Yesterday, I finished Assignment 2 for my Institute of Children’s Literature advanced course. It took a lot longer than I thought. I had to write a synopsis for a story that I only had the faintest idea what was going to happen. Then I had to do character sketches for the MC and minor characters and a market justification. So, now I have a month or so to work on my other two book projects, Confessions of a Troll and Emily’s Closet. Poor Troll has been mostly languishing since Thanksgiving.
I’ve joined another critique group. This one is strictly online. It seems everyone (including myself) is having the same problem – stalled projects. There was an excellent article in December’s The Writer magazine about getting stalled projects moving again. One of the suggestions was to write a 1,500 word book review as a reviewer from the NY Times who really loved it and understood everything you were trying to get across.
Now that the holiday madness is finished, back to business…
I’m almost finished with my second assignment for the ICL Advanced course. They provide some questions to help generate a plot synopsis, then I have to do character sketches for the main character and minor characters. I have seen index card systems for cataloging characters’ information, but I think this is better. I will be very likely to use it in other projects. In answering the questions, I found out some surprising things about both the MC and minor characters, and also got some good ideas for plot and sub-plot.
In my other book project, Edward Kelley’s MySpace blog has ben languishing. I’ve go to come up wiht some juicy things for him to do. He claims one of his hobbies is skydiving. Maybe I’ll have him go on one of those nude or lingeree jumps (I know someone who did that) and land so far off target he has to hitchhike or knock on a stranger’s door.
This morning as I was putting some frozen French toast in the toaster, I caught a glimpse of something moving on the floor. “Ugh! A roach,” I thought. I looked down. It was a crawfish. I almost dropped the toast. My daughter’s crawfish, whose name varies, had gone walkabout and made his way to the kitchen. He had scuttled out from underneath the cabinet overhang and was waving his pincers at me. He had a big cobweb stuck to one of his claws and another hanging from an antenna. It seemed to me he was trying to say, “Help! Put me back in the tank!” But then again, crawfish don’t have much in the way of facial expression. The crawfish’s new nickname is AquaRoach. That sounds like a great PB character. Titlewise, AquaRoach has got to be right up there with “Walter the Farting Dog.” Just to be sure, I googled “Aquaroach.” There is at least one person who uses it as a handle on a fighter plane RPG and on a swimming site. A geotechnical computer goes by that name, as do Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. But no PBs. Now, if I could only think up a story…
I finished reading Eclipse, by Stephanie Meyer, this morning. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 20 chapters of the book. I really liked finding out about some of the characters’ histories and motivations, and what they brought to the table for the current crisis. It was also amusing when Edward and Bella confess their relationship fears to one another. I thought Ms. Meyer did an excellent job of creating tension and building suspense up until Chapter 21. At that point, I felt it started to slip into melodrama. I thought the unseasonable June blizzard, and the resulting conversation between Jacob and Edward, while insightful, was implausible. Try to imagine Hitler and Churchill sitting down together and discussing their feelings. I could almost hear the piano playing “As Time Goes By” during the last four chapters. I suppose if I had liked the movie Casablanca, I might have gotten more engaged by this turn of events, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. But then, a lot of people love that old movie. In Twilight, readers were asked to question the nature of good and evil. In New Moon, Edward and Carlisle debated nurture vs. nature and the existence of soul. Eclipse touched on free will vs. predetermination. But in the end, I wondered if Bella chose the young man that she did because she really loved him best, or because of her belief in destiny.
The agent I interviewed with asked for an email submission, so I got that off to her. If she doesn’t like it, there were two others who said they were interested. I’m keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed.
I believe there is a lot of value in going to conferences. When you and agents or editors meet face to face, it is much easier to decide whether you want to want to have a business relationship with them, and I’m sure, for them to decide about you. It is also good to meet other writers. No telling what kind of connections you can make or what sort of useful information you might learn (or impart).
Middle grade books sell the most. Partly because librarians are encouraging kids to read the most at that time, and partly because boys tend to stop reading around 10 (cutting into the YA/Teen market).
Paranormal/supernatural is very hot right now
Girls will read about boys, but boys will not read about girls (unless they are vampires, or buried alive)
Tweens (older MG, younger YA) are very popular
The “gritty” trend for YA may be starting to wane
Contests are great for building your writing credentials, so enter as many LEGITIMATE ones as you can.
Graphic novels are hot and getting hotter
When I put out birdseed in the morning, I usually have a quick look around the garden to see what’s happening. This morning, I found that our (very) small Mexican Olive tree was crawling with ladybugs and ladybug larvae. If you’ve never seen a ladybug larva, they look like they would be good candidates for monster movie creatures. I came back in and told my daughter to put on her shoes because I wanted to show her something. She was delighted with the adult ladybugs and fascinated by the grey and black larvae. She isn’t a very girly-girl. Last week, she netted baby crawfish for her fish tank.
We had ballet recital pictures today. I tarted my three-year old up with lipstick, blush and eyeshadow. She was delighted. I think there is something kid of creepy about little girls with makeup.
The lid wasn’t quite all the way on the sandbox when it rained on Wednesday. Now it is a sand swamp. My little boy is delighted with it, however. I’m sitting downwind of the jasmine vine, which are in full flower right now. It is warm, 80ish, and When the breeze dies down, the smell from the jasmine and the wax leaf ligustrum is almost overpowering. Baby sparrows in the birdhouse call for food and I can hear a red-bellied woodpecker in the trees nearby. The Texas Bird Book says that white-winged doves live west and south of San Antonio, but there are usually half a dozen or so of them at my bird feeder. A young grey squirrel keeps his eye on us as he nibbles corn below the feeder.
I’ve come up with a number of ideas, just being outside. Now, if I just had time to write all of the articles and stories that are in my head…
Butterflies get all the press, but lots of other creatures morph from one thing to something completely diffent.
Alright! It’s 9:00 and the kids are in bed. But, a storm is coming through and the power is out. No internet, but the laptop works fine. And I have three hours of battery life left. I am sitting on the bed and I can see my reflection in the dresser mirror. I look like some mystic with a glowing crystal ball in front of me. Or like the ghost story teller at a campout, with the flashlight held under my chin. It seems like a good night to write a ghost story…
Odds and Ends
I was at a stop sign behind a minivan a couple of days ago. It had a license plate frame that said “LIFE IS SACRED.” In the window, it had a bumper sticker that read, “Go Army.” Is there such a word as oxymoronism?
My daughter-who-will-be-four-in-three-weeks has quite the social calendar. She’s had an average of 1.5 birthday parties per week this month. And she’s got dance recital coming up. Pictures are on Saturday. I’m trying to think how I might persuade her to sit still while I put on her makeup. It almost makes me feel a bit cringy. Hopefully, it is not the insidious start of beauty pageant momdom. I can see the cover of the tell-all non-fiction book now: Confessions of a Pageant Mom.
The trees whip around in the wind, and passing showers of hard raindrops clatter on the windows and skylights. I hope my tomatoes don’t get flattened. I like storms. I Can feel their raucous churning energy flowing through me. I feel the sizzling shiver of lighting in my skin and the thunder echoes somewhere deep inside my being.
I bought a laptop on Monday. I’ve been lusting after one for about a year now. That’s where my tax refund went…
It is great. We set up the wireless gateway on Monday night. Everything was fine. Then the phone stopped working. Then the DSL went. AT&T informed me that a telephone trunk line was severed and they are working as hard and fast as they can to fix the problem.
I had some bills to pay, so we went to the mall. Then I thought, do I really want to access my bank and credit card accounts over an unsecure network? So my hubby is playing with the kids at the play castle and I’m updating my blog. If they don’t get the line fixed soon, I may have to (God forbid!) put paper checks in the mail. I don’t write paper checks anymore.
I hadn’t realized how dependent I had become on the internet. I keep up with friends & family, enter contests, critique and submit manuscripts for critique, pay bills, do reasearch (my NF articles are languishing). I look around. There are at least four of us using the mall hotspot. If terrorists really wanted to cripple America, they’d find a way to take down the internet.