07 November 2007

Obviously this needs a quick update!!!!

I haven't been over here at this blog for a while because I seem to be doing all my blogging at rosefiend.livejournal.com. I used to double-post on both blogs, but when the last Apocalypse hit I fell out of the habit and haven't gotten back to it since.

Anyway, if anyone's looking for me acting silly, or getting all crazy about writing, that's where I've been doing it at. And you can even friend me. :)

27 June 2007

What! Another blog post!

Yeah, actually.

So this afternoon I disgruntledly (?!) went back to my Symphonians MS to start whipping it into shape. I had to shut off the computer that had internet access because I kept messing around on the internet instead of writing. Cripes.

And I'm looking at the first chapter, thinking, "You know, those two stories -- that is, the Kay story and the Symphonians bit -- actually went together pretty well right there." And so I took a bit of the Symph story from the other document I'd saved, and I dropped it into the first chapter. It nestled in all nice and tidy. I said, "Hm!"

So I went looking around in the book for another place where I could put a chunk of story, and what do you know, Wyatt and Kay were playing the same part in band (they play tuba and bass clarinet, respectively), and hey, in this Symph bit, Roderick and Violet were playing a song together on tuba and regular clarinet, so I dropped that chunk in right about there. And it looked nice there, too.

So NOW I have figured out how to fix the problem!

The Symph bits are big enough to give the reader a good idea of what's going on in their narrative, and they're right in Kay's text so she can comment on them. But their narrative is being kept to a bare minimum at this time so Kay can take center stage. But hey, I'm fine with that.

So I guess that sometimes you have to bring the world to an end to make something work. Though in the end it's actually a beginning.


Just this afternoon I got an e-mail from an agent who wants to see Symphonians.

Is my timing great, or what! I'd say "or what."

I told her I cut the story-within-the-story, so she had two options:

1) I put the whole story-within-a-story back and send it to herimmediately with a smile.

2) I take a month to revise the novel and then send it to her with a belated smile.

So we'll see how that goes.

So ... maybe I should get off here and start fixing the novelistic hash so it's, like, readable and stuff? Yeah, I guess I will.

26 June 2007

People, I've reached a decision.

To do the dishes!

As if. No, the other day I got a very nice personal rejection from an agent. She liked the Symphonians, but the Symphonians' novel and Kay's novel seemed, to the agent, to be at odds with each other.

I keep telling myself that I'm going to make these two novels live harmoniously within the same book, but then every time I prepare to sit down and work on this, I end up springing from my chair and running into the street.

This is not a good use of my time and energy.

So last night I made a copy of my Symphonians document. Then I went through and took the whole Symphonians novel and COMPLETELY CUT IT OUT.

Alas, I loved that novel. But those days are gone.

Then I went back and started reading through the MS. It seems to flow better, the pacing's better. And of course the whole document is about 75 pages lighter.

I'm planning on going back and inserting bits of the novel and have Kay actually dealing with her text, instead of setting out these two texts side-by-side and hoping the reader will catch on.

I had such high hopes for intertextuality! But alas, I was not pulling it off. So I'm a little bummed. But not as much as I thought I'd be, because now I feel like I can work with the novel again. I got rid of the brick wall, or radioactive force field, that kept me running away, and now I'm like, "Well, okay, I can manage this."

Not the end of the world after all. Not today, anyway.

18 May 2007

Done! For the moment.

Got all the cuts I'd made in the Symphonians novel incorporated in the computer. I busted 327 pages down to 243. 84 pages altogether. Took a whole week to do it. Gaah.

My work's not done yet. Next I need to figure out what's at the heart of this novel. And then I need to rewrite everything toward that. If something doesn't contribute to that overall motion, out it comes.

After that, I have several new scenes to write, too, which will jack up the word count again. Can't win.

I'm actually a little disappointed that I didn't end up cutting more words. I was hoping to cut 100. I'm just 15 pages shy of that goal. I could surely find 15 more pages to cut!

17 May 2007

Symphonians update!

I went through the returned MS and cut every word I could. I did a document-wide search for then and just, which are two words I overuse. I cut most adverbs and even some adverbial phrases. And if there were only a few lines on a page at a chapter's end, I'd go back and find other stuff to cut until I lost that extra page.

Also cut the two chapters that deal with the State Band plot, since that seems more like a tangent. I'll replace those later with more of an exploration of Kay's relationship with Mom and Wyatt "Gatlin Gun" McStudmeister.

I'm on page 200 in the MS and have cut 50 pages thus far.

So little cuts all through the MS will get you a long way.

Both agents that requested the MS said no. I've sent out eight more queries. Nothing yet. Sometimes you catch a fish, sometimes you don't.

I'd like someone to take me on who can help me with this novel-within-a-novel conceit. That's the thing that's kicking my tail right now.

Back to work, since I have to incorporate 127 more pages of corrections. I'm getting there! But man, I wish I could go faster.

09 May 2007

Symphonians update!

Ever since Monday morning, I've been marking up the pages of the Symphonians MS. I'm up to p. 196; I have 131 pages to go. So far I'm mainly looking for stuff to cut, though I've also marked up stuff that needs fixed and have made notes about random things I've noticed about the MS that I need to work on later.

I've noticed that the main story and the story-within-a-story finally start working together at page 199. So I have that working for me. It's just all the previous pages that will give me fits.

I also did a document-wide change: I switched Noel's name to Wyatt. Changed it back. Changed it again.

I did that because I keep mispronouncing Noel. That would look bad on the book tour. Also my husband tells me that Noel is not manly enough. He wanted the MC to be named Wyatt "Gatlin Gun" McStudmeister. I told him that one out of three ain't bad.

I need to set some goals for myself:

1) Extensive character work for Wyatt (Noel) and Justine (Kay's mom)

2) This includes writing several scenes in which Kay discovers Noel's, I mean Wyatt's, blog. Now I have to peruse blogs written by high-school guys without looking like some weirdo stalker.

3) Reading those books that have been recommended to me to apply them to my story-within-a-story.

4) Put more funnies in the first part. In rereading it the other night, I found out that I have a lot more funny stuff in the second part. Gotta fix.

5) What the hell is the focus of this story? There is none! Maybe finding a focus would help me shrink it down a bit!

Okay, that's plenty.

07 May 2007

Egad! More revision!

First, a weather report: KNIM reports we've had six inches of rain since it started on Saturday.

When I opened the mailbox yesterday (we just got back from Omaha), I said, "Aww!" There was a big ol' envelope in there the exact same width as my Symphonians novel.

But, a very nice letter on top from the boss:

Dear Ms. Cordell:

First off, you have done a wonderful job revising THE SYMPHONIANS. It is an incredibly honest and moving protrayal of adolescence. You have turned Kathy into a believable and relatable heroine. It is easy to see in her facets of millions of teenage girls -- her hesitant speech, her constant internal monologue of self-correction, her daydreams of having the right words to correct any problem. Her painful awkwardness is clear in the narration -- bringing the reader to not only sympathize with Kathy's frustration with her inability to get her words out but also to root and hope for her happiness.

(Hooray! I'm getting there.)

Nevertheless, I still have reservations about the manuscript. It still feels overlong, and I can't help but think it might be nice if it were about 75 to 100 pages shorter.

(She's right about that ... I got nervous printing it because I was using so much paper!)

The Symphonians trouble me. I liked and cared for them very much as characters, but I wish there was a clearer transition between Kathy's life and their story. A disconnect of some sort exists -- I felt like I was reading two separate stories that were thrown together simply because they both deal with domestic abuse. Granted, there are points in Kathy's narrative where she wishes she could be like one of her characters -- but she wishes to possess aspects of their personalities in situations that don't have anything to do with domestic abuse until the end of the manuscript. As a reader, I desperately wanted some tangible connection between the two stories that I could hold on to -- I wanted to know the events that triggered the manuscript to transition from Kathy's narrative to the Symphonians and back.

(I've had other people say the same thing, too. I thought I had finally dovetailed the small novel into the larger one -- apparently I haven't yet.)

There are problematic areas of connection in the manuscript ... and several nagging questions left unanswered (Do Noel and Kathy get together? Does Kathy finish the Symphonians's story because she no longer needs to fill the emotional space in her life with their presence now that she has friends like Yvonne?). Important characters like Noel and Kathy's mother are not developed enough. I wanted to see some sort of positive interaction between Kathy and her mother (I couldn't see any sort of connection between them -- highly unrealistic for a mother-daughter pair who appear to be trying to figure one another out) and Kathy's father is relatively non-existent (odd for a man who is said to have spent an entire morning helping out his parents next door repair a shower rod).

(She's right about that too.)

Then the letter details some smaller issues that need work -- a couple of places in the MS that seemed author-engineered, not organic; a soap-opera-like moment; some odd quirks in Kay's character that seem too odd. And then the final sentence, "If you do choose to revise again, please know that I'd be happy to reconsider this."

So I have that going for me.

Anyway, here's where you-all can help. Does anybody know of any books that feature a novel-within-a-novel? I need some models. Also, if you know of any writing books that address the narrative-within-a-narrative issue, point them out to me. I could really use some guidance on that front.

I'll go over the Symphonians today and tomorrow (it is a big tome) to try and see the story through fresh eyes. Then back to work on the raccoon story until the end of the month, just to keep my momentum up on it. I'm not tired of working on it yet, so I'm reluctant to put it aside. And that'll give my unconscious mind time to mull over the Symphonians and work up some ideas.

So ... not good news, but not bad news either. I can deal, though I'll moan and groan under my breath when I start figuring out how much work is really in store for me!

29 April 2007

Poetry corner!

That Time of Year

by William Trowbridge

Leave marvel at how light they've grown, discover flight,
learn the barrel roll, the Immelmann. Grizzlies doze
over their morning salmon.
In Algebra I, it's time for the hard stuff already.
Hurricane Darleen and Hurricane Randy try the Swim,
the Tighten-Up, the Mashed Potato.
In the face of thirty-seven straight defeats, the Plattsmouth Eagles
Booster Club decrees a two-story homecoming bonfire,
which spreads through downtown.
The new moon's back at it, trading colors with the pumpkins.
In Halloween XXXII, Michael Meyers thins out another group
of tiresome though basically good kids, slashing every girl
too big for an A cup. Hitler is played by Frankie Avalon.
Rain-soaked patios and lawns just stand around, forlorn
as abandoned pets. A water gun settles under forsythia.
The 700 Club and the NRA lobby for a bill banning Halloween
as a Satanic feminist holiday and allowing gun owners
to shoot trick-or-treaters out after 9 p.m. The President will veto
unless a warning shot's required.
Dark as ever, our lost hour returns from daylight savings time,
tasting like icicles used to.
Inside the Mall of America, now petitioning for statehood,
it might as well be spring.
Opened once more, the steam pipes clank out their ghostly signals.

From The Four Seasons, published by Red Dragonfly Press. Reprinted with permission.

23 April 2007

A squirrley story.

During my daily lunchtime walk, I saw a squirrel with a closed dandelion blossom in his paws. I immediately stopped to see what his deal was. The squirrel went to a nearby Norway spruce and sat by the trunk and looked at me, getting a little curious about what I was up to, the way squirrels do. And then he took the flower and placed it crossways in his mouth, like a dog carrying a bone, and climbed up the back of the tree. I couldn't see him, but the closed dandelion ascended the tree under its own power.

Then he reached a branch and took the dandelion out of his mouth and shook his tail and gave me the once-over. He picked up the dandelion and stripped some of the outer layer of the stem off, holding the dandelion much as you would hold a flute. I was enchanted.

Then he turned the bottom of the dandelion stem up and started to eat it with little crunches. I watched him for a while, then moved on.

I began to eye the dandelions. Did dandelions taste good to a squirrel? I have seen them eating maple blossoms off trees. Was a dandelion a spring tonic to a squirrel? I picked one of my own, and the white sap oozed out of the stem. Put a teeny bit between my teeth. The bitter went straight to the back of my tongue. whoo! Glad I'm not a squirrel.

12 April 2007

Story update!

Deadline time is approaching for the raccoon story. I said I'd get it done by May and by God I'm going to do it.

I have 100 pages to go, most of which will have to be torn up and totally rewritten. I need to do 4 pages/day to get 'er done by Mother's Day. After which I want to go back and start rewriting it from the beginning. Lord willing.

I have told myself to stay off the damn computer. This means I can' t go trolling the blogosphere if I want to get out of doing work. Or procrastinate. There's this little issue I've been having about developing bad work habits and that's one of them.

The internet is the debbil.

Tonight I got some plotting issues lined out because the plot lines converged all at once and got into a hairy tangle. Part of the problem was that the novel's pacing has gone right out the window. The other part of the problem is that I'm just now figuring out what the heck is going on in this story. In this version, anyway. (You know it's going to change in future versions.)

Haven't heard back from any agents since my last post. I might send out a few more queries. But otherwise I'm just going to sit tight and write. And not check the Gmail every five minutes.

Thought you-all should know.

08 April 2007

Poetry corner!

I forgot that April was National Poetry Month. Here's some Gerard Manley Hopkins, just for that Easter spirit.

God's Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and ah! bright wings.

27 March 2007

Update on the raccoon story!

I've been working on the raccoon story today. (I'm up to chapter 19.) I just discovered something about my MC, Thorn, which I'd kind of suspected. Except this secret was the tipping point that caused my story to change audiences, from MG to YA. But I was like, for Pete's sake, if the story needs it, put it in, and let it be a YA. So what if animal stories are supposed to be MG. Just do the Watership Down thing and be done with it.

The story had already been scooching into YA territory because Silverlady, the other MC, wanted to get married and start a family, which is more a YA concern. I was trying to keep it MG by saying, "Well, what she really wants is a family, since she never had one." Well, so much for that!

But I'm happy that the story has decided to be a YA. It's strange, but I always felt a little constrained by the MG label everyone kept putting on my story. It's not that MG is less good. It's just that I kept thinking, "Well, I can't say that, I can't do that" -- like I had to censor myself because of the audience. And that I didn't love the novel as much because I couldn't let it be itself.

Anyway, Thorn's secret is awesome. Oh, the ending, you're going to love it! I changed it in light of this new knowledge, and now it's just so wonderful! I am so happeeeeeee! Okay, enough exclamation points.

Only problem is, I just finished writing the cool scene where he admits this secret, but just as soon as I finished that scene, the following scene seemed so utterly trite and pointless that I immediately felt stuck. I'm a wimp.

22 March 2007

Sending stuff out.

I've sent out only two things in the last eight months: a query to an agent and a full MS to FSG. And that's it. Everything else I've been sitting on.

Editors' slush piles are overflowing because we're too busy sending out stuff, seeking stardom and fame and everything publishing promises. And a lot of stuff that's going out is premature. Or unfinished.

I have one finished novel. I thought my other projects were finished, but I looked at them again after my growth spurt and discovered they aren't.

I thought I knew that it took a long time to write a book. But then I discovered I really didn't know. That you gotta dig in and work on one book for months at a time, instead of flitting from project to project.

Granted, it is nice to have an extra project to work on if the main project keeps running you into that brick wall. But some days you have to keep slamming into that brick wall to make progress. Which doesn't make sense. But it works. It's one of those creative things that Maslov likes to talk about. (That Maslov! He's really a lot of fun, and super-helpful in teaching me all this useful psychological stuff.)

Today I'm going to hunt down some agents to send my Symphonians novel to. I should have started marketing it to agents when I sent it to FSG, but that was about the time the apocalyspe hit. Dang it. I'm such a slowpoke. That's my other failing.

(The apocalypse is over at work, btw! And it's so nice.)

13 February 2007

It pays to be mean to your MC.

Cruising along, or close enough, on the raccoon story. A couple of calamities befall the main character at once, pretty bad ones, actually.


Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thorn, my main character, loses an eye in a big fight. And then the same raccoon he loses his eye to goes off and kills Thorn's closest friend. Who also happens to be the raccoon that is helping to prop up Thorn's authority in the tribe. And Thorn's authority's going to be questioned soon.

It's a bad wound. It affects him in small ways, such as drinking (when he's trying to lap the water, he keeps misjudging the water's surface and keeps getting water in his nose) and walking (keeps crashing into folk, or startles when someone comes up on his blind side). He's leery about getting back in a tree, since he's not sure how this is going to affect his climbing skills. Which is bad when you live half your life in trees.

But there are some bad things looming up. Because Thorn's trying to move his tribe out of that area, but because of his bad wound he's sick and dizzy. The area around the eye is hot, it's constantly hurting, not just an owie but hot-wire-through-your-skull pain. He pushes himself too hard and blacks out while telling his successor that they need to have a council meeting right away.

But at that point where he blacks out, the narrative demands that I change the pov to his successor, who's sharing the story, so she can go make some mistakes that she's going to pay for later.

Except I don't want to mess with that chapter. I want to stay in Thorn's pov. Because now I have to admit I'm suddenly more interested in Thorn. (I was having trouble with that earlier.)

I know he's up to the challenge. I've always known that he was a strong one. But now he can show his strength. He's become much more sympathetic. For all his guff and bluff ways, now he is going to show that he is truly a good leader, even when the rest of his tribe start questioning his decisions.

I'm kind of glad this happened, even though it's going to be very bad for him for a while. Now I have a MC I can really be proud of. He's getting a bigger reward at the end, though at this point I'm not sure what it is.

09 February 2007

Have you ever considered underwear in the abstract?

Here's a poem by my (right now) favorite beat poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I have a copy of him reading the poem aloud. You can listen to a snippet of that reading here. I love his voice. And he's the boss of City Lights, which is a bookstore and also the publishing house that published Allen Ginsburg's Howl.

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I didn’t get much sleep last night
thinking about underwear
Have you ever stopped to consider
underwear in the abstract
When you really dig into it
some shocking problems are raised
Underwear is something
we all have to deal with
Everyone wears
some kind of underwear
The Pope wears underwear I hope
The Governor of Louisiana
wears underwear
I saw him on TV
He must have had tight underwear
He squirmed a lot
Underwear can really get you in a bind
You have seen the underwear ads
for men and women
so alike but so different
Women’s underwear holds things up
Men’s underwear holds things down
Underwear is one thing
men and women have in common
Underwear is all we have between us
You have seen the three-color pictures
with crotches encircled
to show the areas of extra strength
and three-way stretch
promising full freedom of action
Don’t be deceived
It’s all based on the two-party system
which doesn’t allow much freedom of choice
the way things are set up
America in its Underwear
struggles thru the night
Underwear controls everything in the end
Take foundation garments for instance
They are really fascist forms
of underground government
making people believe
something but the truth
telling you what you can or can’t do
Did you ever try to get around a girdle
Perhaps Non-Violent Action
is the only answer
Did Gandhi wear a girdle?
Did Lady Macbeth wear a girdle?
Was that why Macbeth murdered sleep?
And that spot she was always rubbing—
Was it really in her underwear?
Modern anglosaxon ladies
must have huge guilt complexes
always washing and washing and washing
Out damned spot
Underwear with spots very suspicious
Underwear with bulges very shocking
Underwear on clothesline a great flag of freedom
Someone has escaped his Underwear
May be naked somewhere
But don’t worry
Everybody’s still hung up in it
There won’t be no real revolution
And poetry still the underwear of the soul
And underwear still covering
a multitude of faults
in the geological sense—
strange sedimentary stones, inscrutable cracks!
If I were you I’d keep aside
an oversize pair of winter underwear
Do not go naked into that good night
And in the meantime
keep calm and warm and dry
No use stirring ourselves up prematurely
‘over Nothing’
Move forward with dignity
hand in vest
Don’t get emotional
And death shall have no dominion
There’s plenty of time my darling
Are we not still young and easy
Don’t shout.

06 February 2007

Despite Armageddon, we're making progress.

Right after I blithely said, "See? The Armageddon isn't so bad," a sale book with 916 cows hit my desk and I got buried in the detritus.

Which meant I spent a lot of time staring at the sale book and longing, yearning, to get to a computer or notebook and work on my story.

Though if I'd had actual hours or even days to work on this story, I'd be devising all sorts of nefarious schemes to get out of any form of writing.

I seem to get more done when I have less time to do it in.

So lately I've taken to walking around the basement track during lunch time, thinking about story. I do a kind of walking meditation, working my way down into a trance state as I walk, and then I can come up with a few things to write about. Sometimes I come back with two or three useful story things, sometimes I come back with nothing. Sometimes you catch a fish and sometimes you don't. That's just how it goes.

A lot of it is just trying to visualize the characters, trying to see exactly what's going on. I like it best when I get an image. But usually everything's so blurry.

Sometimes I'll do a little typing during lunch, usually when other people show up in the basement to do some walking, and then I can't think and I go to my computer.

But in this way, over the last two weeks I've pulled together two chapters, and there's a lot of interesting stuff going on in them. I really think that walking, and giving myself time to visualize, and giving my unconscious mind time to pull goodies out of its metaphorical hat, has really helped get these chapters going.

Another thing that helped was finding (at last!) a song to listen to while writing. Last Saturday KKFI played Eric Clapton's "River of Tears" from his One Car, One Rider album. I bought it today (no time yesterday) off i-Tunes for 99 cents and during lunch I played it while I was writing. With the music, I finally got the emotion, the feeling, I was looking for from my main character. That was worth the price of admission.

And earlier tonight I finished up the sale book and came home. Did some storywork and finished this week's chapter and I'm ready to move on to the next.

So I'm feeling good.

18 January 2007

Busy times.

The Apocalypse has hit at work. So far it hasn't been as awful as I imagined it (except when we get sale books with lots of cows that are not Angus, and then I must check each number and each name in each lot, individually, and that gets old quick). However, not a lot of computer time available, so I won't be able to check in as often as I used to for a while.

Just so you all know.

Oh, yes, I got my Cui Jian CD's yesterday, both at once! The Hong Kong disc is copy-protected, but the hits disc, which has 7 of 9 songs off the HK disc, is not. Oh I was happy. Playing the CD and hopping around the kitchen and singing stuff I didn't realize I remembered. It was fun.

07 January 2007

Yes, 15 years is a long time.

I am a happy girl today. Last night we were at a Chinese restaurant. Behind us, the employees were eating, speaking to each other in their own language, when one of them mentioned Hong Kong. And out of the blue I sat up and remembered something I'd been trying to seek out for a long time.

When I was in college, about 15 years ago, my friend Xia gave me a tape to listen to that she'd brought up from Hong Kong. On the cover, a man had a red scarf over his eyes. She said that his music had been banned in China, and that the album was called "I See Nothing."

The music was awesome, a mix of Chinese folk music and instrumentation with Western music. I listened to the tape over and over, after we graduated and moved on, but soon the tape was in danger of breaking, it was so old and listened-to. I would take it out seldom and play it occasionally, always watching the reels to be sure that I could stop the tape if it started to jam, as it had a few times. But Oh! Where on earth could I get a CD of this excellent music that I could blast everywhere?

So after we ate I asked the people who worked there about the tape. They couldn't give me any information on the singer, though I sang part of "I See Nothing" to them (had to fudge the words of course).

"That sounds like he's Cantonese," the guy said.

Ah! A clue.

So, filled with determination, I went home and started googling. I'd googled this before, with no success. But this time I ended up on Wikipedia looking at Chinese rock. Cantonese pop definitely wasn't this guy's style -- he was loud and fast. But this Northwest Wind style sounded more like what I'd heard on the tape, with its fast tempo, strong bass, and aggressive singing.

And I finally found my man. He's the godfather of Chinese rock, Cui Jian! Except he says that "godfather" makes him feel too old. But still! But I found him on MySpace, and when the window opened one of his latest songs started playing, and I was like, "OMG! That's him! That's the voice!"

I went running down the hall to tell my husband, I was so excited. And then I went cruising all over the internet and finally found the album that Xia had lent to me ages ago, only now it's a CD, and it's actually called "I Have Nothing," and it's on its way here from Hong Kong right now! Or at least in a week!

And then I'll order all the rest of his albums, one at a time.

I LOVE the internet! Love it! Oh, I do.

Here's Cui Jian singing "Fake Monk," which is off that album. Oh, and my husband went on MySpace and totally friended him.

05 January 2007

Let the raccoons be themselves.

I've finally figured out why I keep imagining my raccoons acting like little people.

As people, our way of life is based on our using our hands. We use them to touch, pick up things, eat, communicate -- everything.

Raccoons use their mouths. They'll use their hands in order to help them eat, of course, but most of their touching is done with the face, and they primarily fight with their teeth, not their claws.

I've noticed I've had a hard time when a raccoon has to point at something. My first impulse is to have them point with a finger instead of pointing with their head. The same thing happens when touch is shared. I keep imagining one raccoon patting another on the shoulder. No, all four feet would be on the ground.

I've been having a hard time visualizing my characters lately and I think this is part of the problem.

Not sure what the other part of the problem is. Though I did look at my MC's character sketch today and wasn't satisfied with it. I'm missing something that's pretty big. I wish I knew what it was.

02 January 2007

New Year Revelations.

1) Get Symphonians accepted.

Because it's in halfway decent shape, due to all those revisions I've made for FSG.

I do need to send queries to other agents and editors, just to be on the safe side. Because it could get rejected.

2) Get Leavetaking (the raccoon story) "finished."

"Finished" gets parentheses because no story is ever finished, for real. But I can work on revising Leavetaking until I run screaming into the street from it, the way I did with Symphonians. Then repeat.

I do want to get a good draft by May, since I believe I should have news from FSG regarding Symphonians by then. (That's how it worked out last year -- because I sent the story to them last December, too, and they replied in May, sending me back to work.)

3) Teach my kid how to speak Spanish.

By hook or by crook, since I don't speak Spanish myself. So I get to learn the language, too!

4) Fix up the short story collection and send it to Dutton.

I got a nice letter from Dutton a couple of years back saying that they'd decided against making an offer for it due to the collection seeming not all of a piece. I've been piecing it together more securely ever since. I sent a few of the stories to Eileen Robinson of FirstPages for a critique, which should be back by the middle of this month. After that, I need to pull those stories together, tighten up the collection overall, and give it to 'em.

It would be nice if I sent some of the stories to fiction magazines. Or maybe not, depending on what shape the stories are in. Short fiction is so much harder to sell, since there's so much of it out there, and so much good fiction, and so few venues that pay worth a darn. I don't want to send out lousy material, even if I could make a buck off it.


That's probably plenty for me to handle right there. More than enough, really. But the reach has got to exceed the grasp.