Monday, October 26, 2009

Hush Hush

Here's me and Becca Fitzpatrick's debut novel, "Hush, Hush". Why am I posting pics of someone else's book? Well, she's a new author, I believe in supporting new authors. This was an enjoyable book to read, so I'd thought it would be nice to share it with all of you. Oh, and she's holding a contest. :)
Seriously, contest aside, this is a book I'd be talking about. I think it's safe to say that fans of Twilight would also enjoy Hush Hush. And, most important for any novel, it leaves the reader wanting more. I think Patch and Nora's story, with the inherent obstacles to their relationship, is intriguing. This was a fast read, the action moves the story along at a nice pace, and it keeps the reader guessing.
Some explanation on the in air shots: I read on Becca's blog that the photo used on the cover was taken with the model jumping on a trampoline. So when I was trying to think of interesting shots to take with a book, that's what I came up with. Faiyaz was going to help me cut them, but that just didn't happen. All of you wonderful women who have children can guess the surprise I got upon jumping (I had no idea that was coming!)...yeah, if you've had a baby in the past year, stay off the tramp! I'm laughing in those photos, but believe me when I tell you they were get. Plus Anjali, and the two youngest of the great friend who let me use her tramp, kept wanting to join me! Don't worry, after three painful rounds of photos, I 'recovered' and let Anjali have a nice long jump. Then at home, Nadira couldn't resist posing with mommy (Anjali was asleep)

So that's Hush Hush, and that's me with Hush Hush. Enjoy the book!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Split Forehead and Split Ego

Today began normal. Faiyaz sweetly made breakfast for the girls and let me sleep an extra 30 minutes because Nadira had be up all night. Then I got up, and he left for work. I doled out more eggs, then went to clean the kitchen up some. Anjali came in and asked for some cheese. I took out the cheese, cut her the usual four slices and put them in a plastic cup, handed it to her and then turned to cut a slice for myself. I had just taken a bit of cheese when I heard Anjali trip and fall on her way to the living room. Considering that Anjali trips and falls at least ten times a day, I didn't react immediately. Then she came into the kitchen saying she hurt her hand. I turned to look, and saw her face covered in blood...her hand was fine, it just had blood from her head on it. Dropping the cheese, I grabbed a handful of paper towels and folded them, then pressed them to the gash. Once the blood was mopped up, I peeked and saw that the gash was about half an inch long...but was split wide. More pressure and a call to Faiyaz. Then as I was trying to get the girls out the door I discovered Nadira had spilt water down her was super cold outside this morning, so I changed her and got dressed. Luckily my lazy gene had kicked in last night, so the couch was buried in clean laundry to choose from, otherwise I would have gone to the ER in my housecoat. Anjali sat in the arm chair with the paper towel to her head while I got Nadira and myself dressed. Fai got here, we loaded up and drove to the ER. By the time she was seen she had eaten half a bag of marshmallows and was giggling at the doctor as her forehead was glued back together. Faiyaz stayed home, and today turned into a family day eating cheese balls in mommy and daddy's bed while watching Mary Poppins. She fell asleep in the arm chair downstairs. It's amazing to me, I'm still in a bit of shock, there's dried blood on the kitchen floor I need to clean up, and she's completely over it. Somehow, I've got to keep that glue dry for five days, but she's fine. Amazing. Kids are so...awesome.

I don't think I'll recover as quickly to my first rejection letter for the new book. It's silly, really. The first book racked up 80 rejections total, and I never felt so...deflated. And this isn't even the literary agent I want, the Big Agent I've mentioned, this is a small agent from an agency that just opened recently but has had good sells so far. I just met this agent in passing, and thought it worth submitting. I'd have been thrilled, of course, if this agent had wanted it, but still...why am I crushed?

It was a good rejection too, not a form letter, a real "this is why I'm saying no". The two problems the agent saw was that it was the first in a series (which from the conference I thought that would be a selling point) and the agent said I did too much telling rather than showing. Of course I immediately printed out the first chapter and curled up with it and a pen. According to "The Making of Shapely Fiction," there's a time and a place for telling. You wouldn't, for instance, spend two pages showing a minor character's personality in scene. However, it's always best to let the reader connect the dots. So I sat there, looking at the first five pages of the first chapter (which is what this agent saw) and thought "that's showing...okay, I tell there, how can I change that? does that need changing? What can that be? (scribble a few possibilities) okay, more showing, some dialogue, showing, oh I tell again-should I cut that or change that?" You get the idea. My conclusion? In those first five pages, I'd say it's about an even split, but those first five pages are a scene and a half. The first scene has people in it, but they aren't important people, they are people on a cruise ship that sinks. The cruise ship is important, the fact that it's sinking is very important. This is third person, in the Captain's POV...I think I give a good glimpse into his head, but not the way I would a main character...he doesn't pop up again after this scene.

My conclusion? I did find places that could be improved upon, that can be sharper, crisper, and more...immediate. More 'showing'. I think the major turn off wasn't showing versus telling, I think the thing that turned this agent off was it's the first in a series...and since I decided to pull a number out of thin air for this, I told this agent it was the first in a series of 8...I think 8 was a scary number. Plus I don't think this agent is a big fan of YA paranormal, when I met this agent I commented that I hadn't seen a lot of it on the list of book publications on the agency's website, and this agent said they did take it...but who knows? YA paranormal is an acquired taste...two or three years ago I'd never have thought I'd be writing it...but it's so much fun!

So my plan of action is to give it another round of editing, tidying up the language here and there (this will be draft 7 for those keeping count) and never again say it's the first of eight. I hope to submit to the Big Agent next week.

Here's hoping...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Making of Pumpkin Pie

Anjali, Nadira and I made pumpkin pie today. It was a blast! I wanted Nadira to be part of the action, so Anjali explained to Nadira how to mush up the crust and all...A three year old teaching a ten month old how to make pie crust has got to be the cutest thing ever! So I'll let these pictures tell the rest of the story, and then I'm going to go get myself a piece of that pie...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Scene from the Distraction Project

Here's a little piece from page 8 I like...makes me think of home...not perfect, first draft, but still:

Suddenly, something in the dirt moved. It writhed. By the time my eyes adjusted, there it was, a huge snake curled up in my path ready to strike. It didn’t matter that I had no knowledge of snakes, I knew this one. A rattlesnake. Its tail quivered rapidly, filling the still morning with its husky racket. I’ve never heard anything as creepy sounding before in my life. I froze. I couldn’t think. The snake was only two feet away, and the only thing in my hand was the water hose. The snake seemed to realize its advantage. He started to pull back, his bared fangs glittering in the sunshine.
“Step back,” commanded a voice near me. “Slowly.”
I obediently slid one foot back, then the other. Unfortunately I forgot about the water hose for a moment, as I moved back the direction of the water shifted, and hit the agitated rattler in the face.
The snake lunged. I screamed. And from somewhere next to me, an ax came flying down. I was frozen again, my eyes closed tight. I heard a low thud, then silence. No wicked rattle. Tentatively, I opened my eyes.
On the ground at my feet, just inches from my sandals, writhed the remains of the snake, cut it two. Its evil fangs still snapped aimlessly around, clear liquid oozing from its mouth. I assumed this must be the venom.
I felt something on my arm, and jumped. Then I saw him for the first time.
He stood next to me, pulling my arm to make me step back. He still held the ax. Once I was out of the way he stepped forward. Very carefully he put his booted foot down on the viciously biting head of the snake. The rest of its body still thrashed wildly, splattering blood on his boat and his perfect worn jeans that clung just right…a few feet away the snake’s tail still whipped around, but it was starting to loose some of its momentum. I looked up into my hero’s face, it was sun browned with a healthy sprinkling of freckles. His hair a light sun bleached blond. His eyes, blue like mine, studied the snake beneath his foot. He placed the ax on its…neck? I’m not sure if snakes have necks…then he paused.
“Think you can swing this straight and not cut off my foot?” he asked me. His voice…it had a faint twang to it, but it was not unpleasant. In fact I found it rather appealing. I opened my mouth, but no words came out.
He took this as a negative, and dropped the ax in the dirt. Out of his amazing jeans he brought out a pocket knife. He opened it, then bent down to cut off the serpent’s head. I could hear the knife cutting through the snake skin and flesh…the sound gave me goosebumps.
Then it was over, and he lifted his boot. The head still opened and closed, biting the dirt.
“I’d put on some shoes if you’re going to stay out here. He’s going to be snapping like that for a few more hours.”

Friday, October 2, 2009

Never Library Hungry...

I'm a book person. I do research on the internet when I have to, and I recognize its merits, but I love having a tangible book in my hands...these too are going digital, but I just can't picture myself with a digital book...I know they can hold up to what? 60? 200? Novels? And yes, that would be so cool to have that many books with me...but I just don't see it. I like to turn pages, I like watching my book marker move through the pages...

So it's no wonder that when I'm worried or stressed or overwhelmed, I head to the library. When we were potty training and things weren't going well, I checked out every book remotely related to potty training...When we moved to Virginia, I got my library card before my Virginia Driver's license...When I did that nanny job in Long Island, I had to borrow my employer's card, but I reread all the Anne of Green Gables books in the three months I had that job...When I moved to Tallahassee the summer before my senior year in high school, I checked out stacks and stacks of books. No friends, but lots of books...

So yesterday after getting my foot x-rayed, I noticed that I was very close to one of the larger libraries...and since I had a babysitter, and could browse without annoying my three year old and without my infant trying to pull things off shelves, I went.

And here's what I got:

A Lonely Planet guide book to Thailand, for research purposes.
2 YA books, one of which I've been meaning to read and one that just looked interesting.
And four books on writing...
-The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer
-Writer Mama by Christina Katz-looks very cute
-Write Mind by Eric Maisel, PhD-This one is full of tidbits like "don't think: I would secretly like to kidnap and torture a literary agent, but do think:Literary agents represent projects they think they can sell. Nothing could be less mysterious or more impersonal" No, I'm not at the wanting to torture someone point, but everyone can use a pep talk every now and then, right?
-And a generic sort of books on what agents are looking for and how to do a query letter. Couldn't hurt...

So seven books, and I'm going to read them all! So far the Norman Mailer book is really least I have three weeks to read them.

The sad thing? I stopped myself from grabbing about ten other books as well...this is why you never library hungry...