Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Big Re-Write Question

As you would realize if you're a regular reader of this blog, I've been considering what to (or perhaps not to) do to my manuscript, SOAP book 1. Until now I'd been going along with the plan that I would make some changes, including the much debated-upon Slight Setting Adjustment. However there have been many comments over time from many different sources that has lead me to The Big Re-Write Question. I believe I might have mentioned while talking about the Slight Setting Adjustment that it was suggested to me that a book set in a current conflict situation, such as Iraq, is always hard to sell.
I've also wondered for awhile if the emotional conflict between my hero and heroine was working well enough, feeling that some of it was a bit superficial and maybe cliched. The overall idea of SOAP is great. It's what everyone loves. It's what got all the agent's attention. But the actual manuscript is obviously not working. That's the sense I'm getting. So do I try to overhaul what's already there, or do I start again? Begin fresh. Keep the essence but do a whole new story?
Which is going to serve me better in the long run? Am I wanting to start again because on the surface that would be easier than fixing what I already have? Part of me doesn't want to start again because the thought of beginning a whole new manuscript is always daunting. Part of me feels like the issues I need to fix can't actually really be fixed at all, hence the need for a whole new story. Obviously I don't know which is the better option. One way or another, I need to decide and get to work!
Song: Gravity by Superjesus

Friday, November 28, 2008

Moving Forward

I sat down with the STALI judges' reports the other day and made some notes and another plan-of-action regarding my SOAP series. Yes, more planning! I've already put some elements into gear, like asking Cafrine to do some editing for me and requesting to join a critique group through RWA. It seems now that there is a lot of work to be done before I'm ready to contact agents again, but I feel that by this new path I may actually get over the line this time. Last go around I made it to the line but got stuck. Hopefully everything I do to the manuscript in the coming months will just make that little bit of difference.
In Atrophy related news, Cafrine and I have been talking about a pilot episode, but the issue of format still plagues us. I wanted to get away from the old novel-format and do something a little different, but finding something that works the way we want it to and is still reader-friendly has proven to be a challenge. But I know we'll work something out eventually.
Song: You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told) by the Whitestripes

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Results

I got the results of the RWA STALI comp I entered and unhappily didn't do as well as I'd hoped. Interestingly enough, I did worse this year (a lot worse) than the previous year with the same manuscript. How is that possible? Does it mean that my attempts at editing are actually making my novel worse? The thought of that is seriously scary.
Apart from a few nuts and bolts issues, the overall opinion of the judges was that the whole idea was fantastic, that I might seriously have something here, I just need to improve a few things and I'll have something to go with. I think partly my score was a lot lower because while three of the judges scored me similar to last year, one judge was seriously harsh. Like seriously. Like her score was less than half of any of the other judges. And she had some harsh things to say about my work. I've tried not to think about that one too much. Maybe something about the idea or writing rubbed her the wrong way. Maybe she had PMT. Maybe she didn't really like the genre. I don't know, but for some reason she was seriously not impressed with it where the others generally were. So I'm back to the drawing board. I've decided to leave SOAP book 2 for my SRS manuscript for the time being and solely concentrate on really getting SOAP book 1 published. I've enlisted Cafrine's help because I need someone who can take the grammatical and punctual side of it apart for me.
Anyhoo, The Project, or I suppose I can call it Atrophy now, is still coming along. We're getting closer and closer to actually launching something. It's very exciting!
Song: Elegantly Wasted by INXS

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Coming Soon to a Computer Screen Near You...

Now I know I've been dropping hints about The Project for a week now without really saying anything. And annoyingly enough I'm still not going to say anything besides this which will give you a little bit more of an idea, but still really won't tell you anything. Sorry, I just don't want to put anything out there until we're ready to go. And I can't even give you a timeline. Maybe another month or so? Hopefully it will be worth it!
Song: You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC

Blog Fiction

I've been dong a bit of research on blog fiction lately, out of interest to see what's out there. I have to say I've been surprised by the scope of talent out there. While I always found webook uninspiring due to the volumes of (dare I say it) crap posted on there, it seems those who take the time and effort to set up their own blog fiction really have something going for them. I suppose you'd want to have some serious dedication and talent to devote the time to setting up and regularly posting fiction on a blog, while with webook its easy to just chuck up whatever you want, whenever you want.
My new devotion to this somewhat maligned format of publishing has been cemented by what I think is a golden find, the blog series Steal Tomorrow. I have to assume that the author is American, and it actually reminds me of a best-selling series we have here in Australia by John Marsden called Tomorrow, When the War Began. The concepts are a little similar, but the stories are vastly different. The author's execution of Steal Tomorrow is just brilliant (in my opinion) and I'll be following it closely from now on. I wish this author every success, and truly believe that she might really have something if she wanted to pursue more traditional means of publication.
That said, I have other work to do!
Song: Everybody Get Dangerous by Weezer

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Project Coming Along

Cafrine and I have made some good progress on The Project. Of course there's still a lot to do, but we've actually made a really good start. We have a loose plot and basic characters worked out, which is always exciting.
Consequently I haven't managed to do any more editing on SOAP book 1. It's also been over a week since I sat down and just did some good writing. Having so many things on the go at once is a little tricky, since now I don't know what I really want to work on this afternoon. Do I do some more editing? Do I add to the word totals of one of my works-in-progress or do I continue planning The Project?
I'm thinking I've already spent a fair bit of time on The Project in the last couple of days, so I'll take that off the list. Since I'm planning on entering SOAP book 1 in a comp which closes this Friday, I should probably actually work on editing it. I can always do some writing once the entry is all ready to go.
Looks like my mind is all made up then!
Song: Last Goodbye by Jeff Buckley

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon

As promised yesterday I'm going to post my thoughts on recently finishing SK's Acheron.
For those of you who've been living in a hole, or possibly under some sort of rock, Kenyon's Dark Hunter series has been hitting best seller's lists for several years now.
The story revolves around the Dark Hunters fighting a war against Daimons (who are a little like vampires but absorb people's souls, not their blood) and ever since that very first book there's been Acheron, the Dark Hunters' mysterious leader. Fans have been waiting for Acheron's book for a long, long time.
The first books were great. You couldn't put them down. But with every book came a new set of characters. There was the Were-Hunters, beings that were either born as animals and could change into humans (called the Katagaria) or beings that were born as humans and could change into animals (called the Arcadians). Then we wanted to know their stories, several of which Kenyon wrote. After that there were the Dream-Hunters, which I wasn't so keen to hear about given that there were already so many different factions. But I bought and read the first Dream Hunter book she wrote and for the first time I was disappointed. The book was a mere shadow of what she'd achieved in the past.
After that, several of the later Dark Hunter books took the same road, and I started feeling like (for me at least) Kenyon had lost something. I skipped a couple of books (which is totally unlike me when I love a series. I do plan on reading them one day, but I'm not going out of my way to get them) and then came Acheron. I knew I had to read it. How could I not? It was my sincere hope that by going back to the start, back to the source of all the Dark-Hunters, she would recapture that which made me love this series in the first place.
The book was set out in two parts. The first, about Acheron's life as a human. Or a god, as it turned out. It was tragic, it was sad, and I couldn't put it down. It compelled me to read and read and read, just like those first Dark Hunter books way back did. And then I came to the second part, set in the present day. I hated to see it, but it all fell apart. Once again, this story was only a shade of what she'd done previously. I wasn't compelled to keep reading it until my eyes fell out, it was quite easy to leave it for another time or do something else in the interim. Some of it (in my opinion, and mine only) didn't seem true to what we knew of Acheron in the other DH books. Some of it seemed to contrived. Some of it seemed to be obviously trying to tell us something we already knew and just kept at it and at it like we were being force-fed the information. I finished it so I would know what happened in the end, but I suppose it was nothing to what I'd expected.
I know that I'm being way harsh on Ms. Kenyon. That's the problem when you write something so brilliant, the next time you don't, you've got so far to fall. Adding to the fact that this book had been anticipated for years and years, there wasn't much room to move.
In saying that I sympathize with Kenyon (and I don't envy her position. Sure, I want to be an author, I want people to read my stories, but I hate the thought that one year I might write a book that everyone loves only to write one the following year that disappoints. Keeping a readership happy is an onerous task I imagine) I have to also say that I'm a little frustrated by her. To my knowledge (and please, someone correct me if I'm wrong) she has never finished a single series she's started writing, both as SK and writing as Kinley MacGregor. There was the MacAllister brothers, which I loved, never finished. There was the Brotherhood of the Sword, which has one of my favourite books ever, but never finished. I suppose she's going to write what she's contracted too write, what she wants to write (she is a best-selling author, so I guess she can do what she wants!) and what's going to sell the best. I'd just like once completed series, but it seems the DH books are likely to keep going and going. I just don't know if I will.
Song: I Don't Care by Fallout Boy

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Editing Still

Ok, so this title is just the last title backwards, but since it's still true, I think I'm allowed to use it. Yes, I have edited a whole 70 pages of my manuscript. It's slow going. It's driving me crazy. It makes me wish I had someone else to do it for me. It's the one thing about writing that I avoid until I can't avoid it any longer. Which to other people might seem stupid since editing is part of writing. I love the actual writing. I hate the going over and over and over it trying to decide which bits to change and how to change them or if I should have even changed it in the first place and maybe I should have left it like it was.
Anyway, I don't really want to keep thinking about it tonight. There's plenty to do tomorrow. Oh, and remind me to post about the fact that I just finished Sherrilyn Kenyon's Acheron. I really should be posting about the books I'm reading more often.
Song: Fall For You by Secondhand Serenade

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Still Editing

I'm really supposed to be editing SOAP book 1 right now, but just thought I'd do a quick post since it's been a few days. Not much has happened, though I have discussed my new opening scene with my Editorial Advisor and she was quite impressed. Apparently now it 'just works' so well when the other one was always just a bit off. So I'm glad that's going better. Now I just need to get this editing done so I can send it off the the RWA Emerald comp.
In other news, The Project is still being worked on in my little slices of spare time. We're still in the middle of trying to smooth out the kinks of the actual idea before we get to work on the project itself. We just want to make sure we're doing it the best way possible. I'm still really excited about it and can't wait to get it off the ground.
Right, well I think I've avoided editing long enough. Better get to it!
Song: What Goes Around Comes Around by JT

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tough Going

The work on SOAP book 1 is coming along nicely. In the end I did decide to go with the Slight Setting Adjustment I'd been talking about in my previous blog. So far I've done a hard edit on the first two chapters and am starting on the third. It's slow going and it's hard since I'm trying to be brutally honest with myself, but hopefully by the end of it I'll have a much better manuscript to the send off to the RWA Emerald comp (which is for unpublished authors and is designed to mimic the submissions process to a publishing house) and also I'll be able to re-query some agents in the new year. Which interestingly enough will bring me almost full circle, a year since I sent out the first query letters about SOAP. Seriously, time looses all meaning when it comes to this industry. I can't believe it's been a year since I started querying SOAP. And it's been about a year and a half since I first entered it in a comp. And it's probably been a good three years almost since I first came up with the concept. Who knows how much longer it'll be before I actually get this baby published? Hopefully not too long, but then I'm always hoping that, aren't I?
Anyhoo, with all this editing taking up my time it means I haven't had a chance to do any writing. I might have to rectify that in the near future, put the editing aside temporarily before it drives me crazy and just do some good old fashioned pen to paper. Or keyboard to screen I suppose you would say in this day and age.
Also, work on The Project is coming along. Slowly at this stage since it only really began yesterday and we're (yes, I say we because it is a joint project with Cafrine. See? All the time there are new little clues) still trying to sort out what exactly we're doing. And possibly why, because maybe we're a little bit crazy to be doing what we're doing, but hopefully it'll all be in good fun and success.
Song: All These Thing That I Have Done by The Killers

Friday, November 14, 2008

Re-start

It's done! I've actually entirely rewritten the opening scene for SOAP book 1. I didn't know what I was going to do, had no idea where I was going to go, how I was going to make it relevant to what comes later in the book. But I was determined. So I just sat down and looked at my keyboard. Then an image came to me. It was my heroine standing in the middle of a street at night, with someone standing behind her holding a gun to the back of her neck. So I started off describing what I was seeing and just like that the scene was written. And it ties in so well with what comes later. I'm very impressed with myself. It turned out to be much easier than I thought it was going to be.
Now I'm considering whether to do the other major change I'd been thinking about. The Slight Setting Adjustment as I've been calling it. I'm still torn about this one, so I think I'll keep mulling over it for a while.
Anyhoo, I'm very excited today because as of this morning I might possibly have a new project in the works. Something I've never done before. Something interesting and challenging. I'm not going to say anything else about it because there's a lot of work to be done before it's anything concrete, but I'm just saying its out there, it could be big and I can't wait to get started.
Song: What A Man's Gotta Do - Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog Soundtrack

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Starting Over

I have definitely decided that I want to write a new opening scene to SOAP book 1 and get rid of the one there currently, but I have a small problem with this. I've been thinking and thinking and thinking and can't come up with a new opening scene. Usually I might have a few ideas, but I won't feel they're right, which will then usually lead me to the right idea. But this time I have nothing. Just a big, open, empty space in my brain where the ideas are supposed to be. Maybe I should consult my editorial advisor. Ok, I don't actually have an editorial advisor, but my sister-in-law is the next best thing. I can't imagine having a better critique partner. She always tells it straight. If there's something she doesn't like, then I'll know about it.
So I'm off to do some brainstorming or something. Meanwhile, My Harlequin manuscript has slowed down a bit, I haven't had as much time to work on it this week. But I'll get there!
Song: He Got Game - Public Enemy

Thursday, November 6, 2008

...And That's The End of Your Career

People just don't realize how destructive the Internet can be. Actually, to put it in perspective, people have a tendency towards self-destructive or stupid behaviour, so it's not really the Internet's fault. But these days it's more than likely to end up on the Internet for the entire world to see and before you know it your life is never going to be the same. A prime example of this is a story I saw this week of a professional cheerleader in America who had a few too many drinks (presumably), did something extremely stupid and after the photos were put on Facebook, she lost her job and pretty much her entire career. And just like that, the life she had planned out will never be.
Anyway, in other news I received another rejection this morning. I'm not so worried about it this time around, as obviously I have a few proposals and competition entries out at the moment. But apart from that, I've been thinking and thinking and thinking about SOAP book 1 and am now preparing to do some major overhaul before re-querying some of the agents who were interested the first time around. This won't be an overnight thing. I imagine I won't be ready to do any re-querying until sometime into the new year.
There's a handful of things that have been on my mind and as the results of these current proposals and competitions come in, I have decided to go ahead and change them. For instance, the very first scene. It's good, I like it, but I've been asking myself for a long while: "is it necessary? What is the point of it really?" And I'm afraid the answer could be that it has no point, other than a way of introducing my heroine. Which obviously means its not working successfully in terms of the overall story. The other thing on my mind is part of the setting. I don't mind telling you that part of the book is set in Iraq. One of the lovely ladies on the RWA e-loop (who is a published author and would know more about what goes on in the publishing world than I, obviously) suggested that this may be a contributing factor in not being able to sell the manuscript because often it is hard to sell a book set in places in the world where there is current conflict. Of course, my story partly hinges on the fact that there is conflict in that part of the world at the moment, but I beginning to think I could make a minor setting adjustment without taking away from the story as it is. In fact, it might even be better.
In doing this I am going to be up for a bit of revision research, but that's ok because it's partly why I love being an author; the excuse to spend hours studying topics I otherwise wouldn't have a reason to.
So that's where I'm at today. I have a fair bit of work ahead of me, but oddly enough I am looking forward to it. Apparently I'm a sucker for punishment.
Song: Slice of Heaven by Dave Dobyn

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Supernatural - Yellow Fever aka Dean Is Not A Dick

This week's ep of SN has once again left us with more questions than answers. The plot revolved around Dean contracting Ghost Sickness, which made him become anxious, paranoid and then live (or re-live in Dean's case) his worst fears. Meanwhile, Sammy, and later on Bobby, were running around trying to take out the ghost that had caused it before Dean's heart gave out - literally.
First and foremost it was interesting to get a sneak peak of Dean's vulnerable side, even though some of it was beyond ridiculous, but hilarious. It was good to see this facet of Dean's personality since usually Sam is the emotional one while Dean was always the stoic one, with the whole "I'm fine" mantra, even when he was falling apart.
There was an "I quit" speech he did that was absolutely brilliant, had me in stitches. I think some of it went: "You know, normal people run away from scary things. But you know what we do? We go looking for them, we hunt them. I mean, who does that? I'll tell you who does that. Crazy people. We're crazy, Sam." and then there was something else chucked in the middle about a truck-stop waitress with a weird rash.

It was unsurprising in the end to find Dean's greatest fear was Lilith and returning to hell. But the really interesting part of this episode was raised when Dean and Sam were talking about why certain people contracted the ghost sickness. Sam theory was that they were all dicks and then this was never refuted. In actual fact, it was my opinion that these people got the Ghost Sickness because they all had a secret relating to the particular ghost's death. So why did Dean get it when he's clearly not a dick and didn't know anything about the ghost's death? It was revealed during the climax when Dean asked Lilith "why me" and her response was "you know why, listen to your heart."

Unfortunately many of the fans didn't get this. Obviously they were too busy drooling over Jensen Ackles to see the big fat clues the writers put in there, and after the episode aired, lots of people got on the net infuriated over the fact that it was implicated that Dean is a dick. So Erik Kripke had to release a statement to the media ensuring the numerous frothing-at-the-mouth fans that Dean is not a dick and it was never intended to seem that way. So in reality, Dean has some big dark secret about being in hell, never mind the fact that he remembers being there and told Sam and bobby he didn't.

Now I'm dying to know what the big secret is. Apparently it's going to be revealed during episode 10, so I have four weeks to sit here and wait to see what it could be. It just keeps getting better. I guess the writers and creators must be doing something right if they're forced to answer crazy fandom rantings.

Song: Where Have You Been? by Reel Big Fish

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New Beginning

It's always so easy at the start. There' so much potential. You have so many ideas. The characters and their relationships are new and exciting. You think you'll get this done in no time and have another workable manuscript to sell. But then you hit the slump and suddenly things aren't so rosy anymore.
My Silhouette Romantic Suspense manuscript is coming along beautifully at the moment. Its not going to be as long as the manuscripts I usually work on, so I have this vision that I'll therefore finish it much more quickly and soon have something to send off to SRS. Of course, I think it's going to be that way, but it never turns out like that. Eventually I hit a slump and then what was great fun becomes a slog and that's where the whole persistence thing comes in.
Contrary to my statement about leaving SOAP book 2 on hold, I've actually found that I haven't been able to. I did a tiny bit of work on it this minoring before I started on the SRS manuscript. Its probably a good thing. Working on two at once will hopefully keep me fresh and I'll find it easier to keep writing. When one's not working, I'll be able to concentrate on the other for the time being. Besides, I have this fear that SOAP book 2 is going to be shortlisted with the RWA STALI comp I entered as opposed to SOAP book 1 and then when the editor at Berkeley reads it she'll request the full and I won't have it to give to her (eeek!). If that happens, I'll probably have a coronary. One; because they actually requested my work, and two; because I'll have to work day and night to suddenly finish SOAP book 2. If only there was someway to get it out of my head without having to actually sit down and manually type (I'm seriously beginning to wonder if I'm not getting RSI). Like there was some computer where you could just attach electrodes to your head and think about it and then presto! It's there on the screen. That would be so helpful and in turn so very lazy.
Anyway, I should get back to writing and stop thinking about brain-sucking technology that would actually probably be really dangerous.
Song: Bullet With Butterfly Wings - Smashing Pumpkins