Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Everybody Better Move Over, That's All"

"'Cause I'm runnin' on the bad side and I got my back to the wall..." I believe Mr. Springsteen may have been simply writing of overly crowded sidewalks, but those words certainly conjure up powerful images of OBSTACLES in my mind, and OBSTACLES are the subject of today's blog post.

Specifically, obstacles to writing. I have posted in the past about The Swamp, aka writer's block, which is the biggest and baddest obstacle. Environmental factors can also be obstacles, like, oh, for example, say THE SCREAMING BABY IN THE APARTMENT DOWNSTAIRS!!!

Who, when seen, is an otherwise delightful tousle-headed perfect little Gerber baby.

But when heard and not seen (which is 50% of my preferred way of interacting with this nano-neighbor), she becomes Screamer McHelltot. Worse, she seems to follow me from room to room. If I'm trying to write in the spare bedroom, she's directly below me in their spare bedroom. If I move to the back room, she's there, too, underneath the floorboards, howling like a banshee who's lost her banshee pacifier. Living room? Yep, there, too, apparently clinging to the ceiling underneath like some kind of Japanese horror movie stop-action devil baby.

Dear Santy Claus: Please bring Screamer McHelltot a pacifier for Christmas. And her parents the full DVD collection of Super Nanny. And/or, move the entire family to Bora Bora ASAP. Or Arkansas. Your call.

Oh, well, the point is there will always be obstacles to writing. And they must be overcome! Via ear plugs, a vigorous singing along with "Tenth Avenue Freezeout" or whatever works.

Another obstacle to writing is, well, oddly enough, editing. Editing is, of course, a crucial part of the writing process, but it is a very different act than the writing itself. Not too long ago, I finished the first draft of my third novel, ROMEO FAILS. Rewriting then ensued, then the fierce focus of editing my own manuscript.

Having finished that, I'm now faced with a (delightful) decision: Start writing the next novel, which has been patiently waiting its turn in the back of my mind, or return to my very first book, HEAVENLY MOVES, which I know needs some serious editing - especially from the vantage point of now having completed two other novels and learning a lot along the way.

Well, sorry, super awesome post-apocalyptic YA novel! You'll have to wait a little bit longer. Since I'm in editing mode already, the time seems right to revisit HEAVENLY MOVES and do some weeding and trimming.

But first, I'm off to the store to get some earplugs!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday Quote-O-Rama!

"The things you think are useless I can't understand."

Steely Dan

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Giddiness! The Euphoria! The Self-Googling!

My deep and all-consuming joy at being a published author continues! As does my occasional habit of Googling myself and I do mean myself, not that Pilates instructor Amy Briant or the Welsh singer/songwriter Amy Briant. (hi, girls!)

Google has revealed to me a website that (apparently) tracks sales and rankings of all the books on Amazon.com. No, that website is not called amazon.com. And no, I have no idea why someone would put their energy into creating such a website. Except for my appallingly self-centered enjoyment, of course! For you statistics lovers out there, my December sales have more than doubled the numbers from my November sales! Woo hoo! And for you reality lovers, that was, well, ahem, 17 in November and already 36 in December. STILL WOO HOO!

It certainly is a wonderful feeling to think that all over the world, somebody somewhere might be reading SHADOW POINT right now. I do realize we're talking about maybe eleven people worldwide, not like 161,079. Which, coincidentally, is my Amazon sales rank at the moment per that (accurate?) website.

In your face, Number 161,080! :-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Today's The Big Day!

December 14th, 2010 is finally here, which means SHADOW POINT is now officially out and about in the world. Woo hoo! Only 4 years and 8 months from inspiration to publication - not bad, I think. My thanks again to Bella Books for publishing my first novel. And to the readers I hope will enjoy it!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The WHERE Of Writing

I've talked a lot about WHAT I write and some about HOW I write. Today, the WHERE.

I'll write just about anywhere as long as I have a laptop or my trusty netbook with me. When desperate, I will scribble notes on paper, but it's rare that I'll try to write anything longer than a note with an actual pen or pencil. It just doesn't flow for me when I do that. This is what happens when you learn to type at age 8. In 2009, I lived for a month in the woods in Michigan, sans laptop, and it was torture trying to get words down on paper. I think I left the woods with about 12 more words than when I entered. 3 of which were "Buy netbook. Soon!"

I once spent a weekend holed up in a bed and breakfast (alone) on Martha's Vineyard as a violent spring storm, just shy of a hurricane, howled outside. I couldn't go outside, so I wrote inside - completely unaware of the storm, the fact that I was on an island off Massachusetts very far from home and that James Taylor's brother had just unclogged the toilet. (He looks just like James, FYI.)

SHADOW POINT began with some notes scribbled on a plane. (well, scribbled on a piece of paper while seated inside a plane - they get really mad when you write ON the plane) I used to travel a lot for my job and spent much time in airports and on planes. I've gotten a lot of writing done over the years at 30,000 feet on a laptop. Once, late at night, I was crammed into coach on a flight from Dallas to San Antonio, Texas. I don't remember what scene it was, but I was On Fire, typing lickety split as some SHADOW POINT chapter leaped from my fingertips to the keyboard. For the brief flight, I was entirely unaware of being on a plane in general, and, in specific, of the stranger sitting entirely too close to me. As our descent began, I closed the lid on the laptop and heaved a happy sigh. "Hi," said the stranger next to me, a pudgy middle-aged white guy, extending his hand. "My name's Larry."

"Oh, *&^%$#@!," I thought, but I gave him a (very) small, neutral smile, shook his hand and said, "Hi, Larry, I'm Amy." (NOTE TO THE REST OF THE COUNTRY: I am not a Texan, but Texans do this kind of stuff all the time, so I learned to semi-adapt to that alien culture while living there.)

"Are you a professional writer?" Larry said enthusiastically.

"Nope," I told him. "Just a hobby." (I was far from published at the time. Now I'm two days away!)

"Well, you sure looked like you know what you're doing," Larry said admiringly.

Well... thanks, Random Stranger Larry! I guess you were right.

Other places I've written: A great deal of the first half of SHADOW POINT was written in a large empty room with high ceilings which looked out onto this gorgeous backyard:
The second half of SHADOW POINT was written in the dining room of a tiny, but adorable, house nicknamed Storybook Lane. On the downside, it was freezing there in the winter. Adorable does not guarantee warm.

ROMEO FAILS has mostly been written on a netbook (a little bitty laptop smaller than an 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of paper) in a small bedroom which is primarily used for storage. So, I'm surrounded by boxes, a file cabinet, a loveseat that didn't fit anywhere else... The one window looks out on a parking lot. Not scenic. Not adorable. But it really doesn't matter, because when I'm writing, wherever I'm writing, I'm now in the small Midwestern town of Romeo Falls, population 3,557. You'll have to trust me on this one, I know, but it's an exciting place! There's a LOT going on in Romeo Falls...

It's great to have a wonderful and roomy space set aside for just writing, with a view to refresh one's soul and heat(!) and a dearth of Larrys. Some day, I hope to have such a space again. But it's the writing that's important, not the location where the writing takes place.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Write On!

In previous posts, I've talked about writer's block and being stuck in The Swamp, as I call it - the place where the words don't come, nothing makes sense, your characters aren't cooperating and doom and gloom rule.

Fortunately, you can make your way out of The Swamp by sheer grit and perseverance. If you're lucky, you may even find yourself in The Magical Forest of Bliss! This lovely place is where everything, I mean EVERYTHING works, you're having an amazing amount of fun and your novel is clicking on all cylinders. So wonderful...

I've been happily gamboling (wait - is that a word? whew, yes it is according to Webster) in The Forest with lavender unicorns and dangling participles for a few weeks now. As I edit and rewrite the now finished first draft of my third novel, ROMEO FAILS, I have often thought of some words written by one of my favorite authors, Dick Francis. He was describing the giddy glee of a character temporarily promoted to his dream job, but it sounds like being in The Magical Forest of Bliss to me: "...great feelings of vigor and good health...running up stairs and singing in the bath and showing all the symptoms of a love affair..." (from BANKER by Dick Francis)

I know it won't last, but that's OK. I have learned that the ups and downs are all part of the process. Perhaps even necessary parts... But you'll have to excuse me now. One of the unicorns has inadvertently poked a participle and now a gerund's getting involved in the fray. Not to mention both the toves and the borogroves are especially slithy today... If you're a writer, I hope you're in the forest, too! And if you're not a writer, hope your Saturday is equally blissful.

"Gerund! Put down that unicorn! Don't make me come over there..."

Saturday Quote-O-Rama!

"It's here, it's here!"


Me, last night, upon receiving a box of books - a box of SHADOW POINT - from the publisher


(photo taken by my left hand, which wrote [well, typed] the other 50%)