Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Captain Nemo ... and Show vs. Tell

Captain Nemo has requested that I give him an eye patch because it will make him look "awesome."

According to TVTropes, this eye patch will insinuate that he is "either 1) an experienced combatant or 2) secretly a badass." I think it is an attempt at subterfuge, since he is in reality a ninja, the sworn enemy of pirates.

I haven't decided if I like it or not.

Captain Nemo with his requested eye patch.

I also wanted to share this link with you. This article gives an excellent look at the old adage "Show, Don't Tell," which I have long felt was over-simplistic advice that clearly didn't apply to a lot of the greats, like Joyce Carol Oates and Flannery O'Connor, and so couldn't be as iron-clad of a rule as some people think it is (but I didn't exactly know how to articulate why this was so, or why it worked). Anyway, it's good stuff and worth reading.

Show, Don't Tell -- Exposed!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why I Hate Sleep

I know this is probably an unpopular thing to admit, but I pretty much hate sleeping, and always have.

Here's the story of my life (and last night):

1) 11:30ish PM - Feel bored, pick up Kindle, start reading book that seemed promising. Expect to read for 30 min or so before bed.
2) 12:30ish - Captain Nemo goes to bed.
3) Check the clock. 1:30. The story is too good!! Can't ... stop ... reading!!! Maybe I can finish it. Or at least get to a place where I can stand to put it down (it was really good).
4) 2:30 Still not done with the book, maybe 3/4ths of the way done. Realize that I want something to read tomorrow, anyway. Crawl into bed beside a grumpy, freshly awakened CN. Think about story. Mental squeeing commences.
5) Decide my current WIP (in edits now) needs more sexy, more spark, something to elevate it to the level of the book I'm squeeing about. Begin brainstorming as an effort to fall asleep (bad move, btw).
6) 3:30ish - bathroom!
7) 4? Can't look at the clock at this point ... come up with an amazing idea for WIP, decide to rewrite a large portion of the beginning, get extremely excited, give up on sleep for entire night.
8) Realize sleep is probably important.
9) Lie in bed cursing the need for sleep, long to write.
10) Finally drift off, wake up around 9 feeling like death.
11) Don't get out of bed for a long time.

Seriously, either I'm reading a great book that keeps me up half the night, or I'm brainstorming a great idea (why do almost all my great ideas come at 1:30 in the morning?) that won't let go of my imagination. Or I'm bored. I get really bored trying to go to sleep (which inevitably leads to 1) reading or 2) thinking about story ideas).

I haven't had a night's rest where I walk into the bedroom, lie down on the bed, shut my eyes, and fall asleep as simple as that in YEARS. (Quite possibly never, if you discount the week I was doing 10 hours of hard physical labor a day renovating our house before we moved in.) I couldn't believe the sleep I was getting that week. But unfortunately, writing does NOT count as hard physical labor, and working out doesn't seem to make that up in the sleep department.

So ... I know sleep feels nice, and is sort of necessary for sanity and survival. But I hate it.

Also, I'm really sleepy right now.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worse of Times: Editing

So, I wrote another book over the last 3 weeks.

And now I'm editing it. 

Editing is a strange animal. I've edited (pauses to count on fingers) 5? books at this point (I've completed I think 9 novels, but not all of them made it to the editing stage), and no two editing experiences have been alike. With some books, I know there's something wrong but I just don't know what. With some books I read them through, mainly correcting small things like grammar and syntax, and with others I rearrange chapters, cut large portions, or add additional subplots. Every story is different. 

I'm also reading through both Self-Editing for Fiction Writers and Writing the Break-Out Novel right now as part of my self-assigned writer's homework. The Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is proving more helpful for this stage (although I'm getting some great pointers for my book from the Maass book too, particularly when it comes to my characters and my story's ending, which both need a little tweaking right now.

Anyway, I was wondering. What do you guys do when you edit? Do you have any helpful hints or secret strategies that work for you?

My plan so far:

1. Let book sit for a week or so, work on other projects. Gain emotional distance from the piece. CHECK
2. Let 1-2 beta readers at it, hear their suggestions and comments. CHECK
3. Re-read story, trying to think as a reader. SEMI-CHECK?
4. Brainstorm story as a whole. What works? What doesn't? Are there any unresolved issues, any characters that faded into the background, any problems with pacing or proportion? SEMI-CHECK
5. Apply changes, add necessary scenes, subplots, descriptions as necessary (NOTE: I almost never cut anything as major as a chapter or subplot, but generally I add at least 5k to the MS in edits. Sometimes I add as much as 15k in edits. I tend to write spare and lean, fleshing the story out as I reread and rewrite. I'd rather add than subtract, it's less emotionally exhausting to me.)
6. Re-read story out loud, checking for dialogue awkwardness, typos, and flow problems.
7. Submit back to betas.

That's basically my process. It works pretty well for me, but I'd love to hear suggestions about what anybody else does. Thoughts?

Friday, June 24, 2011

JK Rowling, Donald Maass, and the Ebook Revolution

So a week or so ago I said that I wanted to start reading 5 books about writing or editing a year so I can continue to push myself and polish my writing. Yesterday I starting ready my first book for the year, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. So far it's really good, and he makes some great points and adds some wonderful insight into the business of writing and the world of publicists, editors, and so forth (much of which, by the way, makes me want to shrink away from traditional publishing altogether, but I digress. That is not currently The Plan.)

But there was one part that made me chuckle.The part where he talked about the future of ebooks.

When I was skimming the first chapter to see what it talked about, I spotted his words on ebooks and starting reading with interest at what he'd say about them. I actually recoiled at one point, taken aback and almost offended at the tone of what seemed like smug assurance, and I thought--"How reliable is this guy if he doesn't see what's happening in the industry?" But then I flipped to the front, saw that the book had been published in 2001 (I nodded, understanding immediately) and continued reading, this time with almost too much relish. I wanted to see what this savvy agent would say about how ebooks would shake up the industry, since I have the advantage of 10 years (11, really, since the book was written in 2000 and published in 2001. Much can change in just one short year when it comes to technology).

Here's one quote:

"So, will e-books save us from the harsh realities of traditional trade book publishing? No. I'm afraid that is just another myth ... But back to the revolution ... is there no hope that the heartless hegemony of the publishing conglomerates can be broken? Will e-publishing ride to the rescue of the midlist?"

(Actually, yes, many mid-list authors have tremendous success switching to self-publishing and e-books now)

He does say he's "keeping a close eye on developments" regarding ebooks. But later he writes:

"...[R]evolution? Sorry to say, it is unlikely to happen."

I giggled, because I read this soon after seeing the news that JK Rowling is self-publishing the Harry Potter e-books. (Yes, the publishing house is getting a small cut, but she is retaining full control and rights, and in their released statement Scholastic says they are "key players," not publishers. I believe they're being paid mainly for marketing/promotion. You can see a lot of good discussion about this here and here).

And let's not forget about Amanda Hocking, John Locke, and many others who've made millions through e-books. And in AH's case, she's actually been able to negotiate very favorable terms for breaking into traditional publishing, too.

Now, I don't know if he was speaking at all to self-pubbing/indie authorship, or if he was simply referring the the technology. But given the fact that he references POD, I think he was lumping self-publishing in there.

I would say on the heels of JK Rowling's announcement (not even touching all the other authors who've been so huge the last few months) e-books (and self-publishing/indie authorship) could be called a revolution. Because the changes going through the industry are pretty revolutionary.

Now, lest I sound like I'm shaking my fist at the horrible Big Six and sticking out my tongue or something, I don't consider myself in one camp or the other in terms of loyalty (although I do have a stake in the indie world, I would also love to be traditionally published as well). I don't want to see traditional publishing simply disappear. They've brought me almost every book I ever loved. There's a lot of great people in that industry. But I do think adaptation is needed. What's going to happen in another 10 years? I have no idea. Not a clue. But the tides are swiftly turning.

To be fair to Maass, I don't think anybody really saw it coming in 2001. Least of all those in the publishing industry.

I think it's pretty amusing to see that underestimation confidently preserved in this 10-year-old book, that's all.

Other than that (or should I saw especially because of that??), I am really enjoying Writing the Breakout Novel. Maass does have a lot of brilliant things to say about the craft. Thanks to everyone who recommended it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Word of Advice

Something terrible happened yesterday.

My laptop is, well, essentially dead. It's complicated, and I don't know the technical explanation, but I can't access any of my files and I can't log on.

My husband, who is a brilliant computer programmer, is attempting the rectify the situation. He says he *might* be able to fix it. (He is hopeful.)

If he can't, though, I will probably lose everything on the hard drive.

So the bad news is I don't have my computer right now, and I might not get it back.

However, there is good news.

The GOOD news is that I obsessively back up everything I write, and I backed up my files the night before the computer died, something I do every night before bed. All my short stories, all my works in progress, all my finished manuscripts, more than a million words' worth of stuff--it's SAFE.

If you don't back up your work, YOU MUST. Seriously. If I didn't have all those files backed up ... I literally don't know what I'd do right now. We're talking more than five years' worth of blood, sweat, and tears gone in an instant. Again, more than a million words. I would probably die. Even thinking about such a possibility makes me shudder.

Anyway, folks, that's all for today. Sorry I haven't been very bloggy lately. I am working on a few super secret projects that hopefully I"ll be able to share soon.

Seriously--back up your stuff. Do it right now.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Plot Bunnies? More like Plot Tribbles!

Way back in the day when I was about fifteen years old and a beginner writer, I had this crippling fear.

I was scared that if I got a good idea and I wrote it into a story, I wouldn't get any more good ideas. It actually kept me from writing books for a long time, because I didn't want my head to be empty of stories.

Eventually I bucked up and starting writing books anyway, and I've since learned that fear was completely unfounded.

As soon as I finish a book, five more ideas clamor to be written. Right now my life is like this:

"As soon as I finish my WIP, I'll write one of you guys, I promise ..."

Well, ACTUALLY, it's more like this:


I don't wonder how I'll come up with new ideas anymore. Instead, I wonder how I'll get them to leave me alone.

Does anybody else have this problem? I can't get the stories in my head to SHUT UP. And they're multiplying like tribbles ...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Smile-Inducing Review

Hey guys, hope your Saturday is going well. I've been VERY busy writing in my WIP (almost to 40k!), but I wanted to share some minor, happy news.

The Curse Girl got a review today from All-Consuming Books that made me beam with delight. You should head over and check it out :-)

I've also added it to my review tab, where it's keeping author Emily White's very nice review company.

Have a great rest of the weekend, guys!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Continuing My Writer's Education

I am all about making goals. I am slightly obsessed them. For some reason they motivate me really well ... maybe it's because I feel like I'm in competition with myself? I'm not sure, really, but I know they work for me.

So today I made a new goal, in effect immediately, that I hope to continue every year for possibly the rest of my life.

I was on Amazon, looking for a book on editing that I could read while I'm revising the current WIP (which is almost at 30k now, and *fingers crossed* I'm hoping to have it almost finished by next week, and ready for revisions before the end of June. I'm writing about 3k a day in it. Mind you, the only reason I've been able to maintain this blistering pace? I'm not working this summer.)

Anyway, so I was looking for a book on editing, and I was blown away by all the writing books.

Now, I've read several books on writing in the past ten years or so, sure, but looking at all those rows of tip-stuffed tomes, I could've slapped myself.

Why am I not delving into this vast spread of knowledge and expertise all the time? It's right there, just waiting for me!

To be honest, I think one of my weaknesses is my tendency to assume I've reached a plateau, and in a sense "arrived." I still have TONS of room for improvement. I will always have room for improvement, even when I've been writing for 40 years.

To be REALLY honest, sometimes I get a tad bit arrogant and decide I don't need to read books on writing anymore.

This mindset is SILLY. Not to mention WRONG.

So new goal! Read 5 writing/editing/some other writer-related skill-improvement books a year.  5 is a nice, solid number, not too many, but enough that I'll be semi-saturated with writing advice throughout the year, especially all those things I technically already know, but tend to forget (like over-using "to be" verbs).

I'm also contemplating writing up posts about the books I read, and how helpful they were for me.

I think it's totally doable. My husband is a bit wary (he says I'm already really busy). But I think I can do it. This year (since it's already June), I'll test out 3-4 and see if that's too much.

In slightly related news, I'm also contemplating doing a "1k a day" goal next year. That's 365,000 words total. Just the thought of that makes me salivate. I KNOW I can do 1k a day. It's so manageable. That's the beauty of the whole thing. 365k sounds monstrous, because it is, but 1k? No sweat.

SO. Back to writing books. Anybody have recommendations for me? What's the best writing (or editing) book you've ever read?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Few Introductions

Folks, I've had this blog almost a year now, and I have never properly introduced my family! I'm remedying this problem immediately.

Note: Everyone is of course protected by clever aliases, because ALIASES ARE COOL.

I'll begin with the human...

Captain Nemo
Like a ninja, Captain Nemo is hard to photograph.

Favorite Human Food: Chicken
Theme Song: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Characteristic Moment: Sleeptalking while insisting he's awake (the trick is to ask a question that requires an answer other than yes or no. If he replies "because I've lost all my teeth" or some other nonsense in an irritated, DUH tone of voice, you know he's sleeping).
Comments: Captain Nemo is very cheerful when awake, and a grumpy grizzly when asleep. Unfortunately, he spends much time sleeping during my most wakeful hours, 10 PM-2 AM.
Further Comments: In addition to looking handsome, bringing home the bacon, and pwning noobs online, Captain Nemo formats my ebooks and keeps me supplied with ice cream cake. He's a good man.

The Gray Lady
One of her favorite places.

Favorite Human Food: Bread
Theme Song: Eye of the Tiger
Sink kitty!
Characteristic Moment: Sitting in the sink, falling into the bathtub (she has a water obsession), catching nasty roaches and proudly bringing them to the bedroom.
Favorite Thing: Being brushed. 
Comments: I don't know if you can see how fat she is in this picture, but she's a TUBBY little girl.
Further Comments: The Gray Lady is Captain Nemo's favorite.
Even Further Comments: The Momma does not have favorites, because she is a good parent.


Stealing the limelight from his sister-cat.

Favorite Human Food: Milk, Chicken, Fish, Steak, Pasta, Yogurt, etc (All food, really. Anything he can get his greedy little paws on...)
Theme Song: Shake Your Tail Feather
Characteristic Moment: Incessant begging for food. Being put in the garage so everyone else can have some peace and quiet while they eat. Also, sleeping.
Least Favorite Thing: Being brushed.
Comments: Captain Nemo has a love/hate relationship with Foxcat,* who is mostly a Momma's boy. Personally, I don't know how anybody could hate such a beautiful little kitten. But I will admit I'm slightly biased.
Further Comments: Foxcat is only about 9 months old, and he already towers over his full-grown sister-cat. Such a big, fluffy boy :-)

*I suspect this is due to the fact that Foxcat tends to puke on his shirts.
Shake your tail feather

Well, that's my family! As you can see, I like taking pictures of the baby kitties. :-) :-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Last week I was tagged by the very cool Emily White, so now it's my turn to play this game and tag some bloggers of my own. MY APOLOGIES if you've already been tagged. I know some of you are very popular. :-)

Oh, first I have to answer some weird questions.

Do you think you’re hot?

Well, this is awkward. Ummmm I'm not sure. I guess not really. But occasionally I'll be all dolled up in some little black dress and I'll be like, THERE IT IS. 


(I just looked through my pictures for some photo evidence I might present about my presumed hotness, but didn't find anything that didn't make me say "meh." So probably not.)
Moving on ...

Upload a picture or wallpaper you are using at the moment.

FULL DISCLOSURE--I just changed the background so I could upload it as this. The previous one came with my computer. It was some anime thing. I was getting tired of it anyway. I took this pic at my cousin-in-law's wedding. She got married on deck over a river.

When was the last time you ate chicken meat?

Sunday afternoon, at Chipotle's, on my amazing burrito. It was delish.

The song you listened to recently?
Carnival of Rust by Poets of the Fall. It's one of my favorites.

What were you thinking about as you were doing this?

I was thinking about a scene in one of my WIPs. Also in the interest of full disclosure, this blog post ;-)

Do you have nicknames?

I do. Kate is a nickname, and I've also been called Zoe (long story). My brother-in-law and his wife call me Exaggerakatie, because they say I tell lies. (Like Emily Dickinson, I tell the truth, but I tell it slant ...)

Tag Five Blogger Friends!

Here’s five people whose awesome blogs I follow:

Veronica Roth
Jaimie Teekell
Candace Ganger (Candyland)
Tricia Williams
Wordplay (KM Weiland)

Who’s listed as number 1?

Veronica Roth. If you aren't following her blog, you should be. She's amazing! Also, go buy her book, Divergent!

Leave a lovey dovey message for number 2

Jaimie is awesome. We met online at least a year ago, maybe a year and a half ... ? I forget how long it's been. She knew my brother in college, and he saw that she was writing a YA novel, and he was like, "My sister is also writing a YA novel," and he gave her my twitter handle, and the rest is history. We critique each others' work and we whine and commiserate together about writing stuff. It's great.

How did you get to know number 3?

I first encountered Candace Ganger's blog when she was having this awesomesauce contest (from which I won two prizes, I might add, one of which was a 3 chapter critique from the lovely Beth Revis. *name-dropping*). She is irreverent, hilarious, and really cool. 

How about number 4?

I just met Tricia, technically, because I bought her book Wasteland for my Kindle and then I had to follow her blog because 1) I'm really enjoying the book and 2) we seem to have a good bit in common. 
PS ~ Her book is really good.

Say something about number 5:

If you aren't following Wordplay, YOU SHOULD BE. I love this blog. KM Weiland is a genius, and she has so many good tips for writers. She's super sweet, too.

Your turn!

If I tagged you, feel free to play along.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...