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Posts Tagged ‘author’

Someone (Kasie) from my writing group compares her novel to the movie Sliding Doors. I’d never seen this movie until yesterday and only caught the last hour. I loved the movie and can’t wait to watch it someday in its entirety. But here is my favorite part: A guy meets his friend in a pub and declares excitedly, “I finished it!” His friend says, “Your book?” and the guy says, “No. I’m a novelist, it’ll never be finished.” (I’m paraphrasing here since I didn’t know at the time I’d be quoting this wise and true statement). Now I have the perfect comeback for such presumptions and can’t wait for someone to assume I’ve finished my book so I can say that.  

So this person (Kasie) from my group of four members has not only finished her book and can readily admit it, but just sold her book to a publisher. Or rather her agent did. In this day of dismal statistics for debut writers, this news is inspiring. It gives me hope that there are still agents willing to take on newbies and still publishing houses willing to publish them. Check out Kasie\’s blog where she will share the query that landed her the agent who signed her. She is not only an awesome query writer, she is also an awesome writer, writer buddy, critiquer, and all things writing and not writing.

Yay for Kasie.

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Since October, my vision has been failing drastically. Or maybe it just seems drastic. One day I can read with no assistance and the next, I need glasses. But cheap drugstore glasses aren’t helping with the computer screen. With or without them, my eyes strain on the computer. I’ve tried fiddling with the brightness and contrast and all that jazz, and nothing has worked. Even typing this, I cannot look at the screen.

I had hopes for the new “special” glasses the optometrist said would complete my life. And no, they don’t work, either. So I guess I’ll just rely on my keen sense of hearing to finish my book. (note: I have an affliction called CHS aka Can’t Hear Shit. So, uh, maybe not.)

Though, I once read that if one of your senses is impaired, another one will be stronger to compensate. It’s true. Because now I hear voices.

Whatever I’m doing, I hear myself narrating in my head.

As I’m driving, I hear, “…she slams on her brakes at the black animal in the road. She’s going to save it. Tears pool in her eyes at the heap as she tentatively approaches. “It’s dead!” she screams, then sees it’s just a tire …”

When scrounging for something to eat, I hear, “…she opens the pantry to emptiness. The fridge is bare. Listless, she trudges to bed where she vows to waste away to nothing. If only she weren’t blind, she’d have seen the pantry full, the fridge stocked…”

When I complain to the universe through my blog, I hear, “…they shake their heads, dab their eyes. Poor, poor deaf, dumb and blind Tricia (especially dumb). Maybe I should offer to finish her book for her. Maybe I’ll find her an agent while I’m at it. Must do a query letter …”

You might not be thinking you thought that, but you did. I heard it. Hey, wait I heard that too. Take it back.

“…she watches Spongebob marathons until the 3rd person narrative voices fade away, and soon after, she does as well …”

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The memoir that grew into a novel that shrunk into a short story collection. Almost. I still haven’t decided on that last part: the short story collection. And I wouldn’t say the memoir “grew” into a novel exactly. More like I changed lanes. The word out there is memoirs won’t sell, unless you’re famous. Unfortunately, I had already written it at this point.

I started out with the idea of humorous Family Stories told in short stories like that of David Sedaris. But word out there is short stories won’t sell, either, unless you’re famous.

I like my story better as a memoir, because to make it a novel I must actually follow rules, a formula complete with a beginning, middle and end and with plot points, character arcs, resolutions, and, omg, a likeable character.

So rules, I followed. And I rewrote and rewrote and read and read, not for pleasure, but for scene structure and pace and all the while I was impatient to be done … again. So I took bits of my book and reworked some of them into short stories and submitted to lit journals and some actually got published. But I’m not ready to submit the remaining thirty shorts from my book all over kingdom come. My dream is to be read (nice if I was paid too). My dream isn’t for this one big story to be read in bits and pieces. It’s like a series of one-night stands without any true bonding with the standee/characters. For any of you who have read my published excerpts—and admits to it—I want to yell, “But wait, There’s More.”

Then came the idea that I should publish all the stories to lit journals, then compile them all into a short story collection.

My indecisiveness is what keeps me from moving ahead. I need to decide its fate before I read my novel once more for plot holes. Should I choose to move ahead with a short story collection, I’ve got a little dismantling work ahead of me. If I choose to keep it a novel, I’ve got more rewrites—you mean there needs to be a plot? Easier would be to know the direction before taking the journey. 

Do you like reading short story collections or do you prefer a long-term relationship with your character? Come back on Friday to meet a special guest who managed to do both by compiling a short story collection and by linking the stories to create a thread through one character’s life. She will be discussing short stories vs. novels (she’s written both).

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I would like an expanded author page added to inside book jackets. In addition to the usual, I would like the following:

How long did it take, from start to finish, to complete this novel/memoir/true crime/whatever? Plus, a breakdown from first draft to revisions. (me: first draft one year exactly. Revisions going on three years)

How many hours a day did you devote to its completion?  (me: time is becoming extinct for me. I set it aside for now)

Are you a pantser or a plotter? (me: pantser)

If this is your first published novel, how did you break in? (me: [will be] by stalking an agent, breaking into their car and waiting for them to get off work, then pitching my book. If they take a subway, then I’ll hijack the public address system and pitch that way. If they take a cab, I’ll be the driver. If they walk …)

If you queried an agent, please share your winning query with us. Links to your website are okay. (me: perhaps I should ditch stalking and try the dreaded query. Not)

Do you have burning questions you’d want addressed on an author page? Plus, what are your own answers to my questions?

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Truth is stranger than fiction. We’ve all heard that one before. But I saw something very disturbing that I thought I’d share.

Across the street, and in full view of the window by where I do all my gazing writing, I saw my seventy-year-old neighbor smoking from a small bronze colored pipe. In. Broad. Daylight. This is not the wooden pipe our grandfathers smoked, nor is this a grandfather, but a grandmother.  Are you with me so far?

So she keeps taking hits from this metal contraption, tapping it upon occasion, while I keep my face smashed up against the window in disbelief. I feel a bit voyeuristic and unneighborly and unsatisfied.

Because now I need to tell someone.

Who can I call that would believe this? No one will. It’s too out of character for a mature woman who spends her days puttering in her yard and garden to be standing in her driveway getting high.

Surely there’s a good reason why her mind snapped, and I should be doing all I can to help her through her crisis. Instead, I call my mother, she’ll believe it. Mother has been threatening to snap in a similar manner for years. But just as I punch her numbers, I see my neighbor take her pipe and screw it into the ground then turn on her sprinkler system where water now flows clog-free, and my phone returns to its cradle, and my red face slides down the window to meet my slumped body on my seat.

So that, my friends, is my lesson today on believable characters. We wouldn’t suddenly have one of our fictional characters do something outside their profile. Like I tried to pull in my own writing (and with my neighbor).  Yesterday in my critique group, a member asked me if I was still submitting my book as fiction. When I said yes, she said, while this scene worked when it was told as memoir, as fiction, it’s out of character.

Ah, yes. The ole truth-is-more-believable and stay-in-character advice. I needed it in more ways than one.

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