When I wrote with Bob, he used to make me walk the terrain. We’d go to wherever the book was set and talk the story through while we walked around. The one I remember best was in the Carolinas, a big white house on a river, because I was saying things like, “Okay the gazebo for the wedding is over here, and there’ll be furniture on the front porch, maybe a swing, for that scene when the bridge goes in . . .” and Bob was saying things like “The bad guys will dock here and the scuba divers will attack the wedding from here . . .” (No, there was no scuba attack; Bob had a learning curve in writing romantic comedy, aka, nobody we like dies.). I dutifully tramped around after him through the Southern low country for Agnes and we spent one memorable October evening at an amusement park in Pennsylvania where people had chain saws for Wild Ride, but I finally had to admit that it was all worth it because he was right: walking the terrain helps a lot. (This may be why I do so many scenes in diners. I can sit the terrain.)
My version of walking the terrain is collage. Continue reading →
NOTE: The discovery draft in the middle of this post has been revised as the comments came in. Therefore some of the comments won’t make sense any more because I’ve changed the part they commented on. All of the comments made sense in the beginning.
A word about discovery drafts:
A discovery draft is just getting words down on paper. In my case, it’s usually to see what the Girls are up to, so my first discovery drafts are dreadful, rambling things. Hey, you want to see how the sausage is made, you’re gonna see some ugly stuff. In this case, I tried to get into this story all weekend, and it just wasn’t there. The stuff that really caught me? The manuscript illustration, the diner, and Cheryl. I needed a best friend, or at least a friend for Lily, and of course, the love interest who could no longer be named later. Finally this morning, I googled for Norse names again and found one that seemed like it might work (might not), and then because I was dying to, I googled for “manuscript illumination dragon.” And I ended up with the stuff below. Missing is any kind of decent description (I suck at description) of people or place, and any sense of change. That’ll come as I know more, although I already know Lily is thin and sharp and redheaded and nervous, and Fin is big (Viking) and blunt and blond and calm. And none of that is on the page. Discovery draft. First step in the process. Oh, and this is boring. That’s okay, too. If I ever get to a rewrite, it’ll perk up. Continue reading →
. It seems a little whack-job-Pollyanna to be burbling about happiness in the middle of a plague that’s killing thousands. I can do the right-now-in-this-moment-I-am-happy bit and still do, but underneath it all is that pervasive dread of what’s coming next, a future which all experts assure us is going to be worse. And then it will get better. And then worse again. And then better. And two years from now, we’ll all be fine again. Except for the economy. And . . .
Okay, first of all, turn off the fucking news. Continue reading →
March has been Peanut Month.
My experiences with peanuts have been:
Tin Roof Sundaes
Jif Peanut Butter
and the ever popular “just throw some peanuts in your mouth” approach.
I kind of want a Tin Roof now.
. So I’ve read through the comments on Lily’s Monday post, and there’s a lot in there to chew on. Plus, of course, the Girls in the Basement have been putting in some work. Here are my notes on your comments and the Girls’ nogging.
Continue reading →
I can highly recommend If I’d Never Met You, by Mhairi McFarlane. It’s a let’s-pretend-we’re-a-couple romance but it’s also a whole lot more, the story of a woman rethinking her whole life, with great friendships and so much life and texture and depth that you’ll have to reread it. Just terrific.
What did you read this week?
I swear I scheduled a WW post, I even took a picture for it, but where the hell it went, I do not know. Since so many of us are working from home now, asking “What are you working on?” takes on whole new levels of complexity.
So what are you working on?
Here’s a blast from an Argh author’s past: King Me was Deb’s second book, self-published “on a whim;” her third book was the one that got her an agent. Four books later, she sold to a New York publisher and never looked back. Until now.
Morgan’s a modern witch who bows to no man. Arthur’s a mystic king who doesn’t trust women or magic. But they’ll have to work together to find a missing wizard before an evil sorceress captures him and ends the world . . .
Continue reading →
I wrote an essay fifteen years ago called “Rats with Islands,” and I thought of it again this weekend because I am basically optimistic about the mess we’re in now. Not stupidly optimistic: I am socked in at home with social distancing of a good twenty feet (my house is set back from the one-lane road I live on) and enough food for a good two weeks, and I plan on doing everything I’m told like a good girl. I’m not stupid. But I am hopeful because hope is better than despair and gets me through the bad times a hell of a lot better than giving up ever has. Not that I’ve ever given up. It doesn’t seem productive, so I avoid it.
Anyway, here’s the essay I wrote in 2005 about the insanity of publishing and why you should never give up even if you never get published. Or the virus.
Rats With Islands: How To Survive Your Publishing Career
Note: Describing your islands in the comments would be good. We all need examples to swim for.
Welcome to the Argh Novel Project, a multi-week exploration of fiction and the process by which . . . okay, it’s just us playing around but that’s good, too. We’re starting with the Surprise Lily first scene because that’s what most of the comments said, although I did some very light editing (took out some unnecessary words and omitted all the “smells bad” stuff because you people kept insisting on historical accuracy). There’s a page under Work In Progress in the blog menu above that I’ll try to keep updated so that all the stuff from this is one place, but that’s about as much organization as I’m capable of. New stuff goes up on Monday, we talk in the comments all week, on Friday I try to synthesize and you can comment on that, I write on Saturday and Sunday, and on Monday we start all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat. If this gets boring or it doesn’t work, we’ll do something else. No rules (some guidelines, no Should, no worries. Argh People, start your engines:
Continue reading →