Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Another one flies the coop

When is enough enough? How do you know you are done with a manuscript? I find it a lot easier to write "The End" on a first draft than I do with subsequent drafts. I just sent off my work-in-progress manuscript (Astrid) to my agent and I had a hard time figuring out if I was “done” or not. When someone questions your work, pushes you to strive for more, it’s hard to know if you’ve reached that goal they had in mind for you.

For me, the biggest surprise in this publishing process is how little line editing is done early in the process—mostly you receive “notes” in letter form, describing overall things that need to change with not a lot of direction about how to do it. And it seems you could do one of a hundred things to fix each thing! In my experience, revision has been a bit like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. But then again, I have a very editorial agent who wants to go through a revision (or two!) before ever sending to editors.

So, Astrid is gone. She’s flown from my email to a desktop where she will be printed and scrutinized. Good thing I have so much to do in the coming weeks—stewing over whether or not the spaghetti is sticking to the wall is no fun at all.

How do you know when you are done?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

And this is your brain on caffeine…

I'm back! After 1200 miles of driving with two kids across two states and an island, I'm ready for some parental help. It was tough without Scott, and not just because of all the driving. How do single parents do it? There is just no relief, no quiet, no end to the crushing responsibility of feeding, cleaning, and clothing children. Not to mention all the listening. The listening might be the hardest part.

While we were away, my cat of more than 16 years went down for The Big Sleep. I just could not face the fact that it was time so I heaped the entire burden on Scott, who had to take care of it before he left on his trip and before we got back. So after having been traveling for 14 hours, the kids and I arrived home at around 9 at night to an empty house for the first time in a very long while. Being the only driver, I was caffeine loading at every stop and was too wired to sleep. At about midnight when I felt I could finally get in bed, I went to check on the kids and screamed as I saw a cat running from the kitchen to the cat door.

Even though I heard the click of the cat door flap, I still walked the house with my headlamp and two brooms just in case there were any other cats that had decided it was okay to cruise around in our house now that Stimpy was no longer protecting her turf. And what about raccoons, I thought, a pack of raccoons could have been totally nesting in the house while we were gone! And opossums! Adrenaline coursed through my body as images of opossums hanging by their scaly pink tails from my son’s closet rod ran though my mind. The kids were so exhausted that Hank would probably not wake even if feral cats were gnawing at his succulent little fingers nor would Juliet stir if rabid raccoon kits curled up in the soft warm curve of her neck.

In a dark house at midnight, my imagination is more dangerous than an intruder.

Beyond the cat that managed to escape, no other animals were found. I stacked all three of our suitcases in front of the cat door and had to watch both episodes of the New Jersey Housewives reunion show to get my heart rate back to resting.

Scott returns tonight. He has been missed!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Out of Isolation

So, I was in isolation at the cabin for four solid days and missed reality TV and the internet almost more than I missed my family. But I got a ton of writing/revising/plotting done so I feel like things are under control as far as book deadlines go.

I drove back like a bat out of hell to make it to a doctor's appointment that was straight out of a nightmare. I was hooked up to an electrical current and had all the nerves in my arms and wrists repeatedly shocked to test for nerve damage due to carpal tunnel syndrome, also known as I Shouldn't Have Cheated Through Typing Class Disease. Fun!

Now I have just enough time to do laundry and repack, for tomorrow the kids and I leave for a 9 day trip. We'll be making our way up to Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands for my family reunion. We've rented this fabulous little chalet for our immediate family:

Isn't it adorable? Home base for the rest of the extended family will be at the exquisite Timber Lodge. Me likey:

Orcas is a spectacular island with lots of good memories, all the way back to high school when my friends and I went to bike camp up in the San Juans. I spent a lot of time there when I lived in Seattle and we took the kids there for the first time just last year. We're all happy to be going back. I love any place you can only get to by ferry or float plane!

My postings might be intermittent for the next week or two! Happy summer everyone.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Off the Grid

In a few minutes I'm heading out to the Moody cabin for some high-level hermitry.

Between this evening when I arrive and Monday afternoon when I leave, I'll finish my revision of Book One, get to the halfway point of Book Two, and possibly dabble in a WIP I've got going on the sidelines.

No TV, no intewebz, no children, no laundry.

No problem.

Radio silence begins...NOW!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

End of an Era

Today Hank spent his last day at University Preschool! Now, for the first time in six years, I have no children in preschool. Huzzahh!

We had a luau carnival thing and I signed up for the exploding volcano booth because really, who doesn’t like chemical reactions? I also souped it up with lots of red and orange food coloring because without it, baking soda and vinegar just looks like an oozing sore. Plus I let the kids scoop up big handfuls of pine needles and sticks to throw in the volcano so when the magma came rolling out it had some nice texture. I was shocked that no one had taken that booth until afterwards, when I stepped in from the outdoors and realized I smelled like I'd just pulled two shifts at the pickle factory.

Some snaps from the day...

Crowding the tattoo table.

Hank decided on a full-face Spiderman face tattoo. After a whole box of wipes, some of the red pigment still will not come off.

It gives him a bit of a drunken Irishman’s glow.

It really can't be called the last day of school until the parachute comes out.

Hank walks up to receive his memory book from his teachers.
His self portrait on the front is not that far off...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cognitive Dissonance and the ARC

I just read my first ARC and I’m devastated.

An ARC is an Advanced Reader Copy that the publisher prints up and then sends out to buyers and reviewers to get an early buzz going. Authors get a case of these too, to use as they see fit.

As part of The Tenners, a group of Young Adult authors making their debuts in 2010, we circulate the ARC among our ranks so we get a sneak peak at what’s going to be published next year.

I just finished Kimberly Derting’s The Body Finder and am blown away. To say I’m intimidated would be an understatement; it’s honestly made me consider never sending my ARCs out at all. Ever. To anyone. Kim has a perfect plot with two great lines of tension. As the engine of the book, this plot makes The Body Finder read like a luxury sports car runs—really fast with a smooth ride. In comparison, my plot is more like one of those early model Fords, where after pushing and pulling lots of levers, you would crank the car to get the engine going and then bounce around in the cab because the thin tires absorb none of the shock of the crappy unpaved roads.

I’ve been thinking a lot about cognitive dissonance lately—you know, that bad feeling you get from having two contradictory ideas at the same time. For instance, these two thoughts live side by side in my head at all times:

- I want to be a published author.
- I don’t want anyone to ever read my book.

As my release date inches ever closer, I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle the public scrutiny.

While I privately suffer with my crisis of confidence, may I suggest you place your order for The Body Finder? Congratulations, Kim. Amazing debut work!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Literal Video Hilarity

My sister justs sent a link to this and I don't think I have ever laughed out loud alone for that long. Still wiping the tears away... I'm now going to watch every Literal Video ever made. It's genius!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Nude Dude

I'm getting some flack from my friends in Seattle because my little towns is, again, in the news for having random naked people roaming about.

Last year we made the national news because of the fracas over the naked lady with a conch and now we've got an old dude getting his daily exercise by cruising through town naked and making children burst out in tears. It was my first time seeing a very old man in the nude and I must say, gravity wreaks shocking havoc on some parts of the anatomy.

Both skin lovers moved here from California, natch. Viva the lax nudity laws of Oregon!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Just like the space shuttle (without the rocket fuel)!

My book has a launch meeting date!

On July 21 the marketing, editorial, and design people all get together to discuss my book, set the title in stone, and start cover design. My editor asked me to send lots of title ideas and cruise Amazon for covers I like. So many choices! So many directions to go!

Help! What are your all-time-favorite book covers?