Well, this is an improvement

So, where am I? The bottom of my Amazon basics notebook–it’s a decently-priced moleskine knock-off–is pulling apart at the bottom. A little more wear and tear than I’d like, although probably nothing I’d actually pay more money to fix, especially if these notebooks are only supposed to last a month or two. (At the rate I’m going? Probably more like three or four, but still not an item for posterity.)

The cat has a fondness for biting my pens–apparently he takes writing as a sign that I want to play–so he got a fairly sizable bite out of my orange pen. The animal has jaws like lightning.

The Scrivener thoughts? Well, might still becoming. After a little more typing in, and playing… if I get that done before the trial runs out. I won’t be buying a copy of the program. I just can’t get excited about it.

In query letter writing… I have one perfect sentence. Of course, that still leaves me with the rest of the letter to write. And I’m not sure how to figure out the rest. I’m wondering if I could just program a computer to write query letters. Uhm… well, maybe a charming robot of some kind. Don’t want to lose the humanoid touch, after all.

I am on day 7 of “write every day.”

This is an improvement.

I’m working on a new scene card for a scene that doesn’t really exist in any form, yet. And that’s a whole lot more fun than trying to figure out what’s wrong with the scenes that do exist. I’m still trying to figure out how finishing the revision can simultaneously seem so incredibly close, and so far away.

Stepping Back For A Better View

I spent a fairly good chunk of today and some of yesterday working on the timeline for my revision. I found a few missing pieces–five of them, actually–that need to go into my outline.  This gives me a total of 14 chunks left to revise. And puts me behind by… well, based on my original math… a couple of months.

I’d like to think it won’t be that long, but the truth is the holidays may be busier than I think, and I never seem to give myself enough time for anything, anyway.

Someday, I would like to look down and realize I’m actually finished early.  But that’s a ways off.

I’m writing a romance that isn’t really a romance–it’s… something else. Science Fiction… Fantasy… a metaphor for something I don’t totally understand.

And when I lose track of where I am, I wind up writing nice circles, where my main characters are sitting around talking, and telling each other about their childhoods, and kissing. It’s really not supposed to be a romance on any real level.

And that’s my hint that something is going wrong. Too much smooshy stuff.

(I usually worry that there’s not enough. No. It doesn’t make sense.)

I’m ready to be done with the thing.

IWSG: Finishing (Or Not Finishing) NaNoWriMo Projects

So, I’ve been told I got the wrong question. I’m sticking with it it’s been a hectic month.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
The question for last month was do you finish what you write for nano??
Wow, that’s a tough question. I’m not sure I know what the answer is, since I’m never entirely sure where “finished” begins. Is it when you write the end, and mostly know the story? Is it when the whole thing is polished to a mirror finish?
I usually have enough steam that the first draft gets finished, assuming that I’m not working on a revision at the same time. Revision is usually my big, high-pressure thing, and I get to a point of gotta finish now.
I don’t always revise what I write for nano. If I’ve lost interest, or if the story just doesn’t seem to be up my alley, I may choose not to revise at all, or the revision might peter out before I have a final clean version. I’m learning to embrace the idea that not everything I write is for publication or even anything other than experience.
I have a wide assortment of manuscripts that I will never polish that well on my hard drive, and I feel like I’ve learned from all of them. The ones that I want to spend enough time on to make presentable are special.
One of the things I learned from revising my first manuscript–the very first one, and it was really hard, and really long–was that there’s something dangerous about having “THE” manuscript. If it’s the ONLY manuscript, it makes it much more difficult to make objective decisions about it, and you tend to keep revising forever. As soon as you have that second manuscript written, you start having real choices. And that’s when I stopped revising in circles and moved forward.

What You Can’t Tell By Looking

I’ve been thinking about criminals, lately.

The very first rule I ever learned… way back in AP psychology (That’s high school. Sixteen or seventeen years old, but I was the only minor in the class.) Was that you can’t tell by looking at someone, or even by talking to them what they did. The entire class (minus me, of course, because I was still a minor) went on a field trip to the local “correctional facility.” And while they were there, they met a volunteer inmate who gave them the standard what prison life is like, and stay-in-school lecture.

When they got back, the most memorable part of the classroom discussion centered around one question:

What do you think he did?

And most of the speculation centered around white-collar crimes. Bad checks. Insurance fraud. Maybe a few minor drug offenses.

Nope. The correct answer was multiple counts of 1st degree aggravated murder.

You know… the stuff you hear about in horror movies.

And nobody even suggested violence.

And that’s where my thoughts turn toward people who are just suspected of crimes, and the miracle of due process.

Yup. To my mind, it is a miracle that we’ve ever gotten past I don’t like you, therefore you must’a raped my daughter.

Because if you can’t tell what someone did do by talking to them, you sure as heck can’t tell what they didn’t do.

Index Cards and Coffee Might Save My Life

The wind is blowing in hard and cold, and you can hear it creeping around between the houses. This is the week it’s finally supposed to get really, truly, properly cold. I’m not that much of a winter person, and even less so, when it’s cold and cloudy.

I worked my way through a bunch of index cards representing the tail end of my novel.

They’re mostly chronological, which is always a plus, and they get from point A to point B.

The biggest hurdle is going to be completely ignoring the now random versions of what I’ve already written, and writing to match what needs to be there.

No, really.

I enjoy the thing where the scene is recognizably something… but has the wrong characters in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I have the wrong person being beaten up. The wrong funeral. The wrong entity moving from point A to point B. (And that’s no small feat, since the thing that should be moving is a temple, and the thing that should not be moving is a human being. I can’t tell you how long that took me to figure out.

Oh, yes. And I am no longer certain that the things my main characters tell each other are… uhm… strictly speaking… true.

Giveaways and Readers

I’m sick as a dog right now, and took the day off work. I’m having trouble with the seemingly simple task of walking and not vomiting at the same time. Since both of those things are highly valued in the workplace, I’m recuperating at home.

If I don’t eat, drink, or move… Well, don’t tell. I think there are those who would equate moving my thumbs to type with being hale and hearty.

So, I’m thinking about book giveaways and whether they work and how they work.

The changes in Goodreads’ pricing for giveaways, and the subsequent weeping and gnashing of teeth might have something to do with that.

I’ve won a few giveaways in my time, and I find myself thinking about the authors who I wound up reading steadily as a result. There aren’t that many. And that makes me wonder if I’m looking at the wrong end of the strategy.

I’m wondering if the target for that kind of marketing is the guy who didn’t win, but who still feels an attachment to the book as a result of his narrow miss. The building of lists and followings, and the individual response of one entrant who happens to win is immaterial. 

And of course, I’m curious if that changes the strategy.

So, who’s found a new favorite author through a giveaway? And if you have given away books, how would you do it differently the next time?

Summing Up November

Looking back on the fine month of November, I’m not all that crazy about my progress. Part of that is that I decided I should stop and write another novel–NaNoWriMo, you know–and part of it is that there were a lot of rewrites I needed to get done, and some of them re things I have no idea how to do. Part of it is also procrastination, of course.

I’m also a little overwhelmed at the sheer amount of handwritten work I need to type up. I definitely let that snowball on me. (And as a result, I’m going to have to take a day or two to type up the work in question.) This is going to have to be a part of my daily routine, now. Get up, type things into the computer, and then work on the next day’s quota. I do not like typing.

So, I’m revising a scene–it’s one of those right general content, wrong characters, wrong setting, wrong tone scenes. And I honestly don’t know what else is wrong with it. Part of it is that I want to put a romantic scene there. I want something nice and comforting and… nice. And not an argument over a funeral ritual that has become a stereotype for one of my cultures.

Of course, if I actually put a romantic scene there, it may ruin the ending, and descend into erotica.

I’m not having a lot of luck catching the right tone.

And if I could think of anything else that would work there, I would probably do that.

I’m sure nobody would be too surprised if my characters were all crushed to death in a mid-summer avalanche. Right?

I’m ready to be done with the revision.

An Internet Education

It is Thursday, the sun is in the air–real warmth, this time, not just a lot of light–and my Amazon recommendations are currently listing a wide variety of fire arms accessories. That’s my own fault. I had to go click on a link to find out what a brass catcher was, and now I know, and I’m also about to find out what a military crimp remover is. I’m pretty sure it’s what Marines use to de-crimp their hair back into regulation rectitude following a naughty weekend in Dubai.

I could be wrong.

The thing about the internet is that there’s information everywhere.

Those weird questions you really can’t just annoy a stranger with? A fraction of a second away with your favorite search engine, and from there, you’re onto the endless Columbo-style daisy chain of just one more question.

You know you’re onto something good, if Google comes up with no relevant results, or if a hotline of any type materializes before your eyes. And I’m more or less addicted to the “People who viewed this also viewed…” feature on Amazon.

For instance… the fact that people who viewed the uterus cookie cutter I’m looking at (don’t ask) also viewed Colosseum shaped salt and pepper shakers is a really weird juxtaposition. Back in the day… which was not so very long ago… people in my neck of the woods had to send all the way to Denver to get their uterus shaped candies and cookies. And yes, I know that for a fact. Now, you can order your sugary uteri from the comfort of your own Lazy Boy.

The information’s all just there for the taking.

I’m sure there are practical applications, of course. How do you make your book show up with the most popular uteri, for instance. Or just exactly what kind of people are reading my book? Can I use that to advertise to them, later on?

The advertising thing comes up as sort of a tangent from elsewhere on the internet, of course.

What kind of people do I want to advertise my book to?

Weirdly enough, I’m pretty sure the answer is not “People who buy books” any more than the answer is people with a pulse. But it might be people who buy their kids telescopes, or people who build model rockets.

Fifteen Minutes to Get Out Of Dodge

Somewhere near me, they’re draining a lake, looking for a woman who went missing about a week before Thanksgiving. The local news–via Twitter–is giving us a blow-by-blow description of the search. It seems they’ve just pulled out work lights, so the news-reader du jour suggests they plan on working late tonight. This particular disappearance–for whatever reasons–is catching a lot of attention.

And there’s something about anything the media touches that seems to turn into a three-ring circus.

They did do a lovely job of saying “pond” or “body of water” instead of “sewage lagoon,” though.

And if it weren’t unseemly, you’d swear you were betting on a dog fight. I mean… all the news readers have to know this is (potentially) a huge step up from their last major stories (which involve people accidentally shooting themselves, and Petsmart donating stuffed animals to an area children’s hospital.)

There’s not a whole lot that happens around here.

The investigation might be a whole lot better off without television. Without the internet. Without the rampant competition to get the scoop (which, if the stars align, may not exist in the first place.) Without the pressure to catch someone… anyone.

And honestly… If a psychopath dropped a body in a lake, the last thing anybody should be doing is telling him exactly where and when the police are doing. (The cop just pulled on his hip-waders.  He’s given the cadaver dog a Snausage. Fifteen minutes to get out of Dodge.)

So, what about you? Do you think news coverage helps or hurts an investigation? And if you were a reporter, just how far would you go to get the scoop?

(Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to add three sex scenes and a chainsaw murder to my novel. Good for the ole career, you know.)

Reverse Dumpster Diving

You know those big name authors? The ones who have to cross cut shred everything because the people who go through their garbage would post spoilers in the internet, if they didn’t?

Well, I’m not one of them.

In fact, my well-meaning critics dropped off an extra bag of garbage this morning.

Bag of garbage

The actual garbage in question.

It appears they don’t think I’m throwing enough away.