Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Update (w/ pics) & ROW80

D. Rocks Secret Stages, '11
First of all, Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, as well as the moms who've done double duty. I also want to give a shout out to the granddads and uncles who've filled the dad role when necessary, or just because being a dad is hard and sometimes a pinch hitter is appreciated. 

More specific shout-outs: Thanks to my own mom, who had to be both mom and dad, but did a spectacular job at both. Daniel (pictured right,) the bestest dad, partner in crime, and preternaturally perfect song picker EVER; the coolest uncles in the world: Tony, Cass, Stan and Tommy. And of course RT. Grandkids really are a parent's best revenge. If any parents deserve revenge, it's ours. Come on, LOOK at the fun we put them through:
Vic & D: Parents? Us? Hahahahaha... 

And now, the writerly ROW80 stuff:
I've hit my writing goals, but it's a little hard to report the exact word count. I know I've done my four intensive days and hit roughly 1500 words each. See, these days I'm writing by hand. It's not a computer issue, although I'm still missing my Mac. I just write by hand when my books are in their infancies. Like hand-feeding baby birds, maybe?  Based on the size of my handwritten letters and the type of paper I use, one handwritten page equals abut 250 words. I know that if I sit down and write six pages by hand, then I've hit about 1500. This almost always works best when I'm into the raw invention phase of a work. So for Gifts Book III, I've been working with an important new character and a fairly new landscape. For me, invention is the really exhausting part of creating. It really is nothing but you and the blank page, creating something out of nothing with no guidance. Studies have shown that humans have this little inner editor that wants them to go back over the sentence they've just finished writing and fix it before they can move on to the next one. This same study, which was forced upon me in grad school in some horrible manner and I therefore cannot recall the exact name, calls this discursive writing. (If you really want to know, I will make an effort to look it up for you.) When I'm in the invention phase, I can't let myself give in to that, and let me tell you, my inner editor weighs more than a sumo wrestler. Fighting her is hard work. So I find myself pretty exhausted after about 1,000 words, sometimes even 500 or 750.

I need to be clear here: another frustrating thing about invention is that most of these actual words will not make it into the final draft. I know this, and I fight my inner editor for them anyway. So after three or four handwritten pages of getting to know a character or whatever I'm banging my head against, I do let myself play a little. I'm doing concrete writing on my sci fi series, which finally has a name: Glass, because the main action takes place on the embattled Glass Isles, which have been fighting the evil colonizing forces of The Continent for a generation. Excitement! Battles! Intelligent sexy people! (I just squealed like a little girl with a skinned knee. Good thing you couldn't see/hear it.) It's also vital to be working on something linear, so I have set myself an in-between ROW80 goal: I'd like to have a Caspia/ Ethan short story finished by the time the next round starts. It deals with the gap between Book I and II; it's in third person, and told entirely from Ethan's point of view. I'm really excited about it. Gifts was the first time in my life I ever attempted writing in first person. I've always been a third person kind of girl. To this day, I don't know what possessed me to start writing Caspia in her own voice. I suppose she did that. Lord knows she's headstrong enough. ("Look, lady, you can tell my story, but you're going to do it my way...") Yeah, that's probably what happened. But I digress! Without giving too much away, I will say that this short story involves some intense but sweet romance (I am trying to remember my target age here)(but let's see how far we can push it, hmm?), Asheroth, a trip out of Whitfield to someplace fun, and bread pudding made from Krispy Kreme doughnuts. This is a real dessert, by the way, served in a wonderful restaurant to be revealed in the story.

Since my last post, I read: 
An interesting premise- a girl who can't feel emotions of any kind for most of her life, and then suddenly, boom! She not only starts to feel them, she's literally electric in the presence of the new, kind-of-a-jerk boy. Sorensen proceeds to unveil a supernatural world and heritage that will feel familiar to readers, but she had enough original touches and a unique narrative voice to keep me turning pages. Pushing the button, I mean. With details like The Crystal City and characters like Laylen, I will definitely be reading the sequel. I know in advance how shallow this sounds, but I have to say this: I loved the cover. I admit, it was part of the book's appeal. Another note: I have a really early copy of this ebook, so I don't know if that's why, but I did catch an unusual number of typos. I am not the type of reader to be bothered by this; some readers might, though.

Currently reading: 
About halfway through, I think. Fantastic opening, with some of the most vividly described scenes I've encountered all year. I am a bit surprised at my reaction to the content: I love dark YA, but readers should know that this book contains (so far) very vivid descriptions of cutting for sacrificial magic and even animal sacrifice. I know several readers who would find this problematic. I like the way Gratton creates characters who are a mix of good and evil. Also, the narrative weaves back and forth between the male and female protagonist's first person POV. This is difficult to do well. Perhaps the best example is Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver series. Gratton does an exemplary job as well. 

On my to-be-read shelf:

As to the business of books, I am reserving an entire future post for this. I went out and did some actual feet on the ground research. I thought it would be a good idea to just get a sense of the vibe in bookstores right now. With the economy in the tank and dismal news from larger chains, I get concerned about how the ebook revolution is affecting the brick and mortar store. With Borders closing and Joe Konrath declaring jihad against some independent bookstores because they declared jihad against him first, or something like that, I was under the impression bookstores everywhere were choking and dying, soon to go the way of the Dodo bird. So I wore my thick teacher glasses and went undercover to several bookstores in my area. What I found was beyond surprising. So surprising that I'm looking forward to an entire "Bookstore Spies: Special Edition" series of blogs. Indie writers, readers, and bloggers, I am convinced more than ever that there is a place at the table for us with our local independent bookstores. I mean, literally already there. One bookstore in my hometown actually has cookies waiting. I'm not kidding. I'll try to get pics of me hiding behind a copy of Popular Mechanics in my fedora and trench coat as I continue to scope the scene.

Only one more check in in this round of ROW80. Wow. When I think back about all that's happened... tornadoes, book release, being able to quit my day job... it makes me a little bit scared of Round 3. But I'll be there, if not with bells then music, as a sponsor again. Hope to see you there, and no matter what, I hope this round has been a good one for you. 


  1. hand writing eh? can't remember what that is - I jest I jest of course I sign my master peices by hand!!! actually when I wasn't well I often had to sit and wait half way through any outings with family or friends and I would write a scene or ideas in my notebook - something very satisfactory about it - nuturing as you say.

    I am defficient in the brain area I have discovered since being on ROW80 - I do not possess an internal editor - no voice wants me to edit as I go along - nothing speaks to me at any time - am I lucky or missing something great?

    all the best for this week

  2. I would vote you as lucky for sure! I would give a lot to be able to silence my inner editor.
    There *is* something @ handwriting that's hard to describe. When people speak @ that new book smell- that's the feeling I get with new blank notebooks, waiting to be filled with nonsensical scribblings. Or scribblings with potential if I am lucky.
    And a good week back at you!