"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Writing, editing, and leopard-print lingerie

 I have in the past written a post about my editing process. It is long and it is tedious (the process, not the post) and is usually composed of five official stages of editing, and within each stage, an infinite number of passes through the manuscript. If you want to look it up, it's here:


Since that's the way I've always done it, that's the way I expected to do it for this book (currently titled MOON DRAGON FALLING, book 2 of the fantasy trilogy). As usual, my great expectations were incorrect. I'm going to chalk it up to two things. 

One is that this is a Big Damn Book that refuses to come in under 110,000 words. (My editor might eventually disagree when she reads it.) 

The second is that this book, much like the first, refused all attempts to be outlined like my mysteries and insisted on being born naturally, without a plan. Or an epidural.


So instead of doing many sweeping reads to get rid of my go-to words and fix grammar and tidy things up, I went straight to Step 4, where I reverse-engineered the book and made an outline, then looked at the pacing, re-arranged chapters, and fixed what fell flat. 

I'm now going to the Read Aloud portion of the program, followed by the Listen to the Digital Voice Recorder step, and hopefully end up Verifying My Edits without losing my mind.

I'm thinking of making a board game out of this process.

As I was re-structuring the chapters, an idea slapped me. Why not make the beginning of the second book echo the beginning of the first? If I can do it subtly, it's one of those things that brings the reader confidence, makes them feel like they know and like this story without knowing why. Like when a woman wears leopard-print lingerie under her business suit--her secret brings her confidence. No one else knows why there's a spring in her step. They don't have to. 

They just have to stay out of her way.


Friday, March 26, 2021

The post in which I wax philosophic

 I've lost friends in the past twelve months.

One was the dearest of souls who called to tell me of her diagnosis and I broke down crying because, well, I'm a selfish beast sometimes who could only think that my friend was in pain and sad and scared and I should have bucked up and been optimistic and calm and gentle instead. My failure haunts me.

One was a sassy gal I only saw at writer's conferences and I knew she had some health issues but she tended to want to talk about writing instead. I never brought up her health because that's not polite conversation and I figured it was the last thing she'd want to talk about.

The latest was a fab and funny woman I served on a board with, worked with, laughed with, and last saw at my book launch party in February of 2020. I didn't even know she was ill. Her face is still fresh in my memory, smiling as always.

They all had one thing in common in my narrow world--I didn't get to say goodbye. What would I give to have been able to spend just a few more minutes in their presence, putting every detail down to memory? A fat lot of whatever the Universe asked.

I try to be reasonable about it all. If I knew my prognosis was grim, that I may not have all the time I wanted on this Earth, it would be difficult to share that with even my close friends. I wouldn't want pity and I wouldn't want helpful advice about a new drug or a doctor or some herbal concoction. To be honest, I'm not certain I'd like my friends to visit, no matter how much I love them. It might be too raw.

What would I want?

Funny cards that make me laugh. Photos of people enjoying life. Weird little tchotchkes that remind them of me. Inside jokes to remind me of them. Communication.

But that's just me. Your mileage may vary.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Sometimes the mind gets cluttered

 I'm actually editing the fantasy (part 2) but I have to get this out or my mind will not stop reliving the day.

Yesterday I went to the Anaheim Convention Center for my second COVID shot. No, I have not had much of a reaction. Yes, I feel bulletproof and might step out later today to put on a cape and stop a train.


The Convention Center was fairly organized, but they'd had to scramble a bit, because we're having EFFING SANTA ANA WINDS IN FEBRUARY and they had to re-route all the Disneyland vaccinations to an indoor location. I had no place else to go, so I was okay to stand in line and play with my phone.


Except I couldn't play with my phone, because the older lady behind me was chatty. After I tried multiple times to look engrossed in a crossword puzzle, I surrendered and reminded myself that life is to be experienced, not tuned out.

She was shorter than me (so, SHORT!) and discussed the Convention Center, how much she hated parking garages, and Disney in general. I found out she works the phone lines for Disney, helping people with reservations for the parks and hotels, etc. She mentioned her eye surgeries a few times (regarding parking garages and doctors' appointments), we had the loveliest chat, and then the line started to move. I lost her in the sea of tables and syringes, and figured that was that and I wish I'd gotten her name.

After it was all done, I found my car (yes, I lost it briefly even after writing down where it was) and made my way toward the exit. Who was pulling out of her parking space? My chatty friend.

How did I know it was her? First, she was looking through the steering wheel, not over it. Second, it took her a 99-point turn to back out of her space. Pull up a little, back a little, pull up a little, back a little. I followed her out of the garage and she turned right on Katella, just like me.

BTW, she was in an older model Buick LeSabre. Her license plate said GENIUS 7.

I watched her in the middle lane for a while, going straight, then slightly veering toward the right. Thank God for the bumps on the lane lines! At one point, I was able to stop almost next to her at the light. That's when I saw the right side of her car--it had the crap beat out of it. Dented front and rear fenders, scrapes down the entire side, a significant dent in the rear door.


My first and only thought was, "She is delightful but she should NOT be driving!"

And now that's out of my system, I can go about my day of editing. Thanks ever so for listening.

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