Archive | April 2012

Chapter Six

Getting the word out: Cucurbital 3 is open for submissions as of tomorrow. Just the place for that story you wrote about madness, darkness and mattresses.

As I toodle along writing the happy-go-lucky third draft of Abigail Rath Versus Blood Sucking Fiends, I am beginning to get feedback on what I have sent out so far. AND in an unprecedented side step of my previous writing methodology, I am continuing forward with that third draft, rather than going back and revising the first 5 chapters again. I will do that later, in the 4th draft. I even have that penciled into my calendar. 🙂 But those notes will keep, and I will address them. In their time.

***

And now chapter six.

Here's the thing about drafting. Things change. Things get cut, things get added. Chapter six is really going to be a first draft of this chapter, but things have got to happen now that wouldn't have happened in the first book. Abby's mother is on a campaign to make her normal. Cue mall shopping, although Abby's mother also doesn't know the first thing about it. And there needs to be more ambiguous vampire testing. And William needs to take more of an interest. And Vince needs to be more jealous.

None of these things mattered in the last draft. Now, they do.

I find often that there comes a point in the drafting process where a sort of curtain pulls back and you can see what you should be writing about. You write a lot of stuff that's brush, and then when you get down to the actual draft, it's like you've cleared out the brush and unearthed the story. Chapter six is part of what I've found under the woodpile. I hope.

Well, I'll let you know how it goes. Lots of writing time this week. Kirkwood gets my soul next week, so I've got to make this one count.

VP Profile #18: Drew Morby

Yeah. We got a new one. Thanks to Drew for contacting me. Drew is photo adverse, so you will have to use your imagination if you weren't at VP. Frederic Pohl in a limo? Read on...

Tamago: When did you know you wanted to write fiction?

Drew: Hard to pinpoint. I started writing fiction in my early teens when I couldn't find a book to read. As to when I decided to write fiction for money... well I haven't really yet. :: Grin ::

Tamago: Which genre(s) do you like to write in? Why?

Drew: I like to write Mystery, Science fiction, and Fantasy, because those are the genres I like to read. They tend to engage my mind, my imagination the most.

Tamago: What kind of advice would you give to a new writer?

Drew: Just write. I can't take credit for this, but the best advice I've ever gotten (Which is extremely difficult to follow) is, "Don't worry about how good it is. That's not your job. Your job is to write." If you follow this, eventually it will be good enough, and there people out there who make their living making that decision. If you want that job, become an editor. Otherwise, write.

Tamago: What was it like to be a Writers of the Future winner? Do you have any memorable moments you care to share from that experience?

Drew: Amazingly, I highly recommend the Writer's of the Future experience. The Writer's of the Future folk ship you to and from the Awards Ceremony in limos. Being a bit of a party pooper, I opted out of the after party early, and was rewarded with a once in a lifetime opportunity. Imagine an inexperienced writer being put into a limo with the likes of Hal Clement and Fred Pohl. I admit I said not one word, I couldn't even think of a question. All I did was sit, try to be invisible, and listen to them talk about the business of writing.

Tamago: What did you find valuable about your time at Viable Paradise? What advice would you give to someone who is considering the workshop?

Drew: Despite what I said above about not worrying about how good your writing is, I think it's valuable, time to time, to apply a yard stick to your progress. Rejection letters can only tell you so much. I highly recommend VP as a way to get a good idea of where you are, as well as tips on how to progress further.

Tamago: What kind of projects are you working on now?

Drew: Silly me, after going through all the time getting to the point where I could get a short story published, I have been working on writing at the novel length, only to discover that there are some muscles required at that length that I have severely under excercised over the years.

Tamago: Where do you see yourself as a writer in ten years?

Drew: Lazily retired? Ha. Still writing.

Tamago: What would your dream project be?

Drew: Consulting on the movie script of my highly succesful, if critically panned, novel.

Tamago: Which writers influence your work?

Drew: I'd hate to damn a writer by claiming a connection to them. I would say though, that I aspire to be able to create a scene in readers' minds as easily and sparely as Robert B. Parker did. I'd like to make people laugh as easily as Janet Evanovich does. And of course I'd like to create a world so vivid and complex that it takes on a life of its own like JRR Tolkien.

Tamago: Where can readers find your work?

Drew: Just Writer's of the Workship XVIII, and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds III at this time.

Letter to Fame

Dear Fame:

Hi. I know you're busy. I know that many people court you, it's very rare that you will hear from me. Every once in a while something will accidentally happen that will have you and I rubbing elbows for about 15 minutes or so. I think if I add it all up, we might have met for about 2 hours and 18 minutes at this point, give or take. You're nice enough, although I do admit that you embarrass me from time to time.

I'm afraid you can't count on me as your constant companion, however. I'm not an opportunist. I'm not the kind of person who will go to the effort to put myself out there. I have this very full life, you see, and I'm busy living it. It's not you. It's me.

And the other thing? I haven't done any thing worth having you hang around. I think you prefer people that your references (other people) suggest you check out. And so far? Not too much going on here. I do my job, and I write my books. I publish a little. That's it right now. I'm busy doing these things, and I don't have time to court you.

And I actually don't intend to court you, even if I do something that might get you interested in me. People think you're awesome to have around, but I know your nature. You are ephemeral, and you spend a lot of time ditching people and moving on. You aren't a very good friend. I'm sure if you got counseling it would help you have longer relationships with others.

What astounds me is that people still keeping trying to hang out with you. They come to you whether they're ready or not. Okay. That's their choice. If you would do me the favor of not causing them too much embarrassment when they discover you aren't interested in them, that would be great. I would also prefer if you didn't lie to these folks and tell them you care, when you don't. Because hey, many people won't push themselves harder if they think they already have you around.

Let me be clear. I would actually prefer you didn't visit me. I have no dreams of you or of wealth. I'm not sure at this point in my life that I even think wealth is moral, although it is coming in handy for home appliance purchases and spa trips. I'm doing my art because I want to be doing something with expertise in the end. I also want to do good in the world, although quite frankly, you visit the rare humanitarian. I dunno. Maybe you feel guilty from time to time and feel you should see how the other half lives.

So...I know a lot of people you can play mind games with. Knock yourself out. Stay away from me and mine. I am much better off knowing my own worth, working toward my own improvement, and focusing toward the perfection of my art.

Catherine

State of the Me

I am pretty sleepy. Upstairs Cat's life is in disarray because last night we drained and dismantled the water bed. If Upstairs Cat ain't happy, ain't no one sleeping on the air mattress in the closed off room. Let the meowing and door ramming commence!

In her defense, she is unhappy. Things will get back to normal for her more so when we get the new mattress in and set up Saturday. And things will be back to normal for us.

***

While I would love to catch up on my sleep, Saturday is scheduled to be a big fiction day as well. I wrote a grand total of 3 hours this week. I had some things going on, and then my younger brother called to add a couple more things to the things, and so it's been busy again. Hmmm... gotta stop that whole again thing.

Anyway, Saturday I plan to work on chapter 5 and finish it. Sunday will be spent doing some Kirkwood catch up work. Soon I will be entering my 8-4 Kirkwood season, BUT it does mean that my time in the evenings will clear out for creative pursuits more, as I will not be toting work home quite so much.

***

I mentioned my brother called. He is the only member of my family I stay in contact with, and he needs a little help with managing some of my mother's health problems and other problems. He's on the ground doing some leg work and I'm using my red tape cutting powers to help him get what he needs sorted. So far, so good.

It has opened me up to all sorts of tensions and speculations, and I spent a great deal of yesterday full of anxiety, imagining stupid things and revisiting old ground. Which just goes to show you that even poster children for abuse can back slide.

But I am more or less fine at the moment, if a little sleepy, and we'll just ride this as it comes.

***

I am having fantasies of skipping out for a day spa trip shortly after the semester ends, just to get my body to de-stress after the last two months. How do these things sound?

Caribbean Therapy Body Treatment: Treatment begins with a dry exfoliation, followed by a warm full body seaweed masque to smooth and detoxify. A comforting body wrap, scalp, face and body massage will follow. A refreshing hydrotherapy bath completes this island inspired experience.

Hydrotherapy: Luxurious aromatherapy water treatments in our hydrotherapy tub with pressure point massage jets are intensely relaxing. Choose from an Essential Oil Stress Relieving Soak with mineral sea salts and your choice of aromas or Cleopatra's Bath with milk, honey, lavender, and tangerine.

Yeah. I thought so. 😀

***

All right. High school field trip is put to bed, my boss has delayed our luncheon date by an hour, and I need to get some work done. Have a great weekend.

Catherine

The Sedentary Life Style

Looks like we've almost come down to the end of another day. Again, ELA classes grow and expand for summer, like the crazy octopoidal things that they are. I'm just not hurting for students. You can stop sending them to us. I'm running out of places to put them.

So. Tonight is Weight Watchers night. It's not a writing topic, exactly, balance and fitness, but it is. Nope, it's not an extended analogy.

I have returned to Weight Watchers because the new Weight Watchers is kewl. It's not really about losing weight any more. It's about being healthy. It's about getting in 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day. It's about getting in activity. It's about drinking water. All those things you know you should do. As a side effect, one might shed a little weight. I have shed a little, in spite of the undead metabolism I have. But the point is doing what you can to be healthy and minimizing vices.

So, sedentary job persons, do you take care of yourself? Do you move? I'll admit I haven't been moving as much as I should. While I am eating well (I plan out my food a week at a time and mostly stick to that. This allows for indulgences AND healthy eating. Score.), recently I haven't been moving much. I come home tired, and I often set up a false dichotomy. Writing or moving? Which will you do? Some nights I write. Fewer nights I move.

Oh dear. Looks like we're back to life balance again. Trying to do it all is impossible. So, how do we prioritize?

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Unextreme Makeover: Kit Spencer Theatrical Make Up and Hair Books

Quite a find at the Half Price Book Store!

I recently purchased Kit Spencer's two books regarding theatrical make up and hair. Stage and Screen Make Up and Stage and Screen Hairstyles.

Don't let the negative Amazon reviews throw you. Both books have sections that cover make up for men and women from the 20s to the 80s. There's also a great deal of theatrical costuming information, so it can serve as more than a guide for vintage. The books are very attractive, and have visual step by step guides for how to re-create the looks, including building "prosthetic hair" to bolster certain styles. I'm not sure how I feel about the spiral design on the side of the book, which might be helpful to someone doing make-up, but makes the book a little harder to handle.

I'd recommend the book for people who are new to theatrical make-up, and people who are new to vintage. For more thorough vintage coverage, you might be best to go with a more specialized book.

The Writing Process and L. Jagi Lamplighter

L. Jagi Lamplighter kindly took some time out of her schedule to answer a few questions about her drafting process. She looks to be the first marathon drafter that we've interviewed at the Tamago. Read on...

Tamago: Do you have a regular drafting process, or does your drafting process vary from book to book. Can you describe it to us generally, or at least for one project?

Jagi: Hmm. Well, it goes something like this. I want to write. I putter around for a few hours. Then I write really hard much later into the evening than I should, ignoring house, hubby, and children. Then, around 6:30, I am shocked to discover that there is this thing called “dinner” I was supposed to have prepared.

Then I do this again and again for days.

When I am writing hard, I don’t read or want to watch movies or anything like that. This can go on for months. Then, when I finish the draft, I spend a few months, reading, remembering that I have kids, enjoying life, and touching up the project. Going back over it. Adding a scene. Picking up a dropped plot thread and weaving it back in. Stuff like that.

It’s been pretty much the same process for each book, except that I am getting better and doing slightly less revising than I used to.

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Prospero Regained

When I travel, I read A LOT. On an average domestic flight with airport waiting time, I'll probably read 3-4 books. So, I did some reading when I was in Pennsylvania, both on planes and trains. Okay, I slept mostly on the train, but I had a book open.

While many of these books were fine, one book merits a little special conversation. You may remember me singing the praises of Prospero Lost about a year and a half ago, and how impressed I was with L. Jagi Lamplighter's handling of a huge cast, and deft weaving of literary, historical and self-created characters. I appreciated the skill that went into writing the book, and studied the book for the lessons it taught me as an author.

During this past year, I read the second book, Prospero in Hell. It is a middle book and reads like a middle book. It's a good book, but it's a bridge, and just like The Two Towers, what you think of it in the end is going to depend on where it takes you to in Book 3.

I wouldn't be gushing too much to say that Prospero Regained is the best book of the series. Again, Lamplighter weaves a tapestry of a gigantic cast with mythic and literary overtones, but the added bonus in this book is that our heroine becomes self-actualized. Painful changes and realizations occur for the characters as they journey through Dante's Inferno, and these become archetypical changes as well as personal ones.

For me the litmus test was the appearance of Prospero himself. After an almost three book lead-in to the character's appearance, there was a lot of weight on the author's shoulders to produce an interesting character who was worth all this fuss. The author neither opts for an easy one note of one emotional type, or the other common technique that this character might be a villain in the piece (plenty of red herrings in that direction!), but balances a multi-faceted character against the situation he creates and the children that he has loved and dominated. There are no apologies for Prospero being a manipulator, but at the same time there is great pride in the parent when the children rebel.

So, a very satisfying end to a very good series. I've been lucky enough that L. Jagi Lamplighter has agreed to pop by soon to be the next author in my writing process interviews. Read the books, read the interview, tell your mom you've got in the recommended daily allowance of Shakespeare sometime soon.

The Writer Alone

I am doing my part to keep this economy afloat, that's all I can say.

In addition to trading in our car last month, I have bought a new washer (which isn't working yet. We may have to bring in someone with a baseball cap.) AND a Temperpedic mattress. You know, the mattress you actually take out a mortgage on? To summarize the matter, we have a full flotation water bed, it gets harder and harder to work with a water bed in the not so psychedelic 21st century, and we wanted a similar sleep experience. On the upside, this mattress has a twenty year warranty, so what looks to be a crazy buy actually averages out to be a very wise purchase, considering you might buy four mattresses of a standard sort in twenty years.

***

Lately I have been feeling isolated and dissatisfied as an artist. In the long, dark teatime of novel drafting, sometimes you feel like no one really gives a damn about what you're doing. And you know what? That's true for the most part.

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Chronicle, or What Would Probably Happen if Teens Were Given Super Powers

I missed Chronicle when it was released properly this winter. It garnered many strong reviews, but it was a busy time (aren't they all?) and I just didn't quite get there.

My friend Allen, who watches for these things, discovered that it had arrived at our local second run theater, so a couple of weekends ago, Bryon, Allen and myself headed over to watch Chronicle.

Chronicle is a shaky cam film. It starts off with the conceit that the most troubled boy in the film (social misfit who is bullied, beaten by his father, and emotionally traumatized waiting for his mother's death) has decided to film everything about his life with a second-hand camera he has bought. The filming portion extends beyond this conceit, becoming security footage and personal footage from a peripheral character. This is perhaps the most troubling part of the film, because there's no plot reason given for the lack of cohesion in shooting the footage, or any kind of rationale given for the compilation of the footage. Allen couldn't get past that, and it ruined the film for him. I managed to side step it as the conceit it was (a style of film making, rather than part of the narrative) so I moved forward.

What about the story?

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