Thursday, January 30, 2014

Learning How To Tell a Good Story

I met with my new mentor. She asked me what my goal was, as a writer. 

Doh! Stumped by my own fear!? 'Cause I know what I want. 

I want my books to be good stories well told. I want my books made into movies. I want my books published by one of the big guns. Which one? They'll be fighting over me. 

Nearing the Big Six 0 - Yes, that's my age - it's about time I give this dream of mine serious attention, doncha think?

So I have homework:
  1. Read the book Save the Cat
  2. Research books like mine and read them.
  3. Go to the next Nightwriters' meeting. 
Right away I buy the book and, feeling like a little mess, I message her a photo. She texts back That's not the right one in the series. Get the first one.

Like the Karate Kid, that whole wax on, wax off thing? What a hard ass! And then I smile because that is exactly what I need. I'll take the book back and I'll buy the right book. The next Nightwriters meeting will find me notebook open, pen in hand, ready to learn. 

Concerning #2, though, I'm not quite sure how to tell if a book is like mine. I've ordered Easy by Tammara Webber and Amy and Roger's Epic Tour by Morgan Matson. I'll read those and keep looking until I find a successful book similar to Justine. Any help is most welcome.

I'll end with a personal note to one dear reader who suggested I write more about the love interest. I'm hearing you! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Sequel

I'm beginning the process of creating either the sequel to this novel or Part II, not sure which. It will take off where The Possibility of Justine ends, June 1969. Not giving the ending away, tho.
Whatdya think?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Editing the Egg off my Face: Shitty Draft

How embarrassing! The novel I've been hawking, The Possibility of Justine, contains errors, relegating it back to the role of shitty draft. Certainly not the shitty first draft Anne Lamott talks about. This is the shitty 25th draft or 37th, 41st, 99th. Am I sick of it yet?

Writing is hard. Writing a novel is harder. Two pieces of advice to new novel writers: Pick the names and stick with them; Don't write a period piece; Don't publish until you've had my newest editor look over it.

She called me up. Here are some of the things she noticed:

  • Not brikbrak but rickrack! Now how could my readers and I have missed that one???? Easy and we all know it. 
  • Not stationary but stationery! This one I find particularly disturbing. Not that I don't confuse words. I do. And I tell my students (yes, I'm an English teacher and supposed to know this stuff and I do know this stuff) there is no shame in confusing words or being a poor speller as neither are any indication of intelligence or anything but poor editing skills. That's no excuse, however! It's always the writer's job to make sure the finished product is error free. 
  • The "their" where a "there" should be is even more disturbing. Ye gods. Can you hear the mayor's daughter from The Music Man? I can and do feel as ridiculously naive and air-headed as she.
  • Now the "Carrie." I changed the names of characters so many times . . . Goodbye Carrie; hello Lori. I guess I missed one. 
  • And in a conversation at the Filipino Club . . . 
  • I can't go on.
But I will go on! I'm re-reading it and finding missing quotation marks, punctuation. Egad! Will upload the new and improved version - an awesome feature of CreateSpace. Then I'll send a copy of the new, improved to my new editor. In the meantime, the book is not available.
If anyone else finds an error - or errors - and wants to rub it in my face, have at it! I welcome feedback. You know how it takes a village to raise a child? I guess it takes a village to write a novel June-Beck style. And if you want a refund, let me explain how these first editions will be collectors items some day . . . 

She asked about Viola - why she quit working for them. That's in there! Justine let her parents think it was Viola dipping into the liquor. Oh, Justine. That's sinking low.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Environment: Justine would not be happy!

First Earth Day, April 22, 1970.

Really? I was so hopeful, starting an ecology club at my high school, organizing events, getting in the paper, on the tv news. Looked like a slam dunk for the environment. A little awareness was all we needed.

Checked the air quality in the Central Valley recently?

Why do we have such a hard time being good stewards of our planet? These people have made such a commitment. I envy them their focus and singleness of thought.

Justine's issue is DDT - such a win for the US. And the farm workers' plight - So many improvements there. More needed on both fronts, on all fronts when it comes to our planet. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

An Indie Author Publishes her Own Novel: News at 11

How to make it sound like a hit?

My novel was written from my heart. The character Justine seemed to come to me - to my mind. One of the first methods I practiced was writing letters from her to me. In those letters, she was adamant: She wants her story told.

Like Justine, I grew up in the Central Valley. When she was a senior, I was an eighth grader, devastated when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated during the final days of that school year. At our graduation, I wore my first heels - and they had to be very low pumps - and I gave the invocation, during which I had to call for a moment of silence in honor of Robert F. Kennedy.

No one talked about Cesar Chavez - not at school, not at home. Even in those classes where teachers get right to the nitty gritty, they didn't mention Cesar Chavez or the grape strike. It was in our backyard but no one I knew was talking about it. That was the era we "hippies" wanted to escape from. Plastic!

I wanted to write a novel that would capture the awakening the media and the movements occasioned and the effects on a young girl trying to be real.

Does it sound like a hit to you? One of my few male readers asked, after reading the first chapter, if there would be any murders or action. Alack and alas, my book is not action filled. It is no DaVinci Code.

What it is is a first novel written from the heart. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

High School Reunion

On my way to a high school reunion. This evening I'll spend with a dear friend and will lunch with an old friend I haven't seen in YEARS. Tomorrow night is the reunion proper and guess who ordered books too late?

It hasn't been the best couple of weeks. Like the moon, I wax and wane. I'm thinking of paying closer attention to my schedule and keeping it mellow during the dark of the moon. Or was it the flu shot? Or that I've not been taking my calcium? And why haven't I been taking my calcium?

Life can be simple. I can make it so complicated.

I'll drive past the water tower and the high school, both featured in the novel. I'll experience that valley heat. It embraces. I'll drive by the house I grew up in (till I was 6, anyway) - the house I used for Justine's house in the novel.

And during the long drive, I wonder if Justine will talk to me. Wonder what she'd say if she could.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Indie Authors Need a Different Kind of Chutzpah

Dear friend James held up my book at a gathering last night.

"Someone in our midst has written a novel," he said.

That's how I first laid eyes on the paperback version. I've ordered it on my Kindle but haven't ordered any paperbacks yet because I haven't planned any book-signing parties yet.

I guess you could say last night was my first book-signing party. It was a party, and I signed my book.

So how does it feel? Surreal. And anti-climactic. I had an idea for a story. The character of Justine came to me - She was robotic, going through the motions in life, not real sure who she was. And she looked to her brother. Like Supergirl, I thought. And I began to see Justine as Linda, Supergirl's alter-ego, the one who waited to hear from her brother. While waiting, she went through the motions, not understanding how to trust her own feelings or her own reactions to a world immersed in Vietnam, women's lib, police brutality. She felt the anxiety of the nation; she felt the hopelessness.

Next week is my 40th (really?) high school reunion. I need to order some copies to take with me! I did go through the motions: I looked for a local bookstore. Nada. Good ole home town. In the boondocks. Not even a locally-owned coffee house. Sheesh.

But my friends tell me to set my book on a rack and sell them in the entryway of the reunion.

I guess this is going to take a different kind of chutzpah. I'll see what I can muster. Wish me luck.