Monday, October 26, 2009

Scrivenings about Scrivener

Can't remember if I've blogged about The Best Writer's Software Ever here before, but I know I mentioned it on my newsletter. For those who read the blog and not the newsletter (silly people!) Scrivener is a unique writer's software that lets you do all sorts of amazing stuff. If I had more time I'd wax lyrical about all its amazing features, but since I'm itching to get back to character-building I'll just recommend you check out their website and watch the tutorial videos--or you can read the newsletter where I wrote about it. Seriously, if you're a writer, you need this software. Not just fiction writers, either--anyone would benefit from it.

The one thing some people see as a drawback of the program (not me, of course!) is that it is only written for Macs. The guy who developed it is a Mac guy, and actually learned how to code for Macs just so he could develop the software for the OS X platform. However, he gets asked *constantly* whether or not he'll make a PC version, and now he's taking a poll to see what the real interest for that version would be. If you like what you see but want it for Windows, click here and scroll to the bottom to go to their poll and give him a thumbs up for PC.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Help me research!

I've started the research for the next book and wow, this one's gonna be a research doozy! I'm looking at some books I may get for some of it, but it's always so much more helpful for me to be able to dialogue with people who are experienced in the area I'm researching, so I can ask the weird little questions that books don't typically address. So, to that end, I'm putting out a call! If you or someone you know has either had a heart transplant, knows someone who has, or has served on a medical team that performs heart transplants, and you/they would be interested in answering some questions for me, please send me a note. Thank you!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Done. Really.

When I got back from the ACFW conference, I "took back" my manuscript from Nicci the Wonder Editor because I had come up with so many changes I wanted to make. Well, when I started making those changes, I found other things to change, and then some more, and, well, I FINALLY finished last night, a month after starting "just a few quick changes." I just don't know how to stop!

What's funny is that two of the scenes I was going to change ended up not getting touched, at least not as extensively as I'd originally intended. But once I started reading through the book--for the first time since finishing it--SO MANY THINGS jumped out at me. But it was nearly all craft stuff. Wording--making it better. Description--cutting it or making it more compelling, since description ends up getting skimmed by the reader 90% of the time anyway. Explaining--Oh.My.Gosh. I spend WAY too much time hitting you, my poor readers, over the head with things! Can you say "control freak"? I'm working really, really hard on subtlty, and on trusting you to be smart enough to figure things out without me pointing them out and clarifying and explaining all the time.

So anyway. I think the book is way better now.I'll have to compare versions to see how many words I ended up cutting--I slashed entire paragraphs, entire pages in more than once place. Granted in some places I replaced those paragraphs with new ones, though none of the pages got replaced with entire pages, that's for sure.

And I have to say, this book turned out SO much better than I expected. Struggling with it for so long, rewriting it twice (or was it three times? It's been so long--I started it back before Abby was born!--I forget now how many incarnations it's had!), I just couldn't see it objectively anymore. I always get to that point with my books, but with this one I just couldn't bear to think about it anymore. But taking that month away and then coming back to make those "few changes" gave me the perspective I needed, and now I'm feeling a lot better about it. If I had more time, there are some changes I'd make, but it's time to let it go. There are *always* more changes that can be made; eventually you just have to shut the laptop and say, "No more!"

And so, I am officially done with Reinventing Rachel. Until Nicci the Wonder Editor sends me her comments, anyway. Until then--I have a week to get the snowflake done for Muscle Memories, the book I'm NaNoWriMo'ing starting (hopefully) November 1. I worked some more on it yesterday while sitting in the car with two sleeping girls at REI in Denver. I'm almost done with the third step, and I figured out one of the parts I was stuck on, so that's good. Still looking for more layers, trying to build in more complexity and twists. I think those came more easily with The Weight of Shadows. I'm hoping, though, that as I continue to snowflake more of those will pop up.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Public Service Announcement

Before braving snow and ice and a 45 minute drive in sub-freezing temperatures to go to an event, double check that you've got the right date. Because you're going to feel like a serious idiot if you get all the way down there only to discover that no one knows what you're talking about because the freaking book signing isn't until NEXT WEEK.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

My first weekend

It's been a long time since I let my weekend be a true weekend. Tpyically when I'm working on a book, I see every day as a work day. It's one of the difficulties of working at home--it's very easy to slip upstairs and do a little work, even when you're supposed to be taking a breather.

I got really burned out after working through the summer to get my rewrite finished. I was frustrated because I felt like I had no time to recharge, to do things that help me relax, like scrapbooking and reading and working on my fledgling crochet skills. Every spare minute was going towards getting the book done, and by the time it was done, so was I.

So I told Dan I was going to start forcing myself to take a weekend. It doesn't have to be Saturday and Sunday, and it doesn't even have to be two consecutive days. Just two days during the week when I can hide myself away and do things that fill me back up. Creativity doesn't exist in a vacuum, and my writing creativity is fueled when my craft-y creativity is exercised.

So I have some new yarn and am going to start a hat for Dan on my cheater loom. I'm going to finish my 2007 Heritage Makers scrapbook and get it printed. I'm going to start my 2008, 2009, and California-to-Colorado move scrapbooks. I'm going to start PJ's first year baby book. I'm going to pull out the crocheting my mother-in-law started me on and try to pick that back up. And I'm going to READ. I'm in the middle of Christa Parrish's "Watch Over Me"--she's a fabulous new voice in Christian fiction, and I highly recommend her--and just started Diana Gabaldon's newest installment in the Outlander series, which is not as engaging as her other books were, though that might just be becuase it's been over two years since I read the last book and have forgotten the majority of the subplots and minor characters.

Today I'm pinned beneath a sleeping PJ on the couch and watching hockey (Go Avalanche!) and football (Go Irish! Go Illinois!). Once Abby is up from her nap we're all going downtown for Oktoberfest. I'm really having to fight the impulse to do some research or something, but I don't want to start giving myself excuses. The desire to be productive is going to have to be satisfied by the 4 loads of laundry I've done today. I have a hard time letting myself "not to anything," but I need to remember that margin and recreation DOES do something--it refreshes and reorients and re-energizes.

PJ is awake; Abby is going on 3 hours of nap and should probably be dragged out of bed soon so she's not awake until 11PM. The last load of laundry is spinning in the washing machine and it's sunny out for Oktoberfest. My first weekend in a long time. I think I could get used to this.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Here we go!

Today marks the beginning of a new book project for me. This book is the second for my Zondervan contract and will release April 2011. So weird to think how long it takes for the whole process, eh? And what's really nuts is that starting this book will mean I have three books in process at one time. Oi! How my brain keeps them all straight, I don't know, especially considering how few other things I can keep track of in life. I guess my plots and characters are taking up all the space and crowding out all the day-to-day stuff. :)

This month I'll be working on the research and snowflake for the book. If you've been reading my blog for the last few years, then you know how much I loathe research. I used to love it in college. Now, not so much. I just want to get to the story! But this one is going to take some serious work to get certain parts of it right, and the only thing I hate more than research is having someone read my book and point out all the mistakes I made. I'll do the research after I've done the snowflake, since I'd rather get all the research done at once, and once the snowflake is done I should have figured out all the things I need to learn and verify. I actually started working on the snowflake last month--Dan bought me a Treo (my first ever cool phone--usually I get the "free with a two year contract" piece of junk) and I've been writing the first three steps in the memo program. And this time I'm going to augment the character-building steps with some of the character-building questions I learned in the "My Book Therapy" session at the ACFW conference.

As I did last year with The Weight of Shadows, I'll be using National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) in November to start the actual draft. I'm already registered, already changed my home region to Denver, and am hopeful that I might get to actually join some fellow NaNoWriMoers at a local writing meetup.

NaNoWriMo should get me at least 50,000 words into the draft if I stay disciplined, which means I'll have December to finish it up. Last year I stuck with my 1667 words a day (that's what you write every day during NaNoWriMo) and finished it in plenty of time; this year I'm hoping for the same, although my brother and his awesome wife Kelli will be here for a few days at Christmas, so I may find myself playing catch-up that last week of the month.

January I'll put the thing away, cleanse my head of the story, and dive into the snowflake for book number two of my David C. Cook contract. I actually started the snowflake for that one already, too, back when that was going to be the book I worked on this month. Then in February I'll print out this book, do my own editing, and then send it in March 1 to editor extraordinaire, Sue Brower. Five months and voila! A book!

In other news...

If you're not a subscriber to my newsletter, then you might not know that The Weight of Shadows is available on Amazon for pre-order. I hope you'll consider placing an order--I would really love to see the thing hit their best-seller chart the day it releases, a totally doable goal if folks take advantage of the pre-order feature. If you're willing to do that, may I suggest signing up for my newsletter first, so you can enter the contest I'm running when you place your order? Just sign up in the field to the right, and you'll get an email with a link to the current newsletter that describes the contest. It's a multi-layered contest, with the first ten pre-orderers getting a free book and all the orderers between now and April 1 getting a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to your favorite book store. After the book is released, another contest will start...but again, only newsletter subscribers are eligible! (The letter is bi-monthly, and not that long; you're not going to get inundated with mail, I promise.)

Well, at this rate, today is going to be a day of talking about research and plotting, and not actually doing any of it. Not good. Time to get to work!