Sunday, October 31, 2004

Resting In Peace

The manuscript is peacefully resting for now anyway. I know it sounds theatrically inprobable that I'd finish this revision sufficient to let it sit on Halloween, but what can I say?

The printer is churning out pages as I type. So, it's technically not resting yet, but definitely on its way.

Right now, I feel good about it. For those paying attention to the count, it now stands at 42,956; author's note 681. I haven't looked again at DW's letter. I want to wait to do that until after I've picked it up after the rest to read again. But I think I've accomplished my goals. There may be something I'm missing at this point though as of late I've gone over it so much that I can no longer see the story clearly.

That's the benefit of setting it aside, regaining that clarity.

It can be hard though. I just cheated by sneaking back into the file to add a clarification line about VPH's activities at the school. Sometimes it's difficult to write, and sometimes it's difficult to tear yourself away.

For now, I have a class to teach, speeches to prepare, a holiday to get through. Tomorrow, I'm starting From Romance To Realism: 50 Years of Growth and Change in Young Adult Literature by Michael Cart (Harper, 1996).

Tonight, Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Odd Moments

I'm sitting in the back row in a session at Texas Book Festival, listening to Walter Dean Myers. I idolize Walter Dean Myers. The man is a living legend. He's an amazing speaker.

I realize right then that I have a major logic problem in a Q/D scene and that if I don't write it down I may forget. Basically D brings up R searching out a real V with Q, which would possibly cue Q that K was right about the Vs, thus throwing her entire intellectual journey off-kilter.

I don't want to think about it right then and there during Walter Dean Myers talk, but I can't forget or else it'll be a lingering problem in the mss and perhaps even the finished novel. Eek!

I very quietly unzip my purse and make a note in pink ink on my left palm. I've missed now about three precious minutes of WDM talk.

I take some comfort in the fact that he would probably understand.

Critique In Hand

Greg had mostly minor comments, which is of course a miracle. He's such an attentive reader! Anyway, this gives me something I can revise to before competing events will force me to set the mss down for a while and let it cool. I'm teaching a class on Writing the YA Novel (no doubt I'll learn a lot in the process) next Saturday for the League, and so I have to finish my preparations.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Trade Offs

I've read through the new scenes and done a bit of line editing. I'm considering keying in changes and giving it completely fresh to His Majesty, even though that arguably will mean more paper carnage than necessary. On the other hand, the marks may be distracting and adversely impact his concentration. Hm. Moral quandry.

In either case, while he's reading tonight, I am going to comb through and reorganize our contacts so we have a solid list to give Little Brown for the mailing of the Tofu & T. Rex ARCs.

So, he works on my writing and I work on his marketing. How romantic!

First, though, I have to see if there is an archeology department at UT. Research thing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Okay, so I gave Greg the mss to read, and he's (a) wanting stuff back in that the editor wanted out--at least with regard to the Q/D relationship and (b) totally confused because Q/K are no longer drifting apart, they're imploding.

I keeping the changes to (a) because I really do think DW is right and the betrayal is more poignant if there's a more substantial guardian relationship in place but (b) is basically carnage from the previous draft that I've yet to edit out.

Along these same lines, I realized I summarized in one paragraph a plot point that should manifest in three or four separate scenes, and because I've shifted the plot, I have a logic inconsistency in the fantasy element. Both fixed as of today. As in I wrote the new scenes today.

You know what it is? You can never, ever, ever get away with past referencing something that actually makes a difference. Show, don't tell. I swear.

Hello, wheel, I'm reinventing you. Anyway...

Greg is bewildered by this as I didn't give him a chance to finish the draft before revising to comments, so he's starting over again tomorrow. He's a decent soul.

Also Dianna sent me a nifty, witchy Halloweeen postcard today and called me her "sweet, spooky friend." It made me feel absolutely Mulder-esque.

Must run; have to research the various symbolism behind turquoise.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Bad Kitty!

Greg has not been reading my manuscript because he's too tired.


Because Mercury, the 20-pound alpha gray tabby, keeps waking him up at 4:30 a.m. Last night, the night before.

Tonight I will try to lure the mega-kitty into sleeping with me downstairs on the daybed instead of upstairs with my husband in an effort for Greg to get a good night's sleep. Sad, I know. I'll miss Greg, even for just one night.

But this is my novel we're talking here. Priorities! ;)

Monday, October 25, 2004

R.L. Stein's Haunted Lighthouse

Checked out R.L. Stein's Haunted Lighthouse at Sea World this weekend and was surprised to see such name stars as Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson (admitting now to being a "Caroline in the City" fan).

It's a 4-D experience complete with vibrating chairs and floors, in-chair speakers, and spraying water from the ceiling.

The story was quite R.L. Stein-ish.

I would've stayed for more Howl-O-Scream fun except that I'd been walking since 10 a.m. and had monster blisters from my new shoes.

While watching the first disc on The X-Files Season II, finished keying in changes again, upped the ante on my male hero--again. I'm planning to print and give to Greg tomorrow for feedback.

I want him to look hard at the fantasy element logic since I shifted it somewhat.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Night Light

Stayed up reading until about three a.m. and then put in another hour this morning.

Overall, it's surprisingly smooth.

The rough patches are at the end. I just need to block out the plot points, clear and simple so that the emotional tug-of-war is easier to follow.

I'm going to go look at it again, then maybe take the weekend to let it cool off.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Count

Currently at 43,085 down from 55,479 with the same plot and eight completely new scenes, plus rewriting of course.

The count intrinsically doesn't matter. It's generally the sort of thing beginners obsess over. How long does an X need to be? And the answer is: as long as it needs to be. Simple.

But if you're trying to ratchet up the pacing, it's certainly a good indicator when you have about 12,400 fewer words and a whole lot more plot going on.

I'm going to show the post-body discovery scene to a few people, including a couple of lawyers and see what they think. Then look hard at the middle for any sagging.

But big picture, I think progress is going swimmingly--despite it being the height of speaking season.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Mr. Limpet

Keyed in the first 50 pages of changes today while watching "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," a first-rate shifter film.

Dinner tonight with Greg at Flemmings to celebrate the ARCs for Tofu and T.Rex (steak undercooked; lobster overcooked); went to Kyoto afterward for sashimi because still hungry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Sneak Peek: Now You See It

Loving the sneak peek of cover art for Now You See It by Vivian Vande Velde (Harcourt, January 05). Can't wait to read it!

Finished reading my draft. Keying in starts again tomorrow.

Bits and Pieces

Read over the draft in snatches today. While having iced tea at Texas French Bread on 32nd and Red River, waiting on lunch at Suzi's Chinese Kitchen on South Lamar, waiting again at the vet for Bashi to have his allergy shot, while sitting with Greg on the daybed listening to light classical music. About fifty pages to go this time through.

Never Kloses

Spent most of the day in bed with my cats Mercury and Blizzard, reading the latest draft. Hoping to get through by the weekend, including key-ins.

Grabbed brunch at Katz's (scrambled eggs and turkey ham), and finished up about 50 pages there. I would've been even more productive today if I hadn't felt guilty about taking up the table.

Which reminds me, swooped by a boutique just down the street on the way home. When did T-shirts start costing $150+?

Hyde Park for dinner (turkey burger on wheat with soup of the day); waiter was Daniel who used to wait on us at Chili's on Lamar.

Am still obsessing on author's note no one will probably read.

Sunday, October 17, 2004


A master's student wrote today, asking me how I used my writer's notebooks; this is most what I replied:

I don't keep a daily notebook like some authors do with observations and so forth.

Basically, I just grab one to take on a trip or with me somewhere I'd rather not bring a computer.

I only really use them a lot before the draft has begun to fully take shape.

I'm flipping through a couple to offer examples.

The first includes: a personal Christmas shopping list; brief character sketches (like "latter-day hippie; new girlfriend; heroine's legal guardian; pushing 30); physical descriptions ("insurance salesman in business casual"); first drafts of scenes; an interview with a source (public information officer for a police station); possible chapter titles (of a pithy thematic nature); notes on a place I visited as a possible setting model.

Other second has more of the same plus notes on the history of the genre in which I'm writing and a sketch of the protagonist's fictional bedroom.

For me, the benefit of the notebook is that it gives me a venue for getting something down so that it's less intimidating to face the screen. It's also portable and offers a good, easy to store reference for the process.

The downside is that it's totally disorganized.

Most of what goes into never reaches the manuscript except in the most tenuous form, but it still gets me to the point where the manuscript exists.

Back to work today: realigned the chapter breaks and adjusted the titles; expanded the author's note; drove over to South Congress to do a little shopping/research.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Purple Rain (Or Purple Smudge)

Must remember to look in purse and then in sunglasses case for scribbled notes in purple ink, inspired by Judy O's talk, with regard to possible expansion of author's note. Seem to remember some of the ink running from water on the table at Musashino's but still hopeful of good fruit. Everything said about CW validated the happy!

Thursday, October 14, 2004


New draft clocking in at 47,726 words.

Finished off the cemetery and pre-party meltdown scenes.

Just jotted a note on a Post-It that I'm going to add to the freshly printed pages in the folder downstairs, along the the silent screen name of choice I researched this afternoon. Thank the muse for search engines.

I have no idea how it'll read or whether it makes any sense.

Right now, who cares? I'll relish the moment and find out Sunday.

In the meantime, I have incoming company and a writing conference to attend.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I Want To Be Evil

Eartha Kitt's "I Want To Be Evil" is perhaps my all-time fave Halloween-y song, though of course Eartha herself is no doubt my all-time fave chaunteuse.

It's on a CD that my honey picked up at Restoration Hardware, which I'll grant isn't hip, but nevertheless has some nifty stuff.

Drafted two and a half chapters today, which means I have one and a half to go on this run-through. They were all school scenes. Also got my stitches out, so I'm bendable again. Heaven.

Didn't watch "Smallville" or the presidential debate in favor of quality time with above mentioned honey. Dinner was tiger shrimp, solar hummus, and sliced cucumbers. No regrets.

Driven To Write

Two chapters rough drafted today. One at Q's home and the other at Q's school. In between, I took a break to do the mail and groceries. (Btw, I love the new electronic self-service postage machines; and if you like spicy, try the solar hummus at Central Market).

Anyway, I'm driving down Enfield and the entire motivation for a secondary antagonist hits me. What to do? I grab a spare piece of paper and pen from my purse, all the while listening to 103.5 Bob FM, and trying not to wreck the Oldsmobile.

I have this theory that Austin roads are more dangerous because of all the artsy people who're driven by the muse while driving.

By the way, is it just me or do we have the highest number per capital SUVs with environmental-awareness bumper stickers?

Anyway, three new chapters to go (I think).

Monday, October 11, 2004

Stained Palms

You can always tell when I'm really into a manuscript because my left palm (I'm right handed) is covered with different colored inks in different stages of fading--notes I've written myself on my hand so that I won't lose or forget them. Notes that are so important yet so misty that I'm fearful of not getting them down somewhere solid immediately.

Today the inks on my hand are (in order of vividness) purple, turquoise, and red. In purple, I can make out the words "quail" and "Lutheran." In purple, I can see "Dad told B re: K when Q hurt" and "b/c R." The red is too faded to read and looks vaguely like an almost healed injury.

Have pretty much figured out the timeline. Spotted one noticeable inconsistency: K studying from texts days before school first begins for the year. Also need another home scene so the existing one doesn't feel like an orphan.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Witches' Datebook

Arg! Having trimmed so much and tentatively inserted new scenes (three written, four to draft), the timeline/pacing is pretty much in shambles. At least for the first half of the book.

I see though that I have a Friday, the 13th in September, which, I realized after checking the past few years' calendars, means the story has to go by the 2002 dates.

That in mind, I just grabbed my Llewellyn's Witches' Datebook 2002, so I can use it to figure out what needs to happen when--additions and pre-existing!

(No, I'm not a wiccan, but I'm highly wiccan friendly. Notice above, by the way, the incredible Amazon sales rank on a wicca calendar almost three years out of date!)

Current word count: 45,441.

I'm a little freaked out about the Friday, the 13th emphasis because, after all, my dad died suddenly on the last Friday, the 13th (though it was in August, not September), but that feature is already multi-years built into the novel. Like it or not, I'm just going to have to face it head-on.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Seven Scenes

I've sketched out notes on seven scenes, which when complete should accomplish a good part of what I need to do. Keyed in changes, too, but I'm not going to print until I add the new material. Pre-additions, still hovering in the 43,000 word range, but that includes some rewrites on the fly.

Watched "Big" and "While You Were Sleeping" while keying in. I have this whole Texas woman solidarity thing going with Sandra Bullock.

Am going to try to do something very radical for me tomorrow. Write new scenes in daylight. I'm moderately optimistic about the idea. Maybe if I pull the shades...

Sweep Complete

Did one more swoop through the manuscript and, armed with the APD interview answers, I'm ready to work on new scenes tomorrow. Thrilled to report that the entire weekend is wide open for just that very purpose, though fall speaking events are increasing a competing force.

Took off tonight to watch the debates, it being my patriotic duty and all. Had some scrambled eggs after at Katz's with my honey.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Cause of Death

I got busy yesterday and today with administrative stuff for fall speaking, four family calls, and meeting with a friend at Sweetish Hill to discuss her witch manuscript.

So I'm only up to page thirty-something of this sweep. I'm adjusting the backstory timeline a bit to make the custody situation more plausible and continuing to minimize the exposition.

Currently reading for research:

Cause of Death: A Writer's Guide To Death, Murder & Forensic Medicine by Keith D. Wilson, M.D. (Writer's Digest, 1992). The section on what happens to the body at/after death is the best argument I've ever heard for organ donation.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Kindred Souls

People who have to think hard and a lot about death shortly after the death of a loved one: funeral/cemetery directors, medical/emergency professionals, clergy, greeting card writers, trusts and estates attorneys, horror novelists. I'm sure there are others. Here's sending up a prayer for them.

Called APD yesterday and talked to the public information officer about police procedures that would affect the first part of the novel. She was helpful and straightforward and brisk in that police officer kind of way. The assistance was most appreciated!

At her suggestion, I'm printing and studying a number of APD news releases to get a feel for the kind of information the department might release to the media under certain circumstances.

I'm also trying to figure out what adjustments might be made at a police station to accommodate the threats present in my fictional world.

Today, the goal is to read the latest version with cuts and get a feel for the adjusted voice.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Gender Genie

Tried the Gender Genie on my past few spookycyn blog posts.

These are the results:

F 309; M 351 -- author is male!

F 129; M 126 -- author is female (by three points)!

F 420; M 450 -- author is male!

It's supposed to be 80 percent accurate. Once it called me a "butch chick." Just FYI.

Monday, October 04, 2004

In Memorium: Janet Leigh

"Psycho" actress Janet Leigh died Sunday at age 77.

The Old Willis Place

Lately I'm reading The Old Willis Place by Mary Downing Hahn (Houghton, 2004). It's a contemporary ghost story with a nostalgic feel to the prose, which includes a couple of young ghosts/wild children (not sure yet) who steal books. Interesting. More interesting because I can't find my book now. I'd swear I left it on the night stand. I suspect it was stolen by my ghost!

If I can find the book, I'd love to finish it.

Hahn is the author of one of my faves:

Look For Me By Moonlight by Mary Downing Hahn (Clarion, 1995). Cynda's fight with her mother and new stepfather over moving to Italy results in Cynda being shipped off to live with her father, pregnant stepmother, and five-year-old half brother at their historic inn in Maine. Cynda, 16, is fascinated first by rumors that the inn is haunted and then by Will, the grandson of the cleaning woman. But then appears a guest, Vincent -- an older, sophisticated, and attentive man who seems to be the only one who really understands the displacement Cynda is feeling in her family life. Apparent sympathy grows into apparent romance, but it quickly turns more bitter than sweet. Ages 12-up.

Recovering today from newly inserted stitches. I feel like a skin corset. Ew. Saw a lady at the dermatologist/plastic surgeon who had lips like a rafting tube. Also ew.

New favorite song: "1985" by Bowling for Soup. Yes, I'm ancient.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Kill Your Darlings

Previous draft: 55,479 words
New draft: 42,126 words

I love to revise, to dig deep and make the story better. It's terrific fun.

A few years back there was a much discussed debate on process between Jennifer Armstrong (follow your head) and Nancy Werlin (follow your heart) in the pages of Horn Book.

That's oversimplified, but you can read their full comments at the links above.

We're all probably hybrids in terms of our approaches. But the one thing that's clear is that being open to to revising, learning, and growing is essential. You have to push yourself and accept that it's hard sometimes but also a joy.

Friday, October 01, 2004

The First Cut Is The Deepest

One hundred pages to go keying in, already down by thirty pages total.

Did keying in today while watching "Sex In The City" season II. Fave character: Steve.

More personally, under attack from energy vampire hereafter referred to as "E.V."

What I'm reading: Margaux With An X by Ron Koertge (Candlewick, 2004).

Inching Forward

Keyed in changes on about fifty pages today.

On quest for multiple copies of the Hallmark card of vamp girl. Figured out yesterday that I could just look them up on the Web site. Working on it today but the site is a challenge because they're already marketing for Christmas. I finally find the Halloween cards page, and it's not featured. With respect to The Great Pumpkin, I was unimpressed by the Halloween beagle. I know this makes me a cruel woman.

Most perfect spiderweb has been crafted from my arbor. It's about the span of my hand and glistens at about ten a.m.