Another of my friends has sold her first novel! I can't say who yet, but stay tuned...
*crackin' the brewsky*
In other news, this story had been giving me freakin' hissy fits. This morning I went over the basic rule of writing and found this old nugget: "start in the right place". Duh. I supplied a new beginning (which had been written long ago but I was in denial) and now it's rockin' and rollin'.
Lessons for the day: A) It pays to revisit those basic rules. They might be the answer to your dilemma. B) Listen to your subconscious.
We all have 'em. Those stories that remind us despite its five-billion people, it's still a small world after all. I thought it'd be fun to collect some of those stories. Here's my best one:
A couple of years ago I entered the first few pages of Coffee, Tea or Lea? (now available in Going The Distance) in the Lori Foster Brava Novella Contest. I knew this was a strong story, quite possibly my breakout, but, still unpublished at the time, alot of this was still simply hope.
About two months into the contest Kathy Love invited me down to the Maryland Romance Writer's Q/A with Kate Duffy of Kensington--Kathy's editor, and the judge of the Lori Foster contest. In an enormous stroke of good luck, I also got invited to go out to dinner with them! Not only that, Kate and I hit it off big. I loved her. We laughed the whole night. My hopes skyrocketed. If she liked me, surely she'd like my writing too. Right?
As dinner progressed we began discussing 9/11, as everyone still did at that time when meeting new people--a way to connect in our new, uncertain world, I suppose. Kate began telling us a traumatic story from way back in the 70s, when she'd been a passenger on a hijacked plane...
As I listened to her hair-raising story I thought, what were the odds of one itsy-bitsy romance writer submitting such a story to the one romance editor in the whole wide world who'd been on a hijacked plane? Had to be astronomical to the point of impossible--no romance writer in her right mind writes about hijacking! And the number of people--let alone romance editors--who've been on a hijacked plane is probably fewer than the number of people who've been to outer space!
But of course, this is pure conjecture on my part. No scientific studies have been performed.
Yet, Kate and I had found each other. Needless to say, she hated CTorL. Even called to yell at me for writing it. But, EC bought it, and Kate and I are still the best of buds.
So, what's your Small World Story, writing related or not? The Universal Consciousness wants to know.
Let's get some life back into this blog! Anyone up for a rousing episode of my favorite game, Corrupted Wishes?
Remember the rules--grant the wish but with a horrifying twist. After granting the previous person's wish, make one of your own.For example: I wish I could go to Europe... Wish granted Ann! You can go to Europe, on a flying carpet during a Luftwaffe air raid! I wish I had a million dollars...
Yeah, yeah I know. I haven't shut up about this yet. I will. But let me say one. more. thing.
I realized this morning that one of the key reasons this album is so absorbing and powerful is that it's sung in first person. We're really deep in Pink's head, not hearing his story from a distance but straight from the source. I tried singing it in my head in third person and it lost all it's punch.
When I began to think of other songs I love from other artists, most of them are in first person too. Oddly enough, I don't enjoy books from this perspective. With a few exceptions, I usually feel distanced from first person narrative.
My computer arrived yesterday! Wow. I love it! What a difference more RAM makes. This little bugger blazes around the 'net. It's smaller than my old one, hence more portable and came with XP Pro, which I think makes it even faster to boot. Anyone else out there working with Pro?
Of course, it's arrival meant an entire afternoon and evening transfering files and re-downloading all the necessary software. But in between all that I got the chance to play on Billy Mernit's blog, Living The Romantic Comedy. He very kindly tolerated my stream-of-conscious babbling. If you haven't discovered Billy yet, breeze on over. You'll be glad you did!
In the paw-chewing arena of life, I submitted a copy of Out of This World to the two Ja(y)nes for review at Dear Author.com. Why did I do this to myself? I like their style and know that even if they hate it, I'll get solid reasons. I also love their devotion to e-books and the wealth of info they share about the available technology.
Guess that's it. Now it's off to find a roadmap of Fremont, WA. Gotta find a nice place for some of my characters to live!
Ever since the Roger Waters concert, I've been reading this: Analysis of The Wall (by Bret Urick) piece by piece. And it's utterly fascinating, much like The Heroes Journey captivates us writers. I think any writer here should read this. It's now in my personal arsenal of Master Storytelling.
In the FAQs section, someone asked if the analyst thought Pink Floyd meant to put all this symbolism into The Wall. In other words, the question was: Do artists really think all these things through so thoroughly?
My first answer as a writer is no, but with an inescapable caveat.
No because, when I write a story, I'm delving into someone else's head. I don't consciously insert symbols to send a message. Yet, they seem to magically appear. And the pace and tone of my writing often reflects the mood of the character at the time--exactly like a conversation would evolve. So, like Pink Floyd, my verbal "riffs" might ebb and swell with the emotions being experienced. But none of it is planned. I'm someone else in that moment in time, and the symbols they'd use spring naturally from their thoughts.
Now my answer is Yes, they mean it: Editing is"conscious" writing. It's adding or subtracting to mend or enrich. When I'm editing, I'm entirely tuned into how the character would speak, what metaphors he would use. And I often add those in this stage.
Through this "conscious" writing, the character grows, however, becomes depersonalized and evolves into the Universal. This is the moment when I want to touch more than one heart. I want to make this piece something many people can relate to. Not just my characters, and not just me.
I'm listening to The Wall as I write this, and I'm reminded for the millionth time how utterly brilliant it is. I mean, I just use words. They used words and matched the emotions in those words with music. How indescribably transcendent is that?
Of course, they're not the only ones who managed to do this. Most of history's great composers did it too, to some extent. But here the music is more than a supplemental underlining. Here it sometimes takes up where the words leave off, replaces them or belies them. You have to stay on your toes! Many rock artists have offered concept albums and the one that comes closest to this one in terms of universal truths and plain old kick-ass tunes, IMHO, is Jesus Christ Superstar.
Bret Urick claims that art is 50 percent artist, and 50 percent personal interpretation. I think it's more like 75 percent artist. Yes, much of what the artist does is unconscious, but it's the artist's unique mind that translates this unconsciousness to the page, or the canvas, or the instruments. If Roger Waters wrote his lyrics and then sang them to organgrinders music, it wouldn't have been quite the same. Savvy?
So, does an artist mean to put all this stuff in their work? No, they don't mean to. They simply can't help themselves. It's not a conscious act. It's the way the artist views the world, and it's wonderful interpreters like Bret who tell the rest of us what the artist meant. And, Yes. Some of it is conscious. But really, very little. More like a fine-tune than a complete overhaul.
That's my opine for the day and I'm sticking to it!
What do you think? Do you think art is entirely conscious, entirely subconscious, or somewhere in between. Do you even care what art is as long as it gets to you? *gg*
Shannon, Jaci and I came up with a fun contest for ya'll and a chance to win a signed copy of Going The Distance!
All you have to do to be entered in the contest is match up the symbols on the cover--airplane, car and magazine--with the correct story titles, and email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight EST September 3oth. Please put GTD Contest in the subject of your email.
It's that easy, and that fun. Read the blurbs here for a chance to win a paperback copy signed by all three of us!
Went with the fam to see Roger Waters' Dark Side of The Moon tour last night down in Camden Tweeter Center.
You know, the old guy still has it. Wow. Some guys get so much more sexy with age. Even my teenaged girls acknowledged his towering hotness, without any prodding from me.
He opened with In The Flesh and some wonderful stage effects. The heavy bass that's so classic of Pink Floyd just rippled through the crowd. The woman next to me claimed three orgasms.
The first half of the show consisted of songs from The Wall and other albums, plus a brand new piece Waters dedicated to a Beirut family who'd been kind to him back in the early 60s. The second half was a complete run-through of Dark Side of The Moon. Waters offered no idle chit-chat, only music and an artistic array of slideshows and psychedelic effects that thematically matched the music. The pig made an appearance! He floated over the entire crowd with "Impeach Bush Now" written on his ass, and either got loose, or was released to tumble up into outer space.
While the band was most definitely not Pink Floyd, they played the music more than adequately and we all had that mesmerized effect of being in the presence of A Legend.
The entire time, I was waiting for Another Brick in The Wall, my personal favorite piece of rock music. I love the whole album. It's my hands-down favorite ever. But there are alot of songs in that collection, as well as others of Pink Floyd, that I regularly skip over because let's face it, they were a freaky band. Their music is so psychologically true it's like receiving an audio brainwave from some giant universal consciousness. All those thoughts can be rather invasive...
there's someone in my head but it's not me.
Not something I'm always in the mood for. Particularly when there are already so many other folks in there waiting their turns.
But I have an affinity for The Wall because of it's evocative WWII theme--and the grief of never knowing a father--and it's chronicling of a nervous breakdown. Who can't relate to that?
In a tour de force of dramatic timing, they played it for their first encore. The audience went nuts. It was a breathless, exhiliarating experience for me to hear it performed live by it's creator for the first time.
I've been to quite a few concerts in my life, but none of them can quite compare to this one. It's kind of like the difference between viewing a painting by any ordinary talented artist, then looking at a Picasso. You might not like the Picasso, but you can sense the genius emanating from it. And love it or leave it, it stirs things up inside.
From what I've read about Waters' monumental ego at the time of the bands' breakup, he might've agreed with this assessment--and simultaneously hated himself for doing so.
But that's ok. Without that ego, we wouldn't have this music.
I have a folder of about fifty notes I've received from fans over the last year. This morning I added another note--someone who found me because a character in her dream told her my name and she followed up on it by Googling me. How cool is that? Except for the occasional murder spree, I love it when people heed the voices in their heads.
Fan mail is about the most wonderful thing on the planet. Someone taking the time to write because you touched them somehow. I've never received a note from anyone I touched negatively, but I think I'd like those too! At least I'd know I'd awakened passionate feelings.
These notes always seem to come precisely when needed. Perhaps alot of time has passed since I got a little pat on the head, perhaps something bad happened the day before, perhaps I was feeling underappreciated, or just plain tired of tapping keys all alone in my office all day, week after week. They always make my day and keep me going--often until the next note arrives.
So, if there's a writer out there you adore, take the time to contact them today. I can tell you from personal experience, you'll make a huge difference in their mood--even if they happen to be in a good one!
The Black Screen of Death descended yesterday at 6:39 am on my laptop. Or should I say craptop. And, of course, said craptop is five months out of warranty. I'm watching these words get typed on an external monitor bought in 1998, the craptop spreadeagled on my lap and precariously balanced. I hope it drops into the flaming chasm of hell alongside me.
Unfortunately, I need the hard drive and keypad for the time being, otherwise I'd make sure it arrived there.
Now, I'm adventurous enough that six hours into surfing the 'net to see what possible issues the craptop could have and how much it would cost to fix it, followed by another eight hours running the six-hundred-and-fifty-two utilitiies it takes to clean a computer, I decided to crack it open myself and see if there were any obvious loose connections.
One phillip's head screwdriver and 3,247 screws later I had it open, my fingers wrapped around a large white plasticized strip that said DO NOT TOUCH!! Unfazed, I soldiered on and found nothing that looked wrong. To my surprise, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse DID NOT gallop into my room to vaporize me for opening the craptop. Apparently that's a myth. But the myth that the cost to fix an old craptop is the same as buying new? That one's true.
I dutifully rescrewed the 3,247 screws.
Then the rest of the day was spent researching THE BEST laptop you can buy--for under seven hundred dollars because, quite frankly, I refuse to pay more. But unfortunately that was going to have to wait until after Christmas-but-before-New-Year-so-we-can-get-it-cheap-and-write-it-off...
FabDame sent me this and I think it's a great thing for all of us to remember, especially on this sad anniversary:
We all strive for significance in our lifetimes. For many of us who will never achieve national acclaim for anything, there is sometimes a nagging suspicion that we should have done better.
From the two quizzes below, you will quickly see that each of us has the ability and opportunity to be significant where it really counts.
1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world. 2. Name the last five Heismann trophy winners. 3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest. 4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize. 5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress. 6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.
How did you do? The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.
Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:
1.List a few teachers who aided your journey through school. 2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time. 3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile. 4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated. 5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with. 6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.
Easier? The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care. Pass this on to those people who have made a difference in your life.
Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia.