Mystery...Romance...Sci Fi...Humor... The joy of writing fiction - meeting brand new people in places that don't yet exist.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Frustration! (Or If It Works for Nora…)

Those of you who follow my blog have heard me bemoaning this problem before but I’m still struggling with POV in my WIP. To recap the action thus far: I finished the first/second (I do a lot of editing as I go) draft of a mystery novel and I was quite pleased with it except for the size. At a whopping 150,000 words, I knew I had to do some serious trimming. While I was working on the trimming, I became aware - through various writer’s blogs and articles - that my preferred POV, third person omniscient, has fallen out of favor in the writing world and is only acceptable from mega-authors like Nora Roberts. Not feeling I was in a position to buck the system, I went back to the beginning and started eliminating all the in-scene POV shifts (head hopping).

In some scenes, it was easy. Removing incidental or even accidental POV shifts not only smoothed the flow but also allowed me to cut some unnecessary text, which helped with the overall trimming. But in some scenes, especially ones between my two central characters, I felt that forcing the scene into a single POV actually spoiled the flow. And I started to wonder if I was doing the right thing. What if this story actually works better in 3rd person omni?

After I had second guessed myself into a complete standstill, I decided to seek outside help. I e-mailed someone I’ve met via blog and e-mail - who knows current styles and whose opinion is obviously respected by the authors in the circle of blogs I’ve been following - and I asked her to read a scene, one of those I hadn’t been able to change, and give me her opinion. She was kind enough to do so. But she told me she liked the scene and it works as written. POV shift and all.

Now what do I do? As I see it, I have two options: Continue following popular opinion and remove all in-scene POV shifts, or eliminate all unnecessary POV shifts but keep ones in the scenes between the main characters which I think are important to the flow.

I don’t want to hurt my chances of getting accepted by an agent and/or publisher but neither do I want to destroy what I’ve written trying to make it fit into the proper box.

This whole thing is messing with my head!!!

Suggestions/opinions gratefully accepted.

Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 117,548.  TOTALLY STALLED!

I'm currently enjoying: Reel Murder by Mary Kennedy

Quote of the day: I'm losing my mind!  Linda Leszczuk

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Very Quick Nine Year Old

Okay, I have no ideas for a blog tonight so instead I'm going to share this true conversation between a Very Quick Nine Year Old and his Dad, who was trying to yank his chain:

Dad (calling home around 5:45 on a Thursday afternoon): “Hey, Buddy, why aren’t you at football practice?"

VQNYO: “It’s Thursday, Dad.  I have practice on Wednesday and Friday.”

Dad: “But they called a special practice for tonight.”

VQNYO: “Nobody told me about a special practice.”

Dad: “Oh, wait…my bad. The special practice is just for the really good players.”

VQNYO: (without missing a beat) “Yeah? It must stink to be one of the really good players because the great players are home watching TV.”

(that's my boy)

Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 117,548.

I'm currently enjoying: Dead Air by Mary Kennedy

Quote of the day: Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Thomas Alva Edison

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Okay, ecstasy first.

Last Wednesday, or actually the wee hours of Thursday morning, I came across a contest: Janet Reid, Literary Agent: A writing contest that will knock your sox clean off!  It was a writing challenge that was kind of quirky and looked like fun so I gave it a shot.

The results were posted on Saturday: 101 Things I Learned in Contest School aka We have a winner! There were 165 entries. The post opened with Janet’s comments on certain lines or clever references she particularly liked. There were over twenty mentioned. I didn’t really have any great expectations but hope springs eternal. Alas, no mention of my entry. Then she got to the heading, These entries made the final cut:   And there…the very first name…was mine!!!   No, I didn’t make the top three finalists but I just got the biggest kick out of having been noticed at all. I mean, this is an agent! A for real agent!  And my little 100 word impromptu entry made the final cut.

I was so pumped I unwrote another 755 words from my overweight novel.

Oh, the agony? I have to go back and scratch off all those 4th grade football games from my calendar. My grandson fractured his finger in Sunday’s game and will most likely be out for the season.  (Hey! This is important stuff here!!!)

Unwriting progress: From 150,000 words down to 118,459.

I'm currently enjoying: A Murder Hatched by Donna Andrews

Quote of the day: All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.  Charles M. Schulz

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How Do You Start a Year?

Two of my grandkids started school on Tuesday. The other two start today. A new year. Full of hope and promise and possibilities. For kids, and anyone else tied to the academic world, this “new year” is probably a lot more significant than the one that starts on January 1. And then there’s the fiscal year. For me, at work, that begins on July 1. It’s not quite a fresh start – many projects flow from year to year – but there are new goals and deadlines and a nice fresh budget to work with.

For sports fans there are lot of new years. The new year for my Red Sox begins in April. And hopefully runs through October.

I like the beginning of a new year. The concept of a fresh start. I make all kinds of resolutions and goals and write them down in the Daytimer I live by. The personal ones get made in January; the job related ones happen in July. Although this year was a little different. For the first time in decades, the job goals were only for six months. I’ll be retiring in December. Whew! Talk about a new beginning.

How about you? When does your year begin, or do you have more than one? Is it a biggie for you, with goals and resolutions, or does it just sort of slide by?  Hmmmm, maybe I'll do my next blog about goals and new year resolutions.  Would you share yours?

Unwriting progress: From 150,000 words down to 119,000.  (not much writing time since my last post)

I'm currently enjoying: A Murder Hatched by Donna Andrews (not much reading time either)

Quote of the day: An ignorant person is one who doesn't know what you have just found out. - Will Rogers

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Twenty Year Journey of Kiri Hunter

Yesterday I was poking around in some old files and found myself reading through the history of Kiri Hunter. I created the character of Detective Sergeant Kiri Hunter in 1990. I liked Kiri. She was smart, tough, fiercely loyal, and had a most unusual secret. She came to life in a sci fi romance THE WYDAR WAY. It was the first book I tried to get published and it did, in fact, get picked up by an agent in 1994 but the agent didn’t seem to know quite what to do with the mixed genre (I don’t think they were as common back then) and after while we went our separate ways.

Somewhere around 2005, I went back to Kiri Hunter and decided she was too good a character to let die. I did some re-writes on the original story and tried again. I was working my way through the query process when a family tragedy put everything on hold for a couple years. When life started up again and I went back to my writing; I had a light bulb moment (right above my head, just like in the cartoons!). I realized most of the books I was reading were mysteries. Preferably with some romance mixed in, but basically mysteries. I really loved mysteries! And here I had this great police detective wasting away in a sci fi romance.

So I disassembled the sci fi romance - pulling out the characters I wanted to keep, some key story elements, and the romance - and started working on a mystery. New characters, new plot lines, clues and red herrings…cut some love scenes, added some action…now Kiri’s got a lot more to work with. And in keeping with her long journey – a new title: HUNTER’S WAY.

HUNTER’S WAY is in re-writes now and I’ve got a ways to go on those, but I hope this time Kiri can make her way out into the world. After all, she’s been trying to get there for twenty years.

How about you? Do you have a favorite character you’ve kept resurrecting because he/she is too good to let go?

Unwriting progress: From 150,000 words down to 119,000.

I'm currently enjoying: A Murder Hatched by Donna Andrews

Quote of the day:  Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life. ~ Lawrence Kasdan

Friday, August 13, 2010

Part-time Writer’s Lament


Up at 6:30 am. Ran 5K. Took the dogs on my post-run cool down walk (that’s as much as they can manage with his heart condition and her arthritis). Fed the dogs breakfast. Filled the birdfeeders while the dogs ate. Forced six prescription medications into two dogs – one of whom is very creative in his pill resistance. Did a quick e-mail, FB, and blog check. Answered/commented on a couple. Showered and dressed. Drove to work. Worked a little over eight hours (ate lunch at my desk). Drove to the vet’s office, picked up more prescription meds for the dogs. Drove to the re-hab facility where my mother in law is recovering from surgery. Helped her eat dinner and stayed to put her to bed. Drove home. Changed clothes. Fed the dogs dinner. Forced seven prescription medications into two dogs – one of whom is still very creative in his pill resistance. Went through the snail mail. Ate a small dietetic dinner (blech) while reading a couple chapters of my current read. Ignored the housework, laundry, and other chores. Settled down at my desk. Checked e-mail, FB, and blogs. Answered/commented on some. Wrote a short post for my own blog. Now... the rest of the evening is mine. Writing time!

But it’s (yawn) almost 11:00.

Why aren’t my creative juices flowing?

I'm currently enjoying: A Murder Hatched by Donna Andrews

Quote of the day: If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write. ~ Stephen King

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Confessions of a Closet Head Hopper

Back in the dark ages, when I first started writing, I took classes and read books on writing and tried to learn the craft side of the art. One of the basics that seemed pretty clear at the time was point of view. The most likely candidates for me were first person, third person, and third person’s cousin: omniscient. I understood most of the advantages and disadvantages of each and I usually felt most comfortable using third person omniscient. I liked having the ability to let my reader know what was going on in the minds of multiple characters.

Fast forward to the present. I’m still writing and trying to position myself to make a serious run at getting published. I’m following blogs and listening to other writers and I run into the phrase, head hopping. Head hopping, as I understand it, is using the third person omniscient POV to move in and out of multiple characters’ minds and is considered a definite no-no. Slightly confused, I go back to books I’ve particularly enjoyed reading and study the POV. I find an assortment of POV’s, including some that seem to be guilty of head hopping…but that are hugely successful. Of course, I then discover that one of the exceptions to the rule on head hopping is Nora Roberts and some of the books I’ve been re-reading are JD Robb’s In Death series (is there anyone out there who does not know JD Robb is Nora Roberts?). But as a reader, I still enjoy a certain amount of head hopping.

So I’m still working on my re-writes and I’m focusing on the POV and cleaning up some random head hopping and I get to this scene: Four people are sitting at a table having a conversation. POV is on person A. Person A leaves the table for a minute and something is said by person B to the other two before person A comes back and the scene continues. I want the reader to “hear” this comment but not person A. From the omniscient POV, I should be able to do this but since person A is not present to hear the comment, I believe this constitutes a head hop. Unfortunately, the most common solution – splitting the scene – would create an awkward break in the flow of the story.  Now I'm sitting here scratching my head, trying to decide what to do?

I’ve reached a point where I’m getting absolutely paranoid on the subject, so I’d like your input. As a reader, do you like some forms of head hopping or does it hamper your enjoyment of the story. As a writer, do you think there is such a thing as an acceptable head hop? Where do you draw the line?

I'm currently enjoying: Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais

Quote of the day: We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. ~ Ernest Hemingway

Monday, August 9, 2010

Caught with my blog down!

Oh no!  Monday morning and no time to write my morning post!  Actually I have a burning question I want to pose - wrote it in my head this morning while running - but haven't got time to type it up right now.  So I'm filling in with just a couple personal notes and a request for you to PLEASE come back tomorrow morning, because I'm really hoping for your input then.

Personal notes:

A HUGE thank you to author Mary Kennedy for the autographed copy of REEL MURDER and for sending links and leads to this newbie to help me in my quest to be published.  I really appreciate the help.

I hit two milestones in my quest to get my pitiful body into shape.  As of Saturday I've lost 50 lbs. and this morning I ran my 5K (3.1) route without dropping to a walk, even on THE HILL.  First time I've made it all the way without a walk break since I starting running again last spring.  Can I get a woo woo?

I'm currently enjoying: Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais

Quote of the day: Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money. ~ Jules Renard

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

From the Beginning (or How to Read a Series)

I paid a visit to my local bookstore yesterday. It was new release day and I did pick up Heather Webber’s latest, Deeply, Desperately (which I’ve already finished - great read) but I also picked up three other books that were not new releases. I’m one of those readers who, when I find a new author or series I’m interested in, likes to go back to the beginning and read them in order. Sometimes that calls for a marathon read…I discovered JD Robb’s In Death series when she was on book twenty-something. Took me almost six months to catch up.

This time out, I bought Endangered Species by Nevada Barr, Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris, and The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen. A friend introduced me to the Anna Pigeon novels (Barr) but the book she gave me was the eighth in the series. I liked it and went out and bought number one. I’ve finished the first four; Endangered Species is number five.

Suspense and Sensibility is the second of the Darby Mysteries. I read the first one, Pride and Prescience, before attending Carrie Bebris’ class at the Antioch Writer’s Workshop last month. There are only three in series so far so I won’t have far to go to catch up.

Three guesses what prompted me to buy The Surgeon. Yup, I watch TV. There’s a whole bunch of books out in the Jane Rizzoli series, so if I get hooked on these, it could mean another marathon.

What I find very interesting is the way different authors handle writing series. Some develop story arcs and relationships from book to book (which makes reading them in order more important). Others carry very little from one story to the next. Some try to include explanations for things that were established in precious books while others give only vague references.

How about you? If you’re a writer, how do you handle carrying a series from book to book?

As a reader, do like to read a series in order or are you happy jumping in anywhere? Why?

I'm currently enjoying: Just finished Heather Webber's latest - Deeply, Desperately.

Quote of the day: The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense. ~ Tom Clancy

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Two for the Price of One

Just a couple items today...

I am the happy owner of a beautiful quilt centerpiece from Dru Ann L Love.  MEGA THANKS, DRU.  If you follow Dru's blog,  Notes From Me, you've seen her work and know why I'm so pleased.  If you don't follow Dru's should.

The hottest contest of the summer is going on at Fiction GroupieIt's Roni & Julie's Totally Epic Summer Contest!  If you like writing or reading, you'd be a fool not to check out this one.

Oh, and a follow up to yesterday's blog...the crisis is over and we're in full clean up mode.

I'm currently enjoying:  Going to the bookstore this morning to pick up Heather Webber's latest - Deeply, Desperately.

Quote of the day:  Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very;" your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~ Mark Twain

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday Moaning

Some days I sit down to write and it’s just not happening. It’s my own fault…I’ll check my e-mail hoping to find something to answer or I’ll organize my in-box a little. Then over to my blog list to read and comment. And read the comments that came after my comment. Facebook is always good to kill some time. I read what everyone’s up to and toss in my two cents here and there. And if I run out of ways to procrastinate, there’s always Spider Solitaire.

Yesterday was different. I had the whole evening to write and I was ready, I’d worked out the sequence of events, I could hear the dialogue, I just had to get it all down. My only distraction was getting the laundry done – which works in nicely because it gives me those little ‘walk away’ moments to think as I move loads from the washer to the dryer, from the dryer to the folding table (or hanging rod). I was on a roll!

Until I popped downstairs to do one of those laundry moves and stepped into cold water. The basement was flooded. The main line was blocked and all the water draining from the washer had backed up (along with other, less desirable water) through the floor drain. The multiple loads of laundry I had left sorted on the floor acted like sponges, sopping up the incoming flow but not enough to save the carpet in the finished section. Luckily, we own a wet-vac so we were able to take care of some of the mess but I still have a basement full of sodden laundry and soaked carpet and we can’t use anything in the house that would send water into that blocked line without re-flooding the basement.

So now it’s Monday morning and I’m home waiting for the plumber. And I'm trying to write and it’s not happening. Don’t you hate it when life gets in your way like that?

Maybe I’ll play some Spider Solitaire.