Thursday, May 31, 2012

First Names Last Times

I did a fair amount of rewriting yesterday, enough so I'm not in a 2 hour/2 page panic mode anymore. I zipped through about 30 pages, polishing each one until it sparkled.

Naturally, in celebration, I won't work today. Instead I'll do that shopping and movie thing I keep talking about. Today is a spectacularly gorgeous day, so it makes sense to spend it inside a mall.

One thing that had to get changed yesterday was a minor character's name. Jon has four friends he eats lunch with every day- Luke, Tyler, Ryan and Sean. On a scale of 1-10, with Jon being a 10 as most important character, Luke is a 6 and Tyler a 5 1/2 and Ryan a 4 and Sean a 2.

But the real concern was Jon, Luke, Tyler, Ryan and Sean basically all have the same name. No more than 5 letters, no more than 2 syllables, nothing distinctive or unusual about them.

I knew the character whose name I would dump would be Sean. In fact, his name was so nondescript, I had trouble remembering what it was.

So I zipped over to my favorite place in Internetland, Popular Baby Names and looked for a name to give poor Sean. Zachary worked perfectly. It's 7 letters and 3 syllables and that Z is so distinctive. He's still a minor character, but now he's a memorable minor character.

Monday, I'm giving a talk to The Children's Librarians of Orange, Ulster and Sullivan Counties. I live in Orange County and I used to have a summer home in Sullivan County and I have been known to drop in on Ulster County, so this is very much a local event for me.

But what it also is is my last scheduled speaking engagement. I'm not saying there won't be more (I'm always open to invitations to Hawaii and Paris), but if there aren't, this is it.

It occurred to me, while exercycling this morning, that I should figure out what to talk about when I give my talk. My mind has been pretty much focused on The Shade Of The Moon and where the heck is my German royalty check, but I owed it to myself and the librarians to have something coherent to say.

So I came up with an idea for a new book, complete with title (never before used, at least as best I can tell from Amazon). The level of lunacy involved in writing a new book,when I feel like all I've been doing is writing and complaining and fantasizing about retirement is, on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being sane and 10 being what the heck am I thinking about, a 12, maybe higher.

But it's such a nifty idea. And it would be short and relatively easy to write. And I can make the librarians help me with the plot.

I love making other people work. Of course I'm not that crazy about working myself, but I'll deal with that when the time comes.

And now the time has come for me to zip over to the mall and shop for something to wear on Monday!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

There's A Lot To Be Learned From Scooter

He knows what to do on a day off.

I, on the other hand, didn't go to the movies like I planned. Instead, inspired by  a brand new interview I gave, I began the polishing part of the rewrites of The Shade Of The Moon Third And Definitely Last Effort.

I spent two hours (the length of the movie I didn't see) on the first two pages. You may recall, if you committed my March 29, 2012 entry to memory, that things were kind of clunky on pages 1 and 2. I had to introduce the readers to Jon and his entire family, while covering everything that had happened in Life As We Knew It, The Dead And The Gone, and This World We Live In. That's 900 pages of pain and suffering summed up in a couple of paragraphs.

Here's the part I particularly didn't like:

            Dad died the same as so many others had died, of exhaustion and hunger and vulnerability to disease. Jon had travelled from Pennsylvania to Tennessee with him, with his whole family. They’d journeyed together, Dad, Lisa and Gabe, Mom, Jon’s brother Matt and his wife Syl, and Miranda, Jon’s sister. Alex, Julie’s brother, came with them. They rode bikes, walked, even drove whenever they could. It was a journey of a thousand miles, and it took months, months of cold and fear and hunger. Months of seeing bodies strewn on the highways. Months where the boy Jon had been grew into the man he now was. 

I admit I liked the bodies strewn on the highways, partly because I do love my dead bodies, but mostly because "strewn" is such a high class word. But all those names clomped together in a single paragraph...Even I, who thinks every word I write is a masterpiece, knew that stank.

So I rewrote those two pages. It is a bit of a concern that each page took an hour to revise. Assuming I work seven days a week, at two hours a day, it'll take me five months to finish the rewrites. And I'm not going to work seven days a week. I'm not even going to work on Friday (I'm going to the movies instead).

But in the meantime, here's the newly revised first two pages. Let's hope the other 298 don't take quite so long!  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Does Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday Constitute A Long Weekend?

I'm going to work on Monday.

I'll be writing two short scenes (Jon plays with Gabe; Jon goes to the library), which are intended to show what a nice guy Jon actually is. I haven't figured out where to plop them, but that's a Monday job also.

But I won't work on Saturday or Sunday or Tuesday for that matter. Tuesday morning I'm going to buy $45.00  worth of groceries, because I have a coupon that will give me $3 off if I do. And then Tuesday afternoon I'm going to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, because on Tuesdays, the movie ticket only costs $6.00 if you're old enough (and I am and then some).

So just by not working, I'll be saving $5.00. Pretty darn impressive.

On Wednesday, all short scenes having been written, I'll start the actual rewriting. Of which there is a great amount to do. I've read the manuscript twice now, and neither time did any descriptive writing show up. Believe me, I looked. There might have been an adverb or two (I seem to recall someone smiling ruefully), but not an adjective to be seen.

Personally, I like nouns and verbs, with the occasional adverb for seasoning, but editors seem to favor  adjectives. And when one is writing a book without a contract (my decision, I grant you, but nonetheless), it pays to please the editor.

So, for all of you having a more traditional three day weekend, have a splendid, lazy, sunny, pleasurable, safe, meaningful, enjoyable, relaxing time. And for those of you who don't get Monday off, please send me some adjectives. As you can see, I could use some help!

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Agent Says Just Because My Publishing House Has Gone Into Chapter 11, That's No Reason Why I Shouldn't Be Rewriting Chapter 11

I'd promise you this blog entry would be shorter than its heading, except the more I write here, the less time I'll have for working on The Shade Of The Moon Version The Third Draft The First.

What is it about rewrites that inspires such high level procrastinating? I know I won't mind doing them once I actually get started. It's the getting started that's the tricky part.

There are two new scenes to be written, and two to be rewritten from scratch, and then, of course, the entire manuscript has to be gone through and, le sigh, improved. After which I send it off to my editor, who could hate it and reject it, even if the publishing house doesn't go out of business, which my agent assures me they won't.

Or I could play FreeCell. My winning streak has now reached 1,100 games, thanks to the miracle of modern cheating.

Oh good. The clothes dryer just beeped. It's time to fold my mother's laundry. If I do it super perfectly, that could take anywhere from 1 to 978 minutes. At which point, it will definitely be time to expand that winning streak to 1101!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

We Welcome A New Member To The LAWKI Family

The Polish version of Life As We Knew It has arrived.

I know absolutely no Polish, but on the back jacket it says it's a "trylogii z pogranicza science-fiction i dystopii," the only part of which Spellcheck doesn't loathe is "science-fiction."

"i" means "and" which we learned when I brought Marci and Carol (the book's dedicatees) their copies and Carol asked why her name now starts with "i."

Spellcheck doesn't like "dedicatees" either.

But what I like a lot is the book jacket. You'll see, in a moment, that my copy has this cool wraparound that says: GONE Dla Fanow Serii. Google Translations says Dla Fanow means For Fans, but it refuses to acknowledge that GONE is a Polish word, so I'm assuming GONE means Gone and that's the Polish name for the trylogii (just like the UK trilogy is called The Last Survivors).

Naturally, I introduced zycie, ktore znalismy to its relatives. Notice how I cleverly placed the German version close by so you could admire its Buxtehude Bulle sticker.

Scooter can never resist a photo op.

He has a particular fondness for the American paperback version, since that's the one that pays for most of his cat food.

But he's as happy as I am to get to know zycie, ktore znalismy!

Monday, May 14, 2012

You'd Think By Now I'd Know Not Working Is More Fun Than Working

This was going to be my first weekend off in approximately forever, and I'm going to be working this coming weekend, so I was really looking forward to two solid non-working sorts of weekend days.

That glorious non-working thing lasted through Saturday. Then Sunday, I read The Shade Of The Moon Version The Third.

I was scheduled to read the manuscript (is it still a manuscript if you can only read it on a computer screen?) on Thursday, since Friday I'm driving to Rochester for the 7th Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival. and a long drive is a great time to think about what needs to be written.

But I got impatient and devoted a shocking number of hours to reading TSOTMVTT instead.

Thank goodness I liked it. A lot actually. Of course, since I don't like reading description, it didn't bother me one whit that there wasn't any in the entire 291 pages. No, I think there's a little bit on page 2, but that's just to fool people into thinking it's a high class descriptiony kind of masterpiece.

As they say in Gay Paree, le ha!

(Spellcheck is in process of having un pettite nervous breakdown, as is its wont around here).

Sadly though, I did discover that there's one section of the book that needs revision. I have a perfectly fabulous essentially flashback scene, where Jon thinks about what he did that makes him have those haunting dreams about Julie. Then entirely too much later in the book, he talks to his girlfriend Sarah about it (scroll right down for two pages which mention Sarah; I'm too lazy to bother getting the link).

Well, that's just not going to work. I need to turn that fabulous flashback into a new scene when he tells all to Sarah, and I have to find a reason for him to tell her and a place for all that brand new and recycled old stuff to fit in.

In other words, work. Le double triple extremely French sigh.

Oh well. At least I'll have something to think about on that long drive to Rochester!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I See Poland. I See France.

I see Scooter
In his underpants.

Well, I would if he wore any. Trust me, I see all of him dressed or undressed constantly.

But that has nothing to do with my career. Let alone the international part of my career, which is what I'm writing about. Poetry is extra.

Oh, speaking of poetry, Scooter wrote a poem. He was clearly inspired by the character Ruby in The Shade Of The Moon Number 3.

Rubies are red
Emeralds are green
If I don't get fed
I'll eat your spleen.
Back to my career. We'll start with France because I found out, via my obsessive following of Amazon, that Chroniques De La Fin Du Monde, Tome 3: Les Survivants came out on Thursday.

I know this for a fact because I got an email from someone in France who bought a copy Thursday. I have to take her word for what it looks like because my publisher hasn't yet sent me a copy.

If you squint very hard, you'll see that at one glorious point its Amazon ranking was 459. Trust me, it's nowhere near that right now, so it's a good thing I printed it when I could.

Moving over to Poland, Google News was kind enough today to send me a link to a Polish review of the Polish version of Life As We Knew It. At lest I think it's a review. This is what Google Translations claims it says, and it sounds kind of reviewish to me.

Within a few moments to the world sixteen Miranda of Pennsylvania turned upside downShe led a quiet, ordinary life, along with his two brothers - older than the younger Matt and Jonny - and mother. But everything changed when the asteroid hit the moonSince then, Earth's climate and geosphere go crazyThere was the era  of powerful earthquakes, giant tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, which led to very serious climate change. Miranda and her family need each day to fight for survival, despite the constant hunger and lack of prospects for improvement.

The life that we knew the first part of the three-volume series of Survivors by Susan Beth PfefferThe book was on  the seventh in a list of YALSA's TeensTop Tenreached the finals Andre Norton Award, Hal Clement Award and the Quill Awards. The novel takes the form of a log: Miranda shows in him his life before and after the disaster, the entries are short and full of simple, youth language, so the book reads quickly and is easy to read. In addition, this form gives the author the possibility of acquiring the presentation of the heroine's feelings - her hope for survival and a better future, anxiety about loved ones, the pain felt by the death or departure of many famous people, and fear caused by the subsequent massive cataclysms
anyone knows what role the moon, it is not difficult to predict the consequences of altering its position in relation to our planet, and thus - another disaster. However, for readers not fully known is the fate of the characters and the answers to key questions. Can they survive? Do you receive assistanceWhat is the fate of Miranda's family living in an area where more than others? Are people able to control the raging climate? Growing problems, but still smoldering glimmer of hope makes the novel draws to the end.

Among the best know as Miranda and her family. Official accurately represents the appearance of the characters, their feelings, passions, and family relationships. The book shows how the man changed the face of great tragedyas he can devote himself to save the beloved people. Miranda and Jonny before the disaster were just ordinary children, but unfortunately they are forced to make many sacrifices, and to make responsible decisions. Everybody's daily struggle with his weaknesses and wszechpanujÄ…cym hunger. Above all, strive to maintain friendly relations with loved ones and avoid pointless arguments. Family members are characterized by very thoughtful behavior, so they are prepared for problems before they manage to appear. Other characters are shown only briefly.

Watching exciting, dramatic struggle heroes from various problemswe get to the end of life, we knewskonsturowanej so that arouses an immediate desire to reach for the next part of the cycle. The struggle with the elements has not been completed, and the fate of Miranda and her family will weigh more in the next two novels.
Apparently, the book came out on Feb. 28, but the publisher hasn't yet sent me a copy. Thanks to the review, I know what the book jacket looks like, and I love it. I think it is  bardzo bardzo cool (actually bardzo, which Google Translations assures me means "very" is bardzo bardzo cool on its own).

So that's it for reporting on my international career, except to say that my national and international publishers don't seem to have gotten around to sending me my royalty checks, which I think is bardzo bardzo bardzo uncool!

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Mythbusters Were Nice Enough Not To Comment On My Bra Strap

And I'm sure you'll be equally polite.

Here I am on the Titanic:

I discover its fate.

I took this picture of flowers while I was waiting for my worldly and sophisticated friend Renee to find a place for me to get ice cream.

Princess Summerfallwinterspring says it's fashionable to show a bra strap. And she's tres more fashion conscious than I am (obviously).

Isn't this picture weird? Mayim Bialik looks like half the girls I went to high school with. And I look like an overweight cutout.

But I do look good with astronauts.

In case you were wondering if I actually met the Mythbusters* or Mayim Bialik, the answer is no. Just had my picture taken with them. But the astronaut and I had a nice conversation.

I think I've offered sufficient proof that I actually was in Washington DC. Where else could one find such a dazzling combination of myth and disaster!

*(Spellcheck hates Mythbusters. It offered as an option Methodists.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

To Be Continued (Hopefully With Paragraphs)

I thought I had ended The Shade Of The Moon last Tuesday (or was it Wednesday- I don't remember, but it was one of those days that started with last), and then I was going to Washington DC (I did, and I have the pictures to prove it), and then I was going to spring clean my apartment.

Instead, I spent much of yesterday sleeping.

Then at 3:49 AM, my smoke detector started beeping, which forced me to bring my ladder in from the outside storage closet. At which point, it stopped beeping. Since I'm still alive, I have a feeling it was a problem with the detector, not any smoke.

It took me an hour or so to fall back asleep, and I'm not sure when I had this thought- either then, or when I woke up, but I think it was then because I'm pretty sure when I woke up I had to recreate it.

What it is is a huge plot twist and approximately another 80 pages, starting, with just the removal of a sentence or two, at the exact moment where I thought the book ended.

So here's my plan. I'm going to visit my mother, and buy groceries, and at least do a little bit of Clean Out The Closet. Then I'm going to call Princess Summerfallwinterspring and test the idea out on her. If she likes it, and almost more to the point, if she can figure out how to resolve the brand new situation I created thanks to the smoke detector, I'll go back to writing, something I swore I would never do again.

I promise to keep you posted and show you the photographs. Ideally with paragraphs!