Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Opening Scene

You know the opening scene of a movie where the harried heroine runs around the house,hopping into her hose while grabbing toast off the plate and slurping her coffee? That was me yesterday - without the hose or coffee. :)

I hopped into the shower and ideas came pouring out. I wrote all over the back of the shower wall with a blue bathtub crayon. I had one eye on the clock and another on the wall and I just couldn't stop writing. I wrote as fast as I could with one hand, while the other hand scrubbed. Then I shut off the shower, grabbed a towel and kept writing. I was afraid to stop. The ideas might not have lasted long enough for me to find the recorder.

I yanked my notebook out of the bag, and continued writing with one hand while the other one dressed me. Not my best hair day; it was scooped up haphazardly into a clip. The good news is I was only five minutes late. The bad news is I was late for work (sorry, Chantelle, but I stayed late to make up for it)

At the end of the day I had four and a half pages to show for my early morning hop.

This morning, I took Ky out for a run in the brisk winter air. I listened to another Will Write for Wine podcast and laughed my butt off. The exercise/podcast combination usually puts my thought processes down an interesting path. Lani and Sam have some fascinating exchanges which never fail to spark something for my own wip. Then the endorphins kick in and I use the recorder.

I doubt I'll finish by this weekend. I'm at the point where each page contains notes for two or three scenes. It's all good stuff but in dire need of major expansion. Who wants to read,"Then Nea crawled in the shower with him and the sex was different than she was used to." Followed by, "Alex and Nea share a moment at the head of the falls." It all needs work, but just think how much stronger it will be when they are actual scenes.

Thanks to Kate for a serious conversation that sparked all that frantic writing on the shower wall.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday's check-in

Team CB has had a busy week, but we've all powered through and made our weekly goals. I have to admit I'd stuff cookies in my face and lounge on the couch instead of resisting both and heading outdoors for a walk if it wasn't for fear of disappointing Mary, Christina and Theresa. The way they've all stepped up for a run inspires me to do the same. I actually did laps indoors today despite the fact that it was my off-day for walking.

Sweating with Sven keeps me at the computer when I'd rather be scarfing back cookies and lounging on the couch. I really want to finish this draft of Hell to Pay by the end of the month. Which is this coming Friday. My work schedule isn't any lighter. In fact this week is particularly long with a couple of double shifts, twelve hour days.

But Elen and Sven have me down on the mat working my fingers to the bone typing. If I don't meet my goal this week, it will be because I ran out of time. I've learned how to write under almost any circumstances, in any environment, surrounded by noise and distractions.

I'm blessed with great friends who encourage and support me, who inspire and motivate me to be a better writer and a better person but who all like me as I am. How lucky am I?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Agent search

Yesterday was not so great. I didn't take the dog for a walk. I worked both jobs so I came home and fell on the couch. I can't believe how much my legs hurt after walking around the store for five hours. :whine:whine: At least I have legs that walk. I'm doing better than some people. And I'm truly grateful despite the need to grumble and grouse.

I transcribed my scene notes off the mp3 player. They held up to the scrutiny as I typed. Very solid stuff.

Received a rejection from the agent I met with at NJRW in October. It was a good rejection but one none-the-less. i was thinking about it later and realized that I have no idea what I'm looking for in a agent. A few years ago, I made a list of possibilities but it was a short list based entirely on who represented paranormal. That list is huge now.

I need to look at other considerations when choosing agents to whom I wish to submit. What criteria is on your list?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Great Day

I couldn't get my butt out of bed this morning. My legs were exhausted and weak so I wrote the day off for exercise. Then I spent some time on the phone with a friend in crisis and I needed some fresh air. I grabbed my new mp3 player, the dog, some tennis balls and off I went.

Once the dog was happy with a ball in his mouth, I switched on the voice recorder and talked faster than I walked. It was scintillating, brilliant and insightful. It was also all lost because I didn't hit the right button. That stopped me cold. Once I figured out what I'd done wrong, I hit my stride. Alex's illusions fell by the wayside as I walked quickly along the canal.

I felt fantastic. I was walking and writing and Ky was happy. The weather was cold, crisp but not precipitating. It was a great experience. Just as we turned to head back home, I saw a barge being pushed down the canal by a tugboat. The barge was named, I swear I'm not making this up, CMS 1261. Add those numbers up, people. Ten! The tugboat is the rest of Team CB. Thanks, ladies for inspiring me every day.

So what if I ate two shortbread cookies? I had an excellent morning. Now I have to go input what I wrote while I walked.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

More research means less stars

I spent two hours last night and almost that much time again today watching videos of Extreme Kayaker and vertical descent world record holder, Tao Berman. I wasn't actually writing the scene where the kayak goes over the Falls, but Alex was defending his chosen profession. After watching a bunch of videos on YouTube as well as an excellent documentary, Fearless, about Tao, the right language really fleshed out the dialogue. It also, happily, increased my word count. More importantly it gave a layer of depth to Alex. He's not an irresponsible idiot. He's skilled, methodical in his planning and confident.

No walking today, too immersed in kayaking waterfalls. Paddling through class 5 rapids to plunge over the edge into the shallow rocky pool below. Not the most comfortable place to be in the world but definitely invigorating.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

One for, one against

I walked to work. Listened to Will Write for Wine podcast on my shiny new mp3 player. Was too enchanted with Lani Diane Rich and Samantha Graves to think about my own book. I did however play with the voice recording before I left the house.

Lose the star for eating a Caramilk Dark bar. Right now, while I type. :sigh:

In the words of the incomparable Scarlett O'Hara, "Tomorrow is another day."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

After telling McB all the reasons I wasn't going for a walk today;the high winds, cold rain, not enough time before work to walk and write, would rather write, still had tomorrow to meet my weekly goal;I sucked it up. I'd been staring at my open document for an hour without adding more than two sentences to my wip.

Bundled in more layers than a jockey trying to make weight for the Kentucky Derby, I headed out with Ky. We walked further than the other day and in less time, despite the strong head wind. The tail wind more than made up for it.

Something really cool happened on the walk, something that happens every single time and I always forget the intensity of it. I wrote in my head. It was layer stuff;the demon's bugs, the other demon's reaction to seeing Alex's trapped soul and some stuff with Alex and a harmonica. I need a mini-recorder for this stuff because I had actual lines of solid writing. I repeated them to Ky a few times but even if he does remember, how is he supposed to tell me what they were?

I needed to look at exercise as an extension of my writing as I'm far more dedicated to the latter than the former. It never ceases to amaze me what I will do to further my writing career. You all know I have sucky days where I wonder why I bother but those don't last long. I am hard-core about this.

Walking may very well be a good tool for all that writing in my head time that I need to let ideas and images jell.

Tomorrow I'll take paper and a pencil if it isn't raining. Or my cell phone so I can leave a message on my answering machine.

Whatever works, eh.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Team CB

Today was a good writing day. Actually it was a good day all around. I came home from work, went for a brisk walk with my darling dog along the canal and didn't eat a single piece of junk food. Yay.

Christina bought new running shoes the other day, thanks to Mary.
Theresa chimed in with her own comments about jogging along the canal in Edinburgh. Again thanks to Mary's wrestling with her Inner Slug. The three of them have been encouraging each other to get more active. I have popped in on their blogs from time to time and added my support. They formed Team CB this weekend to make it official. Then peer pressured me into joining.

Four women, in four different countries, doing their best to run, or walk briskly in my case, into good health. It's harder to blow it off when you're accountable to other people. I'm easing into it, am definitely less hardcore than they are. But it's good.

Just like Sweating with Sven is keeping me writing every day. Even if it isn't a large word count, it's still progress. I expect Team CB will work the same way for me. They actually complement each other. The exercise clears the cobwebs and helps me to plot. The writing keeps my hands busy and out of the cookie jar.

I met today's goals with all of the challenges. Theresa made a gold star for me to put on my blog. How cool is that?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rome, Across the Universe

Good writing stays with you.

As simple as that. Whether it's the characters, the plot, the emotion, the setting;there's something about the writing that resonates through time.It's different for everyone. But I want to be that kind of writer. One whose work you can't forget.

The tagline for Across the universe reads All you need is love. A movie created entirely from Beatles songs, it was a brilliant execution of story, character and a political climate that is as relevant today as it was in the 60's. It blew me away. I came home and wrote notes so that I wouldn't forget a thing. I needn't have worried. Everything not only stayed with me but revealed more as time went on.

The music, the artwork, cinematography, choreography - it was all brilliant, rich, detailed. Evocative. But you'll laugh at what stood out the most for me. The transitions. They were always true to the scenes. The scene that was ending led naturally to the next that was beginning. Music tied them together, a snip of dialogue but most often it was a visual cue. The clouds above their heads spun around to become the white load in the industrial washer at the laundromat. It doesn't sound like much but when you see it, you'll know exactly what I mean. I struggle with scene breaks so that could be why it was such a stand-out aspect of the film.

The music added a point of reference to underscore each scene with a depth that comes from a shared history. The music and lyrics are used to carry the viewer along a journey. They evocate emotion, place and character with a seamless integration to the plot. I wonder how it plays to a much younger audience. The theme is universal, relevant to every era, but I'm not sure I recognized that idea when I was a teenager or even my early twenties.

Still, a good story transcends all that.

The HBO miniseries ROME depicts a time that is ancient. None of us were alive then to be influenced by our memories of that era. We have a level playing field as viewers.

Despite the sex, violence and breath-taking set design, this was a character driven piece. Don't let anyone tell you any different. Each character, from the Emperor Caesar down to the Roman centurion and the slave girl he loved, was a well-developed, three-dimensional being with flaws and traits that made them real.

There were no clear-cut good or bad guys. They all had layers, depths, and motivation. They each felt love, disappointment, greed, anger, compassion, insecurity, affection and even mercy. Each one of them was merely human, doing what they thought was best,using the tools they had whether it was sex, violence or power. One of the heroes killed his wife and cursed his children into slavery. Another hero murdered Caesar. One of the villains made gifts for the children in the slums. Hero or villain depended upon how you perceived the characters. The writers let you decide for yourself.

While each scene was truly a feast for the senses (my nose strained to catch some of those scents believe me) every action no matter how seemingly insignificant played a much bigger part somewhere down the road in the series. Nothing was wasted.

That was another thing about both shows. Everything meant something. Perhaps that's one of the reasons they're both so memorable. I was transfixed, mesmerized, focused on every nuance and detail throughout every moment that played on the screen. I was distant enough to be comfortable but immersed none-the-less.

Brilliant writing. Absolutely brilliant.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ooey Gooey Descriptions

Guess what I'm missing in my wip? That's right. Breaking a cardinal rule, I've plunked my characters down in a room with little regard for where they are. If setting isn't a character then what difference does it make where your story takes place?

In this case, scene and setting are integral to character developement. I know that. That's why my notes say "describe". Whether it's the Sibun River in Belize or the Niagara River, Alex is conscious of what flows past his window, or tent. I need the descriptions to help set atmosphere, mood and action. The scenes I'm having the most difficult editing are the ones in which I have no idea where they take place. I'm working on that.

A lot of scenes do have notes along the margins about setting. Those are the scenes that require the least amount of work. Actions and reactions are influenced by those external surroundings, primarily because the internal conflicts are tied into those places.

I spent a fair amount of time yesterday on Nea's wings. Texture, colour and even their position on her body can influence not only how other's interact with her, but also her own self perceptions. I know some people thought they should be wispy Faery wings while others thought they'd be leathery and repulsive. I think what I envisioned yesterday suit her.

Thanks for the help last week with the bugs. It's going to be a good scene now. I'm working on it today and knowing which insects are going to appear at the end of the scene is really helping with the descriptions. The flow is more natural, stronger. I appreciate the input.

I've put Bracken and Kellie on the back burner. I want to have this draft done of Hell to Pay by the end of November. December will be the last go-through before I pass it off to my readers. By January the new characters will have had enough time to skulk around in my subconscious.

While I'm not keeping diligent track of my word count, I am progressing with the 70 Days of Sweat. Ruby and Margaret would be so proud.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

It's been a rough couple of weeks for my virtual friends. I detest that expression. It makes them sound like they're imaginary or somehow less than real. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I've been a member of JoAnn Ross's online community for the last seven years. It's a diverse group of people who support and encourage each other in their writing endeavors. It's a close group of people who share in each other's triumphs and tribulations. There's even an off-shoot group for those of us concerned that sitting on our butts all day while we create little worlds of our own may have a less-than-attractive impact on those same butts. I truly cherish the friends I've made from that group. I've been privileged to have met several in person. Over a cup of tea while we gathered some supplies to send to another member of our group.

Ruby struggled with congestive heart failure but you'd never have known it from her cheery posts to the group. Her voice was one of the loudest when it came to cheering others on. Her sense of humour was unwavering. She was determined in so many ways. To be a great writer. A wonderful mother. A loving wife. A good friend. Maybe not in that order but those were her goals. When I think of all the emails she sent encouraging me to turn the music up loud and dance across the room, I smile. Her soul was a beauty. I miss her voice in the group with a sense of loss that is incomprehensible to people that think Ruby was a virtual friend.

Still reeling from that hit two weeks ago, I'm in shock over the second loss from the CB community. Bob Mayer and Jennifer Crusie had no idea what they unleashed on the world when they started their blog to promote Don't Look Down in 2006. Neither did we. People cruised by to see what the fuss was about. Left a comment. Responded to another person's comment. The next thing we knew, there was a party, some fast friendships were formed and enduring relationships forged. Margaret was there from the beginning, a silent lurker until someone lured her down to join us at the party. Margaritas shared, road trips survived and through it all a loyalty to each other that superseded our ethnic, political, religious and cultural differences.

There's a strong CB contingent on the left coast. They'll travel four hours to have lunch with each other. And they all did their best to keep Margaret connected throughout her battle with cancer. Even though I kept up with that fight through her blog, it never occurred to me, she wouldn't triumph. She was strong and brave and funny and crazy like the rest of us. She was quick to praise and share in our accomplishments and her laughter managed to transcend the written format. I can't believe she's gone.

Despite my geographic disability, I've managed to travel with and to several CBs over the past year. In a strange quirk that I only discovered after Ruby's death, she lived in the same hometown of a CB I visited frequently. My two online communities linked.

I never had the privilege of meeting Ruby or Margaret in person. But that doesn't make their losses any less painful or diminish the significance they had in my life. They were real women whose friendships I cherished.

And they would both hate the fact that my grief has kept me from writing for three days. I'm going to crank up the music and dance across the room, then sit back down to honour them both by putting words on the page.