Wednesday, March 31, 2010
First things first, thank you to commenters regarding Hailey Edwards' Everlong. As promised, a copy of this wonderful book will be winging its way across the Ethernet to one lucky winner. I wrote the name of every commenter on a small piece of paper, shuffled them around on my desk and picked one with my eyes closed. I couldn't get any more random. J The winner is…drum roll please…Gale Stanley, better known as GPS. Gale, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get it out to you today.
Now on to furniture shopping in Germany. Before we came here, we read a lot about the people, culture, etc to be as prepared as possible. One of the things that we read concerned the size of German apartments. That they were small. So I worried about bringing my living room furniture because a) it was fairly new – about 3 years old, b) it was large so possibly wouldn't fit in a small apartment, and c) being new in a foreign country, I wouldn't know how to go about storing pieces that wouldn't fit (see b). Since it had taken me about 2 years of looking to find exactly what I wanted in the first place, I wasn't taking any chances and we left it in storage in the States. Fast forward to our life now in Germany.
Yeah, the small apartment? Not so small. The living room is quite large, in fact. Could've fit my furniture no problem. So now I have this big room and no furniture. So last year, we shopped around and finally decided on a big couch and chair. I'm not fond of the German styling so it was months of searching before we finally settled on what we have now. So for the past year, we've had a U-shaped couch, a chair, and a TV stand with our TV in the living room. Nothing else.
I've searched for other components but I have expensive tastes. Without even looking at price tags, I gravitate towards the most expensive items available. This means that furniture we've been looking at has been about 4000 euros, which is about $5500, for one piece. Yikes! So we've kept looking. We finally found a set of furniture that we both liked and was reasonably priced so we went on Saturday to do the deed.
They must have been short salespeople that day because we waited about 20 minutes or so without seeing anyone available to help. Then we caught sight of a man and he stopped to ask if he could help. We told him we wanted to purchase furniture. He said he needed to finish with another customer first and would come over. No problem, we said, and we happily went back to the area and waited. I should mention that German furniture stores look just like American stores, with sample rooms laid out for inspiration. So we lounged on the furniture there and waited. And waited. And waited.
Finally, about 20 minutes later, the man bustles over to us, ready to help. Yay! So we point out the pieces we're interested in. Now, at this point, we expected to pay about 3200-3400 euros for all the pieces that we wanted. This salesperson proceeded to knock off euros here and there and everywhere. We sure weren't complaining. When all is said and done, our bill is about 2500 euros. Then we whip out the VAT form. This is a form that, if the store accepts it, means we don't have to pay the German tax. Germans pay 19% tax on everything and it's included in the price. So, with our VAT form, we paid about 2000 euro. Oh, happy day!
The downside is that we have to wait 8-10 weeks for it to be delivered. What? My household goods from the States only took 6! Apparently, they wait until the furniture is ordered before they even make it. Then it's shipped, hence the long wait. So, I've waited this long. Another couple of months isn't too bad. Below are pictures of what we ordered. The first one, we got all four pieces, the TV stand, the cabinet and the two shelves. The second is the matching coffee table. The third is the sideboard. The last picture is the last piece of the set and we're waiting to see everything in place in the living room before ordering it because hubby thinks he wants 2. I don't think 2 will fit but proof is in the pudding so I'll let him see for himself.
What do you think of my new furniture? Do you have any shopping stories to share?
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The most damaged heart can fly with the right pair of wings.
Madelyn’s life is far from fairytale perfect. She is second in line for the throne of a corrupt, brutal monarchy. Or at least she was until her dark guardian sacrificed his life to hide her safely in a realm of infinite possibilities.
For years she’s lived among a colony of escaped slaves as her guardian’s widow. Even in this simple life, though, nothing is as it seems. Her hero kept a secret—a younger brother named Clayton Delaney. Warrior, winged demon…and the man who now wants to lay claim to her heart. No longer cast in his brother’s shadow, Clayton meets all obstacles head on, including one named Maddie. His infatuation with her reaches the breaking point when she undergoes a royal rite of passage, going into heat and pushing them both over the edge.
Just as Maddie learns that some risks are worth taking, she discovers that her guardian may be alive. And she’s forced to make a choice between the man she’d thought she loved, and the demon willing to lend her his wings.
Warning: This book contains virginal angst, a hero who’s too nice for his own good, wings, claws, and convenient use of glamour. It contains heartbreaking loss, conversation with a woodland creature, and sweet, sweet demon loving.
Click here for an excerpt.
Click here to purchase.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? I’d love to hear your thoughts after reading it. In fact, I'm giving a copy away free to one lucky commenter. The winner will be announced in tomorrow's post.
Monday, March 29, 2010
No, I'm not talking about the season, Summer. At least not yet. Today, I'm referring to Daylight Savings Time, or Summer Time as it's called in Europe. I know this occurred in the States two weekends ago, but those of us across the pond, it seemed like just yesterday. Oh, wait. It was. So, in honor of Summer Time, I thought I'd share a few fun facts.
Why do we have it? There are several reasons. The idea of daylight savings was originally conceived by Benjamin Franklin while in Paris in 1784. It wasn't until 1916, however, that Germany and Austria took the lead and implemented the practice in a bid to save fuel costs. Other countries soon followed, with the U.S. passing the first Daylight Savings Time law in 1918.
There has been controversy from the start. Those whose schedules are tied to sunrise, such as farmers, don't like the practice. Others argue that the original intention, to save money on energy costs, is moot and than that it actually increases costs as the use of air conditioners has increased in the past 40 years. There seem to be more auto accidents, lost productivity and sleep disturbances while people adjust to the time change twice a year.
Did you know that in 1965, Minneapolis-St. Paul suffered great unrest as a result of Daylight Savings Time? St. Paul decided to start DST early to conform to most of the nation, while Minneapolis thought it should follow Minnesota's state law, stipulating a later start date. After much negotiations and quarreling, they could not agree and the metropolitan area was divided.
I don't think we'll ever all agree. Personally, I like having the extra hour of sunshine at the end of day when I'm free to enjoy it. What's your preference?
Friday, March 26, 2010
We're back in Colmar! I used French (not sure if it's correct – blame babelfish, if not) and German in the title today because Colmar is an interesting mix of both. The town is close to the border and has belonged to both countries at different times. This leads to an interesting mix of German/French culture and the use of both languages. In fact, the older residents of the area have their own language that is a combination of both. I'm becoming comfortable with my German now and ordering drinks at a café, I accidently lapsed into German and so did the waitress, without blinking an eye!
Below is the little tour train that runs through town. We didn't take that tour but I thought the train was cute. The passengers sit on the train and wear headphones so they don't miss anything. I think our walking tour was more fun. I can't say which was more instructional.
There is a canal that runs through Colmar and they call the area around it petit Venice or little Venice. Goods were floated up the canal in the old days and you can still see the rings on the side of the buildings where the boats could tie up.
This is the Musee Unterlinden. Again, a mix of French and German in the name. It is an art gallery that used to be a convent for the Dominican nuns.
Next is the Musee Bartholdi. Bartholdi is the man who built the Statue of Liberty and he was born in Colmar. He made 35 small models before settling on the design. Once he had the design, he started putting it together in Paris. On Sunday afternoons, Parisians would walk over to watch the progress. As it neared completion, no money had been raised by the New Yorkers for the pedestal. The Parisians hoped it would remain so as they wanted to keep it. The money was finally raised and it was shipped to the U.S. like the half-timbered houses – numbering each part as they took it apart so that it could be reassembled. Bartholdi gave his family home to the city of Colmar on the condition it would be a museum. On July 4th of every year, Americans get free admittance to his museum.
The statue below was the last that Bartholdi made.
I hope you've enjoyed my tidbits from my trip. I've already scheduled my next trip. The first weekend in May, I'm going to Keukenhof and Amsterdam. Lots of fun stuff to share, I'm sure. So tell me about your favorite trip. Have a great weekend!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
We took a walking tour through Colmar, courtesy of a wonderful guide from the tourism office. She was very knowledgeable and I learned a lot. I'm going to share some tidbits and photos, in no particular order. I strongly recommend a stop in Colmar if you ever visit France. Beautiful city.
In the older part of town, you see the half-timber houses. The older buildings are all original, some dating back to the 13th century. During the war, the town was hit with a bomb only once and did minimal damage. I find that amazing.
In the old days, if people wanted to move, they dissembled their homes and numbered the timbers so they could be put together again. Hubby jokes that the French invented mobile homes. Notice the crazy roofs in the picture below? They are purposely built that way.
Notice the area protruding on the building below? People used to set up altars or place chairs in this space for praying. Normally you would only see this on one floor, but this building has it on two.
When people were taxed on their houses, they were taxed on the amount of ground their houses covered. So, to have more room and not have to pay a lot of taxes, there are many that built the ground floor, then expanded on each subsequent floor. Check out the houses below for a good example. Eventually, they had to set guidelines because houses were falling over. They were top-heavy!
Okay, that's all for today. I'll have some more interesting facts and pictures from Colmar tomorrow. I hope you're enjoying the trip. I'm having fun remembering it as I write it out. Have a great day!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
After leaving Titisee, we headed to France. We first went to the quaint town of Andlau.
There we visited an organic winery. Really.
Monsieur Durrman, the owner of the winery, took us on a short walk to see one of his fields of vines. He explained some of the techniques that he employed as an organic vintner. He has planted apple trees among his grape vines to help shade them. Then he collects the apples in the fall and makes a yummy apple juice.
After the short walk up the hill, we went back to his wine cellar for the tasting. We tasted 5 wines – a rosé, a Muscat, 2 different Rieslings and a gewürztraminer. I'm not one for dry wines so while they all tasted fine, it was the gewürztraminer that tickled my taste buds. We ended up buying 6 bottles of it.
During the tasting, we also got to sample a regional treat called kougelhopf. It is a sweet bread, though not too sweet, made with raisins and almonds. Monsieur Durrman uses the same yeast in the kougelhopf as he does his wine. During my time in Alsace, I saw this bread everywhere and knew that I wanted to find the recipe. I even bought 2 different sizes of the twisted bundt-like pan used to bake it.
Arriving home, I learned from my German neighbors that it's popular here as well. So I guess I can buy the middle size pan here, right? I did find a recipe and will be trying it out soon. I'll let you know how it turns out and if right, post the recipe here.
Tomorrow on to Colmar.
Ever had kougelhopf? Interested? What's your favorite type of wine? Like to go wine tasting?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I mentioned Friday that I was taking a trip to the Black Forest region of Germany and then on to Colmar, France. It was a quick trip jam-packed with interesting sites and information, not to mention shopping and food. So this week I will be blogging about my trip.
First things first, though. My goals for last week. I missed blogging on Wednesday. Bad on me. I did finish the revisions for Blood Diamond and sent it out to four critique partners. I'm now back to working on Out of the Shadows. My goal is to have it finished and polished before the RWA National Convention in Nashville. I have to have something to pitch to the agents there, right? This week I will continue blogging and complete 15 pages.
Okay, now on to Titisee, Germany. Once just an agricultural area, it has become a health resort. The mineral spas here and around the Black Forest region boast wonderful healing properties. Alas, I was unable to test the spas for myself this weekend but I plan to return this summer.
There is a lake whose water is dammed up by glacial moraines. It's the largest natural lake in the Black Forest at 2 kilometers long and 700 meters wide. It's all frozen over this time of year, and I can't wait to see it in the summer with all the green trees surrounding it.
The Black Forest region is well-known for its cuckoo clocks. Hand carved works of art and contrary to the common depiction of annoying birds announcing the hours (though available if desired), they have beautiful music and dancing couples, along with scenes of German life.
Another must-have is the Black Forest bacon. It's smoked according to Black Forest tradition, although I'm not sure what that tradition is. It can be served either hot or cold, but oh, is it yummy. Of course we had to bring a hunk home.
Last but not least, what would a trip to the Black Forest be without having some Black Forest cake? Yes, they really do serve it there and it's a bit different than the American version served in the States. I think I've mentioned before how the Germans love their schnapps. Well, they even add it to their desserts. Seriously. The layer of cherries contains quite a bit, but I even tasted it in the actual chocolate cake layer. It carries a bite, but it is oh so good. I'm going to try to find an authentic recipe (gotta check with the neighbors) and make it.
So, this is a quick overview of my time in Titisee. Unfortunately, it was a quick trip but as I said, I plan to return and try out those spas.
Have you ever tried the bacon or the cake? Care to try to the German version?
Friday, March 19, 2010
Looks like the potato dumplings win it. They are a staple here in Bavaria. My upstairs neighbor says it's not Sunday without dumplings. He also says that they must go swimming, meaning you eat them with a lot of gravy. I'm not a huge fan of them myself, but with enough gravy… If you try them, don't leave them in the water too long after they are done or they have a tendency to turn rubbery. They also make mixes for the dumplings and sell it in the German grocery stores. I believe that's what my neighbor uses most weeks.
- 3 slices white bread
- 2 TB butter or margarine
- 9 medium potatoes (about 3 lbs), peeled
- 3 egg yolks, beaten
- 3 TB cornstarch
- 3 TB uncooked semolina or Cream of Wheat cereal
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
Place potatoes in a large saucepan; add salted water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Cover with a tight-fitting lid; cook 20 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and mash potatoes. Add egg yolks, cornstarch, semolina, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir to combine.
Using your hands, shape the potato mixture into dumplings about the size of tennis balls (This is the size my neighbors make them. Feel free to make them a bit smaller, if you like), pressing one crouton into the center of each dumpling. Place flour on a dinner plate; roll dumplings in flour until evenly coated.
In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts salted water to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, gently lower the dumplings into boiling water. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer dumplings 15 minutes or until cooked through; do not allow water to boil. Remove cooked dumplings with a slotted spoon. Serve hot with gravy or melted butter with herbs.
These go well with the rouladen recipe I posted last month so if you prefer these, go for it. Me, I like the spaetzle.
On a side note, I did finish revisions yesterday and my story is safely in the hands of my critique partners.
Okay, so I'm off. I'm heading out to the Black Forest region tomorrow and then on to Colmar, France. I'll be back Monday and I'm sure several blog posts next week will be from my trip. I want a progress report if you make the dumplings. What are your plans for the weekend?
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Yesterday was just one of those days. Hubby went in to work late, so he threw off my morning routine. Since I worked the part time job ALL DAY yesterday, the morning is when I would have normally posted on my blog. Yeah, didn't happen. Then I didn't get home until after 7, cooked dinner, tired with no motivation. You get the picture. So I was a bad girl.
I had hoped to have my revisions done and to my critique partners yesterday. Didn't happen. So today, I'm working all day, like a fiend, to finish up. I'll be crafting my synopsis this weekend on a long bus ride. That should keep me busy for a while, right?
I started a hat yesterday. I found the pattern online and worked on it for 2 hours. Almost finished it so since it was slow at work last night and since I do work at a craft store (yeah, not a lot of job opportunities on a foreign military post but the people are great and I get to indulge my hobbies), I finished it up. Here's the picture that the pattern designer posted. My hat is in black wool. Awesome.
I'm so amazed by Facebook and how easy it can be to connect with old friends and colleagues. A friend of mine from over 10 years ago found me on Facebook. So I added her. Then I get a look at her friends. OMG, some of them are people I knew way back when. So I sent a 'Remember me?' to them. How fun.
If I finish today, I'm heading into Bayreuth, a college town and the closest large city to us, to head to the yarn store there. I'll take some pictures and post them. I'm preparing for a trip this weekend. More details on that tomorrow.
So I'll leave you with a poll. I will be posting a new German recipe soon so please vote for your preference. It's on the left at the top. The poll will stay open until midnight PST (if I've figured out the time difference right).
What's on your mind today?
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
We moved to Germany in January of 2009, which coincided with the middle of the television season. Because we didn't immediately get AFN (Armed Forces Network) and we weren't fluent in German, we missed the second half of our favorite TV shows. No big deal, but we're now in the process of catching up.
This month has been The Mentalist. When this show originally came out, I wasn't sure I would like it. It appeared to be similar to another show already on USA Network called Psych. Now I'm a huge fan of Psych and from the previews, I thought this was an attempt to cash in on the success of Shawn Spencer. But I watched the first episode because I did like Psych and found that this was not a cheap imitation.
While there are some similar elements, these two shows are not the same. Last night, I watched the season one finale of The Mentalist. Wow, good stuff.
The writers and Simon Baker, who plays Patrick Jane, have done a wonderful job of building a character that people can relate to. He was an arrogant fraud and as a result, a serial killer targeted him and killed his wife and daughter. So, he's known personal tragedy and feels guilt and need for revenge, but his pain has caused him to seek redemption. But all this information is parsed out to us slowly (like in any good story) and the back drop for his character arc is playing detective for the CBI (California Bureau of Investigation).
We see this man go through investigations, asking inappropriate questions and noticing details that only Sherlock Holmes would catch while using hypnotism and slight of hand for misdirection. He acts joyful and full of life, yet we know there is a darkness inside him. We get a glimpse every so often. It makes us want more.
Watching his journey, I don't know if it's more evident to me because I'm learning how to build strong, believable characters in my writing or if it's because I'm watching the episodes back to back. Perhaps a little of both.
Do you watch this show? What do you think of the characterization? Who's your favorite TV character and why? Do you notice such things as you're watching TV or movies?
Monday, March 15, 2010
Yes, it's a frowny Monday for me. I had outlined in my goals last Monday that I would finish revising Blood Diamond this week. I didn't finish. So, I'm back to that with hopes of finishing by Wednesday. I'm off from the part time job today and don't go in until 2 tomorrow so cross your fingers for me and send me good vibes. I did, however, do all the blogging I wanted to so that's a big YAY!
So, blogging all around this week again. Starting to see a pattern here? Yeah, I'm really getting into it and enjoying it. Writing-wise, I'll finish revisions for Blood Diamond and send it off to my critique partners, write the first draft of the synopsis, and if the revisions go as planned, I'll even finish chapter 13 of Out of the Shadows.
Out of the Shadows is my baby. The hero and heroine lived inside my head for a long time and their insistence, combined with the workshop I took with M.R. Sellars, convinced me to take writing seriously and pursue it as a career. It's a full-length urban fantasy that is the first of a 5 book series. I've been working on it off and on for two years and while I should have finished before now, I know that my writing has come a long way since I started it so it will be a stronger book for the delay. Revisions will probably be horrendous, but I've got time. I plan to have it finished and revised BEFORE RWA National convention in July. I've got my work cut out for me.
Okay, so that's it for me today. Gotta take puppy to the groomer and then get to work. We're closing in on the end of the first quarter of the year. How are your goals coming along?
Friday, March 12, 2010
Yesterday I went to a black butcher. I don't mean that his skin color was black. Here in Germany, they have a saying – Black is beautiful. The Germans pay a lot in taxes. Over 50%. Every month, approximately 2 ½ weeks of their pay goes for taxes. Because of this, they frequent black businesses whenever possible. This means that they pay cash, the business owner charges the customer less and doesn't claim it for taxes.
My upstairs neighbor knows a lot of people. We were told from the beginning that things move slow in Germany unless you have a lot of money or you know someone. Lucky for us, we know Armin. If he can't get something done, he knows who can. Ooh, that sounded kinda mobsterish, didn't it? I don't know that he can get that done, but… That's better off left alone. Anyway, I get a bit of a kick when we get to see a part of Germany that most foreigners don't.
So, I got about 2 kilos of freshly ground and made sausage (or wurst), no preservatives or added stuff. This butcher, or metzgerei, makes everything himself. He's actually a retired butcher and now has a 'shop' attached to his home that he opens to customers one day a week. So, of course we had sausage for dinner last night. Which is also a German thing. It's fun and pretty filling. We barely made a dent in what I bought before we were full.
Anyway, I thought I'd share another Bavarian custom with you today. And if you were here, I'd share some sausage.
Have you ever done black business?
Thursday, March 11, 2010
With finishing my first draft of Blood Diamond and working on revisions, my mind tends to jump ahead to the next the step. Once I finish revisions, I like to send my manuscript out to my critique partners. Yes, I have more than one.
Critique partners are worth their weight in gold. Personally, I would never submit without running it by at least one other person. I want to make the best first impression I can with my work and I know I can't do that all by myself.
A good critique partner not only catches what you need to fix, but they also point out what you're doing right. That can be just as important as what should be changed. You need a thick skin in this business, but everyone likes encouragement.
What if you don't agree with them? Weigh their opinion. If it resonates with you and you think the story will be stronger, change it. If not, don't. Ultimately, it's your story. You have to do what's right for it. If several people mention the same thing, however, it's usually a good bet that changing it would be beneficial.
I know some authors have one partner that they rely on but I've found that different people seem to catch different things. Multiple partners (critique partners, that is) works out great for me because I'm a bit sparse on description, usually. As a reader, I don't like a lot of extraneous description and tend to skim over it if it doesn't seem relevant. Because I do this, I tend to go in the opposite direction and not put enough in. Of course, since I know the story and the characters so well in my head, I don't always catch the areas that need more description.
So, I like to have four strong critique partners to look over my stuff. Funny enough, I decided to write about critique partners after I wrote yesterday's post. Then I hooked up with someone new today. Critique karma.
So, I'm working diligently on my revisions like a good girl and I hope to have them finished by the end of the week, Monday at the latest. I'm pretty proud that I'm not struggling to finish writing two days before the deadline. I'm a horrible procrastinator and if it weren't for buddying up with Rachel on this submission, I probably would be sweating bullets, but that's a post for another day.
How many critique partners do you have? What do you look for in a critique partner?
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
So I'm taking this online writing workshop this month called The Power of the Senses: Enhancing Author's Voice, Characterization and Conflict. Yeah, it's a mouthful but it's also a pretty interesting class. One of the first things we did was to take a survey to find out what type of learner we are. The instructor uses four – auditory, visual, kinesthetic and tactual.
The general idea is that we tend to use one or two modes of learning frequently and everyone is different. He does state that women tend to be more auditory/visual and men kinesthetic/tactual. Auditory is related to listening, visual to what you can see, kinesthetic to movement and tactual seems to be more instinctual. Here's an article that goes into more detail about the different types of learning - http://www.new-oceans.co.uk/new/learn.htm.
I found out that I am auditory/visual. This makes total sense to me. My husband tends to call me the human tape recorder because there are times that I can recite a certain conversation word for word. I am inspired by music. I get all kinds of plot bunnies from songs I hear on the radio. Many times I have to see something or see how it works before I catch on, depending on what I'm trying to learn. Apparently knowing our learning style can help us learn faster and can also help us relate to others more easily if we know their style.
I took this class to make my writing deeper and richer. I'm learning what I need to do that, but I also learned something interesting about myself too. Isn't that what a great class should do?
Want to find out what type of learner you are? Here's a quiz with scoring instructions - http://www.depts.ttu.edu/passxl/pdfs/Sensory_Learning_Styles_survey.pdf. I'd love to hear how you learn best.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I think I'm crazy. Yesterday I posted about finishing my first draft of Blood Diamond and outlined my revision process. Today, I want to chuck it all and start a new project. And not a project I've already written down the bones. No, I want a new and shiny.
Is this a reaction to the hard work that goes into revisions? Maybe, but I've been struggling to stay on board with my blue diamond jewel for a couple of weeks now. Just a couple more, that's all I need. Then I need to get back to Out of the Shadows. It has languished long enough. I need to have it finished before RWA National convention so I can pitch it. I know this. It has to be the next project I work on. I'm halfway through the first draft, for crying out loud.
But those damn plot bunnies.
Yes, those great ideas for stories that multiply faster than rabbits can procreate. They're calling me. Resist, I must resist. Seriously, I think this is my subconscious trying to subvert me again. That ol' fear of failure so don't actually finish the project again. I recognize this. So I resist. I write the bones of these great ideas to ponder another day. Another year, actually, since I have my projects lined out for me for the rest of this year. And I will fight through my fear once again.
So, it's nose to the grindstone, get my revisions done. I can slap a few notes down to appease the plot bunnies. I will have Blood Diamond ready to submit by March 31. I will.
Do the plot bunnies plague you when you are close to finishing? How do you fight them?
Monday, March 8, 2010
Well, I almost didn't make it this past week. One of my goals was to blog Monday through Friday. I had no internet for two days so that goal was a wash, but internet doesn't affect my writing, right? In addition to internet issues, I also had plotting issues. I mentioned in Friday's post that I finally got a handle on it. Lucky for me, I didn't have to work Friday through Sunday so I was able to finish the first draft of Blood Diamond.
Now the hard part. Revisions. I outlined my revision plan to my accountability group, basically editing two chapters on my off days from the part time job and one chapter on the days I have to work, to finish by Sunday. This may seem drawn out, as one of my accountability partners challenged. It got me thinking. Could I do more? On the days I work at the part time job, the answer is no. And this week is a long one for me as I have to work more days than usual. On the days that I don't work the part time job? Hmm, I really don't think so.
I have a process. It's rather involved, but by spending extra time with each chapter, I try to get all my revisions done in as few passes as possible. I also don't revise as I write so even though I write fairly clean, I tend to leave some things out and the plot tends to change somewhat. The first thing I do is to read through my selected chapters. Today that will be chapters one and two. As I read, I will make notes of things that are no longer part of the story and where I need to add. Once I make those changes, I print out the chapters and grab my highlighters.
Now, if you've ever taken Margie Lawson's Deep EDITS class, you'll know where I'm going with the highlighters. If not, you have got to take her class. The gist is that you color code highlight your manuscript so you can see at a glance things you need based on how much of each color you have on your papers and what those colors represent. It's a five color process. Once I see what I've got and what I need to balance it out, I work on that.
Once I have added what I think I need to add, I run my pages through a writing program. This program helps me catch passive verbs, clichés, hidden verbs, etc. It's not a hundred percent since it's geared toward business writing, but it helps me catch a lot. There is another program I use to find overused words. Once I go through all this, I do another read through.
My process can be quite time intensive and I want to spend the time I need with each chapter. This is my process, as convoluted as it may sound.
What's your process?
Friday, March 5, 2010
As I mentioned before, I'm working on a romantic suspense set in the Republic of Congo. I finished chapters six and seven last week, leaving my hero and heroine caught by the warlord chasing them. I knew what I wanted to happen at the end, but I was stuck trying to figure out how to get from the end of chapter seven to the end.
Monday, I sat in front of the computer, trying to sling some words down but no matter what I wrote, it wasn't right. I was at a loss. So what to do? My first instinct is to email my blue diamond buddy, Rachel, and get some input. We've been working together on this submission call. I've helped her with Ring of Lies. She's helped me with Blood Diamond. Remember that technical difficulty I mentioned yesterday? Yeah, no internet. So no asking for help until yesterday.
So, no ideas, no avenue for help. What's a writer to do? Take a break, of course. I put my manuscript aside. I read a couple of books I've bought recently. I watched some TV shows. I basically did just about anything but work on Blood Diamond. Then this morning in the shower, I had a breakthrough.
As I'm shampooing my hair, I'm thinking about how my heroine is a doctor, dedicated to saving lives and helping those less fortunate. Yeah, those damn characters just won't leave me alone until I tell their story. I thought about what she could do that would torture her…er…I mean, let her grow and help them get out of their situation. Then I thought about another seed I'd sown in another chapter, and an idea started to form. Enough of one, anyway, that some quality time with my manuscript will help flesh it out.
So, the moral of the story, when I'm stuck and I can't work through it right away, the best thing I can do is step away completely. My subconscious will do the heavy lifting.
What do you do when you're stuck?
Thursday, March 4, 2010
I'm back after two days of technical difficulties kept me from posting. From anything on the web, actually. Sorry to disappear.
Monday I had to go into the part time job for a few hours. While there, I got to talking (who me?) to one of my co-workers. She told me that her husband had gotten her a Kindle for their anniversary and how much of a surprise it had been. She'd been expecting something else and I think the fact that he was able to completely surprise her pleased her as much as the gift itself.
I had a similar experience. My husband and I don't usually exchange anniversary gifts. Instead, we try to take a trip. Not only did we take the trip, but he also surprised me with an iPod Touch. I'd wanted one for a while but hadn't gotten around to getting it. Surprise number one.
He did it again for Valentine's Day. Hubby has never really celebrated this holiday and in fact, shows his love for me throughout the year in other ways. This year, however, I received a lovely Citizen watch. It's gorgeous and, according to one of my friends, so totally me.
Gifts are nice. I love getting them but I think when the man (or woman) in your life really puts some deep thought into what would make you happy and then goes to lengths to surprise you, that is the better gift.
Have any of your significant others surprised you? What's your favorite gift?
Monday, March 1, 2010
Considering I had to go into the part time job this morning and got a late start on the writing, today has been a pretty great day for me. The sun is shining here in Bavaria, Germany and the snow is melting. I'm so close to finishing the first draft of Blood Diamond, I can't sit still. Anyway, first things first.
My goals last week were to finish chapters six and seven of Blood Diamond. Check. Blog Monday through Friday. Check. Yay!!! Two weeks into posting my weekly writing goals and I'm doing great. ;)
So, for this coming week, I plan to finish chapters eight and nine of Blood Diamond. I believe that will bring my Congo adventure to an end. Well, at least the first draft. Of course I will revise, edit, and polish. I also plan to continue my blogging. I do have an award to live up to, you know.
Okay, so it's not a real award but it's still fun. If you remember, Friday I mentioned that Delilah Devlin nominated me for a prolific blogger award. I'm a fairly new blogger so I got a big kick from it. As a winner of this prestigious award, I must link to at least seven other prolific bloggers. It's a fun way to promote traffic to sites and introduce people to new blogs that they may not have found themselves.
Each prolific blogger must link to the blog he/she received the award. So everyone listed below must link back to my blog so folks can check out the other winners.
Below are my nominees. They have fun and informative blogs and they blog fairly regular so check back often.
Murder She Writes – This group blog features my chapter-mate Laura Griffin.
That's it for me today. I've got people to save in the African rain forest. What are some of your favorite blogs to visit?