Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Writer's Day

  I'm busy with early books right now, formatting, cleaning, whatever, and hope to e-publish them. As another well-known writer said, they were good and they deserve it.

Now I'm just getting started on this, learning as I go, whatever. So yesterday, I was closing in on the final clean-up of A Lady's Choice, an early Berkley, Second Chance at Love. There are many character whatever errors when scanning from the actual book that have to be cleaned. So, working hard, closing in on misplaced periods, whatever. And I decide to stretch a bit after this intensity.

Well, the bees had arrived on one of my yard trees. See that story at The Second Cup, another blog.

Basically, my writing day was sucked up by the The Great Bee Adventure and I'm trying to get back into the mode right now.

I did finish the day with a conversation with the most interesting person/writer who knows-all, Kathy Carmichael. She is extremely in-the-know about writerly business and just about everything, and has helped me immensely on this rejuvenation project, my early books. If you ever meet her, you're in for a good experience.

With all the interruptions (those bees everywhere) yesterday, I could have used the Success Journal spiral bound book she and author Vicki Hinze created, which is pretty unique. Take a look. Basically, it is a work book for scheduling, listing, thoughts, affirmations, etc. 400 pgs. Pretty neat idea.

And apparently the bees are still here, the orphans, so my day today is likely to be interrupted. I have yet, after hours and hours to get one early book up, a new cover on it, etc. Sigh. I'd rather be finishing my WIP.

Looking back, A Lady's Choice, the book I was working on, deals with country where I grew up, Washington State orchard country. Bees are a necessity there, in the orchards, because of polination. What a coincidence!

It happens like that sometimes: You'll be working on a piece and suddenly something synchronistic pops up. Or you'll be working away on writing a fresh piece and suddenly, guess what? Some other writer has already written the basic theme.

In that case, don't worry. Because you will have your own ideas, characterization, plot twists, style that will totally make this theme--and there are generic ones--different and your own work.

There are books called "cookie cutters", styled after major players, etc. Most real writers will put so much of themselves into a common theme, that the book will seem all fresh.

It's pretty amazing how you can be writing and suddenly this synchronistic thing pops up that totally changes your story, like someone you've just met, a news tidbit, whatever.

So life definitely has its twists.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spotlight: The Catalyst


While on a long driving trip, I really enjoyed Tribute by Nora Roberts. I also enjoyed her Circle of Seven Trilogy audiobooks. But while driving, and my writer's mind churning, I thought what an excellent example Tribute was of how a CATALYST ignites a story (more later).

Recently, I mentored a writing friend, not something I do much of as I think that there are enough workshops and material available for writers to learn--if dedicated to learning. Plus writerly income depends on how the person manages productive time.

However, writing is, to some degree a hand-me-down craft and in this case, I did for her, what my first editor did for me. That was to mark up her work, then to explain the Whys. We've spoken since, so we're still friends :)

The most useful tool any beginning writer can have is the edited manuscript of a pro. When my edited manuscripts are returned to me, and especially when I first began, I really tried to understand the whys.

I'm reformatting some early published books for e-pub, because as another writer said, they deserve another go 'round. But in my own early work, I found some of my friend's same problems. Hey. We learn as we go--or we should.

If you can get a pro to hand mark your work, then explain, as I did with my friend, the whys, I promise you'll get some learning tips yourself. They say I'm a teacher, but I have my doubts, but I feel really good about this time as she is off and running.

Her story was good, but the fine points, digging in on details are going to be better, she says, applying it to her other work. I so hope this helps her become published.

Basically, her story was good, and that's important.

Her heroine is a catalyst. CATALYSTS rate high in creating stories. Tribute makes a wonderful CATALYST study. Basically, a woman comes back to where she grew up, to reclaim her grandmother's house--and uncover hidden secrets. (That's the name of one of my titles, Hidden Secrets :), so you know I love them. And I love the small towns, the web of characters that can evolve around a main character.

A CATALYST sets the ball rolling, stirs up the heat.

In this case, the Catalyst is a woman, a homecoming. HOMECOMINGS or events are also catalysts. A dog can be a catalyst, a wildfire, etc.

But most interesting in this case, as framed so well by Nora's Tribute, is the character who returns home to untangle old secrets and stir up hatreds, which she did not create, but could none the less.

In each of these Roberts Circle of Seven stories, someone is a catalyst. Someone comes into town to contribute to the story arc. In one instance, a character returns to town.

To begin, an earth-shaking event launches the trilogy, and Nora brings it to a brilliant conclusion.

Each of the characters brings something to the table, and that's important in anything, what is brought to the table.

Writers bring themselves and their unique (or should be) voice. That voice is developed by the editing, the fine-tuning of a story. Action/Reaction, keeping background characters in their place, highlighting the emotions, working them are all elements, but how the writer handles them, contributes to individual voice.

Now, the important concept about a human catalyst, say a h/h, is that they also evolve, changed by the situation they have ignited. So it is flip and flip back. The catalyst is affected by the events they set in movement.

I felt really good about mentoring my friend and that reason is because she's really working now on pushing her on work. So I know it was time well spent.