Monday, August 16, 2010

Final Input

Well, okay. After taking a long weekend for a High School reunion I was badgered into attending (despite which I had an absolutely fabulous time, so thanks Becca and Liz, for insisting I go), this morning it was back to the writing. A very special morning, too, as I input my final pile of notes for the last part of the book. Which requires, I guess, an explanation of the way I work.

When I get an initial idea for a book, I find myself jotting down little thoughts--ideas for character, bits of dialogue, etc., and then I throw them in a file folder. When there are too many for the folder, they get tossed into a basket. As I start the book, the ideas come faster and faster, thus more and more bits of paper. One basket becomes two, then three. When I have a sense of where things are heading, I loosely organize the notes: one basket for the beginning of the book, one for the middle and one for the part I call "headin' for the barn." Further down the line, I divide them up even further, clipping groups of notes for sections within the baskets, then sections within sections. All of this lives on the floor under a long work table in my writing room, and as things heat up the piles begin snaking out from under the table and around the perimeter of the room. Gets messy. Pretty basic, I know, but it works for me.

So anyway, the big deal about this morning? All the little notes I've been collecting for over two years now are finally gone--absorbed into the ms in one form or another. Now the real work begins: honing character (expanding some roles, maybe deleting one or more altogether), tweaking plot, etc.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Too Funny

Working from the boat today. Love it out here--quite, peaceful, great for those creative juices. But I had to take a break to share this one with you. Seems after all my recent chest-thumping and pleading with Snowbooks to please, please, please get my listing for Hunter Huntress up on (their US site, opposed to Amazon UK--a totally separate corporation with its own bizarre set of rules) and getting nowhere because it appears this is not something publishers can control, it seems I finally am. Listed I mean. Not because some big US wholesaler has decided to stock the book, which is the only way to get listed if your British publisher doesn't happen to have a US distributor (ah-hem), but because some readers with Amazon Seller Accounts are putting new and used copies up for sale.

Which got me thinking...

I, too, have an Amazon Seller Account. Maybe I could get Snowbooks to use me as a shill? Of course with the enormous costs involved in shipping crates of the things to me from Britain, not to mention Customs charges and the enormous discounts Amazon demands, I'd make about $.13 a book. That's thirteen cents.

Amazon. Amazin.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hidden Pictures, or Just When You Had It All Figured Out

Remember the magazine, "Highlights for Children?" A monthly, I think. Anyway, I used to go through it looking for the "Hidden Pictures" page each time my mother dragged me to the orthodontist's office--you know, the one with a list of objects you're supposed to identify within a larger, far more complicated picture? Maddening as hell. There were always two or three I gave up on, only to stumble across them while I was looking for something else entirely.

Last week's writing went something like that.

All week I'd been smugly picking my way toward my "I'm-sure-this-is-how-it's-going-to-go" ending for Reese's Leap, in-putting the final plot elements (later to be more fully developed, edited and polished), when I came across a Hidden Picture. Same kind of thing. I was looking for nothing more than a simple segue from one scene to another, when out of the blue one of my characters uttered a line to another that changed everything. Well, maybe not everything. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic here, let's just say this one innocent comment exposed a deeper truth at the base of the entire book. No lie. This, maybe twenty pages from the end. Imagine.

After a nerve-wracking half hour calculating how much rewriting it was going to take to make this change work (not so much as it turns out; appears the germs of this particular plot element had been there all along), I spent another bit of time wondering why this particular insight hadn't occurred to me before. Why a comparatively minor character knew more about where the book was headed than I did. Know what I decided? No matter how fast I try and pound my way toward the book's finish, gathering the seams of plot lines and cinching them in, the big truths simply won't be rushed. A fact it seems I have to relearn constantly.