of voice. I've never put so much effort into figuring out whether or not my main character would say a single word. On the other hand, this manuscript might have the clearest voice out of any mine now. The longer I thought about what my characters might and might not say... the clearer it became how much our upbringing and environment might affect our speech and thought patterns.

Piper was born in Hidden Creek, Alabama... a small town. She's super smart, but she's picked up little colloquialisms from her family and surroundings. She is well-educated but she's still a teenager... and just because she might write an essay grammar perfect... doesn't mean she speaks or thinks anywhere near that way. She also has OCD so she spends a lot of time thinking about how dirty things are and what each person is really thinking. She also has like twenty thoughts for every one of Gris's. Her chapters are a lot longer. Her thoughts are more emotionally rich than Gris's too. She uses the word 'cause instead of because quite a bit. She doesn't use profanity but says stuff like "Hush my mouth!" and "Holy frak!" and "Good night!"

Gris has been living in Atlanta and other big cities in the South. He has an accent, but his speech is neater and less idiomatic. He didn't go to public school but he graduated early with a GED... so his social skills are less impacted by peers. You can tell he has had "respect women" beaten into him by his mama. He does use some profanity but it's more frequently in his head... or to get a rise out of Piper. He also is a nineteen year old boy... so his thoughts are more "physical" in nature. He typically evaluates things on a more surface-level than Piper does and doesn't obsess over the details nearly as much.

There were other words that I had to work out of the manuscript that were more "me" than "them." The word "okay" for example. "Okay" is my standard affirmative response. It's not theirs. Piper says "fine" and Gris says either "alright" or "alright fine." Neither would ever use the word "awesome" or "cool" or "wow" and it sounded really strange every time it snuck into the manuscript, so it was edited out. Neither says "someone" instead it's "somebody" or "a person." So the sentence: Do you think someone would do that? becomes: You reckon a person/somebody would do that? The word "really" was another hang up. It got cut or swapped out quite a lot. As did "so" and a few others. Some of the "still" and "well" pauses got to stick around, but not all of them. I didn't add any and I did cut quite a few.

Another strange change was that many of the ellipses and filler words wound up on the cutting room floor. They both had more deliberate thoughts and there were fewer mental rhetorical questions. Piper didn't spend half the book talking to herself in the form of questions. (I'll take "Southern Speech Patterns" for a thousand, Alex.) She pushed through to making suppositions. Gris just said things slower rather than saying "uhh...."

Anyway, so there were other words and other examples, but would you like to see how their first kiss changed with a southern voice being added? I thought you might. Hopefully you can tell the difference and the second excerpt has a bit more voice than the first... hopefully. I'd love opinions on this.

Remember to say it in your head with an accent. ; ) This is in a chapter from Piper's POV, btw.


“You’re interesting, but that’s not what it is. I’ve been… uhh… tutored my whole life. I’ve never attended public school. I don’t know how to do things in the right order or say the right things, Piper.”

“There is a right order?” I wasn’t even sure what we were talking about, but that seemed like a good place to start. Order was good. I liked order.

“Obviously—if you didn’t even know that I like you.”

“Like as a friend?” Did friends hold hands? Still, he hadn’t made any moves or….

He tipped my chin up with our joined hands, and his mouth touched mine.

Oh… so… like that. Wow. I was so going to count this as my first kiss.

Their first kiss southern-style:

“You’re interesting, but that’s not what it is. I’ve been home-schooled my whole life. Never attended public school or any school at all. I don’t know how to do things in the right order or say the right things, Piper.”

“There’s a right order?” I wasn’t even sure what we were talking about, but that seemed like a good place to start. Order was good. I liked order.

“There must be. I must be doing this all wrong if you hadn’t any idea I liked you.”

Gris couldn’t do things wrong if he tried. He could sweet-talk a snake out of its skin.

“Like as a friend?” Did friends hold hands? Still, he hadn’t made any moves or….

He tipped my chin up with our joined hands, and his mouth touched mine.

Oh… so… like that. His lips were soft and sweet on mine… and maybe just a bit unsure though that was hard to imagine since it was Gris. I was most certainly gonna count this as my first kiss.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Read Aloud Revision

So, those that follow me on Twitter know that this week I decided Secrets of Skin and Stone wasn't quite right because it was set in rural, small-town Alabama and it's in first person POV... but it didn't have an accent. I've been doing my read aloud all week. (Typically, my read aloud takes about 10 hours or so and I use it to catch typos and problems with flow.) This read aloud I've been working my childhood southern accent. It's been... fun. I've also been hitting up everyone on Twitter from the south to help me with slang and so on. This read aloud will end up at about 20 hours of reading... and I've been researching and running it by betas all week.

My throat is killing me.

It's coming out well. There are a few flaws with my plan besides the fact that I'm stuck in the accent even when I'm not reading. *head slap* Another is that shifting the flow to a southern drawl has added about 5K on... which means I'll most likely need another Kindle revision to check for typos followed by... *wait for it* ...another read aloud.

Finding time for a read aloud has been another issue because reading aloud with a southern accent... just ain't gonna happen with other folks around. So, I've been up late reading aloud after everyone has gone to sleep.

The agent request for Curse Me A Story has had to go on hold while I work on Secrets of Skin and Stone because I can't switch voices back and forth... especially not now. Luckily, that agent requested a look at Secrets of Skin and Stone so I don't feel quite as bad just continuing on with this revision.

If you don't already read aloud your manuscripts... you really should. It helps you catch so many problems including repetitive language, overuse of dialogue tags, voice discrepancies, tense changes, and just general flow issues. If you're a real idiot... you can write a book that demands you read it aloud with a southern accent because, let me tell y'all, if that ain't fun, I don't know what is.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Top Ten Signs That You Might Want A Zombie Plan

10. Your friends get the wrong idea when you invite them over for dinner.

9. You can no longer use the phrase "bite me" with impunity.

8. Your boss starts calling you "Snack."

7. One of your neighbors asks if you'll be part of his food storage.

6. Crossbows show up in store fronts beside the umbrellas.

5. The late night calls involving moaning aren't what they used to be.

4. Mr. Fluffy Doodlekins is crapping in your yard again despite being dead for two years.

3. Your mall has zombie escape routes posted and has preboarded-up the doors and windows for your convenience.

2. You now know how many crossbow bolts it takes to stop a girl scout from "munching on your cookies."

1. I made it to the second round for the Zombie Survival Crew's anthology.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The First Cut is the Deepest

I know... I'm all about weird little pictures lately, huh? I've been working on winding down from that revise and quick sketches seem to help. Maybe for tomorrow's blog I'll sketch a sad panda because I might be sad by then.

Why might I be sad?

Dude, I have to cut the entire prologue from Curse Me A Story. (See picture above) The agent that requested this second revision wants it gone... and her reason is really good... and I agree, but... (See picture above)

On the one hand, I kinda wondered if it would need to be cut when I wrote it; which, of course, begs the question: Why did I write it?

I don't know!!! I'm just the writer. Do you think I know these things? I don't!

This agent probably thinks I'm a bit of a dork because when she suggested that I add the information back in later... I'd never even thought of that on my own. It was either prologue or no prologue... there was no try or something like that. One of my betas didn't like the prologue but I just blew off her prologue hate because I kept thinking, "Uhhh... what am I going to do? Just cut it off?" *cue laughter* Who is laughing now? Huh? Huh? (See picture above.)

There isn't a "ton" of information in the prologue but it's not totally extraneous either. I've heard of some people just cutting prologues or first chapters without it making any difference. Err... this is not one of those. (See picture above.)

I'm also going to run each chapter through edit minion as I finish its revision to check for repetition and all the stuff that'll make an agent cringe. What is edit minion you ask? What??? *cue gasp of shock* (See picture above... no... just kidding this time.) www.editminion.com I saw it on Twitter a couple weeks back and it's been popping up in other writers' blogs. It's a fun little beta program. I've been trying to use editor by Serenity Software, but... I can't seem to wrap my brain around it... so edit minion it is.

My sister already finished beta-reading Secrets of Skin and Stone for me. I know. That was fast, right? I think I'll still let it gel until Monday. Then, I need to do a Kindle revision on it and hopefully remember that one point I wanted to address but forgot. Then, it'll go to the agent that is also waiting on Curse Me A Story revisions. (She received many random and chatty emails from me this week. I think she may have realized this was some weird vetting process and she didn't run screaming... yet.) If the agent isn't interested in Secrets of Skin and Stone, I may still try ABNA just to say that I've tried ABNA.

I did send off the YA mystery short story to a contest today. Yay! Huzzah! Hail, the conquering hero... and all that. I'll hear back on that in April.

I'll also officially hear this weekend whether I'm in a zombie anthology.

But first... *sighs* Maybe this'll teach me to think good and hard before adding a prologue. (See picture above.) The first cut is the deepest...

*prologue screams... and then... silence*

Let's not talk about this again... shall we. Everyone leave quietly one at a time and forget this ever happened. Wait! Except for you... yes you! You're going to help me bury the body... and maybe the prologue... but first the body. (See picture above.)

Listening to the Voices in my Head

So, today will be another revising day... even though I finished the revision of Secrets of Skin and Stone last night and sent it off to betas. I've got a short story I need to revise and enter it into a contest, and I may get started on the agent-requested revisions on Curse Me A Story. She wants me to ditch the prologue and add it in throughout the story. So, all you prologue-haters can get in an 'I told you so' now. ; )

I'm really happy with the revision on Secrets of Skin and Stone but I'm wondering if I need to add more of a dialect to one of the voices. I don't know... I'll think about it.

It'll be nice to be done revising for a space so I can work on something new, but so far my brain hasn't really focused on a single project yet. I keep waiting for that night to come when I can't sleep because one of my WIPs is keeping me up. Instead, it's just the revisions that are still in my brain when I'm trying to sleep. That's probably good.

Speaking of sleeping and nights... my insomnia jag broke but my kids woke me up early to get them ready for "pajama day" at school and the massive windstorm outside is giving me a headache. I'm going to go take something to make my head weigh a hundred pounds less and crash for an hour.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday! It can't be! It's too gruesome!

The above is a quote from Breakfast at Tiffany's for those uncultured swine who didn't recognize it. ; )

This post is mostly about my family... so feel free to skip it if you're here to read about writing.

Actually, normally I love Thursdays. I like the anticipation of the weekend. I like that's it's not quite Friday... but we've survived through Wednesday. Thursday is my favorite day... usually.

Today just bit for the most part.

It started off with B crying... as most days have started off the last few weeks. I might have to just give up and go to the doctor and have him run tests on her to see what is wrong. I remember thinking when I was a parent to toddlers and babies that it sucked when they couldn't tell you what is wrong with them. Well, with Special Needs kids, sometimes they never grow out of that phase. So, she sobbed for a half an hour straight and I put her on the bus crying. I felt like a winner of a parent, let me tell you. I'm sure our bus driver hates me lately.

Also this morning, I discovered that T's shoes were covered in mud from his excursion with a neighbor girl yesterday. Where they went... I don't know... and I'm not sure if I want to know. There was an inch of dried mud all around them. Also, he has a huge gash in the side of one of them. I said, "T, what is this? Your shoe is torn." "Yeah, I noticed that yesterday... and the day before... and the day before... and the day before." I just ordered replacement shoes for B online yesterday. JUST YESTERDAY. I swear to you... fate hates me.

So, after dropping them off at the bus, I rush home to call the school so an interventionist can meet B and help her cope. I'm hoping and praying they'll be able to get through to her and find out what is wrong. Of course, my phone was missing... because that's how my day was going... so I had to have the husband call it from France in order to find it. (Yes, he is still in the French Riviera... yes, I hate him right now... a little.) Finally, I get the phone and call the school. The psychologist is in a meeting, but "someone" will meet the bus. Okay. Fine. Good. Phew.

I sit down and start working on my revision of Secrets of Skin and Stone for an hour. (Yes! Productivity! Yay!)

That's when my giant Clifford-sized dog starts making whining noises. I look out at his food dispenser and it's empty... empty... like my soul. This is about five days sooner than normal and he is a giant dog and needs giant bags of food. So, I pacify him with some canned food and go to make the trek to the store.

On the way, I decided to stop by the school and check on B. It turned out that the front office staff had dealt with this morning's sobfest with B. Not trained professionals... by any means. Not at all.

Wendy: "Did she stop crying and was she okay?"

Front Office Staff Woman (FOSW) : "Well, she sat and she cried for a while and I told her that sometimes when we're sad and we don't know why, we just need to lock those thoughts up so we can stop crying and not think about them anymore and I asked her if she could do that and she nodded. I tried to find out why she was crying and she couldn't figure out why. So, by then, it was 8:30 and I said, 'Don't you think maybe you should just stop crying and go to class so you're not late?' and she just nodded and left."

Wendy blinks... and blinks again and thinks, lock up your thoughts? These people do know they're dealing with an Autistic child, right? Right?

Wendy: "So, she stopped crying?"

FOSW: "Well, she hasn't come back and her teacher hasn't sent me a note saying she is still crying."

Uhhh... huh... what does one say to all this?

Wendy: "Can I go check on her in her room?"

FOSW: "Absolutely."

So, I go check on B and her teacher sees me outside and sends B out to talk with me. B won't make eye contact at all but she does say that her stomach doesn't hurt and she is fine.

Fine, so I leave and go grocery shopping. Grocery shopping when you're hungry is stupid, but I did it anyway. I came back and whined on Twitter for a while and replied to an email while chatting with the husband who probably gets sick of reading my Twitter feed to find out information about his kids.

The kids just got home and B tells me that she is excited to wear PJs tomorrow to school (for their 'comfy-cozy' day) and there is a package outside. (This is about as much of a "How was your day?" answer as I ever get.)

Still, a package has arrived! Woo! I'm such a kid when it comes to receiving stuff in the mail. A package of shampoo that I just ordered yesterday and it qualified for lightning fast shipping... woo...

I opened the package.... and it smells too fragrant... because one bottle of shampoo had EXPLODED all over everything. Luckily, most everything was bagged, but now every part of me besides my hair smells like my shampoo.

Today blew.

I did receive an email which cheered me up... but I need to track down the school psychologist tomorrow and talk about how to handle B in the future. So, there is the chance that tomorrow might blow also. Also, I'm worried that giving B soy as a child during her GFCF days might speed up the whole "female" process. Soy is one of those fun pseudo-estrogens that has been known to do that. That MIGHT be why she is crying... and crying... and crying... and so on. She is only nine BUT... it's a possibility. I might have to have THE TALK... which will really seal the deal on today.

I mean, really, who wants to have the talk with an Autistic 9 year old girl who has been crying for days? If anyone raised their hand, I'm calling you a liar.

In fact, I should probably do that while T is out playing and ruining his shoes further. I just need to try and figure out how to say this so it doesn't make her think the whole thing is nasty carnage and blood will also ooze out her eyes. (The pretty joys of being female.)

Oy... some days... you wish you hadn't stopped sniffing glue.

I'm just saying....

Oh... hey... in the time it's taken me to ramble this out... they refunded me for my nasty exploding shampoo bottle and have sent a replacement. Right on, soap.com.

Now... the talk... but maybe after a snack. Or not at all. Or I should. Or not.

Le sigh.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WIP Wednesday- Secrets of Skin and Stone

I'm just working through a part in the manuscript that makes me cry every time... because I'm a total sap. Luckily my kids are in the other room.

Piper has just seen Gris in his Watcher form (he looks a little like a gargoyle) and she wants to know the truth. Piper has OCD and has always thought she was the darkest thing out there. She wants an explanation and Gris isn't about to explain what he is.

Here is a small bit of that section:

I waited for him to do something—to say something, but he just stood there, staring down at the floor, his bag in one hand, and his back to me. Finally, I realized that he was waiting for me to relent, hoping for it. Maybe he thought I’d start doubting what I saw if he was quiet long enough. “Look, now we both know something about the other that we’ll never tell anyone. You can leave, and we’ll just pretend the other doesn’t exist.”

It was only a few months, and then I’d be gone. I’d blow out of here and work really hard on forgetting Gris and regretting all our time together. Having someone in the world who knew about me made me feel vulnerable. I had ways for dealing with that, though, and Gris’s defection nullified any promises I’d made to him about anything.

“Is that what you want? Now that you know something dark about me… or think you know something dark about me?” he asked.

Of course I didn’t want that. I bathed in the darkness every day. I breathed it. Lived it. I could handle the dark.

“No, but I’m also not going to let you lie to me and act like it’s okay.” That hadn’t sounded quite so wishy-washy in my head.

He turned then with a fury in his eyes and his jaw tight. “So, you’ll be going with option B, then, where I tell you everything about me, and you want nothing to do with me because it’s dark and it’s ugly? Sometimes the lie is kinder than the truth, Piper.”

“Yeah, that’s a set of rules coming in handy when it’s you and not me.” I liked things even. I liked things fair. This wasn’t either, and it wasn’t the way I lived.

“No, it’s something that comes into play when one of us is a monster and the other isn’t.”

I swallowed. “Okay, so… if that’s the case, you may want to tell me which of us is which? Because I’ve thought I was a monster for years now.”

The fight went out of him. His shoulders dropped, and he said my name on a sigh. “You’re not a monster.”

“I don’t think you are either, Gris.”

Killing Them Dead

It's one of those days when I'll be killing my writing. I have nothing but revisions ahead of me. On the other hand, I'm really excited about how "Secrets of Skin and Stone" is developing with revisions. I also need to revise a short story which I'm less excited to tackle. I was having a Twitter conversation this morning about it. It's harder to draw the line on what is voice and what is sloppy writing when it's a sixteen year old girl's POV and it's written in 1st person. I need to read it out loud and establish that, but it's not something I'm really looking forward to.

The husband is off on a work trip this week to the French Riviera. (I know... the poor dear) So, my personal life is going to cut into my writing life this week. B is still going through this crying sobfests over the little things, so it's probably time to give up and take her into the doctor and have him figure it out. I don't know what is wrong with her. It still might be a sinus infection, but I don't know... and neither does she. T gets a little nuts when his dad is gone and he was wired last night. My insomnia didn't kick back in last night so I actually got nearly eight hours of sleep. I feel alive and much more patient.

Okay, it's time to man up and just deal with that YA. *deep breath*

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Late Night Thoughts

So, yesterday was a very odd day. I'd finally made some real and significant decisions and decided to set aside the traditional publishing route for a while so, naturally, I'd no sooner discussed it with my husband and mentioned it on Twitter... then I got an email that blew that crap. (It was within minutes... irony has peaked in my life.) It was a good email, don't get me wrong. It was good news... somewhat... and a good email. It was just ironic that I'd finally decided something and I'd need to reevaluate it... again. Being a writer means that you live in this state of limbo... you're always waiting for something before you can actually make a choice.

Anyway, despite that, I managed to break my insomnia cycle finally which isn't unusual. Stress only slightly factors into my insomnia. My insomnia cycles of a week on and a week off are typically induced by hormones and my OCD. Medication only alleviates symptoms... and I have to take either hardcore sleeping meds (the kind of sleeping pills they only give you in small amounts and other doctors are horrified you're taking them at all) or, strangely enough, dramamine. (I don't question weird things like this. Dramamine is my gift horse for right now. I dread the day it stops making me sleepy.)

I've complained about my insomnia before and how I wish I could just shut off my brain, but I've never really mentioned what I think about and I think an insomniac writer is a different breed of weird from most insomniacs who stay up late thinking about normal worries. So, here is my typical, atypical night of thoughts on an insomnia night.

10:00 *Lays down* I hope that this will be the night I sleep. This insomnia jag can't last that much longer. Can it? What day am I on? Oh ugh... there was that one that lasted nearly a month. I won't last that long.
10:01 Concentrate on relaxing. Concentrate! Concentrate! RELAX!!!!
10:02 That's not working. Relax feet. Relax legs. Relax.... if I did decide to sketch out the switchblade in Honor books for the cover... I could have her holding it in her hand and have her legs in the background.
10:03 If I had a real switchblade that was more of a stilleto-style... that would be... HEY! I stopped relaxing!
10:04 Relax... where was I? Oh... relax legs... relax knees... tomorrow is Tuesday. I can get a run in tomorrow. I should probably put bandaids on my toes so I don't get blisters. Crap. I'm not sure if I have bandaids I'm not allergic to. Hmm... Those Handy Manny bandaids were really the best of the paper-style bandaids but geez they looked dorky. I think even the kids hated them.
10:05 I should really make sure I go through B's papers in the morning. I bet she has that project coming up. I need to sign all those things.
10:06 Maybe I should change my signature. I've had the same signature for a while.
10:07 If I changed my signature, would that mean everything I've signed in the past would become moot or would my new signature be labelled as incorrect?
10:08 This is why I can never be famous because I'll be locked into a single signature for the rest of my life. Not that I want to be famous.
10:09 That would be total hell. People would be poking into my life and think that everything I do can be commented on. Ugh. Stephanie Meyer. Blech. I would hate to be her.
10:10 You know, there had to come a day of reckoning for Jacob when he'd have to tell Renesmee that he totally tried to hook up with her mom. I mean, that's why you never have one of your characters attracted to an ovum. That day of reckoning eventually comes.
10:11 How would that go?
10:12 "Renesmee, I know we've been together since you were born and now you're all seven and hot and grown-up... but when you were an ovum... I totally tried to get with your mom because you were all in her ovaries and I was really hot for you... when you were an ovum. I hope we can work past that and get married... now that you're seven. That's cool, right?"
10:13 I'm totally not relaxing.
10:14 Should I start over relaxing my feet? Or just start where I stopped when I started thinking about Stephanie Meyer's books?
10:15 You know the other major flaw with that whole thing was that if Bella was really able to have kids and her reproductive system was functioning... Edward should have gone nuts once a month on her. Maybe it's different when it's THAT kind of.... Eww... this is a really creepy bunch of thoughts.
10:16 Not any more creepy than a guy waiting for a baby to reach seven before he hooks up with her... but still creepy. I mean, how creepy was that?
10:17 I'm still not relaxing.
10:18 Shut off, brain. Just shut off. I really need to pay those bills tomorrow. I hate money. I hate it. Even if I had it... I would hate it... I'm pretty sure.
10:19 If I really could shut off my brain, that would be totally sci-fi.
10:20 Would I be like a zombie and unable to turn it back on? I mean, that would make sense, right? If you slipped into some sort of altered state of consciousness without being able to form thoughts... you wouldn't be able to form the thought to start thinking again.
10:21 I wonder if hypnosis would help me get to sleep?
10:22 What if I had the same reaction to hypnosis as I would to the whole zombie thing? What if the hypnotic suggestion was so strong that I never woke up again or, even when I woke up, I still was relaxed? Could I survive a world in which my personality was relaxed?
10:23 No. That would be weird.
10:24 I just don't think I was meant to be relaxed. I've had like a kajillion thoughts just since I thought that thought... the one about being relaxed.
10:25 I'm totally not relaxed. *looks at clock* Bugger.
10:26 Still, hypnosis might be interesting to research. I wonder if you can be hypnotized by someone online. It's probably not safe to mess around with hypnosis while the husband is gone and I'm home alone.
10:27 Is hypnosis that strong?
10:28 I should know more about that. Especially before I started messing around with hypnosis online. The kids would come home from school and I'd be like this zombie, staring at my laptop.
10:29 Could you really get someone to commit a crime through hypnosis or is that just movie crap?
10:30 If I was going to get someone to commit a crime through hypnosis what would it be?
10:31 It'd be a robbery, right?
10:32 Totally... what kind of robbery? Would I go all old school? Maybe an art heist.
10:33 The problem with stolen art, though, is that the whole point of art is to display it... and you wouldn't be able to... not really.
10:34 Unless you had a reproduction of ... the Scream... and you swapped it out with the real thing... and then it would also be like your joke on the world. People would say "Oh... hey... is that the Scream?"
10:35 "Yeah... it's a reproduction." And you could just like laugh. That would be awesome.
10:36 I wonder if that's what keeps happening to the Scream. I mean, if I was to steal a painting....
10:37 I'm still not relaxing. Okay. Concentrate, Wendy! Relax. Relax. Relax.
10:38 What if I never get to sleep? What if I'm not getting any REM sleep to the point that I just eventually drop into a coma and die?
10:39 Well, this is really relaxing me.
10:40 Maybe not art, then. What else would I force my hypnotized minion to steal?
10:41 Money. No, that's stupid. I hate money.... I really need to pay those bills tomorrow. I hate money. Paying bills with stolen money would be a nightmare. What if you got caught and had to pay both places back? That'd suck. No... I wouldn't have them steal money to pay bills. There's no elegance in that. Maybe information?
10:42 Insider trading stopped being sexy when Martha Stewart did it.
10:43 Really... any crime would become less sexy if Martha Stewart did it. She could be great for crime prevention. She'd be like the next McDuff. "Hey... I did this... and now... it's a good thing." That'd take your bite out of crime.
10:44 Relax your thighs... relax your butt.
10:45 How come some women have their butt fat just look right and not chunky? That seems unfair. I mean, even when I'm in top shape and running... I bet now my butt fat would just ride on top of the muscle and still look like butt fat. In fact, it might look worse having butt fat ride on top of muscle. I should check that out.
10:46 How would I check that out? Stare at runner's butts while I'm out on errands? What kind of weirdo would that make me? Why am I thinking about butts?
10:47 Relax your stomach.
10:48 I should do more sit-ups. I should do sit-ups daily... like every day... like tomorrow. I should start tomorrow. *looks at clock* I'm still not asleep.
10:49 I hate insomnia. I hate it so much. I'm so sick of just lying awake here trying to stop thinking. If only I could stop thinking.
10:50 I could be writing. I could be revising.
10:51 When I wake up tomorrow... I should really get rid of that one thing later on in the book. I didn't really like it when I wrote it.
10:52 Why didn't I like it? Was it because it was too personal? Or because it just sucked? It might have just sucked, but I never really asked anyone. They might like it. No... it just sucks.
10:53 I wonder if published authors think stuff like that about their books. I wonder if they think "That one bit in Chapter eight reeks and makes me want to beat my head against something but everyone else likes it. If only I'd never written it. If I'd never written it, they'd never have had the chance to like it."
10:54 I wonder if Stephanie Meyer thinks that about Breaking Dawn.
10:55 *snickers to self* Renesmee.
10:56 I'm still not relaxed. Relax... bugger that... where was I? Was I relaxing my stomach or... well, it's not like I can really relax my boobs. Relax, boobs. *snickers again* Okay, now I'm not asleep and hopefully my husband can't hear me laughing to myself.
10:57 Who am I kidding? He's been asleep for almost an hour now. He's been asleep since he first thought of going to sleep. Even before he was asleep... he was asleep.
10:58 I'm not even making any sense I'm so tired. I'm not going to think of anything for an entire minute... and maybe I'll just drop off to sleep like that. Not thinking. Not thinking. Not thinking. I'm not thinking of anything. La-la-la-la-la I'm not thinking.
10:59 What if I never, ever, ever sleep again? Ever?
11:00 Crap. I'm still not relaxed.
11:00-11:30 *basically more of the same but this time instead of Stephanie Meyer and Martha Stewart... it's Nicholas Sparks and Gandhi. Instead of hypnotism and butts... it's buying more pita chips and how I feel about cleft chins*
11:31 Maybe I should just get up and write or read for a few hours until I'm actually sleepy.
*gets up*
1:00 a.m. Relax. Concentrate on relaxing. Relax. Relax. Relax. Concentrate!!!
1:01 What was she thinking when she used the name Renesmee and why did no one stop her? I wonder if anyone brought it up? If I'd been her agent or her editor... I would have said something.

So, that's basically how it goes... endless hours of thinking about things that are mostly pointless. I think most people with insomnia worry about rational things, though. I'll leave that to them.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

And then the gargoyles got naked....

Okay, so I'm thinking I'll submit to ABNA this year. (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award) It has some tight rules on exclusivity that normally might worry people, but I have enough mss to choose from that I can just submit a novel that I wasn't even thinking of querying on. I've never even considered querying "Secrets of Skin and Stone" because it still feels weirdly intimate to show people. So... it makes it twenty times strange that I'm thinking of using it for ABNA, but I've never claimed to be sane.

Unfortunately, I stripped its voice during a technical revision. *smacks head* I realized that after this last reread. Oy. So, I'm plugging through it right now at a very, very slow pace. I figure I need to do about two chapters a day in order for it to be ready in time. Two chapters a day on a revision is really slow for me... really slow. But I need to slow down and give this the attention that I tend to give my short stories. I need to pretend this is just a series of short stories that I'm going to submit... not a novel.

Anyway, so I haven't decided which WIP I'm going to be working on. I am thinking of checking more into e-pubbing. I also need to finish doing revisions on this YA Mystery short story this week and get it submitted. Between revisions and research... I should be busy this week.... and then there is always cleaning.



For those that don't know, Secrets of Skin and Stone is a YA paranormal. Piper has OCD but she is haunted not just by her paranoia and obsessions but also by real evil spirits. Gris is a Watcher, a human that can turn into a gargoyle-like creature to destroy the evil spirits that plague Piper. They're both keeping secrets from the world and meanwhile a different darkness is hunting Piper. Gris has to learn to trust Piper with a secret kept in the shadows for centuries. Piper has to help him figure out what really happened one dark and ugly night last year.

Anyway... that's my spur of the moment summary and those are my plans for this week.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I know, I'm a blogging machine. It's truly unreal. ; )

I realized I forgot to mention what I've finished and what I'm working on... or what I will be working on.

Probably most significantly... I finished Honor 7. I actually didn't finish an Honor book at all in 2010. Honor fans have been hinting for months that this is unacceptable. My sister, Jaime, finally asked me to finish Honor 7 for her birthday this last week. She asked back in October... and I said, "Surrrrre." (Thinking... in my ignorance... that it would be cake. I forgot about NANO. Oy.) Anyway, I finished it this week. It was a huge relief to have that one completed. Writing in Reeve's voice was really difficult. I haven't printed it out or really shown anyone aside from my sisters. I don't know why... maybe I'm nervous. Anyway... it's done! Yay!

Also, I submitted a zombie love story for a zombie anthology this week. Yay! That's done. It was a short story, but it seemed to be an albatross this week as I prepped it for submission while still working on Honor.

I've also finished, but haven't completed revisions of a YA mystery short story that I'll be submitting to a contest with a small press... hopefully in the next few weeks.

So, that leaves what's to come. ABNA (Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award) time is here and I've never submitted in the past, but I'm somewhat tempted to try this year. Last year, I had a lot of queries out and I was excited about tackling that. This year, I don't know what I'd submit, but I don't have as much holding me back. I might see which of my friends are doing ABNA this year to decide.

Next, there is Sentinel's Run. I don't know how much I've spoken about this in the past, but I consider it to be the best thing I've written yet. It's only at about half-way and I set it down because I had a bunch of other stuff that took priority. I kept thinking it was "next" but I really need to get back into the mindset to write in it. That was difficult with Honor 7 and will be the same with this one. The POV is so different from my own that it's not an easy switch. I'll need to eat/sleep/breathe it for a while. It's a dystopian and the language syntax is slightly different too because of that. I *wish* I'd just kept writing it and not taken a break... even if it meant going without sleeping for weeks. It's really good... but I'm afraid I won't be able to pick up the threads I dropped. Ugh... I had such a good flow going. I wish I hadn't stopped. Le sigh.

I have a few other WIPs and some folks might notice I've started a new short story anthology for the year to pour new stories into. I like the rush of finishing a piece... and I get that from short stories. Short stories get somewhat addictive in that way. I can get the idea out of my head and onto paper... and it's done... and done is a beautiful thing. Lately, if I get stuck in one of my other projects, I've just started writing a short story to keep my mind going. I don't know what I'll do with this anthology any more than I knew what I'd do with the last one. It's good practice in different writing styles and POVs and genres. Plus, as I said, there is that rush of finishing something.

Revisions... if I get stuck, I also turn to doing revisions. I need to revise all the Honor books in a major way. I've grown as a writer since I first wrote them and I've developed things in the ongoing plot too. So, revising some of those books might also be something I attempt.

So, that's that. That's what I've got planned for the upcoming month. A friend of mine mentioned a freelancing writing position that she thinks I'd be good at... and I'm thinking it might be worth a shot. The only issue is I'd need to develop a resume after being a stay-at-home for ten years and I'd rather shove shards of glass under my fingernails. I might still do it, but that does factor in.

Anyway, so there is your Wendy's writing update for those curious.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Finding Balance in a Tippy World

It's probably past time that I said something significant here. I know some people get all excited about the new year... they see it as full of promise. Most of you following me probably have noticed I tend toward pessimism rather than optimism, but I do try to evaluate my previous year in January. I don't believe in resolutions... which is an odd thing to say, but I'm an odd duck. Well, I take that back, I don't believe in making resolutions in January because I feel like the mere significance of such a thing sets you up for failure. I like to make resolutions in February... or March... or even mid-year. On the other hand, it seems foolish to look back on a year and not at least learn something from it.

So, last year... what did I learn... what will I do differently?

Last year, I got sucked into Twitter... I mean, it ate me alive.

I also really put my whole heart into querying agents. I met a lot of agents on Twitter and despite a full solid year of buckets of rejection, I don't regret really pouring my soul into the process. I had to try. Plus, I met a ton of nice agents and learned more about who they are and what to expect.

I finally got off OCD meds in October after three years being on them... this has been a total mixed bag, though.

My kids are doing well despite the great Twitter abandonment issues they should be facing after 2010... which also seems a mixed bag. It's weird to think they didn't need as much attention as I'd thought... either that or they're growing deeper rooted issues that I can't even begin to understand. I do feel guilty about that, by the way. They are both doing awesome in school and T isn't having as many violence issues as previously. (Though he did chip my older brother's tooth over Christmas break.)

My marriage is doing well... I hope, but I feel like a failure as a wife because I can't seem to keep the house clean. This is partly because I hate cleaning... like deeply and completely. It's a vile burn within my soul kind of hatred. I wish I didn't. I wish I was the type of person who kept a clean house. (OCD isn't always like that... as you can see.) I'm not that person.

When taken as a whole... I look at last year and think, "I need to learn balance. More importantly, I need to FIND balance."

Being off of OCD meds doesn't lend itself easily to that. That's part of the reason for the meds after all. I don't spend hours caught on the same thing or obsessed by a single thought. If they didn't come with the full-on nasties of side effects, I'd stay on them. A few things help replace the meds... vitamins and a balanced diet with low sugar, low salt... and a lot of water. Exercise helps. Sleep is nice... but... yeah... that won't necessarily happen. Still, it makes sense to work on all those things if I intend to stay off the meds.

Then, there is my writing. Once you've attacked something as thoroughly as I queried agents last year... spending another year doing it... again... seems frustrating. This year, I'm going to focus on submitting my novels to publishers, possibly one a month, and working on submitting short stories. I'm not doing the agent thing again... I don't think. That's not to say I don't want an agent, but sometimes these things happen after you've been accepted by a publisher.

Finally, there is Twitter and my family. Yeah... there isn't an easy answer on balancing an online life with a real life. This is where it all seems tippy to me. I suck at finding balance... and finding balance with Twitter calling my name and laundry mocking me... oy. That's all I can say... oy.

So, 2011 is going to be about me trying to find a balance of good things and necessary things and even awful, ugly, nasty things like cleaning. I'm not sure how much I'll talk about it so much as just push towards it in little ways... life is like that. The little things become bigger things until you've changed... and hopefully for the better.

Okay, so this was my big, momentous first post of 2011. Now that I've got that out of the way, you can expect more light-hearted and often nonsensical posts from me.