Just write it

I’m a lucky writer.

I participate in two writing groups that are very supportive, both at meeting time and after. One is based in a Unitarian church, and the small group is well-meaning and cheerful, though the members aren’t regularly published; it’s mostly people who like to write for themselves. The other is part of the larger Pennwriters group that’s branched off to meet in Erie, and is made up of people who are professionally farther along, and mostly published writers. I’ve been meeting with this group for maybe five years–they were a group before I came along. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we can evaluate new projects in light of these.  Some write and improve the same pieces over and over to bring for critique, working toward perfection; others, like me, tend to work in mass quantities.

As a result, I’ve been able to accomplish my earlier goals, preparatory to making a run at a second NaNoWriMo, completing a full edit of one on my sci-fi novels so I could send it to an editor I met this spring at a conference, as well as sending out multiple queries for my 2007 NaNo novel, since the agent who had accepted it is now having some serious solvency issues. I have two weeks now to edit my urban fantasy, complete with deep gratitude to long-suffering writing partner Jean, who red-penned it (ouch! but it’s necessary) so I can be ready to send it to yet another agent who expressed interest at the conference. I have one novel under review by Harlequin; another by a well-known New York agent, and not one, but TWO Cup of Comfort books coming out in the next year. (More on that when the publicity packs come out.)

So….with the patient understanding of the Cabana Boy and children, who all know I’m a better person when I’m involved in creation, it looks like I’m on track for the chemical-free rush of NaNoWriMo.  Well, except for the caffeine.  LOTs and LOTS of caffeine….

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If you’d like to see a great assortment of pieces on and about writers, come on down to the Just Write Blog Carnival where you’ll find much to interest you, including a piece of mine!

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Hooray for Hollywood

My husband and I watch movies together. When I pick them.

We’ve adored The Color Purple, Thelma and Louise, Boys on the Side. We love sci-fi, all the different permutations of “people trapped in a metal tube in space/underwater/in time/somewhere and menaced by a monster/vampire/creature/mother-in-law.” We go back and forth on comedies (intelligent) and dramas (psychological). Musicals line one whole shelf on the entertainment center, from Phantom to Rent.

When we saw the trailer for Bruce Willis’ latest Die Hard movie last summer, it was a no-brainer. ANY movie where a car can take out a helicopter mid-air is just something we had to see immediately. (It was cool. Really.)

For some reason, I have this innate talent that extends to his taste in films. For the most part, he enjoys movies I choose. (Okay, that weird French movie about the schoolgirls with the ribbons and the gimpy teachers was wrong. I admit it! Wrong!) But 9 out of 10 movies I pick, he likes as well as I do.

It doesn’t work the other way.

If he heads out to MegaMovie store, he’ll come home with two or three movies and I’ll look at them and think, “What?”

I can’t even pinpoint why not. There are some movies I just don’t watch, like gory horror flicks, that he can watch with my daughter or our friend Chase. But even the regular films are often just not on my wave length. He knows it. Any more, he insists I choose the movies, because he knows I’ll just wander off to do something else. (Never an end of something else to do around here, of course.)

And that’s the weird part. He won’t watch then. Just like I don’t watch movies on the evenings he teaches. For us, a movie is a time to travel together to another place so we can experience something special. That two hours in the dark focused on the screen is a bonding experience that draws us closer, something we still need to make sure we do regularly after eight years.

Then we return to our regular world, hoping the Force is still with us, knowing there’s no place like home, there’s no crying in baseball, and the ultimate movie truth: if they build it, you’ll trip over it in the middle of the night and break your leg.

That’s why they call it work

As a writer friend of mine scolded, “It may be fun to chunk out novel after novel, but until you put in the work to edit, they will never go anywhere!”

So today begins the work on the novel I penned in November, during my first experience at NaNoWriMo. (For anyone who hasn’t done this, I highly recommend it; give yourself permission to write the project of your choice for 30 days–so empowering!!) It’s a young adult novel, sci-fi/fantasy, flavored with magical chords, string theory, World of Warcraft and a heroine with autism. The first draft came out remarkably well, considering the boilerpot process, but there are definitely issues to be treated.

My personal editing process is blessed by a talented critique group I met through Pennwriters. For the past several years, I have shared work for strenuous yet generous commentary that has always benefited the WIP. We are a mashup of varied bodies of knowledge; a former state trooper, a dog expert, a lawyer, a high school librarian, some students, some working, some retired–all gifted. Questions receive answers: Is this an information dump? Do you understand the character’s motivation? Is this too big a clue early in the story?

More importantly, in the exchange process, there are brainstorming moments that open the door to deeper understanding of my own work. What if your character did…? Perhaps the relationship between the girl and that boy could lead to…? What if the journey took on a more metaphoric flavor and…? I always love it when someone spots a meaningful undertone that I haven’t quite grasped, so I can coax it into the light.

Over the past six weeks, the story has settled. I’ve contemplated necessary plot modifications to improve the tale. My critique mate Jean has attacked the pages with not only red pen but black and violet as well. Bless her. (No, really, I mean it!) Each of the initial character introductions has been made to the group; the group has responded with approval. All is well. It’s time.

Wish me luck.

Where has all the smart, funny sci-fi gone?

I suppose I could subtitle this: “OR WHY I NO LONGER WATCH THE FOX NETWORK.”

Yes, fellow sci-fi fans, this is about Joss Whedon’s Firefly, and follow-up Serenity. Each time I think I’ve got the sting out of my system that it’s cancelled, BAM, someone brings up the subject again and opens the wound. Nooooo not again!
But this time it was a good thing.

Gamers who love the ‘Verse will be able to experience the joys of the Alliance and the Browncoats through the ship Serenity once again in 2008 as the Multiverse Network, Inc., releases a Firefly massively multiplayer online game (MMOG). While there seems to be some mystery as to the actual state of development or date of release, any incarnation of these fine criminals is worth checking out.

I always loved this show, even though I’m not a big Western fan. Living in a rural area, I’m constantly surrounded by people who aren’t all dandied up like they are on Persephone, so it’s all good. Besides, can you really believe the future will be as button-up and clean as Star Trek? Hardly the way we humans tend to run things. As River says, we “meddle” in how other people choose to run their lives. Better to live on the edge.

The humor was edgy as well, sharp with sarcasm, and there were mysteries aplenty yet unsolved at its untimely end. Most of the actors involved also tell how the project was a delight and wonderment to them–good vibes all around.

For me, I’m glad Firefly does not rest in peace. I hope the media mediums keep trying to bring it back from the dead, as long as any of us are here to watch. These nine living, breathing, wonderful characters deserve the chance at life. Nine. NINE. NINE. (Joss Whedon, you bastard!!!)