Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I sent my manuscript off!

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I just finished my latest manuscript (right now it's called: Last Wish) and sent it to my publisher. It's been an interesting book to write.

When I started it, Tim the mighty bow-tied one, called and told me he wanted me to dig deep. He wanted emotion. He wanted me to reach into my soul and confront my unspoken pain.

I have tried to convince Tim that I am basically a happy person, and I don't have all the angst churning around inside me that is so common with writers. This is probably the reason I write romantic comedies instead of Sylvia Plath-like stories of despair.

Tim doesn't buy my happiness. "Dig deeper," he told me. "What is under that layer of happiness?"

"Just more happiness, well unless you catch me when the kids are bickering with each other--then I yell until I hyperventilate, but I don't think teenagers really want to read about that . . ."

Still I wrote this story determined to take on a hard issue. Annika's little brother, Jeremy, has cancer and she decides to find and bring home his idol: the actor who plays Robin Hood.

It's still a funny book in a lot of places but it’s definitely more serious then my other novels.

And the weirdest thing happened while I wrote it. I swear the novel just poured out of my mind and onto the keyboard. I couldn't stop thinking about it even when I tried. Ideas and images came so fast I could hardly keep up with them. Even after I sent it off this afternoon I kept thinking about things I wanted to add.

I can't tell you the last time that happened while I wrote. While writing the last few books, it has sometime seemed like I had to wrestle words out of the air and pin them down to the computer screen.

I even cried at several points of the book. This is hard to explain when someone calls you while you're writing. Like the Boy Scout leader calls to talk about scout camp and I'm gulping out, “Yeah, we'll make sure to send in all the . . .sniff . . . permission slips."

See, this is why people think writers are strange.

Anyway, I'll be interested to hear what Tim's reaction to the new, apparently less happy me is.

Oh, who am I fooling? I know very well what his reaction will be. He'll tell me he really likes the story and then he'll scribble rewrite instructions on every single page.

Why should this book be any different than the rest?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Writing the Kissing Scenes . . .

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I find writing kissing scenes for YA books tricky. I mean, I love romance and apparently a lot of my teen readers like it too, but some of my readers are quite young and I always want my books to be—well, clean. It’s a fine line to walk. How much romantic language is appropriate?

Then there is the other problem. How many different ways can you descriptively write, “He leaned down and kissed her. And they kissed for awhile. Then they stopped.” See, it has to be dressed up somehow, made more literary, and made more immediate.

Not long ago I explained this problem to my husband. I asked him to kiss me like it was our first date so I could think of descriptive phrasing.

He isn't very cooperative about these sorts of requests. He gave me a humorless stare and said, “What, you want me to take you in my sinewy arms and pull you into my vice-like grip?”

I made him read a romance back in the 80s--you know, just so he would know what women expected from a man--and he's never let me live this down. In my defense it had been several years since I had read the aforementioned romance and I'd forgotten what it was like.

He walked over to me. “This is where I kiss you're welcoming mouth, right?”

I smacked him and reminded him that I write young adult fiction and there is none of the cheesy romance lingo in them.

He said, “You mean I'm not supposed to plunder your mouth?”

“How does anyone even do that?” I asked him. “Are you supposed to steal my fillings or something? Just kiss me like you don’t know me that well.”

He kissed me and I tried to arrange the description. “His unshaved beard stubble scraped across my skin . . .” Well, that just wasn't going to work.

He let go of me and rolled his eyes. ”Can't you just write about that first night I kissed you--remember Lake Braddock?” We'd gone there late one summer night after a dance and sat in the moonlight looking at the lake. “Don't you remember that?” he asked.

"All I really remember is that the ducks were sleeping."

"That's what you remember about that night?"

"Well, I'd never seen ducks sleep before. They look like they don't have heads."

"The summer night, the moonlight . . ." he supplied.

" . . .there among the headless ducks . . ."

Yeah, I never could get that memory to work for my novel. It’s a good thing I have a descriptive imagination.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jurassic Park and my new lap top

Do you remember that scene from the first Jurassic Park movie where the founder tells the visiting scientists that he personally holds every newly hatched dinosaur so he can form a bond with them? He wants their first experience with humans to be a positive, nurturing one so they’ll grow up to be tame dinosaurs.

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The lap top my husband ordered for me just arrived. It’s sitting in its box in the living room. My husband called and asked if I was going to open it.

I think not.

I carry the curse of technology-challenged, and I’m afraid if I touched it first some of the curse would transfer to the poor, harmless lap top. It would end up eternally flipping the hour glass at me.

I told my husband he’d better be the one who brings it out into the light of day. That way he can give it a positive, nurturing experience so it will grow up to be a tame computer.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Book signing at Barnes & Noble

I can't believe I haven't posted this on my blog yet! It may have something to do with throwing three birthday parties for my kids in the last three days. My advice to mothers: Don't give birth to three of your children within a two day period. (Not in the same year . . . although that would be a feat . . .)

Anyway I'll be at the Barnes & Noble in Scottsdale, Arizona tonight at 6:00 pm

Desert Ridge Marketplace
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
21001 N Tatum Blvd Suite 42, Phoenix AZ 85050
northeast corner of Loop 101 and Tatum.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Deep writing thoughts . . .

The Phoenix Microburst conference was great! Really, every time I teach at a writing conference I come away feeling like I’ve learned so much. David Morrell was great speaker. I could listen to him all day. In fact, I could follow him around from conference to conference like a stalker. (See last blog.)

For those of you who aren’t familiar with David’s books, he writes a lot of best sellers. He wrote First Blood, which was turned into all the Rambo movies. This is as close as I’ve gotten to Sylvester Stallone since I posed for a picture on his bed. (Long story.)

Anyway, David knows a ton about writing and promoting.
The good news: I’m now more motivated to shove all those flyers which are sitting in my family room into envelopes.
The bad news: I just realized that even if I become really famous, I will still have to shove flyers into envelopes, because David still does. He showed us some of his, in fact.

The envelopes apparently never end, and all I can say is thank goodness for self adhesive! Ditto goes for the stamps. I would choke if I had to lick them all.

David also said some things about writers that made me think. First of all, like many authors I know, he had a lousy childhood. This really makes me wonder if all writers have something traumatic happen in their young years. (Besides Junior High, that is, which is traumatic for everyone.) It makes me wonder what I’d be doing now if my mother hadn’t died when I was six. Maybe I’d be an executive of some corporation, or a really organized room-mother who makes matching theme shirts for all the students in her kid’s class on water day. Or at least maybe I’d be dressed and showered in the morning instead of huddled over a computer trying to delve into the psyche of characters who don’t really exist.

But Ces’t la vie.

David said that he thinks every person has one driving quality about them; something that motivates their actions. As writers we often say this about our characters, but I’ve never heard anyone say it about authors. I have since been wondering, but can’t tell you, what my over-riding quality is. I asked my husband but he is no help in these matters. He is an electrical engineer and therefore doesn’t notice people’s qualities. He does, however, understand how to work the computer so I keep him around.

David asked us to ask ourselves why we write. The obvious answer is, “Because I have to.” Most of us know this and leave it at that. He asked us to take the question one step further, “Why do I have to write?”

He spent some time telling us about his life and why he has to write. I won’t try to give you a synopsis of his answer because I couldn’t do it justice and you might want to hear him speak some day. (If you have the chance, do.) But since then I’ve turned the question over in my mind. Why do I have to write? I think I know the answer to this one, but I’ll let others weigh in first. What do you have to say, writers? Why do you have to write?