Alice’s Restaurant

July 28, 2007

Building a Web Site

Filed under: writing, Writing Craft, Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 12:50 am

As an unpublished author, what do you put on your web site?  I feel so silly pushing myself this way, but want to do something.  Everyone says it’s important to have an Internet presence, and it’s never too soon to get started, but really, I’m not so sure.  If editors and agents don’t bother to look at a writer’s web site, then it seems like a lot of work.

On the other hand, I think it helps other writers see where I’m coming from when I say some of the things I say about writing process.  I’m not a flash in the pan.  I have completed several books.  You can even see whether or not one of them is any good because I put a link to the first chapter on the web site.

Yet I have run into a lot of technical problems, and each time a link fails to work no matter what I do, I have to ask the question, is this really necessary?  Do I really need to set up an individual link to each Suzie’s House episode?  Do I really need the link to the first chapter of Zackly Right?  Do I want to hide the fact I’ve write so many books, or that Zackly Right hasn’t won a contest since 2005.  Actually, it wasn’t official until 2006, but how can I say that when the name of the contest includes the 2005 date?  Should I bother to say I’ve only entered it in two contests since that win, and one of them was the Golden Heart?

I love blogging.  Do I highlight it?  Should I make that the second page, or leave it the last one listed?  Does it matter?

So many questions.

Do you have a web site?  What’s the URL?  What do you recommend to someone who isn’t published yet?

Alice

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July 14, 2007

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Filed under: writing, Writing Craft, Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 9:17 am

How do you make yourself write?  I don’t need to know for myself.  At this late stage in the game I’m pretty comfortable with writer’s block and getting around it.  I need to know so I have something worth saying to those who are suffering.

When you have something to write about, but it may not be real clear yet, and you have the time, and the word processor is launched with a blank page waiting, how do you get over the lets-sharpen-the-pencil-one-more-time hurdle?

I do it by mentally kissing the Blarney stone.  Not that I imagine myself held by my ankles over a castle wall.  Knowing my imagination the next thing I’d visualize is the landing when the people holding my ankles gave out.

What I do is think about the way it feels to be chatty.  I spent most of my childhood as a chatterbox.  It’s easy to remember the pleasant vibration in my chest, the joy of forming words with lips and tongue, and the strange other-space my mind would occupy while going on and on about the metaphysics of bubble gum.

I visualize it, then wish for it, then channel it through my fingers.  Suddenly coming up with words isn’t so hard anymore.

I’m sure not everyone is so talkative.  So what do you do to get through that odd little barrier between about to write and writing?

Alice

June 30, 2007

When Do You Show Your Work?

Filed under: writing, Writing Craft, Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 12:05 am

Do you keep your writing to yourself until the entire book is done?  Or do you like to be cheered on as you go?  Do you write to your vision, to your audience, or both?

My first three attempts at writing a book went bust.  The second attempt in particular was spectacular because I spent twenty years on it, and never once got close to the end.  I showed it to anyone who would sit still long enough for me to put it under their nose, and got all kinds of conflicting feedback.  That book left a mental scar.

It took me seven months to write my first Romance.  I pushed myself mercilessly, forcing the words out and demanding all kinds of time from my family.  I was afraid if I didn’t get it done quickly, I’d never finish it at all.  When I had finished the rough draft I thought I was done.  I showed it to my mother.  She damned it with faint praise.

Frankly, knowing my mother I doubt she will ever wax rhapsodic over anything I write, so damning with faint praise isn’t as bad as it sounds.  Still, it wasn’t very encouraging.

I immediately threw myself into revisions, and made what I thought was good progress, then sent it off to Leisure.  I got a personal rejection letter – not just a form letter – out of that submission.  Again, faint praise, but some encouragement.

My next several books were all written with the same kind of fever, a kind of desperation to prove to myself that I would actually write the book.  I got a lot written in the years before I found a critique group. 

Since finding the critique group my rate of production has plummeted.  I’ve been focusing on revision instead.  I never showed anything to any of my CP’s that didn’t have at least a completed rough draft if not a fair amount of polish.  However, I’ve stripped books down and rebuilt them so much that sometimes my CP’s were seeing material fresh off the press.

I am now at the point where I have written 15 books, but have no completes.  Zackly Right seems to be close, but the first time someone points out a soft spot, you know I’ll be rebuilding it again.  A couple of years ago I was sure Serpent’s Teeth was done.  It’s currently getting a new villain.  I’m not sure where to stop.

For a long time my advice to anyone who hadn’t completed at least a rough draft was to NOT go around getting feedback or do anything until the rough draft was done.  I still think this is a good way to do it because the vision for the book is less likely to twist out from under you as you write.  In the back of my mind will always be that second book, which got revised from scratch four times though it never came close to having an ending.

However, I’m beginning to think it’s a bit like jumping the pool.  I’m firmly in the just-jump-in-and-get-it-over-with camp.  Others are in the ease-in-slowly group.  I’m quite willing to keep on writing when the writing isn’t going well because I know I’ll discover what I need to fix earlier parts later on.  However, I’ve seen for myself how much easier it can be to write when you go back and fix something that’s gone awry before moving on.

So which group are you in?  Which way do you do it?  If you could pass a message into the past, what would you tell yourself?

Alice

June 16, 2007

Workshops on FanLit Forever

Filed under: FanLit, writing, Writing Craft, Writing Life, Writing Technique — aliceaudrey @ 11:24 am

A while back I asked if anyone would be interested in having me run a workshop in The Workshop board on FanLit Forever.  The response was a resounding “Yeah, sure.”

Despite the fact I am a rank amateur who has never run a workshop in her life, I’ve decided to go for it.  Maybe, with luck, we can talk a published author into coming in and doing it right.

Actually, I’m going to run two at the same time.  I’m calling one “Details” and will focus on wording.  Not grammar or spelling!  We will have to get Pollyanna to run that workshop.  By wording I mean things as far flung as where to put a chapter break, how to handle dialogue tags, showing vs telling etc.

The other I’m calling “Story” and will focus on plotting, characterization, etc.

Hopefully we’ll all get something out of this.  And if not, I’ll chalk it up to a learning experience.

Both workshops will begin this Monday.

Alice

June 6, 2007

Blogged Fiction

Filed under: writing — aliceaudrey @ 11:24 pm

You all know I do the Suzie thing every Friday.  I’m having a lot of fun with it and really, really appreciate all the comments people have made.  Even last week when I was still fresh from surgery and didn’t say much I was quick to check out what you all had to say.

A while back ChrisJournal asked me to do a blog on the differences between something like Suzie’s House and writing a book.  I’ve been thinking about it since.

Suzie certainly has an eb and flow to it, but it’s not supposed to be a book.  Essentially I’ll simply keep it up as long as you all let me know you like it.  I don’t have a spacific point or a particular destination in mind.  To me, it’s like a TV show.  Ok, maybe it’s a little more like Babylon 5 than Northern Exposure, but it’s still open ended.

I got to wondering if other people are doing what I’m doing here.  For a while Ericka under her Pamdemonium blog was posting her short fiction on Fridays.  She’s the only one I know posting fiction other than book teasers.

Do any of you know of any serilaized, non-book, blogged fiction out there?  Anything other than book teasers?

Alice

May 12, 2007

Anchors Part I

Filed under: writing, Writing Craft — aliceaudrey @ 9:51 am

This post has been moved to: Anchors Part I

January 5, 2007

Suzie’s House1: A Matter of Economics

Filed under: fiction, Suzie's House, writing, Writing Romance — aliceaudrey @ 12:27 am

Suzie stirred the stew, sending up inviting whafts of  basil, thyme, and onion.  Wisps of steam from the stock pot spread the scent throughout the kitchen.  Suzie paused to take in the warmth and beauty of her kitchen, a long last look before she lost everything.

Light-yellow walls she had painted herself, oak cabinets she had refurbished, polished granite counters she had spent more than one paycheck on, everything looked homey and welcoming.  She was going to miss this room even more than the rest of the five bedroom Victorian “painted lady” when the bank foreclosed.

Suzie pinched off three portions of bread dough and rolled each out, though she was more in the mood to punch something.  She changed her mind about making a braid out of the bread, and put the three portions back together to make a loaf. 

How ironic that she would loose her home, the home she had fought tooth and nail to keep in the divorce, to a simple inability to pay the mortgage.

One tear rolled down her face.  She rubbed it off with the back of her hand, and blamed the onions.  When someone knocked on the back door, she welcomed the break from her endlessly repeating thoughts.

“Come in!”  Suzie shouted.

“You’re cooking?  Stove AND oven?”  Miranda let herself in, then teetered across the kitchen in ridiculous shoes – this time hot pink strappy things with spike heels inverted so the wide part hit the floor and the minuscule tip attached to the vamp.  Suzie bet the heels would snap off in less than a week.  The shoes went with a sequined mini skirt and feather-trimmed halter top.  Her hair was blond streaked with pink today.  Yesterday it was red.

Miranda flopped onto a kitchen chair.  “What’s wrong?”

“What do you mean ‘what’s wrong?’  Nothing’s wrong.”  Suzie shaped the loaf, then dropped it into a battered bread pan.  She refused to look Miranda in the eye.  If Miranda knew what was happening she would be sure to make trouble.  Suzie wasn’t sure what form the trouble would take, but didn’t doubt who would take the brunt of it.

She draped a cup towel over the loaf and stuck it on the stove where it would probably over heat on the side near the burner and be too cool on the side away.  Then the loaf would puff unevenly.  She told herself she’d give it a turn every few minutes, knowing she lied to herself but pretending she didn’t. 

“You don’t go to this much trouble if there’s nothing wrong.”  Miranda plucked at a feather at her shoulder.

 “I cook every day.”

“Not if you can help it.”

Suzie pulled out  a chair on the opposite side of the kitchen table.  Sitting, she ran her fingers over the smooth surface.  “I like to cook.”

“Sure, when you’re in the mood.  Which always seems to be when you are avoiding something else.  Now spill.”

“If you hadn’t rescued me from Tommy Crocker in the third grade there’s no way I’d let you be so rude to me.”  Suzie faked a glare.

“But I did rescue you.  So spill.”  Miranda leaned forward with her elbows on the table.

“Miranda, I’m going to have to sell the house.”

“No!”  Miranda drew back as if she’d been slapped.  “You love this house.  I love this house.  The judge said you could keep it, and there’s nothing your rotten X-husband can do to change it.”

Suzie tried to smile.  Miranda had stood by her through the whole messy business, siding with her when Rob tried to lay claim on a house he hadn’t wanted to begin with.  If she hadn’t used her inheritance as the down payment, he would never have set foot inside.  He’d matched her on mortgage payments about half the time, but made her pay by getting his tubes cut after Ben was born so she couldn’t fill the rooms with children.

In the divorce proceedings Rob tried to claim the house for himself simply because he knew it would hurt her.  When that didn’t work he tried to force her to sell, or cough up money he knew she didn’t have.  Luckily the judge had not agreed.

“He can’t do anything, but the bank can.  I’ve been running behind on the mortgage for months.  They’re threatening to foreclose.”

“I know you never have enough money with the book keeping job, but you always pay it all eventually.  Can’t they cut you a break?”  Miranda jutted out her jaw in righteous anger.

“I lost my job.  Even if I can make this month’s payment, what about next month?  And the month after?”

“There must be something you can do.”  Miranda tapped one hot-pink talon on the table top while her eyes narrowed.  “I’ve got it!  You should rent out your extra bedrooms.  Sort of like a long-term bead and breakfast.  What were those called?  Boarding houses!  You should make this a boarding house.”

“I thought of that, but who would I rent to?  Some stranger who answered an add in the newspaper?”  Suzie shuddered.  “I have to think of my son.  I can’t let just anyone live here.”

“So rent a room to me!”  Miranda leaned back in her chair, her smile decidedly smug.

“What?”  Suzie’s throat felt tight.  She hoped she’d heard wrong.

“Rent a room to me.  I can help you find renters for the other two rooms. That’ll put you in the black.  Then you’ll have more than enough to pay the bank and I’ll get at least one good meal a day.  What could be better?”

Suzie thought about what it was like when they lived together in the dormitories in college, and blanched.

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