Pinpoint of Light

I’m back from the tai chi retreat. As gentle as tai chi is overall, six hours of tai chi can leave you a little sore. The Wii loved that I logged six hours of activity while I was gone over the weekend.

This morning I reached my first modest goal. When you do that, flowers spring all over the screen. I’m buying this sticker book psychology!

Anyway, we’re starting on the next 5 pounds in one month goal today.

***

While at the monastery, I’ve done some reading and reflecting. I’ve thought about the book, and I’m ready to jump right back in. Tonight looks a bit hectic because of work. You already know about the changes in my position. We also received permission from the college to hire a new full-time ELA teacher. Yes! But right now, I have to let my part-timers know about the new position, and of course, there’s the whole job search.

Tonight for a couple of hours I will be dispensing information. Then there’s that trip to the pharmacist and the garage. Embrace the not writing!

***

Tomorrow, though, we hit the book, hard. I intend to finish the last 3 chapters of draft 2 by the end of this month, before the big costuming hiatus. antics of which will be posted elsewhere. If they interest you, let me know, and I can let you know where.

The end of the second draft of the troll book means the plot is entirely sussed out. Draft 3 will be integrating readers comments and overlaying the emotional layer. It will also be slaying the POV monster, at least hacking off its many tentacles.

I will not be sad to see this book go for awhile. It’s been a lot of work!

I think that’s a segway, so I’ll wish you productive days. I’ll get down to writing an agenda and checking some papers. Checking essays over the weekend wasn’t very contemplative, so I left ’em at home.

Catherine

Sugar Embargo: Day Five

I decided that I was giving up sugar. I can do artificial sweeteners, and I can have sugar in things, but food where the point is sugar? No more.

Are you surprised that I’ve dropped about four pounds this week? The regular workouts have got to help too.

My current goal is to throw an overweight party. When the Wii stops telling me I’m merely overweight and no longer obese, we’ll celebrate.

No, we will not have cake. What are you thinking?

Catherine

Bodily Parts

Eye teeth would be given to write as wittily as Thomas Disch did.

Um…what, exactly, is an eye tooth?

***

It’s a weird year for my respiratory track. Yesterday, I kind of started… oozing in the afternoon. I knew the pollen count was high, and while not allergic to pollen, you know, it didn’t seem unreasonable that I was being affected. However, given that the oozing was eye oozing, The Man (TM) insisted on urgent care.

Where they discovered I had the beginnings of conjunctivitis. You betcha, another itis. I have drops, and I spent last night listening to Chinese while Bryon watched Red Cliff part 1, and I rested my eyes.

Things are much better today.

***

Now, I need to get cracking on that story, which I am working on for the first time this week.

Catherine

Polite Publicity?

There was an entry somewhere in the Tamago’s journalistic morass about a guy who approached me at a convention, tried to get me to buy his book, and pretty much that was the only message he had for me. I had just met him, and moving that product was his only motivation.

I had been slimed and couldn’t get the sticky out of my ego for weeks.

Sarah Prineas is feeling a bit the same about recent Facebook invites that suggest she become a fan to writers she doesn’t know.

This raises the poignant question: publicity, where is thy boundary? Writers of course want to advertise and sell their work. Artists too.

How do you recommend it’s done? What have you seen that’s just too far?

I look forward to your answers.

Catherine

Bullet Points: All New!

Look! It’s 9 pm, and I’m writing in my journal.

You don’t want to hear about my social life, my busy work week, or my new hair do. That’s where I’ve been, and why I haven’t been writing for the past five days. I will get some done tomorrow night, as we’re finally at home this week. Not that hanging out with friends hasn’t been pleasurable, but it’s kind of rude to write at them.

What’s new that you might be interested in?

1. Wii Fit is alive! I have anthropomorphized the computer program and work out every day I can so it doesn’t seem sad or disappointed. This, I am convinced, is good for me.

2. In my seemingly never-ending quest to lose weight, I have decided to give up sugar, much like people who go cold turkey when they quit smoking. Um…I always diet well, do a little in moderation, and end up splurging on sweets, most often on the weekend. I deteriorate. I can’t be trusted. Artificial is still okay, but if the food is primarily sugar, it’s out. Let’s see what happens next.

3. I go to a tai chi retreat this weekend. I’ll take the computer with me for those spare yet zen moments to write.

4. Looks like I have to get around to writing a syllabus at work before the school year is out. Yeah, I can do that, but I don’t want to.

5. Now, what the troll novel is telling me is that once draft 2 is done for plot, I must go back and put an emotional layer over it. This darned thing is like making something out of puff pastry.

Philosophical question: It takes longer to write a book when you are more about the quality of the book? (To make me feel better, the correct answer is yes.)

All right. I’m going to wind down before that whole sleep thing. I will write again when I have progress. Or inspiration. Whichever.

Catherine

Project Runway: Bryant Park Results

Looks like Live Journal is down for the count at the moment. Guess we’ll have to make our own fun sitting close to the fireplace telling ghost stories and making shadow puppets.

Instead, let’s talk Project Runway.

I was pretty cranky after last season. Any of the designers who showed promise were kicked off the show in a series of arbitrary judgments that resulted in a mediocre Bryant Park collection. So, Heidi and the gang had to redeem themselves. Tim NEVER has to redeem himself.

The judges did not fail me. It helped this season that two of the best designers I’ve ever seen in the seven seasons of the show took to the studio, Both Emilio and Seth Aaron know the tricks of the trade. They bring actual clothing making skills to the work room. Emilio is innovative, confident (bordering on egotistical?) and clear about his vision. Seth Aaron also has a clear idea of what he’s about. The man is the fastest tailor I’ve ever seen.

There is a contest next week for whose should be the third collection. Not to slight the two designers in contention, but I just don’t care. Neither of them are in Emilio’s or Seth Aaron’s league. That’s where the contest will be this time, and I can honestly say that I will be happy if either of them wins.

Good job, Project Runway. You get my Nielsen’s for at least one more season.

Catherine

Agent Requested Revisions: An Interview with Joan Paquette

This comes courtesy of Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s blog, one of the best compendium’s in the YA Universe, AND my good friends at the excellent resource known as Query Tracker.

There are an increasing number of agents asking for revisions before offering representation. Joan Paquette sheds some illumination on why.

Most notably for me, this quote stood out:

One big mistake I frequently see is writers who return the revision too quickly. Sometimes there is a perception that interest from an agent should be capitalized on as soon as possible or it will expire; unfortunately, this can result in manuscripts being sent back before they’re fully ready. Don’t be afraid to take all the time you need to do a thorough revision; get some additional readers; let it sit a while and then come back to it with fresh eyes. It doesn’t have to take a supremely long time, but there are no special benefits from a super-speedy turnaround–and sometimes, to the contrary, it can be a red flag of an inexperienced reviser.

Good heavens, I needed to see that in print. Maybe writers ALSO need to move in archaeological time. This year seems to be rubbing some of the amateur off me. This is another myth I’ve been carrying with me, dispelled.

Catherine

What’s Selling Right Now?

Scrolling through Twitter this morning, it looks as though a couple of agents engaged in a chat became tired of the question what’s the hot trend right now.

Are there really writers out there who can identify a trend and shoot that curl? I imagine that’s a very handy talent to have. If you are a chameleon who can write just about anything and make money off a wave, good for you. We do talk a lot about how writing is a job and a way to make money. If you can catch the next wave and ride it to the beach, repeatedly, you’ll be more likely to pay the rent.

Alas, you could be a writer like me. I find the whole concept of finding out what’s in and pitching to it very alien planet. It’s not the way I’m wired. Call me crazy, but I’m not going to ride everyone else’s wave. For example, I know I’m not much of a romance writer. That closes down large chunks of the market to me. I can write romance as a subplot, but I’ll never be able to crank out a bodice-ripping vampire seduction epic. Okay, maybe as a parody I could do that, but that kind of book is just not in me. And I know it’s hot turf.

Of course, let’s say I could crank out my seductive vampire book. Given the archaeological speed with which publishing moves, if it is picked up, my vampire book might not see the light of day for two years. By then vampires will be long gone, and everyone will be writing about sexy zombies. Or skewed future dystopias. Or books where women persist in wearing their corsets on the outside.

Hmmm…it looks like it might be pointless to try and ride that wave. It looks more like I need prognostication to figure out what the next hot trend is. Years ago my friend Dan and I toyed with writing a zombie epic in the style of Ann Rice. That was a joke between the two of us. Never in our wildest dreams did we figure zombies would be ANY kind of literary wave.

Can I just say right now that zombies are not sexy? For the record? In case you’re getting ideas out there?

What’s a writer to do? My idea is this: I’m going to write what I’m interested in to the best of my ability and try to refine it. Then I’m going to try to publish it.

What does this mean? It probably means I’ll write books I’m satisfied with, and they’ll be books I’d want to read. I imagine some readers will like them too. I don’t count on being any kind of next trend, although hey, the zombie thing happened, so you never know. The idea is that I’ll be true to my own artistic vision. Call me crazy, but I think that’s part of writing.

It’s another kind of talent. You can shoot at the market, but why not figure out what you have to say uniquely? It’s not necessarily a trade-off of money versus integrity. I think you can have both.

Meanwhile, I will continue to work hard at making adolescent trolls the next big thing.

Catherine

Bullying and the Response of the YA Community

There has been fall out from the death of Phoebe Prince, a young woman who killed herself because of incidents of bullying at her high school. Phoebe’s story is all the sadder because it is not an isolated incident. Stories like this permeate the news. My anger against the bullies is strong. My fury against the careless adults in these situations is nuclear.

There are many ways I could approach this entry. If you’ve read the Tamago for any length of time, you know I am the child of abuse. In addition to the things I’ve talked about before, there was physical abuse in my home. I was probably the luckiest sibling. My older brother was the constant target of my mother’s aggression, and he in turn decided to share the love in a constant attack on my younger brother, my worthless parents enabling all the way. Kids as socially inept as we were made great targets for all the bullying you can think of.

There are a great many stories you can read on line about people who have come through terrible odds. Young Adult Authors Against Bullying is a great place to begin. YA authors Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall went all proactive about the issue. To date, they have about 1000 members on the page. It’s not just for authors, it’s for anyone who wishes to join the fight against the senselessness that is bullying.

More details below:

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