Adapting a scene:
Back in July, I was working on a scene
from a novel that I really loved but (unfortunately) didn't sell the book. Remember how I'm always harping on saving things? Well, I just found the perfect use for that scene in a completely different novel:
Excerpt from Into the Fire
by Jessica Hall
(PG-13 for language, and men behaving badly)
Moriah LeClare heard the low, appreciative male whistles behind her as she came out of the dress shop, but didn’t react to them. She’d driven all the way downtown so J.D. could take her to lunch, and he’d stood her up – again. She couldn’t make him jealous by seeing his brother, because Cort was out of town – again. And J.D.’s partner had scored points off her by informing her on both accounts – again.
She hated Terri Vincent almost as much as the wolf whistles.
It wasn’t just because J.D.’s partner was smart, funny, and attractive – although she was, enough to make Moriah wish she’d transfer to another division -- in Alaska. And while it grated that J.D. spent all day with Terri while barely remembering to call Moriah twice a week, she understood that his job had to come first – for now.
No, what really bugged her was the way Terri Vincent treated her – mostly of the time with contempt, but now and then, with this complete inappropriate pity. As if Moriah LeClare of the New Orleans LeClares -- who had the money and looks and friends the female cop would never have – needed sympathy.
She took out her cell phone and tried calling her aunt, but only got the answering machine. She frowned. That was odd, Laure had asked her to stop by after lunch.
“Hey baby, how ‘bout you strut that fine little ass of yours this way?”
She turned around to see a trio of city workers loitering around an open manhole. The biggest one, a mini-mountain of muscle with a bristly black goatee and gleaming shaved head, was grinning like at her like an ape in heat.
When you look at some men,
her mother maintained, you just know Darwin was right.
She was in no mood for infatuated primates. If she were Terri Vincent, she could just flash her badge or her gun and they’d shut right up. But Terri commanded respect – Moriah didn’t. Maybe it was time that changed. “Are you speaking to me?”
“Yeah, sugar, come on over.” He patted the top of one of his log-shaped thighs. “You can park yourself right here. I’ll give you something to talk about.”
His companions erupted into laughter.
She put away her phone, change direction and walk right up to them. The workers hooted as she took a stand in front of her oversized heckler.
“You know, women really don’t like being ogled,” she told him, keeping her tone calm and cool. “Or subjected to that kind of language.”
“You’re no fun.” He leered at the front of her blouse. “What’s the matter, honey, am I scaring you?”
“Scaring me? Hardly.” Moriah glanced at the wheelbarrow my the manhole cover, and remembered something her Uncle Marc had showed her once. Deliberately she reached out and squeezed his bulging, sweaty bicep. “Let me guess, you’re the biggest, strongest guy on this crew, right?”
“Damn straight.” And proud of it, from the way he flexed his arm under her fingers. “I can go all the way, sugar. All the way.”
“How about twenty yards?” She pointed to the wheelbarrow. “I bet you that I can push something in that wheelbarrow across the street, but you won’t be able to push it back.”
He sized up her spare, petite frame and shook his head sadly. “Oh, darlin’, wake up. You’re dreaming.”
“Maybe, maybe not.” She tilted her head to one side, looking at him from under her lashes. “Tell you what – if you win, I’ll go out on a date with you.”
As his buddies produced sounds of lewd approval, the mini-mountain’s goatee stretched until it nearly met his ears.
“But if I win,” she added, “you have to promise to stop harassing women on the street. ”
“Hot damn, then I’ve already won.” He hitched up his belt as he stood. “Let’s go.”
“Great.” She went over, grabbed the wheelbarrow and brought it to him. “Okay, climb in.”
“What the—” his mouth flattened and his face reddened as he got the joke.
The other men started laughing again, this time at their friend, until they were gasping for breath and grabbing their sides.
The infatuation faded from the mini-mountain’s eyes. “Shit, lady, that ain’t fair.”
“I never said it would be.” She patted his cheek. “Now remember your promise.”
Announcement for FM community:
The site has been down all morning, probably due to this Code-Red-clone virus that hit the internet last night, so if you haven't been able to bring it up don't worry. Also, for everyone planning to attend Laura's chat tonight, if the site is still down she will be rescheduling -- check her web page
for updates and details.
FM is up and running again at this moment -- I was just in Chat for an hour -- but should it go offline again, Holly has a crash board and basic chat set up here.
Laura's chat has been rescheduled for Saturday, February 1, 5 pm EST (10 pm GMT) to at least 12 pm EST.
An Unlikely Pair:
New books by fantasy writer Robert Jordan and Fitness Icon/70's Actress Suzanne Somers took the #1 slot on the bestseller list for fiction and nonfiction, according to this article
over at Publishers Weekly online. No one has anything good to say about Jordan or Somers in the press, but the allure of their books is undeniable -- particularly Jordan, who rules over an empire of fans who don't care what the critics or the literati think. Tor, as mentioned in the article, put up a nice chunk of change to promote Jordan's new book with a huge American tour, so his publisher is smart enough to realize what they've got. Somers, from what I've heard, is her own publicity machine, but then most people in Hollywood are.
I like looking at the BSL lists because the people who make the top ten aren't always who you expect. King, Grisham, and Koontz are regulars, but Suzanne Somers? Never expected to see anything she wrote at #1; last time I recall seeing her was when she was pushing those thigh exerciser things on infomercials ten or fifteen years ago. I haven't read Jordan's books but seeing any series writer dominate the field is always cheerful news. The combo is also just ridiculous enough to put me in a good mood for the rest of the weekend.
I've been sitting around tonight editing and pondering something that's been bugging me for awhile now, and I had a Eureka!
moment. The metaphor that I sensed but couldn't see, all this time, in Holly's World Gates books (Memory of Fire is out now, The Wreck of Heaven will be out in March) finally registered.
Among myriad other fantastic things in this series, Holly writes about gateweavers, who are for the most part ordinary people who can open portals between quantum worlds. I'm not going to say another word and spoil the books for you, but the concept of the gateweaver was what was sticking in my brain. What did it mean, what did it symbolize? Writers sit up at night and think about this stuff, you know. It's like checking out engines on cars for mechanics.
As I was reading through the day's quota and highlighting how many times I misspelled occasionally (two cees one ess) I thought of how effective I'd be if I was a gateweaver and then it hit me. I am
a gateweaver; it's an excellent metaphor for a fiction novelist. And even if Holly didn't deliberately conceive of gateweavers as a metaphor for what we do, it fits so well that it was probably subconscious or unconscious or whatever.
Major epiphany. I feel all powerful now. Want to step through one of my gates? :)
I've been fiddling with an old Kohinoor rapidograph (technical drawing pen, like a fountain pen but finer) I picked up cheap, and thought I'd try to fix it myself. After making sure the tip wasn't ruined, I took it apart, cleaned it and fixed the little pump mechanism before putting it back together for a trial run. Works beautifully, and is just like the ones I used 25 (ack) years ago in high school. Since I'm mapping the town for my Christian series and part of Chicago for my fantasy novel, it will help out a lot. The bonus is, everytime I hold it in my hand, I can see me and Chuck Klein in art class, arguing over who was better -- Styx or the Eagles (I still think the Eagles were a better show band.)
Only certain other beta readers out there will understand what I mean when I yell this:
(sigh) Okay, two words. But man, can she write or what?
Perchance to Dream:
Not sure if I did, but I was vertical and unconscious for six hours straight last night, bringing home the silver from the Insomnia Olympics. Lily's tea, the thunderstorm CD and the frigid weather helped -- nothing like drinking liquid weeds while listening to artificial rain and watching frost form on the windows.
Speaking of the weather, it is presently 36 degrees F here (that's like 2 degrees Celsius for you folks in Canada and Europe.) You're probably colder, but this is Florida.
We don't do
anything under 50 F/10 C here. We're the Sunshine State, it's against our charter. And while a little cold weather now and then is refreshing, I don't like seeing my outdoor plants with little icicles hanging from them, or my children shivering and looking bewildered as I haul out the cold weather clothes from storage ("What are those, Mommy? Halloween costumes?") We live in Florida for a reason -- besides the fact that their father lives here, it's warm and green year-round and I don't have to de-ice the car or shovel the sidewalks if I want to go somewhere. We like it that way, too, so will someone come and get this weather out of here please now?
Ashes to Ashes, Deadline to Dust . . .
Corrected galleys for Blade on their way back to NY, under deadline but JHC what a job. Whoever typset the proofs evidently doesn't know that you need a left quotation mark to go with all the right ones, so I had to pick through every single line of dialogue to double check punctuation. 33 pages of typeset errors, with two to five errors per page. I'm pretty sure I snagged them all. It's only my first hardcover release. Sigh.
Someone (you know who you are) tells me TDE is now shipping from B&N.com, so the release date may have been changed from 2/28 to 2/04. Kinda early even so; I'd be interested to hear if anyone spots in on the store shelves out there. A rumor has been circulating that I will be appearing at WorldCon (in Canada or up north this year? Somewhere cold.) The rumor is false; I'm not going to that or any other SF con. If you see me at one, notify the police and tell them I've been drugged and kidnapped. However, I will be teaching an encore of my Writing the Novel Series online workshop, which covers everything from trilogies to open-ended series, starting next month on FM on Wednesday nights. Thanks to everyone who made the Multiple Genre workshop such fun.
I've decided what extra to giveaway for the book contest, and my thanks to all for your suggestions. Winners of the TDE giveaway will also receive a signed ARC copy of The Steel Caress, the next book in the trilogy. I like the idea of books and more books, that appeals to the reader in me more than little gimmicky things. :)
Inspiration Never Sleeps:
Neither do I, apparently, as I enter Day Two of the Insomnia Olympics. I tried for a couple hours but it was a waste. As long as I'm up, might as well get a little work done, and so I'm humming along on the novel and a beta reading. I've almost got the story for February finished too (and it's behaving itself and not trying to grow into a novel) so all I have to do tomorrow is finish correcting a galley and deal with the daily stuff. Lily has promised me more weed tea to get me settled down before I win the gold medal and embarrass the Russian insomniacs, who are suspecting of chugging liquid no-doze but have threatened to remember where all their nuclear devices are stashed. Yes, it gets pretty weird here at the halfway mark between Normality and Zombieland.
I passed by my son's room as he was trying to explain to his sister why one of his former teachers could not properly pronounce a term from his favorite TV show, Dragon Ball Z. "He can't say it because he's a, he's a . . ." Short pause as Mike searched for the appropriate term. "A person from Venezuela."
Real Writer Moms:
Actually do get up after 2.3 hours of bad sleep to make breakfast and pack lunches. And we smile while we do it.
To bed now, after working the leg half the night to burn off some of the maternal rage. The ex agreed that Mike doesn't need this crap and thanks for the recommendation, Katherine -- we may end up switching schools. The thing that still infuriates me is the kid and his smarmy mother (who sat there and watched the whole thing) got away clean; I was too busy checking Kathy's mouth and teeth to get to say anything before they slithered out of that place. I took care of my daughter, which is what I should have done, but still. I should have stepped in the first time that kid got out of line with my son, but I kept thinking "Don't be over-protective, let the instructor and Mike handle it." That was stupid of me.
I know how ferocious I get where my children are concerned. This is a new experience and the kids really love it, so I don't want to spoil it for them. Also they have to learn to take care of themselves around their peers; I don't believe in sheltering them from everything. Mike and Kath are both much more socially adept than I ever was; they're very comfortable with who they are and are great with other kids. It's just I hate when I don't follow my instincts and they suffer because of it. It doesn't happen often but when it does, I feel like I've failed them.
Parenting: not a job for wimps, that's for sure. Bed now. Sleep. Forget about it, let it go, and next time go with the instincts.
I've been invited to a mystery book shop relocation-opening/wine and cheese reception for a bunch of local hotshot authors, which I'm going to skip. I am not into wine, cheese, or nerve gas-strength cologne. I like the bookseller hosting it, though, so I'll have to go up and see her new place once the fumes dissipate. I snagged a couple of good mystery novels from her a few years back and she used to stock some neat jigsaw puzzles.
I did not do so well at the kids' karate lessons tonight. Mike's sparring partner thinks he's Bruce Lee and every time the instructor's back was turned, he was tormenting my son. He kicked Mike after he was down on the mat, he wouldn't release his holds even when Mike did the "I'm in pain" signal and was otherwise a general effing dork. Mike tried to laugh it off but after an hour of this he'd had enough. Then, when the class was over, this kid -- for no reason -- rabbit punched Mike so hard in the change-your-shoes room that Mike fell into Kath and split her lip. I went in to get my kids and even the instructor, who is a third degree black belt, got out of my way when he saw my expression. I'm still willing to work around this -- I'm switching the kids to an earlier class from now on to avoid this little jerk -- but I'm not a happy Mom right now.
First reaction from one of the editors of my new Christian series, as he is reading the book I just turned in: "very impressed and delighted." I feel like the llama in The Emperor's New Groove -- uh-huh-uh-huh-uh-huh.
10K in new material, 20K in editing, an hour working with the clamp weights and Stay Away From The Bagel Shop. (If they would only make Everything Rice Cakes . . . )
I finally bought myself some extra time to finish "Dragon Bones" by Patricia Briggs, and I was pleasantly suprised by the skillful ending. For a fantasy book it's quite skinny -- only 295 pages long -- and while I didn't like it as much as the Hob's Bargain, it worked for me. I have the sequel "Dragon Blood" to read next, which I feel I should since Patricia's editor finagled (with my permission) a Hob's Bargain quote from my web site and stuck it on the inside teaser page. Officially I don't give cover quotes any more, having been used by one publisher and three well-known SF authors (who shall remain nameless) who were pretty cold about duping me. My fault for being so green about the politicking, naturally, but those experiences left a very bad taste in my mouth.
I realized I only read one SF book for pleasure last year, so I went and looked at the current crop. Still nothing that interests me in the least. I'm no longer reading for market research, so I may go completely SFless this year. AH also doesn't tempt me, and the only fantasy I read now is Holly's. I got in a slew of nonfic research books so I won't suffer. :)
I'm in favor of the this proposal
which, if passed into law, would free a lot of copyrighted work that has no commercial value into public domain. I think it's logical and very reasonable, which means it will probably get squashed, but what the heck. I'll write my Congressman anyway. Thanks to Katherine
for providing the heads up and the link.
International Public Service Announcement:
To clear up the matter once and for all, there are no vampires
in Malawi, Africa. Okay, maybe some blood was stolen, and some villages attacked in the middle of the night, and Brad Pitt might have lurked around looking pale, poignant, and badly in need of a haircut, but officials swear there are no
I think I need to go to bed now.
When I started writing "The Deepest Edge", it was titled "Melting the Iceman" (which is how I still think of it, try as I might to fix the new title in my brain) and was a very intense story about an American art student who saves the life of a former KGB director (Alexei Davidov from Night of the Chameleon, for those of you who follow my romances.)
I pitched the book but it didn't work for my editor -- the heroine was too innocent, the hero was too much of a bad boy, and the whole American/Russian espionage scenario didn't appeal to her. She wanted something more exotic and a focus point -- some high stakes. She also wanted a trilogy, not a standalone, and she wanted in to continue the story line from the first three Gena Hale novels. I wasn't happy to hear any of this -- I'd finished the storyline in the GH trilogy and hadn't planned to revisit it --but I tossed out the proposal and went back to the drawing board.
I'd never tried a complete novel makeover before this, so I was a little worried about clinging to the old material. Luckily, at the time I was working on Blade Dancer, and I saw the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The performances by Chow Yun Fat and Chang Chen blew me away, and I got this wild idea to have a Chinese hero instead of a Russian. It was risky, expecially as the guy I had in mind was Jian-Shan, the son of a tong leader and not exactly available, but I saw how I could use the situation I'd left him in at the end of Sun Valley to make it work.
After I figured out the hero, I tried to think of the most unlikely heroine to pair up with this guy, and came up with Val. Contrasts between the H/H are exotic, and I liked the challenge of getting these two together. Since I was already up to my ears in sword books while researching fighting techniques for Blade, I decided to make ancient Japanese blades as the focus point. I re-pitched, the editor loved it and the book wrote itself from there.
Oddly enough, though the entire cast of characters and the plot changed, the theme never did. It's still a book about redemption and how the power of love can heal the worst wounds. I didn't consciously plan that, but Alexei's conflict stuck in my head while I was replotting and influenced the decisions I made. Jian-Shan came out the better for it, too, I don't think I could have done justice to his character without having created Alexei first. Also, I was glad to discover that I could let go of the old idea and come up with something more appealing to the editor on demand. Something to consider if you're ever in the same position -- nothing you write should be chiseled in marble, and you can learn a lot by letting go and starting from scratch.
Adventures in E-mail:
I am in possession of a certain Very Famous Person's private phone number (never mind who) and the person who e-mailed it to me also instructed me to call said VFP and work out a time this year when the three of us can meet for tea and a creative pow-wow. And you thought my life was all clipping coupons, assisting on algebra homework and emptying the litter boxes. If I still had a secretary, this would not have been a problem, I could have made him do it, but alas, I was up creek sans paddle and had to do it myself.
Only I didn't want to because what on earth was I going to say to VFP? Assuming I was still capable of speech?
The problem is mine -- I am not good with very famous people. I love their movies and their books and their genius, but get me within three feet of them and I turn into all thumbs and "Ums." Case in point: I met another VFP at a Penguin Putnam shindig at RWA National. Within thirty seconds of being introduced, I spilled half a glass of soda down the front of her dress. I'm serious, I really did. I was shaking, there was nowhere to put it and I stumbled and it slipped. Her dress cost more than my car, but she merely laughed and mopped up and told me not to worry about it. At least, I think she did, I was pretty busy trying to die.
I admire this particular VFP as much as the nice lady I doused with Coke, so tea was absolutely out of the question. Tea is much more dangerous than Coke. Then there's the whole creative pow-wowing aspect built in: that meant I would have to talk, probably about my books. I don't talk about my books to my cats,
let alone someone verbal. That left talking about the VFP's books, which meant I'd gush or I'd say something completely idiotic. I always bounce between the two extremes, I'm sorry, can't be helped.
I've thought of hiring someone to impersonate me. I can't be that hard to imitate, all she'd have to do is say "Um" every five words and gnaw her bottom lip until it bleeds -- and yes, I've started bleeding in situations like these too. I've also knocked over chairs, dropped food in my lap, hit my head on low-hanging light fixtures and fallen down a flight of stairs. Chevy Chase could get some good pointers from me.
So I wrote back to my friend, and politely told (lied) her that as much as I would enjoy (dread) meeting the VFP, my schedule was packed (empty) and I wouldn't be able to meet (scald) her. Instant, blessed relief -- the hands are once again rock-steady and my stomach no longer resembles Miami midtown traffic during rush hour. The burn units and dry cleaners have been notified to stand down. Obscurity never looked so good.