Editing…or my MC needs a Valium

How do you edit?

I’m editing “Yet It Will Come”. I did a read through and fixed grammatical stuff, the simple line-editing bits. I rewrote awkward sentences. Then I considered the plot, the feel of the story and made a list. These are the real edits that need to happen.

  • Pacing – slow it down. There’s no rush and it borders on confusing
  • because Charlie is so frantic, the writing is too.
  • Janice – she needs her story to come out sooner, so in Chapter 29 she makes sense.
  • Elliott and Jill – set up that relationship sooner so Chapter 23 makes sense.
  • Reconsider Lola’s disclosures to Charlie – the explanation she gives is wonky. It feels inflated and senseless.
  • rewrite Megan’s visit to Charlie – Lola is (again) too weird.
  • Chapter 3 is too much tell. Figure out a new scene to show those things.
  • Charlie needs to narrate more and emote/navel-gaze less.
  • Rewrite Charlie’s meltdown after Lola’s absence.
  • Tighten the voice. Charlie’s intensity makes the narration jumpy.

So, see, editing is not just red ink marks on a page, or strike-throughs and margin notes. These are major bits of reworking this story.

Mostly, Charlie is so intense that the whole story feels like that. He needs to have more lucidity. He needs to tell the story. (and perhaps that is the fault of being in Present Tense – either 3rd person or past tense may need to come into play to settle that MC down.)

I love Charlie’s passion and the dude has got some amazing moments of losing his grip. I love that he is so unhinged and he lets me be unhinged as a writer. I’ve gotten to go where I don’t normally go with writing because of him. He’s a blast to write. He just needs to settle down and tell the story. My MC needs a Valium.

When I get done editing this I might need one too.

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HOT SOUP!

One of the easiest things to make is soup. You need a broth, and stuff to put in it. How it tastes is all about the combination of things you put in it, and the ratios of those ingredients to each other.

I had chicken broth,  cream, sausage, and red potatoes.

I don’t use recipes very often so sometimes they are difficult to recreate. Luckily with soup, you put in as much or as little as you want and it’s all about ratios.

So here’s how I did it, minus measurements. I’ll do my best to guess.

Brown some sausage (I used about 10 oz. of hot pork sausage). Take the sausage out and set it aside to drain off the fat.

In the same skillet drop in some butter. (about 3/4 of a stick).

Throw in diced celery (one or two stalks – about half a cup diced), diced carrots (one big carrot  – enough for about half a cup of diced carrots), diced onion (one small onion) and some minced garlic (a tablespoon maybe?),  salt and pepper. Saute’  them until they are tender.  Pour 3 cups of chicken broth over it.  It will deglaze the skillet before you transfer it to the stock pot.

Ok, now transfer it.

Add the crumbled sausage back into the mixture. Season with more salt, pepper, and add pinches of parsley, basil and thyme. (keep your seasonings out on the counter, you’ll taste as you go and will need to add more in a bit.) Let it cook for a bit, there are lots of flavors that need to get acquainted and mingle.

Get it up to a nice boil.

Thinly slice red potatoes. I used 6 medium sized red potatoes, skin on.  Drop them in. I reduced the heat to medium and a bit more by adding another few ounces of chicken broth.  I reduced the heat so I could add the half and half cream. I added a pint, and about another half cup of 2% milk. After it warms, taste it again because the cream and milk and potatoes have considerably changed the flavor and zapped your seasoning. I added more of everything; particularly it seemed low on salt and pepper.

After letting it simmer for about 20 minutes I cleaned and coarsely chopped some kale. It didn’t take a whole bunch, I just used the leafy tops.

I dropped them in.

Taste it again. What does it need? Don’t be afraid to re-season at the end, but understand that when it all cooks in, it will be stronger than if you taste it after it’s just been added. Give it some time, taste it again.

I kept thinking it was missing one more thing, and chose to add the tiniest pinch of nutmeg. It makes a nice base flavor. You don’t taste the nutmeg, it just makes the other flavors “sit up and look pretty”.

It tastes fantastic with garlic breadsticks.

Definitely and experimental WIN. I’ll make this soup again for sure.

And here’s a not so great picture of it.

 

 

I have never been good at naming the dishes I create. Your job is to give this soup recipe a clever title! Leave your suggestions in the comments. 🙂

Crossing the Online Divide

Some people don’t get it, so I want to try to explain the “writing friends” thing.

I write. So do a lot of people I know online. We belong to writing forums, we friend each other on Facebook, I even follow a few of them on Twitter. We know the big name Agents and follow their blogs together. We know each other’s haunts and read each other’s blogs. We cheer each other on with querying, editing, and writing. We beta each other’s novels and short stories. We have friends that have been published, and some who’ve got brand new shiny debut book deals.

I met a group of these writers when they came to St. Louis for a writing conference a few years back. We got together for a couple of drinks and dinner.

A small group of us hang out in a comedy forum. When real life gets crazy, a battery, a twisted bunny, a zebra, a monkey, a bug, an undead chihuahua, and a drunk fairy make me feel normal.

I’ve “Known” some people on line for years. I’ve met somewhere around 20 of these people face-to-face, in real life. I know…it’s like worlds colliding and stuff. Even the ones I didn’t meet in person have become personal friends I cherish.

I know last December some people questioned my sanity as I set off to Chicago for a long weekend to meet a group of writing people I know online. Prior to the trip, we all spoke on the phone, and had very regular contact, this was no random grouping of writers. They were already very-loved friends. After the trip, I missed them like crazy and we planned our next meeting.

 

In March, a  couple of those same people came to visit me for a weekend. They mixed with my local friends and now some of them are Facebook friends.

In June, a larger group, families included, went on a week long camping trip in Kentucky, forever to be known as Camp Runamuck. This brought another online friend into the fold.

In August, I met up with her and a couple more writing peeps at a writer’s conference called Killer Nashville.

The first weekend of November, two friends came to see me for my 40th Birthday. It wouldn’t have been the same without them. When we arrived at Tiny’s Pub, several people greeted Bug with a a very Cheers Norm welcome, “BUG!!” It’s a second home for her now.

Another trip is in the works for the beginning of next year, another go at Killer Nashville in August next year is slated as well. And my husband wants to take the whole family up to Minnesota to see our Bug.

These people aren’t just acquaintances. Online friendships can be as real as or more real than “real life” ones. In fact, I no longer add the disclaimer “online” to the word friend with them. Some people can cross the online divide and become friends for life.

There are very few ways I can blend all of the categories of my life. There’s work life, home life, family life, writing life, social life…the intersect and collide and sometimes get in the way of each other. But somehow, there are people who can cross those lines with you quite easily.  I have friends that aren’t online friends who cross with me to my writing madness, and my family life quite well. These two awesome ladies, got me my favorite birthday presents ever – and totally gave into my word-geek-ness! (they are also two of the best cheerleaders a girl could ask for on the trek to getting published).

When you hear me talk about Runamuckers, or writer friends, or see me talking writing on Facebook with a group of lunatics you don’t quite understand, that’s them. If you’re not sure you get why I’m taking a picture with a crochet monkey or a stuffed zebra, or why I have to buy things with LadyBugs on them…well, now you know.

I have several others on my list of “must meet” and more plans to blend my local friends with my far-away writer ones.

If I take off for a long weekend and reference animals in my plans, you’ll know, I’m off to get my fix! You should consider joining us. 🙂

Cool Hand Stew?

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is called what?

Insanity? Maybe.

In the movie Cool Hand Luke, Luke (Paul Newman) is boxing in the prison yard with a big bruiser of a guy, Dragline (George Kennedy) and is getting his butt kicked.

Dragline says, “Stay down. You’re beat.”   He wants him to stay down so he can stop pummeling him.

Luke replies,  “You’re gonna hafta kill me.”

Every time he gets knocked down, he gets back up again. Luke stands up and stands up and stands up.

So what’s it called if you do the same thing over and over again? Tenacity? Persistence? (in Luke’s case,  it might be pride and a death wish).

But if you’re a writer like me it’s called, “how to get published.”

Write, edit, polish. *repeat*

Query, query, query. *repeat*

Rewrite query, query, query. *repeat*

Agents and published authors alike tell us “wannabes” that the way to get published is to be persistent. To query widely. To re-evaluate and do it some more. Keep going and if it’s good, someone will want to represent it. Someone will want to publish it.

I have kept “doing it some more” for a long time. “…Ernest” has been queried to nearly 100 agents. The letter was all wrong for the first 40 or so agents. I got no nibbles at all.  I re-wrote it. I tried various letters for another 30 or so agents. I put it aside for a while. Something wasn’t clicking.

Then I figured the book needed something, so I did another re-write (my betas loved the rewrite).

Then I rewrote the letter to match the shiny new manuscript, and finally, bites. *Yay*

Three agents requested full reads and one requested a partial.

One of the three agents with the full sent me a rejection yesterday. It was a very pleasant rejection, but a rejection nevertheless.

I’ve not stopped querying, but you can only send a query to them for the same book once.  No do-overs. No mulligans in querying.  I sent 60 of them too soon.

So, my options are to

  • continue querying more agents with the letter that seemed to work,
  • start querying small publishers directly, or
  • put dear Ernest aside as “unpublishable” and finished the polish and query for “Yet It Will Come”.
  • hhmmm…or I guess I could query both books.

Yesterday I decided to start sending “… Ernest” to small publishers. I still have the tenacity and persistence, but maybe it’s time to lose the insanity. Maybe it’s just not a “big house” kind of book. That’s okay, though. I can live with that.

Yep. Just like Luke, I just keep standing up. A voice inside my head says, “stay down, Stew”. But I can’t.

Unlike Luke, I can’t win the game of publishing on a bluff.

Dragline: Nothin’. A handful of nothin’. You stupid mullet head. He beat you with nothin’. Just like today when he kept comin’ back at me – with nothin’.
Luke: Yeah, well, sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand.

But maybe, I’ll make a 50 egg bet and win.

Four-uh-oh

So the next big experiment for me is a new age bracket. It’s true, at the end of the week I’ll be 40.

I went shopping yesterday for a rather large supply of beer for a little get together next weekend. The cashier, who has to card me if I’m under 40, began the following conversation.

Clerk: “Are you 40, ma’am?”

Me: “Not yet, sir. That’s what all the beer’s for.”

Clerk: (with a smirk)  “well that’s a lot of beer, but you don’t need to show me your I.D.”

Me: “I’m not yet 40. so I DO need to show you my I.D.” *grins widely*

Clerk:  (not amused) *rolls his eyes then looks at I.D.*

He finished the transaction.

I thanked him.

Clerk: Be careful.

Me: *rolls eyes* Thanks, Junior.

When I was young, I thought people who were in their 40’s were middle aged  (much like I’m sure our good and kind smart-ass cashier thinks).

That can’t be right, can it?  I should say not. Young as you feel and all that.

But I always did imagine there were things I’d do before I hit the four-uh-oh.

How many did I manage?

Married – check

Children – check

Career –  check

Novel – uh…well I’ve written a couple; I guess that counts? *Gives a very hesistant check*

For the most part, I don’t feel like there are things I should have done that I didn’t, but there is an ever-larger list of things I want to do, and doing them seems more important than it used to.

Mostly though, I don’t expect a big life change in the new bracket. I have no fear of forty, but I have given some consideration to things I’m grateful to have, people I’m grateful to know, and dreams yet to be conquered.

Simple living feels like a mantra worth repeating more and more lately.

Clearing out clutter in my life, and not just the junk drawers in my house, seems very appropriate.

And saying thanks to those who need thanking is at the top of my  list, too.

Life’s short – live ’em if you got ’em.

Perhaps I need to make a bucket list, too.

*makes list*

– learn to golf f’real, not that hack of a game I sometimes play that requires 18 mulligans and ends with me lying on the green in hysterics.

– hike the A.T.  (I probably should have set out on this one sooner, huh?) And I’m gonna need a walking stick. Uh, Dad? Help me out!

– get a tattoo. yeah. I think I might be ready someday soon.  I’m thinking charm anklet tat – when I get my books pubbed, I can add a charm. 🙂

–  publish a damn book already! (I suppose that needs to happen before the tattoo makes sense.)

– On any day besides Halloween, dress like Magenta from Rocky Horror – WTHN (why the hell not?)

– I’ve always wanted to pub crawl in the UK. You know…for like a month. Who’s in?

– Write the “how-to” book I’ve always wanted to write: A guide for women who want to fish but don’t want a man to teach them.  *snerk*

– Poker face – Yeah. I’m terrible at keeping a straight face. I need to work on this in a big way.

– Wear pants.  (that really says it all doesn’t it? Most of you only ever see me online. You have no idea how often I actually have pants on, do you?) hhmmm???? …. right!

*practices poker face*

*fails*

What’s on your list?