April 20th, 2017

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There is something uplifting about the early spring: crisp air and hot sun or the neon green of new grass against the grey of cooler rainy days. When I was a kid, our neighbors forsythia would burst into canary yellow blooms and in it’s shade was a small patch of vinca, a spring flowering ground cover. I loved those little purple flowers so much. I would pick a few and put them in a glass of water, then present them to my father with a sandwich for his lunch.

I knew when we moved into this house that vinca grew all over our property because there was still a flower lingering here and there, but it’s another thing all together to see our home blanketed in it. It feels right and special. I miss the gardens we’d begun at our old home – lightly neglected herbs and perennial flowers that bloomed throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Some fragrant, some colorful. But the vinca and forsythia and azaleas are enough for now. I traipsed around the yard with my oldest child this weekend, searching out these early blooming flowers, discovering the plantings around our new home. We started up the grill and I even broke out my iced tea press so you know I’m committed to this fresh, fine weather.

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Spring should be the season to review feedback — see where the revisions you’ve made have born fruit, as it were — but here I am still revising: planting the bulbs late, moving things around, hoping nothing sprouts stunted. This winter/early spring has been mostly snow and sick days. I should just give in to the fact that nothing of significance ever gets written in February in my home. But the sunshine and above freezing temperatures, the pastels and yellows and greens of April are warming me up. So! Writerly updates!

  1. I wrote a short story! And I submitted it to an anthology! And it got rejected! But that’s okay! It was about a boy and first contact with an alien shaped like a tiny pink pony and it was really fun to write and totally one hundred percent different from my novel which was a much-needed change of pace.
    1. I thought writing short stories after writing a novel would be a piece of cake. I was wrong.
    2. I really want the next big project I work on to be funny.
  2. I taught another event building workshop in March. In fact, I’m making a bit of a side business of helping authors plan and market book events. Because apparently I need more to do.
    1. When I couldn’t think of how to fix my novel, I made a website for my event coaching business. I  am now taking select clients.
    2. I have another workshop scheduled in June. You should come!
  3. I’m now doing a monthly marketing blog post for the Writer’s Loft blog, Loftings.
  4. I’ve been plugging away at revisions but it’s slow. I hit a big snag with The Month of February and then working through a really thorny chapter that had me stumped. Plus planning for my workshop. But! It goes!
  5. I read some books in January and February (highlights included Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson and the first few Company books by Kage Baker) but nothing much since. I’m currently enjoying the compilation of letters between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto because I love J.C. and because I can read it in little pieces before bed.

I am almost through revising Part 2 of 3 so that is a good feeling. I need to go back and continue to comb through the rough, messy parts. I was so hoping this draft would be wrapped up in another month or so but it may need longer. And then reading. And probably one more draft (not sure how deep of one, hard to say).

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I have days when I swear I am not smart enough for this, that I have nothing original to say. I have days when things slot together like an elaborate line of tumblers, unlocking something deep inside the story so I can see a bit of light shining through from the end, from the place this story could be.

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December 15th, 2016

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The year continues to challenge me, emotionally and physically and ideologically. I’ve learned a lot about open-mindedness, humility, empathy, strength, and endurance. And this is a writing blog and so I will talk about writing. Or the not writing.

I received feedback on Draft #2! And one of the few constants in the past couple months is the time I’ve spent compiling that feedback into a series of documents.

1) A scribbly hard copy: A compilation of everyone’s notes/typo corrections/stylistic changes onto a single paper manuscript.

2) The Hit List: A running list of Big Edits and changes that need to be made.

3) The Chapter-by-Chapter Revision Spreadsheet of Doom: An excel spreadsheet with chapter summaries and the Big Edits/nitty gritty edits that need to be made to each chapter, along with the new characters and ideas introduced.

I think I’ve spent enough time collating and collaborating and cogitating and I need to actually crack open the Scrivener project file and start implementing. Eep. *bites into another chocolate bar*

Most of the feedback has been both enthusiastic and helpful. Some of it is big questions that can be answered simply – the addition or deletion of a sentence that clarifies something, for example. Some of it is big questions that need big thinking. One of the problems I’ve struggled with from the beginning is my protagonist’s motivation in the opening chapters. One reader narrowed it down to the question: “Why today?” Why does she choose to follow a stranger on a wild adventure? What does that stranger offer that fills some lack in the protagonist’s life?  So I’ve been doing some deep thinking. I’m not sure I’m totally there yet on some of this. In a strange infinite-feebback-loop kind of way, I find I do my best writing while… I’m… writing? Meaning once I am hip deep in the story, I can think more clearly about how to implement the changes that I know need to be made and untangle it on the page rather than just in my head. Because the writing is never as glittery-sparkle-diamond as it is in a writer’s mind.

(Trust me, every writer has written a perfect book. It’s shelved upstairs.)

But life has been throwing up obstacles, as usual, both positive and negative. I haven’t written in months. I’ve thought, I’ve collated, I’ve packed books, I’ve unpacked books, and I’ve read an enormous amount (midnight nursing sessions + smartphone + downloaded library ebooks = more reading time than I’ve had in a year). Soon, now, I’ll need to put fingers to keyboard and write again. REVISE. Bring out the scalpel and the needle and cut and stitch this draft into something new.

But it feels close. Closer. Soon.

 

Ps. I’m teaching another event building workshop in March! Stay tuned for details.

Pps. What books have I been reading you ask?

Old favorites:
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede (Morwen4Eva)

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Enjoyable new finds:
Delicious!
 by Ruth Reichl
Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Highly recommend:
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
The Liminal People by Ayize Jama-Everett
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books

 

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September 3rd, 2016

Photo credit: Pam Vaughan

Photo credit: Pam Vaughan

I’m excited to share that The Writer’s Loft in Sherborn, MA has invited me back to present at their lovely writing center. Last time I talked about how authors can market themselves to independent bookstores. This time I’ll be leading a Build-Your-Own-Event workshop. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. Okay, I can: I am VERY excited. When I worked at the bookstore, I would get calls all the time from debut authors on our event schedule who were nervous because now that they/their publicist had booked them an event, what were they supposed to do? Was anyone going to come? How could they prepare? So I can’t wait to help writers and illustrators at all stages in their careers learn to be both practical and creative with their events. And to send them on their way with a concrete plan. Come join us on October 1st at 2pm!

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Hope you can be there or help spread the word. If you’re interested in this workshop but can’t attend, reach out or leave a note in the comments and we can work something out in the meantime. Or if there’s enough demand, maybe the Loft will invite me back!

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August 22nd, 2016

Used under creative commons.

Every couple of months or so, my twittersphere (which consists mainly of writers, agents, editors, and other bibliophiles) explodes because someone has written a new opinion piece about how Young Adult Literature Is Dumb And Ruins Everything. The latest one is on a website for teachers and claims:

“Several generations of teenagers, especially boys, have been effectively prevented from ever becoming literate adults by a publishing industry that has decided young adult readers have an insatiable appetite for what amounts to nothing more than gossip fodder, the endless recycling of petty anxieties and celebrity confessions that choke the pages of magazines placed strategically at the supermarket checkout.”

This inflammatory sentence is unfair on a number of levels. Since when does reading make you illiterate, regardless of the content? Since when does the introduction of more female protagonists detract from the male-reading experience? And imagine for a minute telling a teenager, male or female or otherwise, that their anxieties are “petty.” I’ll let you sit with that for a minute.

The article’s author is angry. Angry at what he sees is the denigration of literature. Set aside for the moment that one kind of writing doesn’t “destroy” another kind of writing merely by existing. But this man is a teacher; beneath the rage is a nugget of  clear-sighted honesty. He wants to make sure his students are still  “engaging with the thoughts and ideas of intelligent men and women who have important things to say, things which may even make that adult life, still some years off, a richer and a happier experience.”

A commendable goal. A goal, I would say, of writers and teachers and parents everywhere. But this goal isn’t the sole property of adult literature. But how do we prevent students from being alienated by adults telling them how to feel?

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When I was in tenth or eleventh grade, we had a student teacher in my honors English class who was incredibly earnest so of course, being teenagers, we gave him no quarter. He had to scrape for our attention, withstand frequent mocking and eye-rolls. I’m not proud of it. We were reading Catcher in the Rye and I remember that his book was full of little post-it flags. A student asked “what is that all about?” and he looked at us bewildered. “What,” he asked, “Don’t all of you flag your books?”

We thought he was ridiculous because he spent so much time focused on Holden Caulfield taking off his hat and putting it back on again. He kept pushing us to ask ourselves what Caulfield meant when he asked where ducks go in winter. We read The Great Gatsby and spent an inordinate amount of time on Daisy’s white dress. We read The Grapes of Wrath and were told the turtle was very important. None of us tried very hard in our answers. Basically, we were a classroom full of adolescents. We were being told that a turtle represented hardships and that ducks symbolized rebirth and it all sounded like a lot of hokum.

The student teacher was an adult with good intentions, trying to expand our young minds. Trying to teach us serious literature. Salinger and Fitzgerald and Steinbeck are considered real literature (note: written by white men, a topic for another post). Catcher in the Rye should have worked – it’s about a teenager, right? It’s a classic. But for the most part, it fell flat. Why?

I didn’t like Catcher in the Rye. I didn’t get Caulfield or his devil-may-care attitude, his frank disregard for the people around him and the life that had been handed to him. I didn’t get why I was supposed to like this book. Talk of red hunting hats and ducks made it feel even more silly. My husband harbors a lot of bitterness against his own high school English class experience. “How do the teachers know anything about what the author ‘intended’?” How does the teacher know that Salinger meant the ducks to symbolize rebirth? What if a duck is just a duck? He couldn’t connect to the classics he was supposed to read and appreciate; don’t even get him started on A Prayer for Owen Meany or Native Son.

This is where YA literature becomes very very important.

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In one of the recent episodes of the podcast Writing Excuses (which, my fellow writers, you should definitely be listening to), our merry band of writers discuss writing across genres – meaning writing books for kids versus teens versus adults. Author Mary Robinette Kowal gets to the heart of it:

 “One of the primary differences between a child audience and an adult audience is an adult audience has context. A child audience – elementary school and above—they are still learning about the world and so frequently you have to explain things a little bit more. They can’t make the leaps because they don’t have the experience yet.”

This is the key that unlocks both the frustration with the teenage experience of adult classics and the importance of young adult literature. To a high school student, Holden Caulfield’s hunting hat is just that… a hat. Meant to keep his head warm. Who says it’s anything more than that? But as adult readers, especially teachers and writers, we know that a book is as full of symbols as it is words. That what makes a book a meaningful classic is it’s layers beyond literal meaning.

As adult readers we’ve learned (and continue to learn) how to parse those layers and how to connect our own experiences to that of the book’s characters. But for teen readers parsing a book for adults, they often have to be told to look out for symbolism. They are still learning the language that a writer uses to communicate with her reader. To appreciate adult literature at the level an English class requires they have to be handed the tools to interpret a context that’s in many cases alien to them. Those tools feel stupid because teens are smart: how often does a symbol have just one meaning? Who says the English teacher knows what the author was thinking? But they are told this is how literature functions because they don’t yet have the context to draw out that meaning for themselves for books written by and for adults. A context that experienced adult readers take for granted.

Young adult literature, on the other hand, taps into the teenage experience and the context of teens’ lives, their present emotional landscape. I’m sure an argument can be made that there are classic novels that transcend time by speaking to universal teenage-themes but those books weren’t written for teens; they speak to adults who were once teens, who have, presumably, already had to cope with the storms of adolescence. They are told from a perspective of having been, not being. Which is why the first-person present tense is so common in YA literature – it’s immediate. Not from the distance of “I should have known better” but the “I am living this right now.”

And I don’t know about you but as a teen, life felt a bit like a soap opera or a tabloid. Dating and crushes and breaking up and peer pressure and sex and kissing and fluctuating friendships and drama drama drama. Whether it was in the hallways or school or at summer camp or behind-the-scenes in the theater club, someone was always making out with someone they weren’t supposed to. And harder things too: depression, divorce, body image issues, racism, prejudice, poverty, drugs, suicide. For many students this time in their life is their first encounter with difficult lessons. So teenagers being drawn to stories that seem overly dramatic to adults? Makes sense to me.

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Using literature written for teenagers as a bridge to literature written for adults seems like a no brainer. Sure, not every YA book is worth taking apart in a high school English classroom – neither is every adult book – but that doesn’t mean those stories are any less important in developing a reader’s sense of context. Whatever it takes to get someone reading – books about vampires or aliens or romance or graphic novels or comic books or whatever other currently maligned genre – is someone’s open door. I can’t tell you how many parents would come into the bookstore looking for the book that would open up their young “reluctant reader” to the world of reading. I always assured them: we just have to find the right story to be the key.

There is wonderful YA literature out there right now; stories that are nuanced and layered while still speaking to teen readers. Many school districts and teachers appreciate this and have wide and varied reading lists. I’m not saying eliminate classic books from the English curriculum. Novels written for adults are an important part of teen’s reading education too – they challenge, they shock, they introduce new ideas. But reading is a continuum. Allow students to explore themes relevant to them in books written for them. Show them the bones and symbols of storytelling within the context of their own stories. Then introduce them to Catcher in the Rye and ask: how about them ducks?

Image Sources:
• “Flying V Ducks Close” by David Spinks, used under creative commons
• Neil Gaiman quote from Chris Riddell’s Sketchbook

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August 16th, 2016

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My summer has been a wild one and I’ve been having trouble getting my feet under me. It has literally involved a birth, a death, visiting family, unpredictable illnesses, and the slow climb back to health. Despite how much I enjoy the summer months and hot weather, I’ve spent most of my time indoors. I haven’t done much writing this summer (I hadn’t planned to) with the exception of a poem for my sister. I’ve managed to read half a dozen books, including Max Gladstone’s Two Serpent’s Rise and Angélica Gorodischer’s Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire that Never Was (as translated by Ursula Le Guin). My garden is a wild place full of bolted lettuces, overgrown rhubarb, weeds, and herbs run rampant. My preschooler is the only one who’s been harvesting anything: handfuls of fresh mint and sage that she eats on the back steps. I have drunk gallons of iced tea and am not ashamed in the least.

I’m a new parent for the second time. There’s a fullness and an emptiness to the early days of parenting. The days are long and full of needs – hunger, discomfort, boredom, exhaustion – but it feels impossible to meet them all, for yourself or your child. There is so much to do coupled with vast swaths of time just… waiting: for the baby to wake up or fall asleep or finish eating. You need space and you need support. This time around I pressed down my misplaced pride and accepted as much help as possible with an open heart. I’m grateful for all the extra hands and frozen dinners and chances to nap. I’m grateful that the pieces of our life that have slowly been taken apart this summer are finally coming together again in a new shape.

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Now I look down the long lane of the autumn months and the spice of anticipation is mixed with the dread of not knowing how to get back into the rhythm of the work. I’ll be meeting with my beta readers at the beginning of September to get feedback on The Ghost Story project and then will tackle Draft 3. I’ll be teaching a workshop on author events at the Writer’s Loft in October. I want to reconnect with the world of books and writers. I want to write book reviews and blog posts. But after a summer that has fluctuated so wildly between overwhelming and tedious and with an autumn where I’ve committed to caring for my newborn along side my third draft, I feel as if I’m starting from scratch. How can I ensure we’re all getting enough sleep and sunshine and creative time?

It comes down to re-aligning expectations. Taking care of a baby while trying to edit a novel is going to change the way I need to structure my days, both as a writer and a parent. I won’t have the luxury of dawdling on social media or watching TV during naps – I’ll need to be working. If I want to have this project polished enough to submit to agents by the end of the spring, I’ll need to find the time to write — and if I can’t find the time, I’ll need to make it. And I’ll also need to forgive myself over and over again for missteps as I rediscover balance.

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May 26th, 2016

This is part of a series of 100 word book reviews

AlltheBirds

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Published by Tor Books, January 2016
checked out of the library
Read in May 2016

Target audience: Young Adult, Adult

Outcasts Patricia and Laurence became unlikely childhood friends despite asking different questions – Is magic real? Can technology save the world? When they reconnect years later after a long estrangement, it looks like they’ve both found what they wanted… but the world has other plans. Quirky, intimate, modern, and compassionate, Birds blends magical realism and futurism to mirror the connections and conflicts between nature and technology. Anders does a remarkable job of making large problems personal and personal problems earth shattering. She never takes her storytelling too seriously but uses a deft hand to reveal character details without overburdening her writing.

Should I read it? Definitely. Highly recommended for fans of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Young Wizards series by Diane Duane, and The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman.

 

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May 23rd, 2016

Attention, attention, Draft #2 is complete! *horns blare*

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I was struggling viciously with the final chapter, which so disappointed me the first time around, but I finally found the right angle at which to approach it. It’s still flawed and has way too much talking and I’m not quite sure I tied up all the questions properly but it’s DONE (caveat: FOR NOW).

The Numbers for DRAFT #2:

Date Started: January 12, 2016
Date Finished: May 19, 2016
# of Writing Days to Completion:  60
# of Chapters:  21 (divided into three Parts) + epilogue
Final Word Count: 92, 038
Difference from 1st draft: -4051
Number of printed pages: 295
Difference from 1st draft: -34
Number of paperback pages: ~234
# of Words I wrote but then cut or didn’t make the cut: 68,328

I tried my best to track my writing/revision word counts and progress but it’s challenging. Revision makes it hard to sort out how much is new and how much isn’t. According to the numbers as I tracked them, I averaged ~927 words/writing day. Again, this is deceptive because there were days when I would work for three hours and technically only add 80 words because I deleted three times as many.

My most successful writing day was April 27th when I spent 6 hours writing and added 3806 words. Some of that included scenes I had removed and reinserted, which is why it is such a particularly high number. See? Like I said, confusing.

If you count all the words that currently reside in this project and are retained in my Scriveners folders (the full draft, notes, outlines, deleted scenes, character sketches, research, etc.)  we’re looking at 275, 612 words . That’s a lot of creative brain juice right there.

So what’s next?

Sleep. And chocolate.

No, in all seriousness, there probably will be some sleep. There will definitely be chocolate. And the reading of books and enjoying of summer. But the next step for this manuscript is to put it in front of a few key sets of eyes: my beta readers.

Is that some kind of fish?

No, beta readers are actual people.  I’ve picked a couple writer friends who have experience reviewing Works-in-Progress (WIPs) and am sending off the manuscript to them as we speak for review sometime this summer (I hope they will forgive the fact that I constantly confuse “its” and “it’s” and use commas far too liberally). Yes, someone is going to finally get to look at this raw honeycomb of a novel. Then in the fall, once I’ve gotten their feedback and taken some space from it all, I’ll start trying to figure out what still needs to be fixed and how best to do that. Aka, DRAFT #3.

Then… I don’t know! More beta reading? More revising? Or finally on to querying? I would love to start querying sometime next year, but we’ll have to see how it all goes down.

But how do you FEEL about it?

Good, actually, thanks for asking! I feel much better about this draft than the first. It’s so much less of a rambling mess. Interestingly enough, in the first draft I felt as if the beginning was strongest, as it’s where I did the most writing/development and the ending was bare bones. With the revision I had to slash and rearrange so much of the beginning that now I have no idea if it’s any good. But the ending feels much more earned and secure.

When can I read it?

Eventually? But because you asked so nicely, here’s a little excerpt from Chapter 1:

I leave the shelter of the woods and head up the long, steep hill in front of me to the overlook. The grass is tall and golden and dampens the legs of my pants as I climb through it. On this side, the hill is pockmarked by mounds, some fresher towards the bottom and older as I reach the top.

The hill rolls down to a fog-laced field of flowers, pale as moths. The daffodils grow all the way up to the rocky edge of the mountainous cliffs surrounding the Mouth of the Valley. The mountains are massive; they glint grey, silver, and gold in the morning sun and they break in two places: to my right, past town, where they hit the ocean and bend away from sight, curving out to the sea; and straight ahead where the deep v-cut cut of the Mouth yawns before us. To the left the cliffs ripple and spike their way into the haze of distance.

In daytime it’s hard to see the lit torches, but they’re there: small licks of flame casting molten shadows on the rust-colored earth at the base of the Mouth, no matter the time of day or night. On the other side bleeds the field of poppies like a red lake, the flowers turning their ruddy faces to the sun. And beyond that, strangely normal pastures and houses of the Valley. A funnel of birds wends it’s way out, rippling against the pale blue sky above the cliffs, before passing over my head.

Looking out over the landscape, the muscles in my shoulders begin to relax. The sun is finally warm against my back. I imagine I can feel the thrumming of the ghost roads around me, pouring down into the Valley, pointing spirits toward the next plane. I don’t let my eyes settle long on the Mouth itself, but instead wrap myself in the heady scent of daffodils, the fresh green of their unfurling leaves. The beginning of daffodil season always feels like some kind of dangerous invitation to closed spaces.

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April 19th, 2016

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In an online mom’s group I belong to, a fellow mom posted this article by Kim Brooks about the intersection (or lack there of) between creative work and parenting. I’ve thought a lot about this particular topic because it was one of my biggest fears in becoming a parent: that I would be subsumed by motherhood and lose my creative identity. It is hard, especially in that first and second year of parenting, when there’s no sleep and no end in sight and your child needs everything from you to find the mental capacity to cultivate any kind of creative space that doesn’t involve playdough or fingerpaint or Duplo blocks.

Brooks doesn’t offer solutions in her article, so much as shifts in perspective. She talks about the “literature of domestic ambivalence,” books about (and likely by) women who struggle in the cracks between the desire to be an artist and the desire to be the perfect mother. I imagine it as a sort of blanket of creative ennui and I’ve been there. But that way also lies self-pity. How do we break out of the cycle of doubt that says if we can’t be superior in all things it isn’t worth trying? That art-making and mothering are mutually exclusive?

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April 6th, 2016


somehow writing always feels like this

I am just over halfway through my revision [*yay!*]. Today I spent nearly the entire day working on the logistics and choreography of a scene the isn’t even going to be in the book [*boooooo!*]. Let me explain.

I am going to assume that you have seen the movie Clue because if you haven’t then what are you doing sitting here reading my blog for goodness sake it is on YouTube go watch that first. It’s no problem, I’ll wait.

Ok.

In the movie Clue, as in the board game, there is a Murder(s) or Apparent Murder(s), a bunch of suspects with different motivations and weaponry, a few red herrings, and a ticking clock. These are all part and parcel of your typical Mystery Plotline. When The Murder happens, the lights go out, we hear noises, a gun shot, and then voila, lights, camera, dead guy on the floor. As the movie progresses, we slowly learn what may have happened under the cover of darkness – but everyone has a different interpretation.

The scene I’ve been working on today is similar, though the lights don’t go out. It’s a scene that is central to the Mystery Plotline that my first-person protagonist is trying to unravel. It’s an event that occurred before the start of the book. But she wasn’t there. She needs to eventually know what happened to understand the Full Implications and Who the Bad Guys Really Are but all she has to go on is the word of several witnesses/participants who showed up at different times. One or two of them have motives to lie or direct blame on someone else. Clues and Important Information get exchanged, but not everyone knows what they mean at the time.

So obviously I, as the writer, need to know what actually happened. This is harder than it sounds. There are certain details I want to be true: Person B shows up after Person  A and misinterprets her actions; Person C tells Person A to take the Clues to another location; several Persons need to wind up dead. But working out the the order in which people die and, hence, the logistics of how information is exchanged, is crazy hard. Especially since some of my characters can talk to dead people. And the dead can often fight as brutally as the living so some of my victims need to be injured or knocked out instead. There’s a coat that is important but I can’t figure out how to get it off of one character and on to another while at least one of them is alive and keep everyone in the scene together.

This is all coming to a head in Chapter 14 because I want my protagonist to return to The Scene of the Crime where More Information is Revealed. I just have to know what that information is, both in it’s entirety and what she learns at this juncture versus later.

In Clue, Tim Curry helpfully runs everyone through various scenarios of Whodunnit. I wish he would come to my house and help me with this. All I’ve got is a notebook with lots of brainstorming ideas and some fledgling scene starts.

(Oh, and a lasagna. That’s not a metaphor; I made an actual lasagna. Sometimes it helps to switch gears when the story juju isn’t working. Didn’t help much but at least now I have dinner made. Was worth a shot.)

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February 22nd, 2016
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That’s iced tea not beer. Though if I drank beer, I totally could have used one.

It has been moons, fair readers. Like, a ridiculously long time. But I am sure you are all dying to know how The Ghost Story novel is coming along. Good news: IT’S COMING ALONG.

In November I took a class on revision at The Writer’s Loft in Sherborn, hosted by the delightful and talented Erin Dionne. I had grand plans to dive right into the revision process but that didn’t really work out. In all honesty, I barely did any real writing at all at the end of 2015… I read through my draft, made notes, did research, twiddled with outlines, notecards, and all the various tools Erin walked us through. I was scared, intimidated, and frankly, tired. A lot. And so, I didn’t get cracking on actual revision until January 2016.

The first week was wonderful and terrible. It felt good to be writing but I kept having existential moments of GAH WHAT IS THIS and HOW DO I FIX and OH THE FUTILITY. It took me two weeks to get through most of Chapter 1 and I thought: This will take forever. I have at least twenty-two chapters to go through. And this is just draft two. But I realized I just had to sharpen my scalpel. I have to be unforgiving and relentless with the writing, but forgiving and patient with myself. And that revising can contain just as much writing as it does cutting.

Authors have consistently said at events I’ve run/attended: “Oh yes, I had to cut the first 100 pages of my first draft” and it always made me blanch. How? Really? Impossible! Well…

For the numbers people, as of 2/18/16:
Number of writing days since revision began: 20
Chapters Revised: 6.5 (mostly)
Word Count (New Material): ~16,000 words (50 pg)
Word Count (Revised + new material): ~25,700 words (85 pg)
Word Count (Cut from 1st Draft): ~24,500 words (80 pg)
Current goal for 2nd Draft Completion: April 30, 2016 (then a month of “polishing” before off to beta readers)
Cups of tea consumed: Countless

Want to know what has needed the most revising?

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