Tag Archives: books

Last weekend…

… This weekend? Er, the most recent past Sunday? I talked to my Mom. (Hi, Mom.)

This is not an unusual sort of a thing. I call every weekend unless I’m travelling or working.

Anyway, the first thing she asked was, “Have you finished your book yet?”

Well, no. I haven’t. But I’m working on it. No, really. I am.

A couple of weekends ago my local RWA chapter brought in Jodi Thomas who has, over a 27 year career, published 40 books. First of all, I’d like to tell everyone to go out and buy her books whether you think you’d like to read about Texas or not. Why? They’re great books, of course, but also, she’s an incredibly nice person. She was friendly, giving, and honest. I bought three.

The best thing she said – the most memorable thing she said, was this – “Stop stacking paper.” Basically, she means stop procrastinating, get the butt in the chair, and write. There was a story behind the phrase but my paraphrase wouldn’t do it justice. If you ever have the chance to meet Jodi, ask her to tell you the stacking paper story. It’ll stick with you.

What have I done to stop stacking paper? I’ve gotten my butt in the chair. A while ago (November 2014), I re-wrote the first half of “Separation Point” – haven’t touched it much since. Probably because I’m afraid of how much work it still needs. I’m afraid that what I’ve done isn’t good enough. Again. I’m afraid I’m throwing time at a project that will never see the light of an e-reader screen besides my own. (And maybe my Mom’s – she promised to buy a copy.) I’m afraid that the longer I take, the less likely I’m going to find an audience for my book – it might be a little bit of a niche market book.

Fear, fear, fear. That’s all there is holding me back.

In the words of my sage friend, Alex – “The first step is acknowledging the problem.” Okay, that might also be a bit of a paraphrase, but Alex is very smart and quite wise and he did say something like that to me.

I know, this isn't a convincing rainforest...
I know. This isn’t a convincing rainforest…

So, that’s where I am. Hacking my way through the overgrown Rainforest of Fear.

I may need some help sharpening my creative machete in the near future.

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My mind… (Warning for four letter words. If you have no appreciation for coarse language, turn back now. It’s okay. I won’t hold it against you.)

… has been a bit unsettled of late.

Partly because I agreed … again … to do something I really don’t want to do. It’s not illegal. It’s not even particularly dangerous. It’s just … argh. If I talk about it, I’ll get really pissed off and say something I, or someone close to me, would regret. Long story short – I’m going out for a few days to do work I quit doing two years ago because it made me cry. So, if you see me in the next few days, I apologize in advance for growling at you. It’s not you. It’s me. Maybe next week I can take you out for cocktails to apologize.

It’s almost 2AM (see, this dumb favor is giving me insomnia) and I was reading a book that kind of, as the kids say these days, ‘got me in the feels.’ It was called Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros. It’s certainly not something I would’ve picked up except I thought it was a cute concept and it was on the swap table. What’s “the swap table,” you ask? I go to a romance readers’ group at my local library and the lovely lady who organizes it asks everyone to try to bring books for the swap table if we can. We bring books that we’ve read and are willing to allow others to read. Anything that isn’t taken at the end of the meeting goes to the library bookstore. So, we support each other and we support the local library. I’m all for that. Since I’m an e-reader user, I often end up bringing back whatever book I took the previous month. I hope that’s not cheating, but I’m not giving anyone my iPad. I’ve got Fruit Ninja, 2048, and Peggle on that iPad. Those things and the Kindle app keep me busy in waiting rooms.

So, this book is about a writer, Abby Donovan, who is lost in a sea of writer’s block. Her blockbuster came out a few years ago and she hasn’t been able to get past chapter five in her new book. Her publicist comes up with the brilliant idea of having Abby join Twitter.

This is how she ‘meets’ Mark Baynard.

Large swaths of the book occur over Twitter, so I can see how someone unfamiliar with Twitter might not really get it, although Mark does ‘teach’ Abby how to use Twitter. I even picked up a few pointers. (I’m almost jealous I didn’t come up with the idea since dialogue is my jam.)

As happens in most romance books, we eventually discover that not all is as it seems *SPOILER ALERT* – Mark, instead of being a professor on sabbatical, traveling the world for fun and sun, is actually a patient being treated for non-Hodgkins lymphoma and it’s not going well.

This is where the ‘feels’ part comes in.

Cancer sucks. I have been lucky enough to not be touched too closely by it as yet, but I know lots of people who have. I have a friend I went to college with being prepared for a stem cell transplant at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore right now. She has AML. She eats healthy food and loves her cats, yet she has Leukemia. I sent her a pair of space kitten leggings to wear in the hospital. I do hope they brought a smile to her face. I have another friend whose wife is being ravaged by breast cancer. Another friend who lost her mother to skin cancer. I knew someone who was taken by stage IV colon cancer before she turned forty. That’s some effed up shit right there.

So far, cancer has tiptoed around me. I know four skin cancer survivors, one breast cancer survivor, and one colon cancer survivor. With any luck the survivor list will continue to grow. It would be better if no one had to deal with it in the first place, but for now, I’ll take survivor.

What’s kind of awful about this is that I don’t know that many people! I’m a bit of a hermit. I don’t have a lot of friends! Yet look at that list… and those are just the ones I can remember right now – at what is now 2:30 in the morning.

In the words of the great (celebrity-I’m-currently-obsessed-with-of-the-week) F*ck Cancer. Let’s get this bastard.

Here's a cute picture of Ember to make you smile now that you've read my sad, depressing, ranty post.
Here’s a cute picture of Ember to make you smile now that you’ve read my sad, depressing, ranty post.

That empty…

… feeling you get when you think you’ve lost your way? Yeah. I’m feeling it right now.

It’s been three weeks since I’ve been able to do any meaningful work on my “book”. I have to wonder if this is the “old me” coming back. The one that never finished anything. I thought that me was gone, but I really cannot come up with the … the “oomph” to go back to my original piece.

People don’t seem to understand why this is distressing for me. I hear, “You have to put it in a drawer for a while.” I hear “It’ll be years before you get published.” I hear, “It’ll be years before you’re able to get this made into a movie.” I hear “Don’t use pronouns.” No, wait, I read that on a blog. Really, how do I tell a story without pronouns?

But, things like all of those above – they don’t help. Why would a writer have to step away? Why are we so obsessed with one-size-fits-all? And by that I mean, just because putting it in a drawer works for you doesn’t mean it works for me. For me, putting things in a drawer usually means they don’t come out for years. I don’t want to be 60 and trying to do my first book tour. I wanted to be 30 and directing my first movie but that didn’t work out – when I was 30 I was trying to get the heck out of the South. (Sorry, Southerners, but I really dislike that part of the country. Two things – humidity and tornadoes.  ‘Nuff said.)

Maybe the thing that’s bothering me about the drawer, the years, and the even more years is that everyone seems to assume we have oodles of time. Maybe my reaction to these tidbits of advice is the oncoming storm of my mid-life crisis. I could be here when I’m 92, like my Grandmother, or I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. I just think that telling people to sit back on their heels is dumb and maybe I should start telling people that. How does that conversation go?

Them: “Walk away from it for a while.”

Me: “Shove it up your ass.”

Hmm, that dialogue seems a bit uninspired…

Them: “You’ll be querying agents for months and you’ll paper your walls with rejection letters.”

Me: *Blink, blink* *Left eyebrow slowly rises*

Arrrggghhh, where are my snappy comebacks?! (See my post “Letting Someone…” for the meaning of the eyebrow. Fear the eyebrow.)

I know I can’t expect anything more from people than what they know, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – The world needs more Encouragers. Not Discouragers. 

The only time I tell people “You can’t do that.” is when what they’re planning will hurt themselves or someone else. And I’m usually fairly diplomatic even then. When my friend told me she was moving far, far away I didn’t say (out loud) “No! You can’t leave me!!” I said, “You’re gonna be great! You can do it!” even though on the inside I’m screeching “When are you coming back? When are you coming baaaaack?” I hope she’s skipping this post… even if she isn’t it is okay because she is being great and doing what she moved away to do. And the project she’s working on is going to be awesome.

I also have that sinking feeling that she hasn’t told me that she’s not coming back…

Cue crisis.

Procrastination is…

… an art.

If it had been a class in college I would’ve earned the highest grade ever awarded to any student anywhere. In fact, because of procrastination (or in spite of it) I earned a “with distinction” in my major course of study in college. I wrote my senior paper at 2 AM the night before it was due and it was in the form of a mystery/horror/detective story. Yeah, I can be creative when the need arises… And let me tell you, my ‘committee’ was entertained. The subject matter – how I revamped my college’s theatre box office – was about as dry as it gets, so the story version, complete with a ‘dark and stormy night’ was a big hit.

Anyway, back to the procrastination … as you may have heard, I’m trying to write a book. Romantic Science Fiction is the category I think it falls in to and I’ve been having some issues with staying on track.

The writing prompt from my writing group this week was “history” and while I think we were really meant to use history as in world history, I went to character history. Specifically Effone’s history. (A free picture of my ‘editor’ to the first person who gets the pronunciation of that name correct, which really means a free picture for everyone because I’ll post it here.) But, what this really is… is procrastination. I don’t want to work on my original piece by myself anymore. At least not right now. I have some things I need to do to it and I’m making a list… and actively avoiding it. So…4500 words later I have the beginnings of what could possibly be a young adult prequel. I can’t tell if that’s bad or not. If that’s good would someone please point that out to any agents they know? If it’s bad please tell my editor so she can yowl at me in her loud voice and demand treats. Oops, that reminds me – it is editor dinner time, brb…

So, now that the editors are no longer pointing out the holes in their bowls (I have *two* editors) I’ll continue with the discussion of my procrastination. I wonder, if when I get tired of this new piece, will I go back to the first one and cheat on this one with that? Probably. It’s what I do. This history though, it’s actually very interesting and might help me delve a little more deeply into the things that drive Effone in the later piece. And, possibly, Anda. It’s the story of their meeting and friendship. Maybe I can get a green light from Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for the movie! I’ll be over here working on my dream cast list…

 

 

Don’t insult…

… the gatekeepers.

I saw a post today on a social media site that made me think a little bit about how we discount “the little people”. This writer has written a book on a subject that a well known talk show host will be covering and she was wondering how to get it into their hands. “Not into the hands of an underling.” she said.

Well, first of all, don’t insult the underlings. They are the gatekeepers for the “important” people. They can make it possible. They can make it impossible and if you discount their power or importance they’re more likely to make it impossible. Yes, sure, if they’re professional they’ll do what ever is best for their employer blah, blah, blah, but we should all remember we are small fish in a gigantic pond and all things being equal – I’m going to choose the person who didn’t assume I’m nobody.

I’m sure the post was tongue-in-cheek, at least a bit, but unless you know the “important” person, getting your item in their hands is not usually going to help you out – unless it has been put there by a trusted “underling”. So, let’s stop assuming that the only way to get what we want is to go straight to the top. Believe it or not it is often faster to go through the “underlings”.

I am not an underling, but I have been in the past. And I’ve worked in Hollywood (but not as an underling, or at least not that type of underling) so I’ve seen it happen over and over.

The take-away here – do not underestimate the power of an assistant (aka “underling). They can make things happen. Or not.