Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tag, You're It

I've been "tagged" apparently by someone named Rachel (??). I'm not sure I'm doing this right, but it seems like fun! I'm not sure I can find the requisite number of other bloggers to tag, but I'll do my best.

Here are the rules I was sent:
Here are the rules as posted by Turning Pages:1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.2. People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.3. At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names.4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Okay, 8 random to make this interesting.

1. I was a twin, but my twin died a few hours after birth. I didn't find out about her until I was 12 years old. My mother told a friend of hers, and her daughter told me the story. I didn't believe it at first. I wanted to know where my twin (Mary) was buried, but my mother said she didn't know. Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like had she lived. But my younger sister and I are best friends and that might not have happened had Mary been around.
2. I spent 15 years working for the son of the artist Henri Matisse. Pierre Matisse owned a gallery in NYC and I was the gallery manager. He told THE most interesting stories! It was quite an experience.
3. My first husband had a heart attack at 44 and dropped dead on my kitchen floor. He had diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, etc. My 17 year old daughter was diagnosed with diabetes two years ago. Hopefully modern advances will make her life very different!
4. My other daughter will be 23 tomorrow! 23 years ago tonight I was sitting on the sofa in the living room timing my contractions (far, far apart). I was too excited to sleep so I spent all night reading and re-reading the first two pages of "The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolfe. My second daughter was almost born in a Chinese restaurant.
5. I lived in NYC for 10 years which was wonderful! Then I commuted for almost another 20.
6. I hate oatmeal and any kind of mushy cereal or food stuff. It's not the taste, it's the texture.
7. I recently took up yoga which I LOVE.
8. I am SO boring. Trying to think of something for number 8. Okay. Not about me but family stuff. Both my grandmothers were very strong women. Jennie was a garment worker in NYC. Single parent when her husband died when my dad was 3. She raised/paid for a bunch of nieces and nephews too. She went on strike because the factory owners were Jewish and gave their workers Saturday off (their holy day). the worker were mostly Catholic and wanted Sunday off. So...they struck. And that's one of the origins of the two day weekend!
My other grandmother was from Hungary. Her family decided to immigrate to the US. She was only six and not able to work. They left her sitting in the train station on Christmas Eve while they started their journey to America. She was taken to an orphanage and then sent to work when she was 10. She worked for a Hungarian actress who taught her a lot. She finally came to this country after WWI when she was in her early 20s.

I need to tag some people, but first I need to figure out how to do that!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

How Do You Do Normal?

I'm in an online group (I'm in a LOT of online groups!) and there is currently a guest "instructor" who is giving us exercises in character building. It's been great fun. Once he just gave us a line..."Gary hated weddings" and we had to run with it using details to show Gary hating weddings as opposed to coming right out and saying it. Another time we had to develop a character in a couple of paragraphs starting with the line "Amy stared out at the sea of faces." This last one was great...create a character you hate...but show them having one redeeming feature.

The last exercise got me thinking. I had no trouble creating the character. She came alive on the page and in my mind in an instant. But she's not a "normal" character. She's obnoxious, opinionated, unkind, etc. Easy to bring her to life. What's hard is bringing a "normal" character to life without descending into quirkiness. My current protag for instance is a 30-something woman. I don't want to define her as someone who "doesn't eat he green M&Ms" or who "sings karaoke" once a week. But it's hard to get "normal" but "real" across on the page.

Here is my nasty old lady:

"We're good Christians you know," The woman reluctantly opened the screen door a little wider and let the police detective in.

"But when the boy came to the door, asking for help…?" The detective raised her hands questioningly as she looked around.

"Might as well have a seat." The woman pointed toward a stiff looking armchair that took up a large amount of space in the tiny room. Her lips thinned, and she raised her chin slightly as she took her own seat, a comfortably worn chaise with a knitting bag within easy reach. "The Bible tells us to shun that kind of lifestyle."

"But surely that doesn't mean you can't help…"

"He made his choice. Time these people learned they can't go bending the good word of the Lord to suit themselves." The woman's mouth snapped shut like a rubber band.

"But he was bleeding," the detective leaned forward in her seat. "Surely Christ preached compassion for our fellow man." She held her hands out in supplication.

The woman shook her head.

The sound of claws echoed on the polished wooden floor and a tiny, white terrier jumped into the woman's lap. Her face softened, and she stroked its nappy fur. "This is our Baby. Found him at the pound. Poor thing had been nearly starved to death. Who could do something like that to one of God's creatures?" She buried her face in the dog's worn fur.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Always a Student

I'm taking another writing course. I'm hoping it's not just a delaying tactic to keep from writing. I don't think so. It's a great class about empowering one's characters' emotions. I think it's just what I need. My writing is too "dry" and emotionless. A critiquer said my YA manuscript was very interesting, great characters, but she couldn't feel the characters' emotions and there weren't enough internalizations to bring the reader closer to the characters.

So revising that is on my to-do list. Another writer told me about a YA contest with an October deadline. That gives me plenty of time. But I'm still pushing forward on my mystery. I've rewritten the opening with some new characters and hopefully more oomph. I *think* I've found the right voice for it. That's been the hardest part. It's got to be just right for the story. At first I was aiming for a sort of chick lit type voice with a humorous edge. But that's not me. The humor part, yes, but with a little more grit and gristle to it!

Someone in one of my online writing groups mentioned having some things out on your desk that remind you of what you're writing and your characters. I'm going to print off some good roller derby pictures. I think it will prove immensely helpful. I find it hard to write at work on my lunch hour, and I think it's because of the atmosphere. It's work after all!

On another note, I've had another idea for another manuscript. Actually it's been rumbling around in my head in one form or another for quite a long time. Years. Maybe I should seriously consider it (AFTER I finish the current wip of course!) It would be a thriller which would be a first for me. Maybe even a sort of romantic suspense although more like suspense with a romance in it. Something that men might read as well. (Funny but I always think of myself as writing for women...) I'll add it to the long list of other ideas waiting to be hatched into life.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Importance of Research

AAAARRRGH. That's me screaming. I had this whole post written--what a beauty too--and I accidentally hit something and it DISAPPEARED! Woe is me.

Anyway...I was rambling on about how I hadn't accomplished much this week other than mucho tinkering with the old plot thanks to some help from my online plotting group Plot Hatchers. Bless you, ladies! I also did a lot more research on roller derby. I concentrated on reading blogs related to roller derby and got lots of ideas for conflict, plot twists, etc. I would highly recommend it. If you are writing about a particular racing, for instance...go to blogspot or your favorite and plug it into the search engine. All sorts of wonderful things will pop up.

I discovered one most amazing thing. According to a news report I unearthed, girls, desperate to get into a top college in this year when college applications have hit an all-time record, have turned away from the unbiquitous sports like soccer and lacrosse, guessed it...roller derby!

Hmmmm, can I work an over-achieving coed into my manuscript?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Starting Over

Last week was something of a wash. My writing coach and I exchange our goals at the beginning of the week and then review them to see how we've done at the end of the week. Unfortunately I did not accomplish any of my goals.

On the other hand, I did stop to do some more background work--fixing plot problems, doing character sketches, etc. I think it is going to make for a stronger story. It means starting over, but there are bit and pieces I can keep.

I hope this isn't my internal editor's way to getting me to stop and smell the revisions! I started this determined to push forward without going back to edit.

Friday, March 9, 2007


Had to check the spelling of that!

Or maybe I should have entitled this "phoenix" for my novel rising from the ashes. Even though I am 50 pages in, I still haven't been satisfied with the plot. I'm in a wonderful, small plotting group, and they gave me some ideas and urged me to keep thinking. While walking the dog, I GOT IT. Or most of it. I'd been approaching this too analytically. I needed to concentrate on the backstory of my characters. Some of the answers were right there.

If I trust the process, the rest will come as I write/think/sleep/walk the dog (pray for good weather).

Sometimes I think this is the most fun you can have without involving large amounts of chocolate!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Blue Collar Broads

I saw my first roller derby game tonight! It was wild and great fun. The Blue Collar Broads beat the Roustabouts. All are incredible skaters. Wild costumes. Interesting crowd of people--everything from punk dyed hair and piercings to families with kids. Enormous potential for a story. I'm already rethinking my plot...

Went to a Thai restaurant with our friends afterwards, and they were all weighing in on my potential plot. Some good ideas there...

I think it's going to be fun. Of course no writing got done today. But I have soaked up lots of wonderful impressions...

Friday, March 2, 2007

Are We Having Fun Yet?

I've got 45 pages, and I'm darned proud of it. I've even had some fun with it. Did you know that my protag's brother-in-law would suddenly announce after 15 years of marriage and three kids that he's gay? Neither did I, but I'm going to have a lot of fun with it. (I'm working on a humorous cozy mystery meaning most violence is offstage).

I would have liked to have written more, but this has been the week of all weeks. I have to stop viewing writing as WORK which I never used to before I started writing so much on my day job. It helps to grab my Alphie (portable word processor) and get in bed early with it or sit in my great big chair with the ottoman.

Coming up on the weekend and that's the hardest time for me to write what with family all over the place expecting attention. Tomorrow I am doing research though--hubby and I are going to a roller derby game. My mystery is set in the world of roller derby, and I can't wait to see a game firsthand.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I'm very proud of myself for writing in spite of serious distractions. DD came to spend the night on Monday and was in bad shape although she did eat dinner with us. By last night she was angry, argumentative and refusing to eat at all (she is being treated for bulimia/bipolar/ADHD). Both nights I was sad/upset/concerned...but I managed to get my fingers onto the keyboard and get down some words. Funny, but I got into the writing and it sort of carried me away from life for a bit.

Tonight she is being admitted to the hospital which we tried to avoid (it will be her 10th or 11th stay) but at least I will be able to rest knowing she is safe.

My lunch hour is nearly over, but I did manage to get some more words. I'm keeping up with my goals, but I puprosely made them small to start.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Life Interferes

But I try not to let it. I was all set to write on my lunch hour (busman's holiday since I do a lot of writing at work), practically had my fingers on the old keyboard, when the phone rang. It was dd (23 yrs. old). She has bipolar disorder and is a wonderful girl but a challenge. She has been doing quite well but lately I've noticed some signs of a downward slide...again. It happens four or five times a year. I was feeling pretty bummed and hoping that I had misread the signals.

But here I am ready to write, and she calls having a mini-meltdown. By the time I hung up all creative urge had vanished to be replaced by an urge for gooey, sweet, highly caloric foodstuffs..since I'm at work and can't have any of the hard stuff.

But I put my fingers BACK on the keys, and managed to subdue my own neurotic tendencies toward extreme worry long enough to bang out a page and a half. Triumph! I am at the end of Chapter two and perking right along. It still feels like crap, but I think there are one or two funny moments and a couple of decent sentences.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Is There an Editor In the House?

I'm up to 8 pages. Unfortunately I don't like any of them. I did reread even through I promised I wouldn't. One minute I thought it wasn't so bad, and the next I was convinced I had lost any ability to write that I might have once possessed. No more going back. Promise. Even if my fingers are crossed.

I haven't found the right "voice" for the piece yet. It needs to be light and funny. I am not taking myself seriously with this manuscript. I think I need to spend a little more time getting into the head of my protag so forward progress might be temporarily halted.

I am getting into the swing of things though. Was irritated with hubby last night because he wanted me to hang around drinking V-day champagne and eating chocolates with him instead of hunkering down over the computer. And reading the book he got me. Ahem. Nearly 100 new ways to do something we've already been doing for quite awhile now.

Time out tonight for Grey's Anatomy (hey, it's part 2). Then fingers on the keyboard. I promise.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Chapter One, Page One

And so it begins. I'm trying not to look back at what I've written. It's not absolutely terrible, but it's not great either. I'm trying to find the right "voice". Once I get that, I'll be on a roll. I'm trying to just give it time and not panic.

It's hard not to go back and read and reread and edit. I've got four pages--two more than my goal for the day. I spent some time doing a little research which will come in handy, but it's still not writing so it doesn't really count. I'll have to see how I feel about it in the morning. Maybe I'll have an epiphany during the night!

Friday, February 9, 2007

I am so dumb. 24 hours later and I've already forgotten that my "user name" is the same as my email address. Sheesh.

No writing yet...still planning. Very scared. I'm afraid the words won't come, and I won't be able to get what is in my mind down on paper. And that it won't be as funny as I'd like it to be (light, comic mystery). I've written at least 8 manuscripts so far, and somehow the words always showed up so I don't know why all the panic. I sort of feel like this is my "last chance". Ridiculous.

Sunday I plan to sit down with my cookbooks and come up with a week of healthy! menus for me, hubby and the kid remaining at home. Then I'll be able to get dinner out of the way and WORK. I can also do a little on my lunchbreak at the office, but I sometimes find that the atmosphere stifles creativity, and I tend to write as if someone were looking over my shoulder. Doesn't work well for sex scenes! Or just about any scene...

I'd love to do 5 pages per day. Secretly I'm hoping for 10. I want to get the first draft DONE. This isn't going to be Shakespere. I hope to be plunged back into the submission process by summer.


Thursday, February 8, 2007

On your mark, get set...

I'm almost ready to join the great novel race. I just needed a blog. My blog at xanga is probably defunct by now and wouldn't be relevant anyway filled as it is with answers to stupid questionnaires with stuff like "what time do you get up" and "what's your favorite drink". So I am starting over here.

I'm still in the plotting stage and plan to start writing on Monday, February 12th. It's a mystery. Set in the world of women's roller derby. Hopefully funny and a little chick lit-ish. No title as of yet. It's something like my 8th manuscript. Mostly mysteries, a couple of YAs and two romances. I've had two agents and a lot of disappointments. But back on the horse. Maybe this will be IT.