Friday, May 18, 2012

Technical Dificulties

I have been running into some technical difficulties with my blog. For some odd reason... until today, my blog dashboard was nothing but a white page! So was the help section and my own blog when I was logged into it. I apologize for my disappearance and will write more to you soon. I'm posting this and then logging out, so I can see if I am able to log back in and get two successful visits back-to-back. If I don't reappear soon, know that I am still fighting my way out of the great white wash!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Culture Shock

I just finished a costume deadline and, while I was in the heat of the construction, I started realizing how similar some of the issues are between writing and creature-building --with one big exception... What takes three to six months in the publishing industry must be done in 3 weeks in the entertainment industry.

I remember the first time an agent requested a full manuscript from me. We met at a conference. I was there with the hopes of connecting on a different story, but I met an agent I really wanted to approach about my YA work-in-progress. Now, I would never have queried this agent with an unfinished piece -I knew better -but I figured if I just introduced myself then, when I queried him later, it might help. Well, I didn't end up just introducing myself. When he asked what my manuscript was about and I told him, he got REALLY excited! So excited that it kind of scared me! I kept telling him the manuscript wasn't finished and he kept saying that was okay but he would really like to see it when it was complete.

After the conference, I went home and finished the novel in six weeks. Six weeks! (In the film industry, this would be like four to six months!) In case any of you haven't figured it out, I'll confess; the story was not ready and he passed -but with mega-compliments and an invitation to resend it later. So, what did I do? I rewrote it of course... in four weeks. (I just knew I was going to lose him because I was working too slowly. After all, it had been almost three months by this time.) I did eventually lose him... and the manuscript still sits -unchanged -on my hard drive.

When I began working with the agent who now represents me, I started to fall into the same trap. He warned me to slow down. He set timelines that sounded a bit like for-ever to me. I couldn't believe he was serious. I mean, how could an industry survive that worked that slowly?! But I tried to heed his advice and took great pains to slow down, but I just couldn't slow down that much. (Surely he was just being kind and didn't really expect me to take six months to do the rewrite. Really?)

I've since grown accustomed to the slower tempo, I've come to realize I'm not actually working slower; I just have a lot more work to do than I first knew. The slower flow still feels weird at times, but I appreciate the neccessity of it. Now if I could only get my entertainment clients to give me more than a week to do a month of work.... Do you think...?

Nah....

Monday, January 30, 2012

Starting

I'm not so sure writing novels is all that hard, but writing a good one sure is! I've been working over the beginning few chapters of my newset novel for an eternity (translation: a couple weeks) and today I'm frustrated! The problem is: hmmm... I'm not exactly sure what the problem is.

In my first novel, my protagonist was relocating on page one, so he didn't know anybody until they hit the pages of the book. In this next one, my protagonist knows exactly where he is, who everyone else is and what is or isn't expected of him every day of his life --with the exception of the one new person who turns everything in his life on its ear intentionally and unitentionally. I hadn't realized what an advantage I had with the other book. It's tough to establish a protagonist, his routine and all the relevant people around him without bogging down the first few chapters.

Actually, chapter one was a cinch to write once I decided which chapter one to actually call "Chapter One". I set up a lot and foreshadowed even more (although I don't think many people will realize until a ways into the book just how much information I fed them in that first chapter.) It's chapter two that seems tricky; that transitional chapter between meaningful introductions and dramatic momentum.

How do you get past the beginning? Or what books have you read that have a lot of characters introduced early on yet don't drag in the beginning? I think it's time to go browse the bookshelves for a bit...

Monday, January 16, 2012

One Size Does Not Fit All

I love Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd. I love the casting, the music, the production value, the story... but just because I think it's a great movie, that doesn't make it something I recommend everybody see. It's off-beat and just a tad on the dark side. (Okay - maybe more than just a tad.) If you like off-beat, dark stuff, I highly recommend you see it if you haven't already. If you're into romances, happily ever afters, comedies and beauty, I don't think it'll be your cup of tea. That doesn't make you crazy -or me either for that matter. It makes us individuals.

Have you ever tried something that called itself "one size fits all"? Do one-size hats really fit all head? Do one-size gloves really fit all hands? Do one-size fabric book covers really fit all books? (Frankly, I not so sure they really fit ANY book very well.) If you have a computer, a writing program or an ereader you love, do you think that same computer, or program or ereader would work perfectly for everybody?

If you do have a beloved writing program or ereader, I would love to hear about it. But I'll warn you: what makes it great for you may not be what I prefer or need. For example: I hate touchscreens! For whatever reason, touchpads usually don't like my fingertips, so touch-anything is usually junk in my hands. I need to have a key pad -even if it makes your eyes roll. (Is it just me...?)

Does one anything really fit all? I don't think so.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wow! What Happened to Yesterday?!

When I went to bed Monday, I had a plan: Tuesday was going to be a half day of working on sci-fi ammunition belts and holsters and a half day of writing on my next novel. Easy enough, right?

Ha!

When I checked voice messages at 6:30 Tuesday in the morning, there were already two from a producer telling me to check my emails (which I had checked as late as 4:30 the evening before.) My email box had two more messages about the bid, so... I got to work writing replies and making phone calls asking questions. By mid-morning, I was up to my elbow in fake guns and hot plastic, with my head cocked sideways so I could do more follow up phone calls on the bidding details.

Meanwhile, there was an email from my literary agent, with a request that required a bit of action on my part and I wanted to be sure to take care of that as soon as possible, as well. (Boy, would my life be easier if I had a "normal" job. But then, I couldn't stand that!)

By afternoon, I had the bid going well, but I couldn't get a call back from the fur company I left two messages with (I'm still waiting, people! Don't you want the business?), my ammo protoypes were looking fairly good but I'd like to make them better, and then I realized it was the 10th of January! Ack! Deadline day to get my pictures in to the Film Directory for my contact information updates.

Just as I clicked "send" to the film commission, my son tells me it's time to go look at goats to purchase for 4-H and I decide we'd better get the rest of the errands done before the rain-turning-to-snow hits.

After goat shopping, errands, a rocket launch (yes -I said a rocket launch) some take-out Chinese food and starting a book that sucked me in much faster than I thought it would (Brett Battles' The Pull of Gravity) I hadn't written one word of that scene for my novel.

Well, I guess, I know what I'm doing today... Refer to Monday -except I need to add reviewing submissions to Allegory Ezine to the schedule.

So... What are you doing today?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rainbow Attack!

Although I've already started writing my next novel, it's still a very new story and already the characters are throwing me surprises. So, I've paused on the writing and have gone back to my scene breakdown to flesh it out a bit more. In the process, I want to be sure I don't neglect a character or a subplot too long so, being a visual person (and a bit obsessive)I've started color-coding things.

First, I give each scene I'm planning a one-line description. Then, I choose a color to represent each subplot, more colors to represent each character, and still different ones for each reoccuring symbol, relevant detail and backstory feed. Sure -it's a lot of colors. But, when I'm done, at a glance, I can see if something or someone is going to disappear too long or be too heavy-handed and I can balance things early.

So far, this is working smashingly. When I'm done with my first draft, I'll redo my breakdown on a spreadsheet (because by then the story will be way to complex for a rainbow attack) but for the earliest stages, I find it fast, fun way to be able to see the jest of the entire story so I can get back to the real project... The writing!

I would love to hear how you get your plot in order to start your stories!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Don't Forget the Vanilla!

As I get deeper into my recipe box, digging up those favorite cookie recipes I only bake at Christmas, one thing is abundantly clear; I can't survive Christmas without vanilla.

Vanilla isn't the most exciting ingredient. In fact, outside of my son's spectacular spritz cookies, there aren't any cookies served as plain as that but, without a touch of vanilla, the ginger snaps, white chocolate lemon cookies and even the fudge aren't as good as they should be. That little touch of mellow -ordinary -simpleness -makes everything better.

The deeper I get into the holiday season, the more I need that same mellow, ordinary simplicity to keep from feeling completely overrun by the too-busy, over-obligated agenda the season always seems to demand. It's the vanilla moments -sitting with the family at the dinner table, playing a board game with the kids in the middle of the floor or reading a good book at the library for an hour or so -that keep me from losing my mind.

I highly recommend, if you're feeling a little stressed because you're running in every direction trying to keep up with the demands of you're overly-festive holiday season... don't forget the vanilla!