11 Aug

State of the Revision: Week 2 of 13(?)

Still reclaiming my time by eating trash. As an example of how far I’ve fallen, since I got my pasta roller, only noodles made from scratch have passed my lips. In July, I made the best stroganoff the world has ever experienced with my own egg noodles. In August, I’m dumping dry noodles and salt out of a pouch audaciously labeled “stroganoff” and boiling it for lunch. Sure, it’s not QUITE the same, but I don’t have to sear and roast beef, chop and sauté onions and mushrooms, or mix, roll, and cut pasta. Good food takes hours versus 8 minutes to prepare trash. AND trash costs a dollar. I’d pay more than that for an onion alone if I still cared about good food. I’ve been a fool for so long!

Still slightly ahead of schedule on the revision. (I calculated that I needed 1,100 publishable words per day to be done by the end of October. Using that figure, I’m now 3 days ahead.) Actually, I don’t think it of as being “ahead” so much as providing a cushion for the inevitable confrontation with a bad scene that has to be beaten into submission over the course of a week or an accelerated freelance deadline that leaves no time to work on personal projects. Since I hit chapter 3 and immediately had to develop 2 inches of text into 2 full pages, the this-will-be-a-breeze days of revising the polish-as-you-go! beginning are officially over, and those cushion days are now in constant peril.

I have to be done with this book by the end of October because I can’t wait any longer than that to find a new day job. I could use a steady paycheck now (that $800 pharmacy bill every month is absolutely breathtaking…), but if I give the best 8 hours of my day to a corporate overlord, then give 8 mediocre hours to my freelance jobs, there won’t even be crappy hours left to get this book finished, and I’m too far into it to throw away the work I’ve done. So I’ll finish it and then throw it away! Ah, well. My horrorscope did say I’d radically change my life this year — it said nothing about changing for the better.

Though this post sounds much less optimistic than last week’s, the story is still going fine, even if the writer isn’t.

Have a swamp flower to brighten your day/night!

Carolina spider lily

It’s a Carolina spiderlily. I usually leave them to go to seed, but this one was about to fall into the creek, so I meddled in the circle of life.

08 Aug

Oh, there should probably be a title here, oops

Jen Reads Romance (on Twitter and on the web for your “what to read next” needs) posted a list of romance questions. I’m not answering on Twitter (for obvious reasons) or following any of the rules because I don’t have the requisite Twitter likes (for obvious reasons) and drew a blank on several questions I therefore deleted and because I’M A REBEL, DAMMIT. Also, I am bad at answering questions because of the “it’s not an answer unless I address every conceivable angle, which means there is no easy answer” thing that has plagued me all my life, so this should be fun for everyone!

(Any links below go to Amazon and are affiliate-coded.)

First romance you remember reading: I remember reading gobs of category romances in a house we moved out of when I was in second grade (1982), but since I can’t even remember titles of things I read last month, specifics are lost to time. Probably not the first, but some memorable experiences from the early days: One book had a heroine named Jenna or Jana with long, honey-colored hair who was staying at the hero’s family’s orange grove in Florida (educational! I learned so much about smudge pots!). There was a sick kid. They went to Rogers Christmas House, which is an actual place that I later visited (the original village, not the reopening at the fancy manor). She gave the hero a massage with her sweater off so she wouldn’t get baby oil on it. Another book had a jewelry maker/runaway hotline worker with a Siamese cat named Yaffa. The hero’s son had run away and was crashing with somebody at MIT and earning money writing papers for lazy students, and he called the hotline and asked her to let his dad know he was okay. She wildly overstepped her bounds and did that, and the dad tracked her down to bully her into leading him to his kid. She overstepped her bounds again to go rescue a girl whose “boyfriend” turned out to be a pimp, and hero daddy went along for muscle. Yet another book had an heiress who had run away and was working as a waitress, and the private investigator hired to find her handcuffed her to the sink pipe in a hotel bathroom so she wouldn’t escape (because nothing says “romantic hero” like kidnapping and nonconsensual bondage—I knew that was fucked up even as a kid). It turned out the relatives who had hired him were evil and wanted her brought back so they could kill her and get her money.

Last romance you read: I am currently reading The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan.

The romance you are most likely to recommend to a newbie/The romance you are most likely to recommend to another romance reader: That’s a tremendous responsibility. Fill out this eHarmony survey first so I can make a good match with your interests and values.

An overrated romance you wish people would stop talking about: Eh. People can talk about whatever they want. I’m good at noping out when I’ve had enough.

An auto-buy author: I have no such loyalties at this point. I was burned too many times back in the days of innocence and wonder, either by deteriorating quality or genre shifts that don’t do it for me. A great read puts an author on my watch list, but every book has to win me all over again.

An author you used to love that you’ve since abandoned: Sherrilyn Kenyon. She was my introduction to paranormal romance, for which I will always be grateful, but I started to feel like she was phoning it in.

Favorite trope:

Mad dog lets tiny kitty walk all over him

Best book with your favorite trope: There was a lllllllllllllllot of mad dog/fearless kitty in my early paranormal days, where it works best for me. A regular dude trying to pull off vampire/werewolf levels of angst is just a raging dick. Mommy issues don’t compare to being entombed and left to starve for seven centuries or whatever, so calm the fuck down, Kevin.

Most hated trope: Anything based on huge deceptions, such as secret babies and secret identities.

A book you liked even though it has the trope you hate: The closest we’re going to get here is Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey, and it doesn’t really qualify (or else I’d hate it because I really, really hate life-altering lies). Georgie disguises herself as a cabin boy, but James recognizes her from a previous encounter, so the only deception is him pretending to go along with her deception, which seems equitable.

A book that everyone else loved that has you scratching your head: Oh, the list I could give. Recently, Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas. I need to know if people like that book before I take any recommendations from them because whoadamn I hated it.

A book that has a character that reminds you of yourself: Ruth in Talia Hibbert’s A Girl Like Her has several traits I share.

A romance cover you love (post a pic!): This was the final Lindsey cover pre-Fabio, so Tony really didn’t look like the rest of the Malory family. I’m into dude shoulders, so…

A book you’ve reread more than twice: See above. There’s a lot of secret sauce in Tender Rebel.

Best romance audiobook: I have auditory processing issues that make audiobooks unenjoyable for me. I need text in my eyeballs.

Best romance/romcom movie: I’ll go with something probably no one has ever seen and say Prelude to a Kiss. Young Meg Ryan body swaps with a bitter old man on her wedding day. Young Alec Baldwin is appalled by his bride’s abrupt personality change, has to find the old man’s shell in which the woman he loves is currently dwelling, and wrestles with whether he can still love her if they can’t get her body back. It’s a great exploration of what, exactly, it is that you love about someone.

Favorite hero: Colin Ames-Beaumont from Meljean Brook’s Demon Moon. Such a brat! Such manpain! So much “I’m a cad, you can’t give me any responsibility, FINE, I’LL BE THE BLOODY HERO.”

Your all time favorite romance: I’m going to go with Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase today, if for no other reason than it takes a bunch of things experience has taught me are crappy and MAKES THEM WORK, and it was delightful to have bad expectations knocked on their ass. It inspires me to examine crappy things in books and see if they CAN be done correctly.

04 Aug

State of the Revision: Week 1 of 13(?)

I’ve chugged so much instant “cappuccino,” I’m sweating artificial flavor. I’ve been trying to get away from the chemical diet, but sometimes I weary of the labor of healthy food preparation and want something I can just stir and swallow. And pizza rolls. A crappy diet has added two hours to my day. Thank you for coming to my time-management TED talk.

I finished the week’s revision with two extra days worth of work completed. I try not to get too excited because the early scenes were more thoroughly developed than what comes later, so of course they’re more easily revised than something I’ll have to rewrite from scratch, but I can see the evolution and feel good about where it’s going. When you’ve written all the way to the end and go back to revise the beginning, you find all these little ways to set up and foreshadow what comes later, and it makes the whole story hold itself together better and gives it resonance. Four days and 6,600 words in, I’m as positive as I ever get. I will drag this confidence kicking and screaming into Week 2 and crush the next 7,700 words (at minimum to stay on schedule).

I felt artistic and roughed up a cover. It will be tweaked a bit before publication, but probably not so much that anyone but me will notice the difference. Keeping it super basic, commensurate with my graphic design skills. It’s parked on the Books page, if anybody’s interested.

Part of the worldbuilding in my secret future writing endeavor is based on a discussion about pie — specifically, removing a slice and shifting the remaining pieces to hide the theft. Once I came up with that analogy, almost everything else fell into place in one of the rare “oh, right, THIS ORGASMIC SENSATION OF BLAZING GENIUS is why I continue to torture myself with the rest of this miserable writing gig” moments. I feel pretty good about that note pile growing off on the side, too. It’s always nice to have a project to look forward to instead of dread.

28 Jul

Status report

We have a first draft, sugar people!

Rough draft word count of 47,470

It’s a few thousand words short of my original estimate, but that was overinflated by the level of polish on the initial chapters compared to the roughness of what came after. (I always tell myself THIS TIME I’ll clean up the rough draft as I go so there’s not as much work to do later, and I always give up on that idea by chapter two.) The ~47,000 words I ended up with will double to a good length once I expand all the [describe thing] and [insert action here] and shorthand fragments to actual sentences. And let us not forgot [sneak into arena, evading guards], which I’m sure will be an amazing scene once the night-shift elves write it for me.

I had the perfect title for a related book I was going to write after this one and wanted this book to have a coordinating title to show the relationship, but now that there’s a -112% chance I’ll write the other book, I need a better title for this one that stands on its own. I have two variations on a possibility. Here’s hoping something amazing emerges during revision.

I’ve looked at stock photos for cover art and perhaps found a headless guy sturdy enough to represent Phin without being off-puttingly massive. (Let me clarify: a headless guy sturdy enough without being off-puttingly massive who’s not grabbing his crotch or doing something weird with his arms. There were plenty of bodies that would have been fine, but cripes, what are they thinking with those poses.) I might need to buy a font to dress things up because I’m not getting more artistic than mantitty. The nonexistent budget this time won’t extend to a cover artist.

I doubt I’ll bother publishing a paperback version. They don’t sell well. I might just do a proof copy to complete my own collection and never push the listing through.

The next phase of my “writing career” is dancing around my feet like a circus poodle begging for attention. I’m excited about the ideas, but that’s not unusual — ideas are fun; putting one word after another in a sensible and entertaining fashion is a drag. Bets have been placed that the hard part will be easier when I’m writing the kind of stories that are more in my wheelhouse, but none of the gamblers truly grasps the degree of my wordfinding struggles. It can take me hours to work out a blog comment. Trust me, I’m never going to whiz through a novel, no matter how stoked I am about the daggers, dragons, deception, and damnation.

Now I get to escape the computer for a while (my carpal tunnels rejoice…) and get my hands inky tearing this mess apart word by word.

Printed rough draft, spiral notebook, and pen holding the laptop closed

27 Jul

Reading Challenge: July 2018

This got so wordy (fun medication side effect), I’m not going to let it go for the usual two months.

I finally finished 24 read-all-the-way-through books! Who’s ready for the victory parade?

Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking. I should have celebrated with ice cream.

Links go to Amazon and are affiliate-coded. I buy all my books and have no involvement, professional or personal, with any party named below.

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