Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Free Baby Shark

Right now, for a limited time, on Robert Fate's website you can get a free download of Baby Shark's Beaumont Blues. This is the second Baby Shark book, and it's still worth it.

Baby Shark-- Kristen-- is certainly one of my favorite female characters. I devoured the first Baby Shark book and have eagerly awaited each of the following ones (saving up my pop bottles if need be.) The fourth Baby Shark book is due out in September. That means there's plenty of time to read the previous three before launch.

Baby Shark could give Bo Fexler a run for her money in the tough female character department. And I think it's rather disappointing that so few people know about this female character. I mean, honestly, what does a woman have to do to get noticed.

(If I knew, perhaps Bo would have her novels published, too.)

Check it out. I've already read it, so I'll be over here writing when you get done. Then we can rave about it together.

Monday, June 29, 2009

My Town Monday: Old Town Hall (Brighton)

Standing on the edge of the Mill Pond in downtown Brighton, Michigan, is the Old Town Hall. It was built in 1878-79.

The settlement of Brighton was established in 1832 by Maynard Maltby. Now, there's a name you don't hear much these days. Well, Maynard, at least. Around here, Maltby is a road and a school. It's one of those local names that most people know without knowing the history. But once upon a time, he was a settler. Maynard Maltby started a little town called Ore Creek, named after the stream that flows through the town.

Originally, the town hall housed village council offices, a visiting room, a jail and a firehouse. Talk about a multi-function building. Of course, in those days, there were only a handful of people in the town.

The building, made from brick and featuring a bell tower on the roof, has been restored. Fun fact: The Old Town Hall... is not square. The side walls are parallel. The back wall is square with the side walls. But, for whatever reason and lost to time, the front wall is not square.

The town hall is currently located on the other side of the Mill Pond, sharing space with the library until the library moved, again.

In the picture, you can see the Yum Yum Tree sits just beyond the Old Town Hall. There's a little road that was turned one way a few years back. Used to be that people would gather on the grass (grass!) between the Town Hall and the then-bank to watch holiday parades and such.

In 1927, the (Old) Town Hall housed a one-room weekend lending library, which grew and grew.

In 1981, the library moved to a new location on the other side of the Mill Pond. That building isn't as cool looking as the Old Town Hall. Kind of a plain 1970s/80s metal, glass and brick building. Later, in the early 1990s, the Brighton Library moved again. This time to a new building (still architecturally boring, IMHO) but large and open and on the aptly named Library Drive.

(What happens if the library moves again? Probably what happened when the movie theater moved from Cinema Drive to a new location... that road is now Best Buy Drive and leads to, well, you figure it out.)

As for the Old Town Hall, when the library vacated, the building became Poor Richard's Bookstore. It operated for about a decade. After that, the local paper opened a second branch of it's offices. But the economy took care of that excess. Now, the building is empty again, waiting. There's talk of three non-profits taking over the building-- including a theater group and the local historal society, with plans to showcase local history displays.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Battle of the Distractions!

Usually, I just putter around the internet between scenes or sentences, depending on how well the writing is going. I go through the normal sites, and sitting in my field of vision, my novel waits in another window. That little reminder is enough to keep me going back and trying to work, even if it's just a little at a time.

TV watching is a different matter for me. I'll put shows on with the intention of half-watching while I work. I usually pick shows that are fairly formulaic or, better yet, reruns so I'm less liable to be distracted. That's the theory.

The reality is that I put my feet up, and watch more than I work. It's always "one more show" or at the next commercial. But commercial breaks are for attending to nature or skipping since I have a DCR now. So, I watch "just a little more." It's a lot harder for me to stay focused on my writing with the TV on than to sit on the computer.

As writers, we all have our own particular brand of overpowering distractions. For some people, the internet may as well be from planet Krypton. For others, every little chore and or household task is more compelling than a story waiting to be written. Work, family obligations, even writing-related tasks such as character sketches, outlines, setting notes, and so forth are all great ways to avoid writing.

In spite of the TV... and the ugly heat and humidity, I did put on 4.5k words in the last two days. I'm calling for a partial victory over distractions on that one.

Clearly, heat... and TV are my Kryptonite. What's your worst distraction? And how do you bullshit yourself into indulging anyway?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: FINALLY!

It's only been 6 months since we moved in and started this project. I have to give Hubby the credit.

(And, no, that's not some 1970s era tile... it's from the early 1990s. Wow.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Sound of Keys Not Typing

Well... it happened. I've stalled. Partly from a busy weekend, what with social gatherings on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. That alone is enough to wear me out. Plus the usual collection of chores and weekend projects. And I just didn't even open the document with my current WIP.

Blah, blah, blah. It's all excuses.

If I'd really wanted to, I would have found time to work on my novel. The fact is that I'm kind of frustrated. I don't like that Bo's voice is missing from much of the story, and I'm having trouble putting it in, even during this last batch of revisions. I also keep running into scenes that are damned hard to write.

It's making me cranky.

But, I'm done with excuses. Tonight, after Hubby has gone to bed, when the night is quiet and still, I will saddle back up and get back to work.

Besides, if I'm writing, that means I have a good excuse for not cleaning the basement or washing windows or digging another drainage trench or trimming the bushes or...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Town Monday: The Vitamin Company

(Aka the Vitamin Store.)

Every once in a while, I allude to my food allergies around here. I can't eat wheat (gluten) or corn. That includes flour (cake, cookies, pasta, bread, gravy, and most processed foods). It also includes corn syrup, including that ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup.

Life goes on. I learned to cook (against my will) and eat well enough. A little too well sometimes, when my major activity is clicking a mouse or tapping at a keyboard. Most days, I don't feel deprived because of my allergies.

But shopping is another matter. Shopping requires careful diligence, rechecking packages, reading carefully for "hidden" ingredients, and trying not to break the bank. I admit this situation is compounded because I don't particularly care to cook. There about 27 other things I'd rather do with my time than spend it in the kitchen cooking. I WAS the queen of convenience food until a few years ago when life thought it would be "funny" to clock me in the head with this curve ball. So, I try to find easy to eat foods.

My favorite store though, is the Vitamin Company (though we call it the Vitamin Store.) Located on Main Street in Brighton, it's a little shop that caters to people like me. They sell much, much more than just vitamins, though there is a large wall of those. They also sell foods-- allergy free foods. Gluten-free, organic, and other labels that are considered "specialty." They carry Clair-food (as we call call it). And what they don't carry, they have the means to order.

Whenever I go to the Vitamin Store, I pick up a couple bags of Rice Noodles. And usually a bag of Chebe dought (which I use for pizzas or calzones). And most of the time, I pick up a box of Tapioca Flour, which I use to make sandwhich buns.

I also buy eggs at the Vitamins Store. They're eggs from a farm in Brooklyn, Michigan. Real, farm fresh eggs.

And no trip to the Vitamin Store is complete with out a "Dolphin Bar." No dolphins come anywhere near this product, but money from the purchase goes to helping dolphins. There are other animals on other bars, but the Dolphin bar is dark chocolate with raspberry nibs. I put it in the fridge until it's cold. Yum.

One of the best parts about the Vitamin Store is not the products, but the people. I never feel odd or baffling when I go there. It's nothing like other experiences I've had when my allergies come into the discussion. Here, I just am another shopper.

So, while I live gluten and corn-free, I do not go hungry. I only eat tasty, flavor-ful foods. And I do so in large part because of the Vitamin Store.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Need for Creativity or Logic?

While starting a story takes creativity, I'm going to make the argument that continuing-- and finsihing-- a story takes more logic than creativity. The dominoes are all set up, creatively, and there is really only a small number of logical conclusions to the scenario. Especially in crime fiction, I think this holds true.

Crimes are solved more through deduction than imagination. Put together the motive, the opportunity, the means, and the answer comes out. Once a story is set up-- then it becomes a matter of figuring out, from the clues already there, what the most likely scenario is.

Add in the normal facts that crime solvers use-- like how most crimes are committed by someone who knows the victim, and that murders are usually committed by a current or past lover, and it becomes easier to play out the scenarios. There's still some creativity, I suppose, in making up these situations for imaginary people, but stealing from real life doesn't take much creativity. (Watching Court Tru TV will help with this angle.)

A conflict has been presented-- what is the most likely conclusion? What has happened in real life? How can that fit with the story? What if? And what happens next?

Even "uncreative" people can solve mysteries when presented with the clues. So to can writers who've set up the conflict in their own writing.

Bias alert?-- Whenever I take those right/ left brain quizzes, I come up more left-brained. Except it's the right brain that is supposed to be the creative side. As in, writers tend to be more right brained than left. Except me. =) But I guess that just proves that writing CAN be a logical process so much as it is a creative process.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Successful Reconnaissance

Apparently Sandhill Cranes like my yard. They make themselves at home... even bring friends.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I've Been Here Before...

Every writer has their particular trouble spots. Some writers revise the beginning.

I tend to keep my beginnings. My pattern is to get to the climax without much trouble. Then, I tend to stop for a while, gathering my wits (ha!) and figuring out the best way to end the story. I'll write an ending. Then, let it stew for awhile. Depending on my gut feeling about the story as a whole, I may revise the beginning part, may even send the story off to my beta reader.

Sometimes, the end part stays. But, more off than not, I trash the ending and write a whole new version, from climax (or shortly thereafter) to final line. It's not so bad in a short story. But scrapping the end of a novel is rough. That's, like, nearly 20k words!

I'm hoping, now that I've just strutted past the 50k mark in the current Bo Fexler novel, that I won't do what I usually do. But, chances are pretty good that I will still be me. And I will probably end up writing the ending of the current novel twice. It's a little discouraging at this point.

I've tried plotting out the end, then writing it. I've tried waiting a few days to let the idea gestate before putting it down. But time and time again, it doesn't matter. I have to write the ending twice. At least.

Do you have any such writing quirks?

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Town Monday: Naked Guy Gets Dressed

This summer, Brighton's Main Street underwent construction. Some sort of improvements to the sewer system.

The construction started a little past the Mill Pond.

And on the banks of the Mill Pond, facing Main Street, is the Naked Guy Statue. Well, it's actually called Decision Pending, but locally, he's the Naked Guy.

Well the Naked Guy donned some apperal appropriate to the construction: hard hat, reflective vest and a tool belt.

No one knows who did it. No one seemed in a rush to take it off.

(The artist is quoted as insulting the town by saying that dressing up the statue is juvenile and stupid. He's not a local. I think it's funny. I'm hoping to catch the Naked Guy in other garb. Personally, I think that it's kind of an ownership thing. The city bought the statue and now he's ours... It's not like there's any damage done to the statue. That'd be different.)

Another shot...Speaking of thing humorous... this is the first shot I took of the Naked Guy.

Tell me I'm not the only one who thinks the juxtaposition of the fountain with the statue looks like what I think it looks like...

Thanks for playing My Town Monday. Now a word from our sponsor... Travis Erwin.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Note to Self

Writing longer stories necessitates keeping track of all the details, from characters to timelines. Shorter stories are much easier to scroll back or even just to remember since they are focused and only include a few things.

My memory is less than stellar. I'd like to blame it on such a busy schedule, one that requires me to shift gears several times during the day. I can't rule out a genetic component, though.

So, I make notes to myself to keep track of names, characters, appearances, details, even what those characters know (vs. what they said they knew). Notes on what Bo should later do with information from Bill or who she should talk to next after the current scene.

But where to put these notes? How and where to write them? Increasingly, I've moved to putting more and more on the computer. The digital form is less chaotic and much easier to keep track of. But there are certainly limitations to the digital form. Such as switching between windows while I'm working. Call me quirky (because I am) but it's just easier to jot a note into a notebook in the midst of working on a piece on the computer.

But, most of my notes are on the computer. It's a little technical, a little convoluted, and sadly, only mostly helpful. I'm not entirely satisfied with the system. Perhaps because it's completely haphazard!

I use the Comments feature in Word (Insert--> Comments) to make notes to myself. Since I have Word2003 (and 2007) the comments show up in ballons in the margin. It monkeys with my page layout at little, but it's quite a workable solution. Except one thing-- the text gets awful small.

I type up notes to myself on the bottom of the WIP. Since I work linearly, this is usually directly after the last thing I am typing.

My new attempt at organzing the timeline is to use a new Style. I use the Document Map (LOVE!) for my chapters. That box hides styles. Any heading style shows up in the document map. So, if I apply a new style, I can put MONDAY AM in my Document Map, allowing me to see, at once, when the days change and what day X happened.

Techincal stuff: Doc. Map is View--> Document Map. To apply a style, select the text and find the two little AAs. Styles is fun and oh, so useful!

No, I don't spend more time tweaking my writing process than writing. Not overall... but some days. What? How do YOU put off writing? ;-)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Half-Way Point

Some writers agonize over the beginning of a story. I don't start writing until a good starting line shows up. Until then, the idea will bounce around, maybe get jotted down for later, but it waits until it's ready to begin.

Some writers get in a slump about 20k words into a novel. You know, past the giddy euphoria of starting a new project, introducing the characters, and the point where you have to actually figure out what the hell you're writing about. Maybe it's the type of stories I write-- the Bo Fexler mysteries-- but I tend to push through these parts. I just send Bo talking to people and digging up dirt until something shows up. (Thank you, Brain!)

Some writers get stuck at the halfway point, unsure of how to get to the climax and then resolve all those delightful problems they set up for their characters. Okay, I'm one of those. Since my problems never resolve themselves without me doing something about it, I'll fret and think and muse over the ending until I find a suitable one. And then I keep going. These tend to be some of the hardest words in a story for me. But once over the hump, it's usually pretty easy. The end is in sight, I know how to get there, and it's just a matter of finishing.

Some writers have trouble finishing. They don't know how to let go of their project. They are afraid it won't be good enough. I used to deal with this a bit, once upon a time. Now, having successfully written a slew of stories that were publishable, I feel pretty confident in my ability to judge my work long before I get to the end. I have a little trouble with closing lines-- that last zinger that matches the tone of the story, maybe has a little Bo snark to it, but doesn't read like literary Limburger.

So, going back to my post title. I am at the halfway point of my current novel in progress. I set a target word count of 70k words and have recently passed the 40k mark. I'm in that ever important middle of the story where I need to set everything up for the climax and the climactic show down. Yeah, no pressure...

Some of the set-up scenes come easy, exciting as I get to find out what's happening next in the story. Some of the set-up scenes are tough because no longer can I use vagueries-- I have to KNOW who did what, when, and where. Bleh.

Still, I am enjoying myself with this novel. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out. ;-)

What's your least favorite part of a story?

Monday, June 8, 2009

My Town Monday: 8 years ago...

8 years ago, June 8th was not a Monday. It was Friday.

Surprisingly, it wasn't raining. Though the papers had predicted a wet, gloomy week, especially for Friday. (This was back when the Detroit Free Press delivered a paper to my doorstep every day.)

It was a beautiful day with blue skies and puffy white clouds. Seventy-something degrees.

Which was good because somebody had planned an outdoor wedding reception.

8 years ago, Hubby and I gathered maybe 40 of our closest friends and family and did "something rather rash" --in the words of our favorite history teacher whose class we had once before and once after the wedding. We'd only been dating for three years, after all. ;-)

8 years ago I married the first and only man I dated. We got our flowers-- a pair of bouquets and a couple of baskets-- at the local Shady Stop. We got our scrumptious cake from the South Lyon Bakery. And we were wed at the same church we both attended as a child, a local place that was better when it was smaller.

Then, we did as many cash strapped honeymooners in Michigan do... we fled to another country. Heh. Okay, so it's Canada and hardly counts as a different country. But we did go to Niagara Falls on what was our VERY FIRST vacation without mommy and daddy. (Sharp learning curve on that one.)

8 years later we have a house. And the same disagreements we've always had. (Gee, there's a surprise.) But we also have resolve. And we still love each other. Which is good, because I meant what I said about that "Death do us part" bit... =)

8 years down. And many more to go. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Back in the Gutter for #6

Well, will you look at that... my name is on the list for Out of the Gutter #6. Yes, that does mean that the Sexploitation issue of said fine publication will contain a new Bo Fexler piece.

And, that same list of contributors also includes Albert Tucher-- as in, the author of Diana Andrews. Damn, you KNOW this is gonna be a publication that requires reading with one hand. And maybe a box of Kleenex nearby...

(Hey, you can see the girl's pussy... ;-)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wordles Wednesday: Summer Smells

I love the smell of a lake and the sharp smell of rain on the air before a summer toad-drownder. What're your favorite summer smells?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Staying Busy

I work better when I'm busy. I get more done when I'm busy. I'm less prone to just puttering around the internet when I know that time is finite for said project.

Which is why the prospect of this next few weeks is quite daunting for me. For the first time in 12 years, I have several weeks off. School is out for the summer... I have summer school in July, but that leaves the remainder of June and most of August free. Like those lazy summer days of my youth.

I have a list of projects-- things that I would *LOVE* to do with this free time. Ironically, given the opportunity, I will probably work just as hard, if not harder, while I'm home than if I was working. Because, like any other 'vacation', time is finite. I have to cram all the enjoyment into my time off before it's done.

Though, I do hate that I won't be making any money (or barely any) during this time period. As much as I'd love to work on those projects, I'd rather do things that make me money. I wish I could pay my mortgage with the completion of a novel, but alas, they don't accept unpublished manuscripts in lieu of payment.

I'm currently passing the halfway point in the target word count for the novel-in-progress. Maybe if I get this novel finished... and published, then I can stay home and work on projects and get paid for it too. Ah, to dream. And for the next month, I might just pretend I'm a stay-at-home-writer. =)

(Oh yeah, the parts arrived and I fixed the broken I key on my laptop. =)