Feed Me!

May. 2nd, 2007 11:03 am
rj_anderson: (Aztec Camera - Knife)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] jmprince for pointing me to Editorial Anonymous: A Blog of a Children's Book Editor. I've created a LiveJournal feed for those who'd like to have the posts show up on their friendslist:

[livejournal.com profile] editorial_anon

*wanders off, still snickering about the 6,000-word picture book*
Gone, gone, gone, gone, yes my book is gone,
Now my soul is free and in my heart's a song...

Except not really, because now that I have finished obsessively line-editing Knife and forced myself to mail it off, I can now look forward to spending the next few weeks/months chewing on my fingernails and wondering if the editor and the two agents who requested the full ms. of Knife are going to say "yay!" or "pphhllbbttt!"

To reward myself for rewriting a 104,000 word novel in five months, I am going to buy this book, which I hope will make writing my next book a lot easier. It was [livejournal.com profile] superwench83's review that convinced me. However, I have determined to take a sanity break from writing for the rest of December, so I'll have to wait until January to find out if the book's system really works.

Things I must now do, the sooner the better:
  • Get my two younger children immunized against chicken pox, since my oldest has already succumbed. I do not want to be dealing with poxy children over Christmas if I can help it.

  • Go over my message for our church's Coffee Hour this Thursday.

  • Round up the choir for another couple of practices before the Christmas program on Sunday night.

  • Make Bible-type costumes for my two sons who are in said Christmas program. (Note to self: look for bathrobes at Goodwill. You will not find them since 1,000,000 other mothers with children in Christmas plays will be doing the same thing, but it will make you feel better that you tried.)

  • Shop for 16 nephews and nieces. (Fortunately, most of them like books. Even better, most of them like fantasy/SF. Win!)

  • Make Snickerdoodles (thank you, [livejournal.com profile] kizmet_42), Alaskan shortbread, and Carrot Pudding. Possibly The Thing as well, if I feel up to it.

Also, I have a question of deep and abiding import:
[Poll #886973]

Thank you for participating in our survey. Your name has been automatically entered into our draw to win a no-prize!

Also, thanks to everyone for the virtual stocking gifts, many of which made me sporfle.


Dec. 6th, 2006 04:25 pm
rj_anderson: (Saffron Cake)
My Inner Editor and I have come to a truce. Fixing Chapter Four turned out to be positively simple after a good night's sleep ("Weeping endureth for a night, but joy cometh in the morning," and all that). Then when I re-read Chapter Eight, which two months ago was the Worst Chapter Ever, and discovered that it was actually rather good in parts, I felt much better overall. I still have a few technical glitches to fix, and I'm still dealing ruthlessly with redundant and overused phrases wherever I find them, but I no longer feel as though I am up to my armpits in a cistern of my own authorial suckitude.

I went to the doctor this week about a strange visual/neurological symptom I've been experiencing every six weeks or so, with a blurred halo around my vision and wavy/jagged lines on the right side. Turns out that I am having migraine auras without the headache part. Funky! Now I can stop worrying and enjoy the ride, since it's probably the closest I'll ever get to synaesthesia.

I have a lovely fat slab of saffron cake, fresh from my mother's oven, and a steaming cup of Earl Grey. All's right with the world.
So a couple of days ago I started giving Knife one last edit before printing it out and mailing it off, like a Responsible Author ought to do. I wrote myself a nice little checklist of Things To Watch Out For and Things To Be Done based on the comments I'd received from various beta readers, and certainly enough time had elapsed since I read the opening chapters that I ought to be able to look at them objectively (or so I told myself).

And indeed, all seemed to be going along swimmingly, with a bit of tweaking here and a name change there and some trimming of overused phrases and cliches, but nothing really devastating... until I hit Chapter Four. At which point I started tearing out my hair and wailing ZOMG I HATE MY PROSE SO MUCH AND MY CHARACTERS HAVE NO EMOTIONAL RESONANCE AND MY PACING SUCKS and spent about two hours trying without success to rewrite the entire beginning of the chapter, until I stopped and told myself that I was probably just being hormonal.

No doubt, said I to myself, this happens to every author after she has spent several months rewriting a novel; she's spent so much time looking at the nuts and bolts that the machine no longer works for her the way it would for a reader. Therefore, I ought to stop obsessively line-editing every sentence, just make the changes that I know have to be made, and get the book out the door before I am tempted to spend the rest of my life trying to get it absolutely perfectly right.

Either that, or the book really does need a lot more work, but I'm just being lazy and making excuses so I can get it out of the door.


*tears hair*



*is so happy*

Willow's new name is Linden, and it suits her perfectly.

*goes to edit it into the final draft*
Where's Phil and the Amazing Bathmat when you need them? I want my million dollars!

Yes, that's right, I have finished Knife. And I am very happy about it.

*cries and hugs fellow authors*

Only a few last-minute edits, and this baby's off to New York. Then I'll start querying agents.

Phew! Thanks to everyone who's taken an interest.
...and after all that, she-who-was-Willow seems to think her name may be Vervain. Which wasn't even on the poll.

Oh, and Amaryllis has just seen fit to inform me that she changed her name on taking the throne, and that it used to be Alder. Which makes a great deal of sense, and even explains a couple of things about her, but still, did it have to take her THIRTEEN YEARS to get around to this?

*grumbles and adds to the list of Things I Must Change In The Final Edit*
I need to change the name of a minor character in Knife, because her present name is depressingly common in fantasy literature, and it really isn't giving me any idea of what she's like. Since she's going to become a major character if I write a sequel, this is a potentially serious problem. And yet... since I don't really know what she's like at this point, I'm having difficulty choosing a new name for her.

Therefore I have decided to -- you guessed it -- take a poll.

Before you vote, here's all I know about this character:

- she's got medium brown, curly hair, and brown or hazel eyes;
- she is not particularly tall;
- she's a faery, of the small and winged variety;
- she's intelligent, thoughtful, and somewhat quiet (I think); and
- she's going to have to leave her home (reluctantly, I think) and strike out on a long, dangerous journey, to look for something her people need.

I won't tell you her present name, because those who've read Knife probably know it already, and those who haven't won't find it helpful, I'm sure.

[Poll #874744]
Rowan Atkinson shows Hugh Laurie's Shakespeare how it's done:

Sheer genius.
1. Yes, I am alive. I CANNOT WRITE COHERENT PROSE AND I WANT TO DIE, but I am alive.

2. I had a fabulous time at the SCBWI-MI Fall Conference last weekend. Nice drive, gorgeous grounds, enjoyable (and practical!) speakers, delicious food, helpful critiques, and I finally got to meet Cheryl Klein. We geeked out over HP and yammered at each other so long that the conference staff started to worry that I was holding poor Ms. Klein hostage while I regaled her with the entire plot of my novel, or something equally horrific. Fortunately another staffer who actually knew the score set the story straight before they felt obliged to march over and remove me bodily from the con suite.

Also, my 3-minute reading from Knife was a big hit at the Open Mic night. People kept asking me about it all weekend and saying they'd love to read more. Yay! (I read the pond scene, for those who know what I'm talking about.) I also got to talk to a lovely agent-type person who responded to my post-conference query within twelve hours and told me to send her the full ms. when I'm done the revisions. Which would be really nice EXCEPT I CANNOT REVISE FOR TOFFEE.

3. Oh, Heroes, I think I love you. I love your hokey dialogue and your breathy, earnest voiceovers and your improbably pretty cast (except for Greg Grunberg, who is neither pretty nor improbable, bless him). Oh, and your brain-eating** cliffhangers, too.

4. Also, I have seen the Lost premiere and FISH BISCUITS ARE LOVE. Even if the bears are smarter. (Sometimes it doesn't take much, admittedly.)


* For [livejournal.com profile] lizbee and [livejournal.com profile] cesario, a brief sample of our conversation:

CHERYL: So how's RUSS-L been doing?
ME: *mirthless, hysteria-tinged laughter*

** This may or may not be a pun.
Except my aim isn't nearly as good as Mary Russell's, so you may want to duck...

Anyway, further to my last entry, I've been trying to follow [livejournal.com profile] alg's suggested format in writing up a pitch for my manuscript. Here's what I've got:

Title, status, subgenre, word count, style, brief description of the plot including character motivation )

Why I wrote this book, what else I've written, and what I expect from my writing career )

Well, she did say it helps to have a sense of humor...

BTW, "Crowded House Radio" on Pandora is BEYOND AWESOME. I've listened to about twenty-five tracks now and only come across one that I didn't like.
Some recent discussions in [livejournal.com profile] superversive's journal, plus an essay by [livejournal.com profile] alg about how to successfully pitch a novel to an agent or editor, got me thinking about a problem I've been struggling with for some time. To wit, what is the proper answer to give when relatives, casual friends, and just-met acquaintances ask you, "So what is your book about?"

At present, I have two methods of responding to this question, and neither one is up to much.

The first is for people who don't actually read or care for fantasy: )

The second is for those who do: )

So as you can see, my explanatory technique could use some work.

Seriously, though, it is a problem. Here's why. )

[livejournal.com profile] jamesbow had a recent entry in his blog about the difficulty of writing catalogue copy for his second book, Fathom Five, and how he ultimately had to turn to his wife to help him boil down his 40,000 word story to its essence. Of course, in some cases the inability to summarize a book in one or two sentences is a warning sign: it means that the plot lacks coherence, that the themes are too diffuse. But that really wasn't James's problem, I don't believe, and although earlier drafts of Knife may have suffered from that malady, I don't think it's really the issue with my book either.

Ultimately, I think I'm just too close to the story, especially right now, to step back and look at it as a first-time reader would. But somehow, I need to figure out how to get the necessary distance -- and soon, as I'd like to have a pitch prepared for any contacts I might make at the SCBWI conference I'm attending next month.

Thoughts, anyone?
Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] lizbee's recent adoption of a meter for her own novel project, I proudly present one for Knife:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
39,000 / 100,000

This is assuming the book actually does end up at 100,000 words. Depending on how much more I cut and the length of the new stuff I put in, it may well be shorter.

Chapter Nine is going swimmingly so far, which is nice for a change.

I'm Baaaaack!

Aug. 13th, 2006 09:55 pm
rj_anderson: (10th Doctor - Bookish)
It took me a whole week, but I am now in business again, with a brand-new computer (yay!) and the old one fixed. Turns out it was just the fan to the power supply, much as I thought, and that the hard drives were not affected, so I didn't lose any data. Although I do have a lot of reinstalling software and general tidying-up ahead. And, of course, a whole lot of catching-up on my f-list and e-mail, too.

Sadly, after this and other unexpected delays, I have had to give up hope of having the reedit of Knife completed in time for the SCBWI-MI Fall Conference in Kalamazoo, MI so I could hand-deliver it to Very Helpful and Patient Editor. It's now looking like it'll be closer to Christmas before I'm done, and I shall just have to mail it in the usual boring manner. But I am still going to the conference, D.V. I don't suppose anybody else on my list is interested/planning to go? Anyone? Bueller?

[livejournal.com profile] lydaclunas has been here for the past few days and we've been having mucho fun. Lots of Doctor Who has been watched, among other things...

I'll have more to post soon, I hope.
I'm not dead! I'm only editing. Up to Chapter Five now, and almost back on schedule. Only problem is, to make my deadline (which is purely self-imposed, but necessary for my own mental discipline) I'm going to have to start getting more than one chapter done a week -- and since the next few chapters are going to involve a whole lot of rewriting from scratch, and I've also got a bunch of graphic design work to do by early September, things are not looking so good.


But anyway, just so you know I'm still around. I also owe [livejournal.com profile] mistraltoes a ramble about May/December and [livejournal.com profile] kalquessa one about defending original characters, so if I make especially good progress on the book one day I may pop in here and do that.
Well, I've just finished rewriting the Prologue of my original fantasy novel, most of it from scratch, using the previous draft as little more than an outline (and changing any number of details along the way). I've taken a lot of information that was infodump before, and worked it into the dialogue and narrative instead; I've changed the dynamics between the characters and beefed up the atmosphere and mood; and I've cut out a couple of scenes that were either unnecessary or belonged elsewhere in the book. I don't know how many of you recall reading the original version a couple of years back, but here's how the new draft's shaping up:

KNIFE - Prologue

I'm having way too much fun with this all of a sudden. Somebody stop me before I rewrite the entire novel!*

*Just kidding. I won't really do that. At least, I don't think...

ETA 06/27: First two paragraphs revised to cut down on the wordiness noted by, well, just about everybody.
Chapter Seventeen, otherwise known as the Chapter of Exposition Purgatory, is done!

Only it's now 81K, making it almost twice as long as any other chapter in the book. Erk. But at least I got rid of the massive info-dumpage and replaced it with some nifty flashback stuff (well, at least I think it's nifty now -- give me twenty-four hours to start hating it).

From here in it should be relatively smooth sailing, as nobody's told me to change anything major in the last three chapters, and therefore I shall wait for a professional editor to tell me if anything more needs fixing.

If the book gets that far, that is. One can only hope...

I shall be visiting the post office on Monday, D.V. And then I shall relax! And have fun! And do all that other stuff I've been neglecting, like cleaning the house, paying attention to the kids, making up the program for next week's coffee hour, etc.

*sigh* I can't wait.
Now I have got the bulk of my editing work done, I think that if I could be granted just six hours of quiet solitude, I would like to spend it lying on my back in a dark room with a really excellent stereo and headphones, listening to Talk Talk's entire discography plus Mark Hollis's solo album so that I can finally give this music the full attention it deserves.

And some chocolate truffles would be nice too.

Calloo callay!

May. 7th, 2005 11:08 am
rj_anderson: (Knife by RJA)
Semagic has suddenly taken it upon myself to remind me of birthdays for a change -- how useful! -- so best wishes of the day to [livejournal.com profile] jblum, always one of my favorite Doctor Who writers and an all-around charming fellow. As it happens, you share a birthday with my oldest brother, so that will be easy for me to remember in future.

And to all the other people whose birthdays I have missed recently by virtue of using Semagic instead of the LJ Portal, please accept my apologies and belated congratulations. Congratulations also to [livejournal.com profile] lydaclunas and [livejournal.com profile] rose_in_shadow, both of whom will be graduating from university soon.

Now, for the big news...


The really major edits, anyway. In response to the editor's recommendations and some excellent critical feedback from first-round betas [livejournal.com profile] yahtzee63 and [livejournal.com profile] shoebox2, I've rewritten large chunks of the text, rearranged others, and added about 15,000 words to the story in total.

Now I'm throwing it out to the second-round betas (the ones who've read the book in earlier drafts) in hopes of catching and fixing any remaining gaffes. But comments from folks like [livejournal.com profile] cesario and [livejournal.com profile] rose_in_shadow, who are reading the re-edited version as their first experience of the book, have been on the whole quite positive, so it seems unlikely that the next round of changes will take very long. All of which means that I should be able to send the ms. out by no later than the end of May, Lord willing -- the thought of which makes me very happy.

I shall end with what has to be one of my favorite reviews of Knife ever, from [livejournal.com profile] cesario's comments on Chapter Sixteen:
It's more than a love story with wings now, it's like creepy conspiracy spy thriller anarchist stuff. It's the bomb.
This pleased me enormously, which probably says something about my deep inner weirdness, but as Eeyore would say, there it is.
Two days ago I was lamenting (in an f-locked post, but don't worry, you didn't miss anything) my complete lack of interest or motivation when it came to writing -- not a good thing when you're in the middle of editing a novel that really, really has to get finished and out the door before the baby comes. I was also feeling rather discouraged when I looked back at the work I'd already done on the early chapters. However, simply admitting as much seemed to unblock some kind of mental jam, because as of last night I've finally whipped the Prologue into a shape I'm really proud of, and now here I am wishing fervently that I could hire a babysitter or something to look after my kids while I write! write! write!

However, the kids are still sick and I would not wish their germs upon a babysitter, so I will have to wait until later tonight to start tinkering again. In the meantime, I have made icons, including the one on this post, which I'm rather absurdly pleased with considering that the original artwork (which I drew last year and was never entirely happy with) didn't look nearly that good. Photoshop covereth a multitude of sins.


rj_anderson: (Default)

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