Come to My New Blog!

If you followed a link here from a comment I made on somebody's google blog, I would love to have you visit my blog, but this is no longer it. While I may occasionally post things here again once in a long while, virtually all my content will be at from here on out. If you were curious enough to come this far, why not give me one more click?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Who stuffed all this CRAP into my book?!

Seeing what's got to go and what can stay is a lot like looking at one of those gestalt pictures, or maybe one of those 3-D stereograms. I've been struggling with one of my chapters in particular for several days now--originally a 7,000-word beast of a chapter, now down a couple thousand words or so. So I made a sweep, looking for stuff I thought was boring or self-indulgent and pulling it, and shortened it by a fair bit, but I thought it was still too long, so I decided to look again. Now I see all sorts of stuff that really isn't moving the story forward that somehow I missed before. And it's weird, because I read the stuff a couple of times just looking for junk to cut, and somehow thought, "this is okay . . . this is okay" and then had a moment of "What the hell?! Am I seriously spending three paragraphs talking about this?!"

I don't know whether to be pleased or troubled. On the one hand, I'm finding this crap and removing it. On the other, the way I can miss it and then just have it snap into view later worries me. How much writing that bogs the plot down instead of advancing it am I not seeing? If I didn't have this pressure to get under a certain wordcount, would I just be blithely sending this off to agents and stuff?

As with staring at stereograms, looking for pointless prose to prune gives me a headache.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The stars might lie but the numbers never do.

I just found out I'm the winner of the full manuscript evaluation from Moonrat's Mischief Fights Cancer raffle!

I know, I know, the raffle was like a month ago. But I had gotten to feeling that I was spending more time in the blogosphere than on my manuscript, so I quit cold turkey for a few weeks. By the time I looked at my feed reader this week, the raffle blog was apparently no longer extant, so it took me a while to find out I had won. I also figured there was no chance because there were, IIRC, something like eighty entries in the full MS raffle the last time I'd checked, and I'd only bought one.




Ahem. Excuse me. I've been lucky enough to win a few competitions before, but I can't really think of a time I've won anything of any significance from a raffle. So pardon me while I go tell all teh inarnets. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

They say that after you kill for the first time, it gets easier and easier . . .

So pretty much as soon as I decided that was it, I'd cut all I could, I needed to shift my focus from reducing wordcount to actively making the words that remain better . . . it got easier.

I knew from past experience that I couldn't cut substantially by going word by word. I've already learned that doing so just kills any nice turns of phrases or metaphors I might have while doing almost nothing for my word count. So I figured the thing to do was to cut scenes that weren't moving the story forward very much, and make some other scene accomplish whatever those scenes *were* doing for me. And this worked. I cut about 20,000 words this way. Unfortunately, this left me still pretty far from where the industry says a YA novel from a new author should be, but I couldn't cut any more scenes, so I decided to just go with what I had and hope for the best.

I did have a few little things I thought I could look at, though. Parts within important scenes where I was perhaps a little self-indulgent. Having Chris do or think about something just because *I* wanted to write about it. I also think I tended to spew more earlier in the book, because I wanted to make sure it wasn't too short. (Hah freaking hah.)

So I decided to take one last look, and cut . . . and cut . . . and cut. I've cut another six thousand words or so just this week and, what's more, I'm feeling that what's left behind is starting to take shape. It's starting to look halfway good to me again, and I'm regaining my enthusiasm. I actually got up at 5:30 this morning to work on my novel. And I'm really just getting started . . . I've only looked at the first five or six chapters this way. I might not make it down to my wordcount goal, but I'm starting to think I'll make it to within shouting distance of it.

It's funny.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Small Town Jericho

I took the girls out to a playground today, and they spent the entire day running around while I wrote. We had our first slight nip of the fall, and one of those gorgeous sunsets that only seem to happen in your imagination. The sun hung low in the sky, enormous and red, and I looked up from the picnic bench I was typing at to where the girls were chasing some little boy with a football, and thought, whether or not I ever achieve any success as a writer, I will look back on moments like this and romanticize them. Usually that's hard to see except in hindsight, but I guess I was in a reflective mood. I thought about my first kiss, about when Lisa and I still lived in our first house, about when the girls were babies. I think the lie of nostalgia is that all those moments are behind you. It rarely occurs to me that those moments never stop happening, but this time it did. So I drank as deeply of the moment as I could, trying to lock it into memory, so I could enjoy it again later. Call it preemptive nostalgia.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Learned an important lesson tonight

I firmly believe that some time in the relatively near future, I'm going to be in a position to write an acknowledgment or a dedication on a work of art. Maybe not this year, maybe not next. But sometime. When that day comes, I'm going to try really hard not to snub anybody, just because I can.

Cause that shit hurts.

Character Voice

Chris's father is a man of few words. Or at least, he was. Now I'm cutting scenes but trying to make sure the necessary information is still there, and he's having to say more and more at any one time, and I'm finding myself struggling to keep his voice. I guess I'll have to put it all down first, and then work on making it sound like him. It's frustrating, though, because his uniqueness of voice was one of the things I was proud of. Not having all my characters just sound sort of like me, you know?

Anyway, that's just something I'll have to work through, but I found it interesting, and what's a blog for if not for that?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Note to self

Chris is fourteen. Remember that, damnit!

Effect without cause, sub-atomic laws, scientific pause

I've been getting increasingly uncomfortable with the fact that I haven't made a backup of my novel since mid-August or so. I've since rectified that.

I think I can realistically cut another eight or nine-thousand words. Beyond that, I just don't know how to do it without making the story suffer. So I'm going to cut what I think I can but start moving away from cutting to more active suck-vacuuming. (i.e., concentrating on the quality of what remains, rather than on what to take out.)

In other news, I sure can be an insufferable prig sometimes.

Hey, I see that I got my 666th visitor. Greetings, satanic portent from Arkansas!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I've finished a round of cutting/editing/tightening up. I'm down to 103,219 words, which is still much too long. I have one or two people that I know would be interested in seeing it now, at this length, but If I'm going to have to cut another 20,000 or so words anyhow, it seems to make more sense to do that cutting before I submit to anyone. I'm going to take another look at my outline tonight and see what else I can find that could go.

On another note, I just realized that I never heard back on a story I submitted back in April. That's one frustrating thing with not doing simultaneous submissions. It takes so long for markets to get back to you that you forget all about your works that are out there. And this is at least the third story I can think of that I've never gotten a response back on. (Though at five months, it's not yet out of the question that I could get a response back before too long. I've got others that dropped off the face of the earth years ago. Including one agent's request for the full MS of Prototype. Dang it, when I spend the money to print and ship a 90,000 word MS, I'd at least like to hear back from people.)

(Before anybody mentions it, yes, I've queried the market. And on the other, older ones, yes I've long ago assumed the worst and moved on.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I just realized that I've changed my protagonist's age back and forth so many times, I no longer remember what it is or where all the different places I've alluded to it are.