Archive for August 31, 2013

Writing Retreat: Minor Interlude

I’ve reached the section of my manuscript that has been most troublesome for me all along. Lots of re-writing and new scenes here, still learning the ins and outs of this one character (she’s super-mysterioso on purpose, but this makes getting into her head that much more difficult).

As a slight reprieve I watched the funniest moments from Despicable Me. For those of you who love Agnes, “It’s so fluffy!” starts at the 5:20 point.

Writing Retreat: Day 5

This has been a difficult edit. They’re never smooth, but some are definitely easier than others. This novel required a lot of world building, and research on a place I’ve never been: Dartmoor.

It feels a lot like those ready-to-assemble book shelves that always have an extra screw hanging about when you’re finished. So you look at the pretty shelving, proud of your accomplishment, but at the same time…did you miss something? Will it fall over if you put any weight on it? So you take it apart and put it back together again.  And suddenly there are three extra screws.

Huh. Now what? Well, I mentally dismantle parts of the book, and reassemble. Again and again. And one more time. And then some more. Then I write new scenes, adjust old ones, delete some entirely (oh, the pain) and makes sure I have no extra or missing hardware. I view and review until my brain hurts. And then I do it some more…


Writing Retreat: Day 4

Shade of green and blue. One of my characters is an artist. A dreamer. I’m the latter, but not the former. Who knew that many shades of green and blue existed?

“Office Green,” at least according to Wikipedia, and despite the rather hideous image above, is rather pretty.

Army green, Asparagus, Avocado, Blue-green, Bright green, British racing green, Cal Poly Pomona green, Camouflage green, Chartreuse, Citrine, Cyan, Dartmouth green, Electric green, Emerald, Fern green, Forest green, Gray-asparagus, Green in Islam, Green-yellow, Harlequin, Honeydew, Hunter green, India green, Islamic green, Jade, Jungle green, Kelly green, Lime, Lincoln green, Malachite, Midnight green, Moss green, Myrtle, Office green, Olive, Olive drab, Paris Green, Pear, Persian green, Phthalocyanine Green G, Pigment green, Pine green, Rifle green, Sacramento State green, Sap green, Sea green, Shamrock green, Spring bud, Spring green, Tea green, Teal, Turquoise, UP Forest green, Verdigris, Vert, Viridian, Yellow-green.

Writing Retreat: Day 3

Along with general editing, I did research on cockroaches. They have group-based decision making, and cooperate with each other. Some can live without food for a month. Others can go without air for 45 minutes. This information does not endear me to them in the slightest.

My only exception is for Wall-E’s charming friend.


Writing Retreat: Day 2

Today I spent too much time printing out sections of Ordnance Survey maps of Dartmoor and taping them together for one big map. But it was worth it, because I realized I’d had my characters tromping through a section of the moor that wouldn’t work for what I wanted to accomplish. Now I can concentrate on cleaning up those sections. Victory! I love it when things start to come together.

My characters ignore the infamous line from the dart player in An American Werewolf in London: “Stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors.”* But how can curious souls ignore the mysteries of the moors: Heathcliff; pixies; sprites; standing stones; bogs and mires; The Hound of the Baskervilles…

Speaking of which, have you seen the BBC’s version of Sherlock Holmes with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman? Seasons 1 and 2 are available on DVD. Go, get them now! Watch. Enjoy. Fall in love. I’ll wait. I’ve got editing to do.

* Technically, the characters in American Werewolf in London are in northern England’s Yorkshire moors, not Dartmoor, but the danger is the same.

Writing Retreat: Day 1

I’ve taken some time off from my day job to finish a novel. To really finish it. I’ve already done a few drafts, but between this, that and the other, the final polish hasn’t happened. It’s such a luxury to have this time. So what did I do today?

A couple loads of laundry. Cleaned the bathroom. Washed the dishes. Dusted. Napped. Finished reading Naked Heat by Richard Castle (tied into the TV show Castle, starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, the books are very fun. Great summer beach reads).

Yes, these are delaying tactics. In case no author has ever admitted this, finishing a book is scary. A lot of time, energy, ego, thought, effort and love are put into writing a book. Did I capture everything I wanted to? Does the main story arc track? Is there enough tension, conflict, action and humor to keep the reader turning the pages? The idea of putting it out there to the world is terrifying. But also exhilarating.

Whenever I have extra time set aside to write (and I know I’m lucky when I do), yes, the delaying tactics kick in. Suddenly, dusting the bookshelves seems like the most important thing in the world. Because I know this, I gave myself the first day to get all of those excuses out of the way.

So I did. And even as I write this, I’m printing out maps and information on the locales my characters are trekking through, to add details and depth to my setting. I love my characters. I love this book. It deserves to be completed, and to be read.

So what am I still doing here? I’ve got work to do.

Elmore Leonard: 1925-2013

out of sight movie

I just learned that Elmore Leonard died yesterday. I met him at a book signing many years ago at a local independent book store. I was young and in awe, and don’t remember much of the encounter, but I couldn’t get enough of his writing for awhile after that. Smart, funny, gritty. KillShot was my first Leonard book, and I still have that signed copy on my shelves.

There’s an interesting article about him at the Washington Post.

The man, and his writing, will be missed.