Sunday, November 30, 2008

Add yours to the list!

Go to THIS BLOG and log-in your book purchases towards the "Buy a Book, Save the World" campaign.  Help us reach One Million!

And while you're at it, join the Facebook Group. back to your regularly scheduled rewrites panic.  *g*

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'...

Through 26 and into the home stretch.  I just tied up the last (I think) of the new story arcs, so there shouldn't be much more new wordage to churn out.  The remaining six chapters (and epilogue) just need a clean-and-polish.  If I can finish that tonight--or rather, by the morning--I'll sleep for a few hours, go with DH to visit my MIL and pick up Little Boy and eat turkey dinner, round 4(!), then get everything formatted and printed and ready to ship tomorrow night.  Monday morning I'll hit the post office on my way to work, and then...we wait.

Finalists will be announced some time in the spring, and the winner at the national RWA conference in July.  It's in D.C. this year (2009) so that might be a fun trip.  Just trying to think positive.  *g*

Thanks to a tip from one of the lovely ladies in my local RWA chapter, I found this blog: Contest Divas.  It's a running list of all the (romance) contests out there and their upcoming deadlines.  I've already found another one to enter, and the judge of my category is a senior editor at Dorchester.  This one's for queries and pages.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

On more serious note, go read this moving post about "why write."  The bit about being exhausted from pushing through "that draft on deadline" and afraid the state of the publishing industry will make it impossible to sell when I'm done...yeah, I'm there.  But I keep writing.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Big Push

Here we go...4 hours sleep and I'm back in the saddle.  Sorta.  Gotta run and take a shower soon, and put in my contacts (glasses make my eyes water if I'm on the computer very long) but then it will be like a marathon today.  I'm probably only gonna stop to eat, potty, and help DH get our outside Christmas decorations up before it gets frigid again.

Ten more chapters.  Good thing I have plenty of Mountain Dew and Snickers...

Revisions Update: Getting There

Two more chapters down and I am now two-thirds of the way through revisions.  Ten chapters left to go, and two days left to do them.

I'm up through Chapter Twenty-Two, the "money scene" - Alec and Elspeth's handfasting on the night before his execution.  Interestingly, this is Scene Zero, where I started writing the whole book.  All the rest of the plot has spun out from this scene.  Let's hope it goes over well with readers.  *g*

I'm going to go grab a few hours of sleep, then get up and try to knock out a majority of the remaining material.  There will be some new wordage, though, and resolutions to a few plot changes, so I hope that doesn't slow me down too much.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Revisions Update: Thanksgiving

Tuesday I didn't get much done, because I fell asleep waiting for DH to get home from Boston (there was a minor snafu in his travel plans, but it was relatively easy to resolve) and then went on to bed with him rather than stay up writing.  Wednesday I was back at work, and settled in late last night for what I planned as an all-nighter, to make up for Tuesday's lack of progress.

I was fairly successful!  Chapters seventeen through twenty are revised and edited, and seventeen lacks only a couple of short scenes I just couldn't visualize last night and will work on today (hard copy) while eating turkey and pumpkin pie at three separate (!) Thanksgiving dinners.  Betas will get the lot of them as soon as I finish seventeen, and then it's on to twenty-one.

Since we last saw them, E & A have argued over intervening in another clan's affairs, Elspth leaves for Glencoe on her own and falls in a loch, Alec follows and rescues her, and the two try to prevent the massacre at Glencoe, where Alec is captured by Breadalbane.  We leave our intrepid hero in the cell at Kilchurn, bruised, weary, and sentenced to death.  Elspeth is in Glenstrae, and just learned the news.  She and Hugh set out to rescue him. 

Twelve chapters left, and 4 days.  That's 3 chapters a day over a long weekend.  I think I might pull this off...

Announcer: Will she succeed before she hits the wall of exhaustion?  Tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Revisions Update: Two for One Night

Despite Little Boy's refusal to nap this afternoon and my own exhaustion, I managed to knock out two more chapters today, thus proving that this crazy, mixed up, middle-of-the-night routine is working for me.

After finishing the first scene in 15 this morning while LB was at preschool, I didn't get a chance to work again until he was in bed.  I dozed for a few hours, then perked myself up with caffeine and Superchic[k] and set to the computer...whereupon I promptly decided to cut and completely rewrite that completed first scene.  Instead of Alec's aunt Catriona (sorry, Cathy - but she still gets a cameo later!) Elspeth runs into Hugh immediately after the announcement of Alec's betrothal.  Then Hugh goes to Alec, and the two discuss what do to about her.  Hugh offers to marry her, but Alec can't stomach the idea, and puts off the decision.  Later he can't sleep, and goes to find Elspeth (who also can't sleep) and the two have the discussion I wasn't sure about leaving in, but reworked to my satisfaction.

Sixteen blitzes through about 3 months, hitting the highlights: Janet's arrival in Glenstrae and the little incidents that start up against Elspeth again; the proclamation that all chiefs must sign a treaty with William, and the power struggle that ensues when Elspeth tells Red Malcolm he must do it;  Elspeth convincing Alec to warn Glencoe via a letter to Alec's cousin Sarah, MacIain's daughter-in-law; Christmas/Hogmanay; and the reciept of a letter from Sarah reassuring them everything is fine, MacIain signed the treaty.

Only it isn't fine; he still did things the way Elspeth remembers, and therefore the massacre will happen.  Going into 17 tomorrow, I have to write Elspeth and Alec getting into an argument over whether or not someone should go in person to warn the MacDonalds, Janet confronting Alec about his continued "flaunting" of his "mistress", and Elspeth's tearful decision to leave Glenstrae and warn Glencoe herself.

Randomly: I am ridiculously excited about my new purses, even though I won't carry one of them until next spring.  When did I become a girly-girl?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Revisions Update: The Wee Hours

Out of Fourteen and into Fifteen!  I'd hoped to be farther along than this by now, but it bears pointing out that these are the chapters formally known as "Sixteen" and "Seventeen" - through revision, reordering, and general tightening, I've lost two.  There are 32 plus the epilogue at the moment, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that drop to 30 or so by the time all is said and done.

Amazing how right now I think nothing of pulling thousands of words - what might have been a week or month's worth of work.  But I'm shooting for around the 95K mark, still a more than respectable wordcount, and that leaves me the luxury of cutting nonessentials.

Chapter Thirteen took a lot of work and most of the day, as cutting the measles scene meant reworking the entire end of that chapter and adding in a whole new section wherein Alec takes a beating for his "careless" rescue of Elspeth from Ormelie at Kilchurn.  Fourteen is Andrew's wedding and the following ceilidh...where we learn just how good Alec is with his fingers (he's a fiddle player, you perverts! *w*) and the result of his father's ultimatum.

I wanted to get through Fifteen tonight, but I really need to take a step back and decide how to handle the next part of the story.  Elspeth's just found out about Alec's betrothal to Janet Cameron.  Fifteen as it stands is her initial reaction (likely to stay) and then a long heart-to-heart between her and Alec that I'm just not sure about.  I need to add in a conversation (blocked out but not fully written) between Alec and Hugh about what to do with Elspeth once Alec's married, and bring Janet to the Tigh Mor as an actual secondary character.

In other (slightly) related news, I am apparently becoming nocturnal.  I seem to have developed a penchant for Diana's writing pattern: doze off for a bit in the evening, wake up late while everyone else is asleep to write, then crawl in bed for another few hours before morning.  The past few days, my best work has been done between midnight and 4 am, and despite spending all day at the computer, nothing compares to these hours for productivity.  Unfortunately, I don't have Diana's (hard earned!) luxury of sleeping in - I usually have to be at work by 8 am, and even though I'm taking off tomorrow and Tuesday while DH is away, Little Boy still has to get to preschool.

In other other (completely unrelated) news, I broke down and bought the second purse.  Merry Christmas to me.  *g*

Finally - if you're just that desperate to see what I'm up to at any given point, come join me on Twitter.  Yes, I gave in.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What to do, what to do...

I have been staring at my computer for hours, making very little headway, because I am trying to decide what to do about a scene.  Should I cut it entirely, revise it significantly, or let it stand?

The scene in the SFD involves Alec and Elspeth on their way home from Kilchurn.  Alec has just rescued Elspeth from Ormelie, who kidnapped her.  On their way back to Glenstrae, they pass a croft in which a mother and young child have contracted the measles, and are dying of it.  The child is actually already dead, and once the mother knows this, she gives up and lets herself die as well.


The purpose of this scene was to show Elspeth's reaction to an (unfortunately) common condition in that time period, and set up the absolute certainty that she would not take her own young child back to this dangerous time.  Therefore Alec, who comes forward with the intent to find Elspeth and take her back with him, realizes she will not come once he knows she has a child.  And he must decide whether or not to stay with her if that means up giving up everything he's ever known - time, family, etc.


In my rewrite notes, I also intended to use this scene to play up Elspeth's backstory, and reveal how she feels both her parents abandoned her - her mother by dying unexpectedly of breast cancer, and her father by running out on the family shortly after her mother's diagnosis.  This on top of her fiance's abandonment just months before their wedding.  And her realization that Alec alone has not abandoned her, in fact he has made a habit of coming back for her.  This is the turning point in her attraction to him, and henceforward her internal conflict comes from the (supposedly) unrequited love instead of her angst over these abandonments and her difficulty trusting because of it.

But THIS POST on the Smart Bitches blog, along with nagging doubts about the scene, got me thinking.  Do I really need it?

The current state of revisions has already trickled out quite a bit of Elspeth's backstory.  And in fact, the chapter prior to this one has Elspeth's realization about Alec, though to a lesser degree than I planned for the measles scene.  I don't think I'm using the child's death as a cheap dramatic trick; more like trying to be true to my period and acknowledge the nitty gritty reality of living in the seventeenth century, while at the same time achieving the plot purposes above.

OTOH, this IS a romance novel, and while Diana's readers (myself included) appreciate her hard-bitten reality and absolute allegiance to the history, Diana does not write romance.  Romance readers (myself included) often are looking for lighter, happier reads.  Which is not to say we don't appreaciate a story with depth and tragedy.  I love love loved The Time Traveler's Wife.  But a lot of romances, espcially the escapist types with fantastical elements, tend to gloss over some of the darker aspects of the story world.  And let's face it - most of the Scottish time travels in print right now are pretty glossy.

Which is also not to say I'm trying to "dumb down" my book to appeal to the masses.  I'm just trying to take a critical look at a scene and decide if I really need it or can accomplish my goals without it, if it fits in with the overall tone of the rest of the book, and if I was secretly trying to "push the envelope" with the scene, but may in fact end up alienating - or at least disengaging - a large segment of potential readers by leaving it in.  I don't think readers who wouldn't've minded the scene will notice its absence, while readers who hate scenes like this will most certainly notice its inclusion.

That said, I think I've talked myself into cutting it.  For now.  I never throw any scenes away, so if betas or an agent or an editor clambor for it, I can dust it off and slip it right back in.

Well, then.  Back to the drawing (writing) board.  I'm working in chapters 14 and 15 right now.  Elspeth has just been rescued by Alec, as I said.  New stuff is coming up in that Alec will be taken to task by his father for jeopardizing himself and the clan for a strange coigreach lass, and Alec's betrothal to Janet Cameron will be brought forward into more prominence as a result.  Alec's father's way of making him get his priorities straight.

As for me, I've been holed up in my "writing office" (read: guest room) since last evening, and it's starting to look like it.  From this afternoon alone, I cound 3 empty Diet Mt. Dew cans and one dirty coffee mug, plus a handful of candy wrappers littering my desktop.  And yet I've actually been losing weight.  Must be the stress...  I know I blame the book for the sudden profusion of gray hairs on my head.

My other dilemma is completely materialistic.  I have become quite the Coach purse junkie, and there are two particular styles I have wanted for some time - one since this time last year, and one since this summer.  I am already getting one of them for Christmas, and now I am trying to justify the other one, too, to round out my collection.  How to pay for it?  Or should I just wait?  *think, think*

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Character Lookalikes/Casting

Since Jen and Nina posted pics of people they wanted to play their characters, I thought I'd join in.

Of course, I KNOW what my characters look like--that's them over there in the right sidebar.  Click the pic for a bigger version.

But who would play them in the movie version?  (Hey, a girl can dream!)

Alec would absolutely be played by Martin Henderson, of course.

As for Elspeth...I kinda like this chick (Carrie Locklyn).  What do you guys think?  I'm terrible at finding pictures of actors/actresses to sort through.

Revisions Update: Hoping to Catch Up

Last night I let myself doze after Little Boy went to bed, in order to recharge my batteries after averaging only 3-4 hours of sleep per night this week.  DH was supposed to wake me up so I could write, but he only tried a few times (I did warn him to keep at me) and so I peeled myself off the loveseat at 2 am and crawled in bed.  By consequence, I was much refreshed today.  *g*

Now DH is in Boston for the Society of Biblical Literature conference (yup, I married a Bible Scholar) and my mom has come up for the weekend to watch LB while I practice my reclusive author imitation.  As of right now, I'm done through Chapter 12, of 34.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Revisions Update: Chapter Eleven

I actually got less sleep last night than I did Sunday night into Monday. And yet I was in a much better mood today, more alert, and more productive. The difference? Momentum.

Sunday night I'd worked all weekend on the same chapter. MASSIVELY rewriting said chapter, but still. Last night I got through three, and finally felt like I was making real progress.

Today I only got through one - Chapter Eleven - but that's my general goal for a workday. Let's hope I can keep the momentum going and get Twelve done tomorrow.

Oh, and here's a fun LOLcat. Elspeth can relate:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Revisions Update: Double Digits!

Rewriting the front end of the MS has taken a lot more time than I expected.  Nevertheless, today I at last broke into double digits on my chapters.  And based on wordcount, I'm about a third of the way through the book as a whole.  We're up to Elspeth's kidnapping, which opens Act II.

I've got to get through this week, and then my mom will be staying with me and watching Little Boy this weekend while DH is at a conference in Boston.  I MUST make serious progress then.

For now, I'll catch a couple hours of sleep, then it's lather, rinse, repeat.  *g*

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I just lost the past, oh, hour and a half's worth of revisions when LSB froze up.  I thought I had set it to auto-save, but apparently that feature got turned off last time I updated the software.


Revisions Update: Chapter 7 down

Chapter 7 had a lot of restructuring, and I rewrote over half of it from scratch.  But now it's in the hands of betas and I'm on to chapter 8.  Yesterday I was too brain fried to write, but I did manage to plan out the order of scenes and what new stuff I needed in 8 and 9, so hopefully it will clip along.

Today I'm also attending my first meeting of the Ky. Romance Writers as a full member.  We have lunch beforehand to socialize; I'm looking forward to meeting everyone.  Then it's back in my writing office (guest room) and holed up here for the rest of the day working on revisions.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Revisions Update

I have finished revising up through Chapter Six, and now I'm for bed.  Some last-minute research and a brief stint of panic while it appeared my data stick had corrupted slowed me down a bit, otherwise I would have been asleep much sooner!  I also did some rearranging in chapters 7-12, actually cutting some stuff and consolidating 10 and 11 into one chapter.  So I only have 5 more to get through by tomorrow to meet my goal, but that's still a tall order.

Looks like I'll have to do another assignment for the Circle.

In my defense, I've probably written several thousand new words (it's hard to keep track since I'm replacing stuff as I go, and my word counts aren't changing that much).  And I'm spending every waking minute of free time on this: lunch breaks, evenings, weekends into the wee hours.  So it's not like I'm slacking off, I've just underestimated the amount of time it will take me to get through a certain number of chapters.

The good news is, most of the MAJOR changes I'm making occur in the opening act.  So if I can get through this, a lot of the later material will just need an edit for language/style, but not massive redrafting.  I hope.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

On Deadline more ways than one.

The biggest is, of course, the submission deadline for the Golden Heart, looming ever closer on December 2nd.  I must finish revisions in time to send the full MS, along with partials and synopses for the first-round judging.

The one I'm under right now is for my accountability circle.  To stay on track for the GH, my posted goal to have revised chapters 1-12 by next Monday (gulp!).  I'm already under penalty for missing my goals last week - look for an update on my task later - and can't afford to miss this one.

Last night I had good intentions, but I've been so sleep-deprived I ended up crashing hard on the couch around 9 pm, and not waking until 12:30, when I stumbled upstairs to bed.  Though I *did* get a few pages of hard copy worked on while standing in line for 3 hours (yes, my precinct was one of the ones with issues!) to vote.

[Aside: congratulations to President-Elect Obama.  I may not agree with all of his stances and policies, but I genuinely think he's a good man, and I am proud that our country was able to look beyond race and elect him.  It's a huge and wonderful turning point.  Good luck to him in all that he now faces.]

Today was a good day.  I successfully spent my lunch hour holed up in my office writing.  And Little Boy went down with minimal fuss tonight, allowing me to get on the computer relatively early (after taking care of a few things around the house).

I finished-finished Chapter One (it seems I can never stop tweaking the opening, but No More).  I added a new 500-word scene to the beginning of Chapter Two, wherein we meet Alec for the first time and get a taste of his position in the clan and the undercurrent of conflict between him and Andrew (it also foreshadows that he will be in Dalmally when Elspeth shows up there).  And I went over most of the rest of Chapter Two, which had been mainly revised during my two-week vacation last month.  All that remains there is to rework the last scene to fit my new plan for Elspeth's escape, and then on to Chapter Three, where I need to rewrite Elspeth's escape, and get her to the kirk on time.  *g*

I am pondering removing the fight scene between Elspeth and the three drunk Campbells.  We see her MMAS (Mad Martial Arts Skillz) in Chapter One now, so the fact that she's a black belt is already out there.  Three men seems a bit much.  I almost think it will work better if only one follows her - the one who will develop a grudge later - and she takes him out before turning on Alec when he shows up.  Hmmm...  *think, think*

For now, to bed.