Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Nibble for Lunch

It is official - "Let's Do Lunch" has gotten it's first response, and - drum roll - from a small publisher, not from an agent.

That's right, after all the flames have died - it is a publisher, not an agent who has responded with that all important "send the first 3 chapters."

Credit for this goes out to - Brenna Lyons who was the first person to tell me that I was wasting my time looking for an agent, when an independent publisher was the way to go.

Thank you Brenna!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

In Search of a Hook but Stuck with a Cliché

You know the pressure to get that hook. The agent blogs scream for that great first line, first 16 lines, first page, and first chapter.

Must have HOOK!

So what do we do? We create one. Chase scenes, nightmares, kill off 'throw away' characters.

I did it too - Mine was a 'woke from a terrible dream.' Yep, tacky to put it out there, but there it is.

There has to be a better way.

If I only knew what it was.

However, I have a dream – er – no that's even worse, that's plagiarism.

I, Ms Kitty, do hear-by swear that I will no longer start my stories with a cliché. No matter how tempting, no matter how powerful the image, I shall not be tempted by the 'dream' demon.

I shall abstain from the cliché opening.

Today.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Stolen Gems - Rules to Write By

I stole this little gem from Authonomy.com

Rules for Writerers

1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
9. Also too, never ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
14. One should NEVER generalise.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Don't use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc
18. One word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary.
22. Never use a big word when substituting a diminutive one would suffice.
23. Kill all exclamation points!!!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forward earth- shaking ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
27. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell what you know."
28. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
34. Avoid "buzz-words"; such integrated transitional scenarios complicate simplistic matters.
And finally.....
35. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

Smile

Friday, May 8, 2009

Spring at Jordan's Croft

Good news!

Brownie hatched out 11 little bitsy peepers two days ago. Today she got them out of the nest. My husband ran off with the camera, or I'd have some of the cutest baby duck pictures that you've ever seen.

The problem with a mixed species flock is the ducks and the chickens get into turf wars. The best thing to do for the ducklings is to move them and Mommy to their own space.

Until yesterday the nursery pen was full of 12 Dominaker pullets. I moved the pullets into Chicken World yesterday afternoon. This is actually a heck of a lot trickier than it sounds. The 'pecking order' wars can start, pullets can get cornered and beat up. I was counting on having 12 to chase would keep the casualties to a minimum.

When I moved the pullets, I put them off to one side, blocked from the flock of Sony and the four hens. This would give everyone a day get used to each other. As usual with these brilliant ideas, I got outsmarted. The pullets were loose in Chicken World this morning. Everyone looked pretty happy.

Sony should be in Rooster heaven. These are all females, except for one cockerel who is my backup rooster. Sony will have a harem of 16 hens by the end of summer.

We will be neck deep in eggs come spring.

Did I tell you that I'm funding my retirement by selling eggs?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tanamara - Eye Injury

I glossed over it yesterday, because there was a whole lot going on in the writing side of my life. But Tanamara has injured her eye, and is being confined to her stall.

It's going over like a ton of bricks.

I tried to treat it myself, Monday and Tuesday, I got the swelling down enough to tell that I needed a vet. She beat me up pretty bad, yanked me off the ground twice. I was feeling very discouraged, until the vet and his assistant did no better.

I had him shoot her up with tranquilizers. Safe, fast, effective - well no - she fought us anyway. It still took three of us.

What's a small middle-aged woman to do?

Break out the clicker and the treats.

With the help of my sister, we got to the point where I could touch Tana's face in less than an hour. The 'training' held up an hour later, when with Dad's help we got the salve in her eye.

No tranquilizers!

What did we do? Clicker training is based the dolphin training. All treats, no tricks. Look here for the definition: Wikipedia on clicker training

It works, when I have the time to apply it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Let's Do Lunch - Flogged

There are a number of odd little websites around. I found "Flogging the Quill" by backtracking an Authonomite with an amusing story about a "Vampire Kitty." (Yeah, I'm a vampire-hater, but I love satire.) So my eye is caught by the fact that he will take a sample of your writing (first chapter - 16 lines) give it a review.

The man is an editor, as well as a writer. (Hey, gotta make a living.)

This is what he said on the page:

I wanted more
A good, clear voice and strong, clean writing pulled me in, and story questions about what this woman was going to do with her life got me to turn the page. In fact, it’s so clean that I don’t really have any nitpicks. However . . .

I did turn the page, and read on, which is what I do for these floggings. And I found the opening to be a little “bait and switch” in nature. The opening, which evokes the tragedy of 9/11 and its aftereffects on people, isn’t paid off with what happens next. Here are the next 16 lines:

Yep, busted on the old "bait and switch." I knew that would get me into trouble with about everyone.

But wait, look above that - "A good, clear voice and strong clean writing." (Batting eyelashes) No nit picks? (Fanning myself.) This guy knows his stuff and he picks a mean nit. (That's a complement.)

There's more: "That's my advice, (cut the first two chapters) for what it's worth. Finding fresh eyes will also be a help. Your writing and your prose is quite good, and seductive--it reminds me of a writer friend whose writing is similar in that I can't find any flaws in the first reading, but can with another pass or two."

That's it! He called my writing seductive. (I'm swooning.)

So here I sit, at the keyboard in the den at Jordan's Croft - wondering what I should do next.

The dilemma is the length of the manuscript. It's been an issue from day one. At 35k words I called it the first draft. I got to 89k words and declared the novel complete. The last editing pass - I started honing the prose. Now - I'm under 80k, somewhere around 75k without the steaming bedroom scene at the end.

If I cut those two chapters - where will I be word count wise? Those two chapters are 5.1k and 5.9k words respectively. Can I afford to cut my novel to 64k words?

Not if I want to sell it, most places want 80k to 100k words.

My options are:

1) Cut it, knowing it will be too short to sell, for the experience.
2) Cut it and add - something - to make up the difference.
a) The villain's PoV bombed when I tried it.
b) Expand the hero's PoV. (Which I haven't tried yet.)
3) Hire an editor - for the experience, knowing that they could kill the story without meaning to. (It's not selling, so what difference does that make?)
4) Send it to the Harlequin critique service - at the risk they will make it cheesy to fit a category. (This carries the possibility of a sale.)
5) Forget this novel - it's an improvement but "Swallow the Moon" is a hell of a lot better than "Lunch" any day.

Honestly, this is not the day to make the decision. Tanamara is stalled up with an eye injury. I'm home with a migraine from wrestling with her for two days trying to treat her eye.

She fought the Vet, the handler and me even twitched, so we tranked her.

She still fought.

I'm the one whose laid up, she took a nap.

Such is life on the farm.