Monthly Archives: August 2014

Writing

Back on the rollercoaster

roller-coaster

photo credit: Express Monorail
via photopin cc

We went to the Gold Coast last month, and I actually rode a rollercoaster.

That rollercoaster was fun. This one…not so sure.

I’m fairly cranking through Savage Dreams (up to 59K – huzzah!) but I took a bit of a pause to go back and look over Grow.

I got some feedback on the first couple of chapters a while ago, which I sat on. I finally decided to tackle  the comments and apply what I’d learn to the rest of the MS. It’s definitely better for it. I think the middle is still a bit stodgy, but the end is good. I can say this because I had a serious case of one-more-chapter-itis reading it. With my own story! I’m taking that as a good sign.

I’m still not sure it’s quite “done”, but it’s something. So I’ve started to dip my toe in the query water. I haven’t decided how to tackle the whole agent thing yet, but I know some NZers have US agents, so it’s possible. I read the entire query shark blog and a whole bunch of “how to write a query letter” blog entries by authors I love (and others I’ve never heard of, but who’ve been there done that). But, damn, is it ever hard to write a decent query for a book that is less actiony and more introspectivey. The stakes! The stakes!

Brigid Kemmerer explained how she wrote a query letter.

Joy McCullough-Carranza gave a great example of a query letter for a quiet novel.

The query letter for Savage Dreams, on the other hand, was easy peasy I do … well you get the idea. I figured that one out while I was planting Christmas trees. Missing parents! Moral quandaries! Freedom vs. incarceration! Hot twins!

So, I think I might have to take the leap soon. Convince myself it is possible for a girl like me to get published. Maybe not probable, but I’ll never know if I don’t try. And psych myself up for the soul-crushing rejections to come.

Light Relief

Simple as A, B, what now?

My youngest daughter, Miss E, is 4 and a half. That’s only 6 months away from school. And though she’s fantastic with her numbers and counting, I recently realised she doesn’t know the alphabet. Like can’t-even-sing-the-song-by-rote. Sometimes she manages to sing A B C D E F G W X Y and Z.

Uh, baby, there’s a whole chunk of letters in the middle that are going to be pretty useful one day.

I don’t remember actively teaching my oldest the alphabet, but maybe I was a bit more onto it (or less exhausted) back then.

Anyway, since learning the alphabet is the first step to reading, I thought I’d get my parenting arse into gear. So I bought a set of cheap alphabet blocks from the supermarket. Now, they were cheap, and I wasn’t expecting much, but still…

Here are a few ways these blocks are flawed. (Click images for larger versions.)

abc_pattern_sm

1. The letters are coloured in a pattern of red-green-yellow-blue…until you get to N, and then it red-blue-yellow-green. Uh…okay? But, to prove Miss E is mathematically minded, she complained about the problem.

abc_digits_sm

2. Each block has one number on it. We get from 1 to 9 (and then 0) fine. But 4,2,8? Then we start to repeat (because the A block and the N block are the same, so I guess that’s cool. (And ignore the O on the end. It’s actually a letter O, not a zero. There’s an 8 underneath – it tricked me.*) But, seriously, who chose 4,2,8? Not even 2,4,8!

abc_symbols_sm

3. Each block also has two images on it, which I guess are meant to coincide with the two letters on the block. So, the A/N block has an apple, and a…train. Yep, a train. You can see it in the middle there. I swear I didn’t rearrange the blocks. All I did was rotate them and try to pick the best image.

A = apple
B = bee
C = cat (weird-looking, but still: legs, tail, whiskers – I can buy it’s a cat)
D = duck (kind of looks duckish)
E = cherries?
F = freighter? frigate?
G = glasses
H = horse
I = insect
J = chicken?
K = candlesticks?
L = jar?
M = ??? (seriously, no idea what that could be. I don’t even know if I’ve got it up the right way.)
N = train?
O = orange (yes! Go O!)
P = helicopter?
Q = ??? (again, seriously? Who knows?)
R = cablecar? gondola? (sorry, that one’s upside down*)
S = seal
T = stars (twinkle, twinkle…)
U = tulip?
V = (tele)vision
W = dove?
X = strange little house with a chimney?
Y = yacht
Z = that’s a flower of some description (zinnia?)

I guess that will teach me for buying the first cheap and nasty set of blocks from a supermarket.

But we’ve still been having fun trying to name each letter, and figuring out where it goes. And she’s definitely improving, so it’s money well spent. 🙂

* and I was too much of a slacker to redo the photos

Writing

Savage Arguments

For the last month and a half, I’ve been working hard on Savage Dreams. I’m totally stoked because I’ve passed the 50K mark. That means I’m almost there. I can see the end. I’ve added in a few more twists and turns, and hopefully deepened the relationships. I caused a few ripples, of course. And since this is the first book in a trilogy, I’m worried there are more ripples ahead.

But at the moment, the plot is nicely plotted, and the characters develop, and I think I just need to flesh things out a bit. Squee!

So, in honour of this, I’m going to post another wee excerpt. I’m kind of running out of things to post without majorly spoiling everything, but here goes. V is a girl, and she’s dreaming…just roll with it.

***

He glared at her. “You—” He flew backwards through the cabin wall. It wasn’t like one of his normal disappearances, where he popped out of existence. This time it was like he’d been pulled by a bungy cord around his waist.

bungy_cord

photo credit: Pensiero
 via photopin cc / Text added

V flung the door open and rushed outside. He lay in the grass, struggling to get up.

“What happened?” she yelled as she ran towards him.

“Someone’s trying to wake me up.”

“Your brother?”

He scrunched up his face. “It doesn’t feel like him. Oh fu—” He flew back another hundred metres, arms flailing. V ran after him, her legs heavy and slow.

“They’ve found us.” The colour drained from his face, and his eyes grew desperate. “I can’t fight it.”

“It’s okay.” V fell to the ground in front of him, and her anger drained away. “Go. I’ll find you.”

“No! You run. Run as far as you can.”

“I can’t run. They’ll find me too.”

He let out a hiss of pain. “V, I’m sorry. I fudged everything up.”

“Shut up. We can argue about that later.”

His fingers tightened on hers, and he managed a weak smile. “Suddenly being held captive in a secret hospital doesn’t seem so bad.”

“Dick.” V wrapped her fingers around his and squeezed. “Go.”

He brushed his thumb across the back of her hand and disappeared.

V stood and stared over the rolling hills as the wind whipped around her. Relationship drama could wait. There was a government conspiracy to deal with.

No more running. It was time to turn and fight.