Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Keeping my character likable

My husband just finished reading the 1.5 st draft of my second novel, Judgment of Evil, which I was hoping to get published by the end of the week (I may still be waiting on my cover art, since I just sent my artist the check yesterday). After he finished, he wanted to talk to me about the edits he suggested, which was fine, I asked for that. Then he told my that my main character wasn't as likable as she was in the first book, Instrument of Evil. I asked him how she was less likable, and from what I understood, he wants her to be more emotional and introspective.
Of course, I like my character and her complicated side, so I have a hard time understanding what he wants. Yet he's my first reader and I have to pay attention. I'm just too close to the character to see if she's less likable. I have to try to step back and see the book I wrote differently, like I didn't write it. It's hard to be objective about your own work. But that is my task today, objectivity.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Art of Writing a Polite Book Review

So I'm reading this book that I'm supposed to review (actually, I am actively not reading it. I chose to fold laundry instead of read.), and I'm concerned about how to write the review. It's a trade situation, a I'll-read-your-book-and-review-it-if-you-do-the-same situation, so I have to phrase things delicately, I think. I have to damn it with faint praise. "The author really created some characters that stick out in my mind." = "I can't remember the characters' names."
"Full of dramatic tension, with high points on nearly every page." = "Pure melodrama, with extra exclamation points!" "Would benefit from professional editing to make it shine." = "It's not laughing STALK, it's laughing stock. The first makes me think of a mirthful piece of celery." "Loaded with political statements." = "Yada yada yada, more politics, yawn."

I'll have to try to finish the book to come up with enough sentences for a review. I want to throw the book, but I'm reading it on my iPad and that would be costly to replace.

Friday, November 18, 2011

This book I'm Writing

So, I'm writing this book, this story about a teen girl who is telepathic but doesn't know it, and thinks she crazy, until a new boy transfers to her school who is also telepathic, and fills her in on what's going on with her. It's all clean and innocent.

Problem is, I'm not having any fun writing it. I want to get back to my series, which takes off in a different direction after the first three books. I want to get back to my characters, who I know really well. And I like the idea I have for the story in the first book. So why not just go ahead and start writing it? One reason: I'm waiting to talk to a consultant about details for the book. I don't want to write a lot, then have to go back and change a bunch of stuff after I talk to the consultant. And I don't know when I'll be able to talk to the consultant--it depends on their very busy schedule. And I like to have my research done before I start writing.

Another reason: what do I do with the 16,000 words I've already written on the telepathic teen book? Do I make it into a long short story? Do I just put it aside and see what happens later, how I feel about it later? I think I'm going to have to put it aside for a while. I'm just not feeling it. I don't want to write 60,000+ words more about it.

Thanks for being her while I talked that out. I think I've made my decision. I don't think I'm meant to be a YA novelist.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

There is a high degree of crazy in my house right now

Oh, no, she's going to talk about her cats. Run!
We have four cats. One is our venerable old lady, who doesn't put up with nonsense from anyone, who sleeps and eats and periodically chases one of the other cats, in between naps.
We have a pair of sisters, who sometimes I think share one brain between them. One of them is a normal cat who likes to curl up in warms places and has an obsession with Chee-tos. (We've never given her a Chee-to, but she may have intercepted at least one that fell to the floor.) She also loves all dairy products, and I have caught her licking a stick of butter, and the lid to the sour cream. The other of the sisters is a total princess who frequently decides she's not eating dinner for no apparent reason, who doesn't like to be held unless she decides to sit in your lap, and who talks a lot. A lot. No idea what she's saying, but she says it with great urgency. She has the intense concentration of a border collie and is just a little bit high-strung.
And then there's Maggie, our 14 pound wrecking ball. She has earned the nickname "Destructo" from my husband because she is systematically peeling all the wallpaper from our bathroom walls. I hate the wallpaper, so I don't much mind that, but she does tend to break or knock over or otherwise demolish things. The vet put her on a diet. She's addicted to eating dry cat food and it makes her so happy that she purrs when she eats. It's very sad to take her food away, but I don't want a diabetic cat, so I do it. She sleeps on my legs at night. If I had to pick a cat I think would eventually need Prozac, it's this one. I think she has OCD.

This morning, the sisters had completely lost their minds, and were running as fast as they could around the den. We have this little tent for them, and it has two tunnels on either end of it. One of them kept racing into the tunnel, through the tent, out the other tunnel, and jumping into this architectural shelf that is by the fireplace. Then she would sit there looking crazy, before jumping down and doing it again. The other one was attempting to chase her. It was kind of hilarious. The old lady, meanwhile, was eating everybody's leftover breakfast. She doesn't participate in that kind of foolishness.

I try to write with all this nonsense going on. It's very distracting. So I usually end up on Twitter when it's crazy here, posting song lyrics or reminding people about my book.

About having four cats: we are not crazy cat people. We figure that there are two cats per person, which doesn't average out too badly. How we happened to wind up with four cats: We originally had two, Travis, the best cat in the world (TM), and the old lady. Travis had congenital heart disease, which we didn't find out about until he was about 13, when he got really sick. We took care of him with aggressive treatment, but he eventually passed away. When he did, our old lady got really lonely, and would cry at night, so we needed to get her a companion. When we went to the shelter, there was a pair of kittens that were adorable and friendly, and we didn't want to break them up. That gets us up to three cats. A year later, a friend told me about this kitten that had gotten into the undercarriage of her brother's trunk somehow, and taken a ride on the highway there. She was looking for a good home for this kitten because she couldn't keep her, and I obviously have "sucker" written all over my forehead, because I couldn't let a kitten that had survived a highway trip stuck in the underside of a truck go to a shelter. Enter cat number four. It all happened quite logically, but now the cats outnumber us, and I'm sure they are plotting something.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Men are more moral than they think and far more immoral than they can imagine. Sigmund Freud

Men are more moral than they think and far more immoral than they can imagine. Freud.

Freud seems to be saying here that most people think they are immoral to some degree, with the phrase "more moral than they think." Do you think that holds true? I know plenty of people who think they are highly moral, and probably are highly moral. Does this mean that they are even more moral than that? I think it applies to the rest of us, the ones that think we're bad in some way. I think even those that feel they are highly moral secretly feel as bad and immoral as everyone else. They just hide it better. I'm pretty honest with myself about my flaws and "badness," so by this quote, I must be more moral than I think.

I think the second part of the quote is the more interesting part, because as we all know, scandal sells. I don't want to hear about Lindsay Lohan successfully completely her community service; I want to hear about her going to jail. But are we far more immoral than we can imagine? I can imagine a lot, and did imagine a lot in my book series, Instrument of Evil, the upcoming Judgment of Evil, and the to-be-released in the future Redemption of Evil. I must be more immoral than that, by this quote. :) I'm actually a fairly moral person, and have a strong sense of right and wrong. Have I done things that were wrong? Most definitely. Could they have been worse? Absolutely. Do I believe the quote, that I could be far more immoral than I could imagine? I think I do. I think what Freud is saying here is that we are all innate savages, and in the right circumstances, we revert to that savage state, where right and wrong are mere illusion. You can see snippets of this on the television show Survivor, where the social facades start to chip away and a little bit of almost everyone's inner savage comes out to play. The players mostly have a very "moral" sense of how to play the game with integrity and no lies or backstabbing, until they are told or sense that they are going to be the next one "killed." Then that moral sense of team unity and integrity flies out the window as they scramble to make a deal with someone that saves their skin, to hell with the team. People start to learn on Survivor how immoral they can be--some already know it, but to some it comes as an unwelcome shock. That's why the game is such a fascinating psychological study. Forget the challenges, show me what people are willing to do to "survive."

Monday, November 14, 2011

On Writing

First, there's an idea. Just a little spark. A moment of "what if?"
For many people it ends there, because of demands of the outside world, loss of interest, fear. It's daunting to start writing. There you are, sitting with your blank paper or empty screen, trying to make something magical happen. You want to write the perfect book. And as long as you think that way, you'll never get started. Writing is messy, cluttered, sometimes random. You have to get this mess into a computer or a ream of paper so that you can begin the process of revising. This is where the real work is, where you take that mess that you made and turn it into a book. It's not as fun as writing, but it's just as important. Or even more important.

I make a lot of notes on a separate Word document when I write. It's full of good sentences that don't have a home yet, a few words to denote a scene I want to add, random ideas which may or may not get used. It's messy, and I have to scroll through it to find what I'm looking for, but it's a place to put what's in my head somewhere until I can attend to it fully. I don't worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar in this document. If I didn't make this document, I would have a thousand post-it notes stuck all over the table, in a certain order, and color-coded. Which sounds a little like the opposite of my catch-all "Ideas" file. And I would probably spend more time organizing the post-it notes than writing, frankly.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I have faith that readers will find my books. Meanwhile, I'll just keep writing more of them. Hopefully when some of my reviews come out, more people will be exposed to my book and want to give it a try. And then try the second one. And the third one. Right now I'm rarely getting blog post views. But they will come.
I think I might try doing a book review or two to try to get my name out there. So if you're an author who writes literary fiction, crime fiction, contemporary fiction, or paranormal fiction, drop me a note in the comments with your name, email, book title, and a 3-5 sentence blurb, and I'll see if it sounds like something that might interest me. No straight-up romance, overtly religious, or science fiction, please. I'll try this out and see how it goes, and whether it interferes with my writing too much.