Monday, June 29, 2009

Where do you write?

I would do a Monday What Are You Reading post but, goodness me, would you look at that? Nothing on my reading list has changed since last week. But some fateful Monday, when it does change, you'll be the first to know. It's summer, after all, and summer reading is high on my list priorities, as well as finishing a first draft of my novel by October. Yes, you heard it here first, folks. October. I'm determined to stick to it and make sure that no matter how many blood, sweat, and tears are shed, I'm face to face with a blinking cursor at the end of a 1st draft just before my 29th Birthday.

And I may lock myself in a cabin in the woods to make sure it happens. Because it seems that on the list of 'Things to think about when you write a novel' that include things like what you write, how you write, who you are, who you wish to be, all of your hopes, dreams, and personal truths (ya know...the minor things in life) there's also the question of...Where to write?

So...where do you write?

I write here:

Yes. My mouse pad is currently a Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil

So where do you write? Link up a pic or comment. I'm very curious to see :-)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Humph Worthy

Every once in a while, I humour myself by trying to submit a short story to an online or written publication of some kind. I inevitably receive a rejection letter some 3 months later which I put in an envelope so that when I am a rich and famous writer, I can laugh haughtily as I count gold coins and take a bath in champagne before joyously throwing all the rejections letters up in the air (and no doubt Al Roker will comment on the isolated blizzard over my home).

But today, I received a non-rejection rejection letter. I submitted a story to a publication of He Who Must Not Be Named and I received a form e-mail, telling me that I would not be receiving a rejection letter due to the volume of submissions. It went on in this polite fashion and then was signed 'sincerely' by the editorial staff. In short, I was told that I should assume rejection unless otherwise notified.

I'm sorry. But this is completely outrageous! At the very least, I deserve my very own rejection letter. Not this passive aggressive form e-mail sent by What has the world come to? If I take the time to write a terrible 15 page story, I have the right to know how terrible it is! Not to assume failure unless otherwise contacted!

The nerve...

This is the perfect occassion for a loud 'HUMPH'!

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's summer, so I'm trying to read as much as I can. While I work full time, write a novel, have a social life, and possibly train for the NY Century. Oh! And finish all seasons of Mad Men.
Ok, unrealistic, but what's life without ambition?

Thanks J. Kaye's Book Blog and Jenn's Bookshelf for the idea .

I'm not a book reviewer, but I read books to be a better writer. So I'll certainly share with all of you when I discover that a book is inspiring to me as a writer for whatever reason that may be. I can't guarantee anything earth-shattering but well, ya know...

So here goes...

Recently Completed:
Michael Chabon's The Wonder Boys

Currently Reading:
The Floating World by Cynthia Kadohata

Up Next:
You tell me. Maybe I'll read it.

Now we'll see how quickly (i.e. slowly) I keep up.

So what are you reading?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The time we wanted to bike over the GW bridge...

'A' Train Platform. 23rd Street, NY, NY

MELISSAIt's funny that we're taking our bikes on a train
just so we can bike again. Isn't it?

It is. But how else would we get there?

A Train pulls up, doors open. Melissa and Tyler
enter crowded train car.

Oh man. This is going to be a sh%*show.

Truer words had not been spoken.

5 minutes on the uptown train and a little baby refuses to pry her bare feet from in between the spokes of a bike tire. A man starts singing in his own rendition of Duke Ellington's Take the 'A' Train at the top of his lungs. Once the train clears out a little, a homeless man with a thick southern accent enters the train and proceeds to shout that no one better roll their eyes at or bother him because he's 'had a day'! He curls himself on two empty seats, mumbling that he's 'had a day!' and grows increasingly ornery as a group of roughly...oh...200 French students pile themselves into the train car.

What the hell stop are you getting off at?!

Canal Street.

Well you're going the wrong way!!!

(to Melissa)
Is this true?


I like to bike too.

There's some yelling. Some shouting across the train. And roughly 200 French students exit the train.

Well! That was a blessing in disguise,
wasn't it!

Truer words had not been spoken.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Got plot?

I just finished an ARC of Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire, the sequel to the very successful, very wonderful The Hunger Games. It's not due out until September so my lips are sealed, but it got me thinking a lot about plot.

Because these books are riddled with it.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've read books with plot before :-) But these books have a PLOT. Sure, they've got story. Sure they've got themes. And they've got characters. Most books do...imagine that. But when I say that there's a plot...well...there's a PLOT. Practically every other sentence there is actually something happening. It's happening fast. It's happening furious. It's happening.

Coming from a writer who could have a character stare out the window for five pages, this absolutely amazes me. If we look at plot as a way of getting a character from A to Z, well I'm not sure there are enough letters in the alphabet for this series. It's an impressive feat.

For me, I divide novels into two categories, plot driven or character driven. Of course, these lines are quite often blurred. In The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, for example, both things are driving the reader forward, but plot is clearly the stronger engine.

So how do you find a delicate balance? If you're the type of writer who would rather have your main character sip a cup of coffee for years on end reflecting on the state of the universe, how do you cut it down and still accomplish your goal in the scene? My philosophy these days is get in and get out as efficiently as possible. Get to the next place. Get to the next person. Move your character as quickly as possible through their story, sitting in the scenes that matter and getting out of scenes that don't. But the question is...what matters? What doesn't?

While I figure that out, I'm happy to have read Catching Fire this week. If there's ever an example of getting in and getting out of a scene like rapid fire, Suzanne Collins is the big winner. Not Mikey. Suzanne.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Are we born with a blank slate or a blank screen?

When I was about 7 years old my father bought an Apple computer. It had a little screen about the size of a book and a massive hard drive with a floppy disk. I was abolustely beside myself.

There was nothing on it except Pac Man and a word processing program. And, well...I was very bad at Pac Man.

So, I'm probably one of the first generation of kids whose love of writing began on a computer.

It's not very romantic. I wasn't trying to find writing time while shivering underneath the covers after a long day on the farm, dipping my pen in ink, all the while stealing peices of paper from my father's office while he was smoking a pipe and working on the accounting books for the general store.

Nope. Pac Man wasn't doing it for me and I wanted to 'play' with this wacko contraption my father brought home one night after work. So I wrote stories.

It occurred to me this morning after learning about a new internet venture with Think It Publishing where kids can type their story and send it out to be published. It occurred to me that with newspapers folding, the publishing industry struggling, and EBooks infultrating the market. That in 1987, I became a writer because of...well...a computer. Food for thought...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One line

I enjoy the blog Page 56, Line 5 because it gives me ideas for books to read. And it does it in a very short period of time. In this world of short attention spans trying to weave through endless amounts of information- it works quite well for me.

The latest post was quite simple:

“My mother called me over to a window, and we peeked in.”~~ The Floating World by Cynthia Kadohata
A coming-of-age story set in a moving world.

I knew immediately that I wanted to read this book.

So I asked myself, what about that one line made it so powerful?
There is a mother which means there is a child. And a window worth peeking through. The hint of curiousity. And the title! Oh, the title! Telling me that there's an entire world which had found itself floating.
I didn't even need the short recap afterwards.

Honestly, I couldn't imagine a better book review. And I'm thrilled at the power of one written line.