You Gotta Have Friends, Part One

I have the great good fortune of having Friends Who Know Stuff, in my current case, two who are invaluable, Toni McGee Causey and Bob Mayer. I’ve been e-mailing like crazy with them about Anna.

Toni and I have been pals forever, and we think a lot alike, plus she knows a lot about the FBI from her Bobbie Fay books and from real life (like she me, she benefitted professionally from giving birth to somebody who grew up to be an expert) and she has background in the mob because Toni knows everybody, so she’s been reading and giving me feedback, talking through the back story basics with me. It’s not invasive, more like setting up guardrails, aka “The FBI wouldn’t do that,” and again, that’s not messing with story or discovery, it’s more giving me parameters so I can keep this within the bounds of improbability instead of impossibility.

So, on the theory that everything I do is fascinating, (sorry, Argh), here are some of things Toni and I talked about. Continue reading

HWSWA: Talking About Starting Anna

Here’s the latest HWSWA post on starting Anna’s story.

We talk about the new book I’m working on as I try to explain the basic idea using some really bad conflict boxes and the a too-long sentence idea to focus in the fog of discovery. Bob asks good questions and makes me think about things and justify my decisions, exactly what a critique partner should do.

Next week, Bob’s one-sentence idea and conflict lock for his new book, where I will try to make him justify things and he will answer, “Because.”

Thinking About Anna

So I have 10,000 words done on Anna’s book and Carter is in it, and for some reason it has mob back story, which I had not planned, and I have no idea what happens in Act Two or Three (or really most of One); Act Four ends happily but we already knew that. I mean, the Girls definitely have a direction they’re going in, and I have this whole double identity thing to play with in the romance, and I’m starting to really love the heroine, and the hero isn’t bad, either, but I am once again confronting a wimpy antagonist who probably isn’t the real antagonist.

I just don’t understand how all this mob stuff got in here. Continue reading

I Am Hopeless (Edited with a Note)

So yesterday Bob and I were talking about if we wanted to keep going with the HWSWA chats, and he suggested we show up next week (a week from tomorrow) with the conflict box for a new book he’s working on and one of the old books I’ve been working on (Lily, You Again, Lavender, whatever). I said, “Or I could start a new book,” and he said, “Finish something,” which was the right answer because the last thing I needed was a new book.

Then around midnight last night, I was reading a Book Bub blurb, and started to think what I could do with that very common premise and suddenly these people were talking in my head and I loved it and I wrote 4500 words. Continue reading

A Word About the Old HWSW Blog Plus a Few Words About Revising Lavender’s Blue

The Old HWSW Blog:
The 2007 He Wrote She Wrote Blog has all the posts and comments. That’s good. They’re all on one page. That’s bad. It’s that way because it’s a rescue site: Mollie just captured the whole blog, put it on one page, and then hid the site from bots since it was essentially an archive. That was a great, efficient way to save the content, but it makes searching for anything a nightmare (whatever you’re looking for is on that one page). I am slowly trying to reconstruct the blog into posts. It’s gonna take awhile. Therefore, if you go to the old HWSW blog in the next weeks, some of it is going to be in posts, and some of it is still going to be in that mammoth page. Everything is there, I swear. I’m just trying to make it easier to access. Slowly.

Revising Lavender’s Blue
I’m also going back to Liz because having done all the Getting Started posts (three) for the new blog (second one will be posted Saturday), I went back and applied them to Lavender’s Blue. That was illuminating. The Getting Started posts are The One Sentence Idea, the Central Conflict, and Outlining, so I tried to put Liz into one sentence, isolate the conflict, and do an act outline. Surprise: It’s all over the place. Is it a romance? Is it a mystery? (This coming Saturday’s Central Conflict post on HWSWA has me talking about the same problem for Nita. This may be a recurring problem in my work (YA THINK?). Continue reading

He Wrote She Wrote. Again.

And we’re back.

This time, the blog is called He Wrote She Wrote Again, but it’s the same two writers (Bob Mayer and Jenny Crusie) and (mostly) the same topics (see below). We’re just older, and more experienced, and a lot more tired.

The plan is that Bob and I will meet once a week to talk about some writing topic from the past, each of us posting a short (ha) essay in the chat first and then talking about it. Then we’ll edit the transcript and on Saturdays, we’ll put it up as a post on the new blog with links to the old blog. I thought we’d be arguing again, but it turns out we’ve evolved toward each other, so in the first set of posts, we’re not that far apart. (All bets are off when we get to flashbacks and prologues, but that’s not until September.)

Below is our tentative eighteen-week plan: Continue reading

The Shoulds Got Me

I figured out why I didn’t write Lily this week. I was treating it like a book. That is, if this is a book, I should be dealing with the museum, I should be writing more Van, I should be exploring Dorothy, I should . . .

The Shoulds got me.

This is my fault (not yours, Katie or anybody else). I know how my discovery mind works, and it’s just to noodle until I have about 60,000 words. I have no idea how many words I have now, but it’s not 60,000 (20,000 maybe?). Sixty thou is about half a first draft–I always overwrite–and at that point, I know whether I have a book or not and need to buckle down.

The difference this time is that I’m letting you all play in my noodles (that metaphor needs work) and it’s been very beneficial, I’m learning a lot and you’re bringing good ideas to the mix, and the ones I can’t use, I ignore. But somehow I let that slop over into Should and, as we all know, that way disaster lies.

This does NOT mean you should stop discussing the drafts. I’ve gotten a lot out of your comments. It does mean I have to reorient my brain from Should to Noodle. (These are all highly technical terms from the most elite of writing circles; I’m quite sure Tennyson felt strongly about Shoulds and I know Byron noodled. With everybody.)

Still, I feel the need to entertain. All I have is the first act of Nita, now rewritten for the last fucking time, at least until somebody in New York gets their hands on it and says, “Needs more dog.” The problem is that most of you have read Nita’s first act four thousand times. And it’s 36,000 words. So I’m thinking no on that.

So it’s Choose Your Own Entertainment time. Tell me what would amuse you, and that’s what I’ll do on Friday. (And thank you very much for playing in the comments on Monday’s post. It reinforces my feeling that the posts are just here so you all have something to hang the conversation on.)

Lily 7 Notes

So one of the things that the Girls sent up that’s been bugging me is Vikings.

I mean, why the hell Vikings?

I remember starting with the title, Surprise Lily, and then thinking she’d pop up in different centuries like a surprise lily, mainly because I couldn’t think of any other way she’d just pop up out of nowhere. If I was going supernatural, she could time jump or walk through walls or something, but I wanted something simple and fun. This is not a book. Let’s not make playtime difficult, Crusie. Continue reading