Star Lines
Saturday, March 02, 2002
  Oh, God, NO!: I went to the grocery store tonight with Kathy to pick up cat snacks and Rice Krispies (two of the Viehl household staples) and bought a candy bar for myself for being a good girl and finishing the proposal for BioRescue. A Three Muskateers bar, to be exact. When I got home, I unwrapped it, bit off a piece, chewed, swallowed -- and nearly threw up. It made me sick. Stomach clenching, bile rising, vision blurring sick. I couldn't even look at the rest, much less eat it.

You probably don't understand how horrifying this is. Chocolate made me sick. Every female in my family is genetically incapable of resisting chocolate. My mother probably put chocolate milk in my bottle when I was an infant. I'm positive 50% of my cells contain trace cocoa in them. I've eaten so many M&M's I should have stock options. If you cut me, I bleed Hershey's syrup. Okay, so I haven't had any chocolate or any kind of candy in about two months. And I've replaced most of the sugar in my diet with honey. And I haven't eaten much of anything for the past two weeks.

But me, unable to tolerate chocolate? Me, sacrifice chocolate forever? What else will I stash in my desk? Peanuts? Sunflower seeds? How can you get passionate about something you feed to elephants at the zoo? sniff I have to go cry again now.  
  Up the Wattage: We had an interesting Think Tank session over at Holly's last night, and I got good reactions to my radical idea. The main task this weekend is to write up the new proposals and get them out to my agent on Monday.

Preparing a book proposal can be really stressful. First, you've got to present a pro-level package. This means no screwing around, no getting creative and quirky and funny -- it's serious business time. Then you've got to write something that will generate excitement from the person reading it. Figure on how many jaded editors there are out there, and how many proposals they read. It's like dancing naked in front of a sheik who already owns a harem of two hundred gorgeous nymphomaniacs, right?

Different writers have contrasting attitudes. The artist feels it's impossible to condense their vision into a fifteen page summary. The perfectionist agonizes over every single word. The rebel rages about having to conform to industry standard. The egotist produces an eighty-five page first draft. The literati type claims Hemingway never had to put up with this crap and hires a college kid to do it.

But however we wish it otherwise, the proposal remains the first foot in the publisher's door, so it has to be solid, tough, and able to withstand repeated slamming. I figured it out when I wrote a synopsis for myself -- not a publisher -- for the very first time. I wrote it mainly to see if I could get a handle on the novel I was working on. The book itself was so huge and epic and complicated that I was seriously worried I'd never be able to adequately explain it. I wrote that synopsis in half the usual time, because I wasn't thinking about impressing an editor. I was in problem-solving mode.

I tried to explain it last night, but I didn't get my point across as well as I would have liked. Writing a synopsis is like drawing the blueprints for a mansion you have to live in for six months. If you're worried what your boss is going to think of your house, you may design a gorgeous estate and drive yourself crazy in the process. If you're just concerned with how comfortable this place is going to be for you, personally, then you'll design a better house. One you can really live in.

Friday, March 01, 2002
  Last night a lightbulb went off over my head so fast and so bright I was blind for an hour. The idea kind of lightbulb, not Edison's contribution to humanity. Anyway, I faced something I didn't want to admit, and in return, I got an answer to my biggest problem. Like committing Zen revenge, only on myself. I called my agent this morning, and knocked her socks off with the idea. Now the task is to put it on paper and see how far it flies with the powers that be.  
Thursday, February 28, 2002
  The rather belated Quote for the Day: "The road to hell wasn't paved with good intentions. It was littered with them." -- me writing as Gena Hale, Hunting the Raven

While Sean got kind of dark in this novel, he also inspired some killer lines. :)

Non-Medical Fact for the Day: Writer's Spine -- not yet recognized by the American Medical Association but definitely felt here tonight. Related to the approach of imminent deadlines. Symptoms include sudden muscle spasms in the lower lumbar region, possibly due to lengthy immobility or editors jumping up and down on that area, and shooting pains in the back of the neck, probably caused by poor posture or the prospect of sudden career changes. Ibuprofen for the inflammation, a good soak in a hot tub of eucalyptus and mint to soothe the senses, and fifteen minutes of curl ups on a flat surface. Optional, secondary treatment: grin and bear it.  
  Bye, Bye, Blackbird: Raven's book is on the way to my editor in New York, deadline met, goodbye, farewell, arrivederci, hasta luego, have a good time and don't pick up any sailors named Maloney. And by finishing it, that brings my completed novel record up to a nice round even 40. I have a few more days work left on Jian-Shan's book, which has been back-burnered by the present contract negotiations, and a brand new three novel proposal to put together by Monday.

Some announcements are pending, but here's one I can tell you about: I'm pulling the plug on "Gamers," so you won't be reading that on my web site next month. Before you get pissed off, here's the good news: I'm going to make it a full-length novel and, if all goes well, I should be able to tell you when it will be published some time within the next few weeks.

Also, I appreciate the many supportive e-mails. This has been a tough week, and it isn't going to get easier any time soon. Some more bad news is likely. Still, much banging of head into the wall has been avoided by knowing that you care. Thanks.  
Tuesday, February 26, 2002
  An interesting day, career-wise. I can't go into details, but it's time to make huge changes, or not. Naturally, it's all up to me. And the devil whispers in my ear, "Remind me again, sweetheart, why are you doing this to yourself?"

I write novels to make money. Make no mistake, that is the number one reason I do this. Seeing my work in print is terrific. The pleasure of being able to say "I'm a novelist" when someone asks me what I do for a living is very satisfying. And it's an interesting job -- not easy, not pleasant, and sometimes, not worth it, but I've enjoyed most of the ride so far. But it's for the money. That's why I do this job.

Money keeps me from losing my kids, living under a bridge, and starving. Money, as Martha Stewart will tell you, is a good thing.

The funny thing is, I don't write for money. I never have. I write for you, my family, friends, and readers, and all the faceless and nameless people I don't know out there who want to read my work. I've been writing stories for you all my life, and I'll keep writing them, hopefully until I stop breathing. How can this be separate from the novelist gig? Because it is separate. I think you have to be a writer to understand this, but I'll give it a shot.

No contract, no amount of money, no awards, no five-star reviews, no editor, no publisher, nothing on this earth has or ever will make me a writer -- except you. You make me a writer. Without you, I simply have an interesting, meaningless hobby.

The devil doesn't like that about me.

So. Here I am, taking charge of my fate, deciding my course, etc. etc. And when I sit down to sort out the money and the contracts and what I'm going to do, I will be thinking about my children, and my home, and living a decent life. They come first. But when I sit down to write tonight, I won't be thinking about any of them. I'll be thinking of you.
  Deep End of the Ocean: I'm right in the middle of revisions, but I may ask my editor if I can have an extra week on this book. There are too many story shifts to sort out quickly, and I want it to be as perfect as possible. Also, this is the hook for the trilogy that will hopefully inspire readers to buy the next two in the series. I'm doing the final read-through on Raven's book today, now that I've had time to detox from writing it, and bundling that up this afternoon to get it off to New York. Not exactly as well as I'd wanted to do, but I checked my daily tallies and I've written around 160K in the past two weeks. Can't be unhappy with that kind of productivity.  
Monday, February 25, 2002
  Food? Here's another cameo of the writer's life/mindset during deadline week: I have no idea what or when I ate last. I think it was some frozen veggie thing I nuked in the microwave yesterday. Maybe. Tea and coffee keep me from being dehydrated, and the occasional cup of soup. So tonight, when my stomach started gnawing at my spine, I got ticked off, left the keyboard and went to nuke something else. Alas, nothing nukable left. So I threw some rice in the steamer, added some cold diced chicken and onion, and sprinkled it with sesame seed, garlic powder, and honey. The result? Marvelous. Or maybe I'm just too starved to care. The onion makes the difference, though.  
  Um, I meant locust, really I did. (snicker) 
  Hands Off: Much digital pain last night and this morning; the old gray mare she'd ain't what she used to be, not with these arthritic hooves. My left wrist and right thumb are the worst, and Father Time to Get Some XRays has added a new wrinkle, nice deep electric-shock-type shooting pain on top of the swelling and stiffness. I've been alternating between the headset and the keyboard during the worst of it, but sixteen hours a day on the keyboard isn't helping. I've always scorned the thought that I could ever get something like carpal tunnel syndrome -- in my mind, the wimp writer disease -- so the universe once again proves it has a twisted sense of humor.

And it's Monday, and I wish I could crawl back into my nice warm bed and stay there because it's freezing, thank you God for adding that little nuance to the last days of deadline week. What next? Plagues of locus, boils, and flaming hail?  
Sunday, February 24, 2002
  Another Not-PG-Moment on Star Lines: Kids, go play Nintendo, the following is not for you. To answer a couple of e-mails, the two words I'm fighting for are in a critical scene involving Kalen and Raven and are, verbatim from Kalen's mouth: "you bitch." Granted, not the most romantic thing he can call her, but it sets up his attitude toward Raven for book two. Why? Well, I may not like the language some men use at times, but I don't think readers want me to homogenize all of my male characters into Mr. Rogers. Kalen is frustrated and furious, while Raven has done her absolute best to be a stellar bitch, and this is the breaking point for both characters. They have to deal with this later on in book two as well, and there is that thin line between love and hate. Is it lyrical, lovely stuff? Of course not. But in my experience, real love rarely is.

  Crunch Time: I have to disagree with my editor on two revision notes -- one to delete a scene I want to keep in Jian-Shan's book, and the other to delete two words that make an entire scene work for me. The scene I can live without; not sure about these two words. But isn't that always the way? I'd rather sacrifice five manuscript pages than give up an inch of important dialogue. And I have the feeling I'm going to get more of a fight over these two words than anything else I might choose to battle over. Best stock up on the ibuprofen.

Sorry I haven't been posting quotes and medical facts each day; my brain is fried. Let me get through this week and I'm sure the cells will regenerate.  
  Donde esta mi hijo? In the midst of ripping into revisions -- yes, tonight, four days left until I have to next day both books off to New York -- a knock on the door, which turns out to be a very upset-looking elderly Hispanic woman gasping and out of breath from climbing the stairs. She assumes I'm Spanish (every Cuban in South Florida does this, I don't know why) and rattles off "Where is my son?" then a whole bunch of stuff which I translate as her kid is shacked up with a, um, hussy somewhere in the building. In my lame schoolgirl Spanish, I tell Mama Furiosa that I don't know them or where they might be. This doesn't make her happy, but she nods and starts for the stairs. Before she goes, she tells me I need to speak Spanish more often, I sound like a damn white girl. I grin at her and say, "Lo siento, senora, pero yo soy una gringa" (Sorry, lady, but I am a white girl) and get her to laugh before she goes.

Adventures at the KeyBoard

10/28/2001 - 11/04/2001 / 11/04/2001 - 11/11/2001 / 11/11/2001 - 11/18/2001 / 11/18/2001 - 11/25/2001 / 11/25/2001 - 12/02/2001 / 12/02/2001 - 12/09/2001 / 12/09/2001 - 12/16/2001 / 12/16/2001 - 12/23/2001 / 12/23/2001 - 12/30/2001 / 12/30/2001 - 01/06/2002 / 01/06/2002 - 01/13/2002 / 01/13/2002 - 01/20/2002 / 01/20/2002 - 01/27/2002 / 01/27/2002 - 02/03/2002 / 02/03/2002 - 02/10/2002 / 02/10/2002 - 02/17/2002 / 02/17/2002 - 02/24/2002 / 02/24/2002 - 03/03/2002 / 03/03/2002 - 03/10/2002 / 03/10/2002 - 03/17/2002 / 03/17/2002 - 03/24/2002 / 03/24/2002 - 03/31/2002 / 03/31/2002 - 04/07/2002 / 04/07/2002 - 04/14/2002 / 04/14/2002 - 04/21/2002 / 04/21/2002 - 04/28/2002 / 04/28/2002 - 05/05/2002 / 05/05/2002 - 05/12/2002 / 05/12/2002 - 05/19/2002 / 05/19/2002 - 05/26/2002 / 05/26/2002 - 06/02/2002 / 06/02/2002 - 06/09/2002 / 06/09/2002 - 06/16/2002 / 06/16/2002 - 06/23/2002 / 06/23/2002 - 06/30/2002 / 06/30/2002 - 07/07/2002 / 07/07/2002 - 07/14/2002 / 07/14/2002 - 07/21/2002 / 07/21/2002 - 07/28/2002 / 07/28/2002 - 08/04/2002 / 08/04/2002 - 08/11/2002 / 08/11/2002 - 08/18/2002 / 08/18/2002 - 08/25/2002 / 08/25/2002 - 09/01/2002 / 09/01/2002 - 09/08/2002 / 09/08/2002 - 09/15/2002 / 09/15/2002 - 09/22/2002 / 09/22/2002 - 09/29/2002 / 09/29/2002 - 10/06/2002 / 10/06/2002 - 10/13/2002 / 10/13/2002 - 10/20/2002 / 10/20/2002 - 10/27/2002 / 10/27/2002 - 11/03/2002 / 11/03/2002 - 11/10/2002 / 11/10/2002 - 11/17/2002 / 11/17/2002 - 11/24/2002 / 11/24/2002 - 12/01/2002 / 12/01/2002 - 12/08/2002 / 12/08/2002 - 12/15/2002 / 12/15/2002 - 12/22/2002 / 12/22/2002 - 12/29/2002 / 12/29/2002 - 01/05/2003 / 01/05/2003 - 01/12/2003 / 01/12/2003 - 01/19/2003 / 01/19/2003 - 01/26/2003 / 01/26/2003 - 02/02/2003 / 02/02/2003 - 02/09/2003 / 02/09/2003 - 02/16/2003 / 02/16/2003 - 02/23/2003 / 02/23/2003 - 03/02/2003 / 03/02/2003 - 03/09/2003 / 03/09/2003 - 03/16/2003 / 03/16/2003 - 03/23/2003 / 03/23/2003 - 03/30/2003 / 03/30/2003 - 04/06/2003 / 04/06/2003 - 04/13/2003 / 04/13/2003 - 04/20/2003 / 04/20/2003 - 04/27/2003 / 04/27/2003 - 05/04/2003 / 05/04/2003 - 05/11/2003 / 05/11/2003 - 05/18/2003 / 05/18/2003 - 05/25/2003 / 05/25/2003 - 06/01/2003 / 06/01/2003 - 06/08/2003 / 06/08/2003 - 06/15/2003 / 06/15/2003 - 06/22/2003 / 06/22/2003 - 06/29/2003 / 06/29/2003 - 07/06/2003 / 07/06/2003 - 07/13/2003 / 07/13/2003 - 07/20/2003 / 07/20/2003 - 07/27/2003 / 07/27/2003 - 08/03/2003 / 08/03/2003 - 08/10/2003 / 08/10/2003 - 08/17/2003 / 08/17/2003 - 08/24/2003 / 08/24/2003 - 08/31/2003 / 08/31/2003 - 09/07/2003 / 09/07/2003 - 09/14/2003 / 09/14/2003 - 09/21/2003 / 09/21/2003 - 09/28/2003 / 09/28/2003 - 10/05/2003 / 10/05/2003 - 10/12/2003 / 10/12/2003 - 10/19/2003 / 10/19/2003 - 10/26/2003 / 10/26/2003 - 11/02/2003 / 11/02/2003 - 11/09/2003 / 11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003 /

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