Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Goals, Getting Myself in Gear...

So, for those of you who commented about the scary sounding Boot Camp, apparently, I was mistaken.  It's not Boot Camp, it's Camp Nanowrimo.  Camp like: canoeing, campfires, crafts, and all those other c words.  :)  I'm never scared of Nano, it's been my friend for several happy years now.  If I ever make it big, they are going to get a huge donation from me, for all the help and support they've given my writing career.  Because of them, I realized I could finish something.  Because of them, I know how much writing I can get done in an hour, when I sit down and just WRITE.
So anyway, I might join up for the next round of ROW, just to be able to get that verbal encouragement, since none of my writing friends are doing Camp N, but that one will give me a harder goal to follow, with a cool little arrow and bulls-eye graphic, so it will keep me on my toes.
I've been away away AWAY from the computer and "sleeping in" this past week, enjoying my time off.  Creativity is hard work to achieve, but now I'm ready to get back in the game and finish up the rest of Aeris.  All my betas have gotten back to me with some really helpful feedback.  Thank goodness for beta readers!  They always seem to see things that you don't.  I will be careful with my edits of the first half and I have food for thought as I write the second half.
It's so funny to see myself from this time last year.  I know how far I've come from Six Keys.  Which, you know, may not be a perfect book, but it's all mine and honest work.  Edit after edit, rewrite and data loss in the middle.  I hope to be a better writer each time I put my fingers to the keyboard.
I care about books.  They are my passion.  I care about being better and making stories that are fun to read.  I'm no Steinbeck, and I don't hope to be, pretty much ever.  But I care about the finished product, because as a reader, I know what it's like to feel disappointment.  I know how much it sucks to read a book and feel like no thought or editing went into its creation.  That is pretty much a betrayal to me and I will always try my hardest not to make my readers feel that way.
Sorry, got a little serious there, but I've been thinking about my commitment to writing and it all kind of came out.  See you in the next few days, as I start up Camp N.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Goodbye ROW, hello Boot Camp!!

I made it by the skin of my teeth.  Somehow I slept through my alarm yesterday (pregnancy fatigue anyone?) and to top it off, my son woke up early, so I only wrote about 700 words yesterday.  But today I made it!  Final count on Demon and His Lover: 7,600 words.  Final count Aeris(for ROW, not for the whole book): 62,694.  Like I said, made 70,000 by the skin of my teeth.  But I made it!  Yay!!!
I assume bootcamp is like Nanowrimo, where you write 50,000 words.  I may not make that goal, simply because I'm not sure how big this book will end up being, but I really can't imagine that it's going to go over 120,000.  At least, I hope not. hahaha
I'm giving myself a break from writing after I finish the next chapter.  Then I'll save it all up for July 1st.  In the meantime, I'm picking up Six Keys again.  Now that I know MUCH more about formatting, it needs complete reworking, so that it looks prettier on those kindle/nook pages.  It's so fun to do these things myself.  :)  No really, I could hire someone (like I do for editing), but I just won't do it.  I'd rather do it myself and save my money, since I can. :)

So I bid all my new ROW friends adieu, rest assured  I will still be haunting your blogs for updates and wishing you all the best of luck in your new goals.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Knock my socks off...

Hey look, a post!  Wed. didn't happen, obviously.  Too much on the platter.  Actually, I'm surprised I'm posting anything at all today, but kidlet is still sleeping and the husband has decided that his father's day gift to himself is building a chicken coop.

"Honey," I said, "We can do anything you want.  Go for a hike, go see a movie, go play at the pool."  
Oh no.  A chicken coop is the order of the day.  So he's off doing that somewhere while I recover from having a three year old birthday party at my house yesterday.  It was fine, we invited a small number of kids so it would stay low-key.  The kidlet had a great time.  There were chocolate cupcakes involved. :)

All in all, it's amazing I got any writing done at all, but somehow, I DID!  In fact, ROW friends, I hit the midpoint of Aeris, FINALLY!!!  It took me 58,000 words to get there, but it happened, and now I'm so relieved.  As for my original goal, I believe it was 70,000 words.  I wrote 7,600 for The Demon and His Lover (sequel to my other Samora short story)  So that puts me at 65,600.  Which is almost there.  I have 4,600 words left until the last check-in, Wednesday, and if I put some effort into it, I'll just make it. :)  

More exciting for me right now, is that I sent off the first half of Aeris to my lovely beta readers and I've already gotten some GREAT feedback, so yay for that, too.  All in all, feeling good about my progress for this  ROW 80 and I'm so glad I decided to join, because I really needed a kick in the pants to motivate me to get that next book started.  I still haven't decided what I'm going to do about releasing books, but I'm okay with what is my process right now.  They have a summer bootcamp for Nano coming up that I might join.  I think it's in July.  Anything to get this book finished and off my plate. :)

Onto other things, my reader friends.  11 years ago, just in time for its movie debut, I read Waking the Dead by Scott Spencer.  I'd never read anything by him before, and I had no idea that when he wrote the book in question in 1986, I was eight.  I believe I saw the movie cover with Jennifer Connelly on the front and assumed it was a new book.  And nothing ever clued me in that it was otherwise.  In other words, it turned out to be timeless, and truly one of the best/hardest books I've ever read.

I don't know what made it pop into my head this week, but it was enough for me to try and figure out what it was called, because I don't own a copy and never re-read it.  These are the books that make me want to read.  Yes, yes, a blockbuster by your favorite author is GREAT.  George's soon to be released book or the final Harry Potter —as a fan, I'm big on those.  But there is something about the unexpected pleasure of picking up a book, on a whim, and being totally transformed by it.  

There are a few of these, in my life.  Maybe they aren't classics or best sellers.  Maybe you'll read them and hate them yourself.  I don't know.  I wanted to share some of them with you.  Meanwhile, I'm off to find my library's copy of Waking the Dead, to see if it's all that I remember.

Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes.  This book is probably her least recognized and least popular, and that is a shame, because it is arguably her BEST.  It follows the first person account of Rachel, stuck in rehab against her will, for a drug problem that isn't a problem.  If you knew her crazy family, you'd understand how, in a fit of paranoia and panic, they insisted she get some help.  And she proceeds to spend the entire book describing the circumstances on how she actually landed in rehab.  This book is hilarious, heartwarming, and knocked me on my butt halfway through when I realized how staggeringly GOOD Marian Keyes is as an author.  I honestly never took her seriously until that moment, and if you've read any of her other books you'd understand why.  (Not that they're bad, to clarify, they're just so light and fluffy.)

The Love Letter by Cathleen Schine is one I hesitate to nominate, simply because I've recommended her before, to my friends' dismay.  I've been told that this book is slow, that it's hard to get into, and not funny.  But I find it delightful!  It's like that last cup of iced tea, just as the sun is going down on a hot summer day.  The main character is bookstore owner and I find her perspective on life and books delicious.  

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.  If you do not know and love this woman by now, PLEASE for the love of all that's holy, go and find a copy of one of her books.  I didn't list my favorite by her (Prodigal Summer) because by the time I read that book, I already loved her.  I hate, hate, hate that this book is an Oprah book.  Not because I have a thing against Oprah, but because it gives a certain perception of what the book will be like.  It's an amazing book, and I loved the prose so much when I read it that I went back immediately and read it again.  I consumed, devoured and savored each word and the characters of this book... wow.  

Drop City by T. C. Boyle.  This book was a fascinating journey back into the 1970's, during the peak of the commune, free love movement.  Somehow it also intertwines with Alaskan pioneer life and mail order brides. Fantastic, riveting, and one of the most interesting premises for a book that I've read.  I don't know if you could say it has a PLOT, but it definitely has a journey.

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.  I hated this book the first time I read it.  I hated it the second time, too, but it was an assigned English assignment and required about four readings to get through all my papers and homework and by the time I read it the third time, I was in love.  This was the first book I read that didn't have a typical chronological storyline.  It was also the first book I ever read that didn't have the traditional "happy ending".  That is the reason, IT IS NOT FOR EVERYONE.  But because of this book, I was able to read quite a few literary fiction books without fear or hesitation.  I don't think I would have read Virgin Suicides if I hadn't read this book, first.  There is a section on the different types of desert winds that is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I've ever read.  That being said, I've never read another book by this author since.  :)

That is the end of my interesting list.  There are many many more I could add, but this is a good starting place.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday, Sunny, ROW

First, I cracked 50,000!  Aeris is now at 52,570.  Didn't write this morning, though.  Day of Rest and all that. :)  I'm really happy with where Aeris is at this point in time.  I've got about 2 character sections left before part one of the book is finally finished. (Barring Edits, of course!)  Then I'm sending that section off to my beta readers for notes, critiques, and general hardcore bashing.  After which I'll save the notes for later.
While that is progressing, I'll keep writing on the second part.  I still can't believe how long this book is ending up.  I feel like I truly understand the several authors who ended up telling a longer story than they planned.  My only worry is adding stuff that doesn't have to be there.  I'd rather be like Rowling and Goblet of Fire than Paolini and Brisingr.  (Sorry, I know, but I STILL can't get over the Dwarf wedding.)
So, one of my readers over at goodreads pretty much told me, in so many nicer words, that I'm a whiny ranter who should edit books rather than read them, as I'm so very picky. hahaha  This was in regards to my last entry, where I basically talk about how upsetting I found The Strange Case of Finley Jayne.
It's hard not to get defensive, because even though there are some things that really bother me as a reader, I'm a pretty generous reader over all.  The vast majority of my ratings are 4 or 5 stars and a paltry 8% of them have been two stars or less.  And even though there were some factors about the story I didn't agree with, I still gave it a 3 star, which is what I consider average on the "I loved it!" scale.
I did think about being an editor once upon a time.  Back when I was a naive reader in college, taking English classes, and creative writing and loving every second of it.  I thought, "I could be one of those editors and then move on to writing later."  I was going to be an English major and maybe even go on to get my masters.  Then I ran into the English teacher from hell.  As college students, we've all run into the teacher who is writing her own book/textbook haven't we?  The teacher who knows everything, is hypercritical and has a proven "method" that every single student in the class must follow.
No, this is not the C or D student making excuses for herself.  I'm an A student, baby.  I committed myself to every class, determined to learn all that I could and be the best I could be.  My previous English class had been tough, but I had made it out with an A and a teacher who I'd come to appreciate deeply, even though I didn't appreciate most of the books she'd chosen.  This new teacher, however, made me hate English, even though she chose a bunch of books that I loved.
The saddest part of it was, I ended up with the highest grade in the class, (barely an A) and because of her, I left English behind forever.  Instead, I chose the objectivity and order of computer science.  A big switch I realize, but this is all to say, I decided that editing (and writing) were not for me.  I never looked back.  I didn't write for years.  I don't blame her for that, I think I just got too busy with coding to think about writing stories.  It wasn't until I was almost graduated that I thought about writing stories again.
Maybe I am too nitpicky in some ways about writing.  It's true that I probably hold traditionally published books to a higher standard than indies.  Why?  Because they cost more, first of all.  I think that's supposed to be the point: they cost more because they put in all the extra stuff that indies don't usually.  They have artists, editors, proof readers, marketers, etc.  and indies are lucky if they have a good editor and cover.  But indies are cheap, and if carefully vetted, usually a good read.  Traditionally published books also have a better reputation, so I tend to expect them to uphold it.  So when they disappoint me, they do it big time.
As I mentioned before, I still have yet to read The Girl in the Steel Corset, so I could end up having some great things to say.  I certainly have lower expectations at this point in time! :)

Also, I posted a review of Leviathan over at goodreads.  LOVED IT!!!  One of my favorite YA books of the year.  Worth reading, if you like YA fiction.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Buzzing Brain... Oh, yeah, a word count.

Word count first, for all of those visitors who come here because I'm on that linky thing:

Aeris: 39,024.  I estimate that tomorrow or Friday I will hit 40,000.  I don't know which, however, because I'm headed down for a quick stop to my parents' house, then sprinting back either tomorrow night or Friday morning.  As I've mentioned before, my early morning wakeup is at 5:30.  That is when I write.  If I'm driving at either of those times (or getting ready to go to my parents' house) then I'm not going to be writing.  But no matter what, I see myself hitting 40,000, my goal for this week, by Sunday.

As I mentioned last week, my word count for this book is going to be greater than the last book.  One of my readers commented that what I should do is focus on finishing this book up and releasing it after new baby is born, instead of trying to do two books and have neither ONE of them be finished.  Good point, really.  However, my fear is that it will be another year before I have time to write again.  All of you nice readers keep pointing out that I will find the time somewhere.  Writers write.  Maybe.

But see there's little little book called Six Keys that I wrote a while ago.  It actually has a prequel and a sequel that I have planned. The Doorman's Collection has been planned for several years.  Yes, seriously.  I even wrote a few chapters of it.  But it is set in the late 60's, and then 70's, so it is requiring a lot more research than even Six Keys did.  This has meant a significant delay in publishing, because I just don't have the time to write, and take care of kidlet, and research.  I don't.  I get people asking me all the time when the prequel is coming out, but gosh dang it, I have no idea.  And I'm sorry about that.

My fear is that Compis will be out, and maybe Aeris, then any fans of the series will be left hanging while I get my baby raising act together.  So the truth is, it's time for another serious look at my goals for the next 2 years.  I did this back in January, before releasing Compis and back in August, before my final edit of Six Keys.  It's one of those things that continues on, I guess.

In other news, interesting things are happening in the publishing world.  I can say publishing, and not indie publishing this time, because of:

Amazon getting into the Publishing Business
Another Conversation between Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler (VERY LONG, but worth it)
A Conversation between Jennifer Crusie and Barbara O'Neal (Also very long, but worth it)

I feel like I'm caught in the middle of a typhoon, with all that has happened in the publishing world in the past few weeks.

As a reader though, I will benefit tremendously, so to all,
Happy Reading!