Monday, August 25, 2008

New look to the blog

You know how folks decide to put up a website and three or four weeks later ... Shazamm ... there's a website?

It's taken me a little longer.

Ok. Much Longer.
But I'm getting reasonably close. Couple of weeks now, I think.

Anyhoo ... I've changed the face of the blog so it'll look sorta like the rest of the website and everything will be symmetric and pleasant when the website goes live.
(Cue to spooky music and someone shouting, 'Give my creature life!')

So what am I doing this week?
I'm settled down firmly on the first draft of MAGGIE ...

Rough Draft of MAGGIE ...

37000 / 130000 words. 28% done!

Which is less progress than it may look like,
and less progress than I should be making,
but we're headed in the right direction.

Can I speak up about Nora Roberts here? Or is that name-dropping and crass?

I saw Nora Roberts at a panel she gave at RWA National. It was one of about four workshops I actually got to attend in the whole four days. I had no idea National was such a madhouse.

But I picked well. It was useful as well as decorative.
N.R. said her working method was to write her first draft right from beginning to end, not going back to fix anything. Just laying it down.

"Oooooh," says I. "That sounds good. I can do that, too."
It kinda 'clicked'.

The meter shows my progress, NOT on the story, but on the First Rough Draft.
(Which is a really, really rough draft.)
When I get finished with that first draft, I'll be about halfway through the writing.
Maybe not quite halfway.
And this is not counting research, which I have, like, the Baltic Sea still to go through, teaspoon by teaspoon.

This zipping-to-the-end approach feels comfy, natural, satisfying, fruitful. If it were food, it'd be pumpkin pie.

I've been trying to find an efficient modus de writing. I'm optimistic. This might be it.

Where I am right now in the story --

Adrian has just crawled his secret and unregarded way out of British Service Headquarters in Paris, headed for the slums of ... someplace in Paris. I haven't looked up where the slums were. OK.
Adrian is -- putting it in modern terms -- pursuing his own agenda.

We're in his POV.

Re Adrian POV -- this is challenging because
a) Adrian-at-twelve doesn't sound like Adrian-at-twenty.
b) a long stretch of Adrian POV gives him more weight in the story than I really want him to have.

But my plot demands it.
If I could just learn to plot.

So. Next.
I have to balance my people here. I can't do too long a straight run of Adrian because this is Doyle and Maggie's story and the secondary characters are not allowed to run away with the reader's sympathy and attention.

So I now need a strong vignette of Doyle -- which I have in my head. And then I need one of Maggie -- which I haven't the least idea of what it is.

Maggie, Maggie, Maggie ... tell me what you are doing.
If you don't, you're going to sit there with a hairbrush in your lap, looking at mirror, thinking about things.
We don't want that, do we?


  1. Ze whole progress bar, she is blue

  2. Zee progress bar, she is confused.

    I mus find ... how you say ... zee new progress bar ...

  3. Sounds like good advice, straight through to the end and all.

    If I could only come up with a story that works for me...

  4. Hi Tara --

    For me, the germ of a story might come when I'm looking at a bit of history that's just chock full of possibilities.

    Take the seige of Toulon. I'd love to place a story at the seige of Toulon.

    Or the Treaty of Tilsit. What did England know, and how did they know it? Did the British Service get intelligence of the treaty terms?

    For you it'd be different. But there's something out there tugging at you ...

  5. Jo,

    I get "tugs" all the time, but I can't seem to get a good hold on them. Or, I write a scene that's in my head and then I can't get it to go anywhere else.

    Right now I have about 7 dead-ends!

    And I'm completely influenced by whatever I happen to be currently reading (you, Nora Roberts, etc., lately!)


    If I can just get a good grip on one of these, then I feel that I can take full advantage of the forum. Until then, I'm just pretending to be a writer.

  6. Hi Tara --

    If I haven't mentioned this before ... I'm just 'pretending to be a writer' too. I keep expecting them to find out and take the contract back.

    Writer Imposter Syndrome.
    I haz it.

    I do think it's important to work all the way to the end of a story, at least in rough draft. At least once. There's just a whole lot of craft that can only be learned on the whole-story level.

    But you are utterly right. It has to be something that grabs you. You have to love the story.

  7. Congratulations on zee two book contract. I am, mos definitly, vedy vedy happy to read zee new books.

    I am plogging through a rough draft right now as well, though I fear my definition of rough is much, er, rougher than yours. I am making myself write 100 pages before I go back and edit the first three chapters. I want to send them out to some CP's and make sure I'm not totally off the mark with this new book. Secretly, I also want to win famously in contests just so I know I should keep moving forward with this huge project. I'm not sure how I will proceed from there. Finish, then edit the rest? We shall see.

    I find that getting the first draft out is like moving a boulder uphill. It is sweaty and messy and has to be done any way possible. Grace is not in the general reality. I will flesh out and flesh out in layers. Or so I plan.

    What I learned most at conference is that all writers, including great writers who I love and take the time to read their blogs, doubt their writing. Amazing, really. And a reminder to work through my own doubt.

  8. Hi Jo,
    I like your line about the Baltic Sea :-)
    Please keep "more weight" Adrian in there, we love Adrian! And it is kind of comforting that you have repeating secondary characters; it's nice to think that even though I may never see Annique and Grey again, at least Adrian might :-)

  9. Hi Lady Leigh --

    I gotta say, your decision to put a hundred pages down before you go back to rewrite the first three chapters sounds wise. I can see no downside to this.
    And you'll avoid the infamous, 'Three perfect chapters' syndrome.

    If crit partners are your 'method' ... go for it.

    I have to admit I'm more comfy with the idea of 'beta readers' myself.

    Beta readers kick in only after you've tidied up most all of the work. They don't get tangled up in the complicated, delicate parts of the creative process. YOur machine is up and running before they look under the hood.

    The betas are there for the last inconsistencies. For the 'story problems'. They gently say ...

    "So WHY does Nichole go down into the basement alone when the house is infested with zombies?"
    "Do you really think nail-biting is the appropriately heroic fault for Gerald to overcome?"

    Do tell me when you've got to 100. We're in the same 'place' in our stories right now, I think ... drafting bravely onward.

    This is the fun part.

  10. Hi Deniz --

    I cannot help but give a lot of weight to Adrian in this MAGGIE story, because I foolishly plotted in a lot of action for him and now can't work any way around my plotting.
    Everything connects.

    I have to THINK before I plot. I really do.

    I had a small mention of Annique and Grey in MLAS, but it got edited out. This is probably good, because it's making the books stand-alone. I want that.

    But I truly do not like to leave my characters behind forever.

    I'll try to bring my folks back, just a little. Just sneak them in on the sides.
    This is weak of me. I know. I know.

  11. Anonymous12:28 PM

    Hi Jo
    I'm not sure why you think its weak of you. As a reader I love watchng characters grow and change over books....I'm thinking Eloisa James and Jo Beverley's Malloren series here among others....Please bring Annique and Grey back! Or at least post the outtake?

  12. Hi Deb --

    I will try to sneak 'em in from time to time.

    It's natural, after all ... since these folks all know each other that they'd show up in each other's stories.

    justifying like mad

  13. I know it's for the Greater Good ;) but I liked your old layout muuuuch better...

  14. Hi nbb --

    This is a 'darker' feeling, overall, isn't it?

    I just hope it's not harder to read.

    I may attach some bright colored picture near the top banner so it won't all look so grim and dark blue.

    The major differenece in the 'look' is that I've pulled the excerpt out. I'll put excerpts elsewhere, sprinkled through the website, so it doesn't have to live here in the blog. Think how efficient that makes it ...

  15. Adrian!! I am in love. *sigh*

    Congrats on the new book deals!!! I am so excited to read them. I ADORE your writing. I would love love love to get breakfast in DC next July. Can't wait! I'll think of some more interview questions to surprise you with once the camera is rolling. haha.

  16. Hi Ciara --

    Breakfast in DC next ... is it July? It's a date. Yes. Yes.

  17. Oh, if we're already trying to get dibs on breakfast with Jo in DC, can I put in my bid, too?

  18. Hi CM --

    Oh yes yes. You are just great fun at breakfast.

    (You are probably great fun all the time, but I know about breakfast.)

    Did I congratulate you? I didn't know about the contract when I saw you at National so I didn't. But I do now. Retrospective congrats, as it were.

    Oh. Oh. And I saw the mention on Dear Author. Your Name In Lights!! Whoop whoop!

  19. Yep, you congratulated me already--but not at breakfast. If you had congratulated me at breakfast, you would have been remarkably prescient. I didn't have the contract at that point--just a book on submission and some nibbles.

    Now I have a contract, and my progress bar for book #2 is at zero. I am envious of your 45,000 words of something.

  20. Anonymous8:25 PM

    I loved My Lord and Spymaster. Your writing is amazing. I never leave comments anywhere but I couldn't believe that book would receive a bad review by anyone.

  21. Hi Anon --

    Bad reviews.

    Y'know ... I don't remember where it was, but Sherry Thomas was saying ...

    (I am paraphrasing clumsily here. She said it much more elegantly. She's a very elegant person, in person. btw.)

    (Now that I think of it, this may have been in the comments trail someplace. Dear Author?)

    Anyhow, S.T. said that for her first book (Private Arrangements,) she read reviews and followed sales and drove herself nuts doing it. For her second book, (Delicious,) she purposely didn't look at any of that.

    This is wise of her.

    (Did I say I was paraphrasing ...?)

    Anyhow ... reviewers.

    I do want to grab reviewers and shake them hard and yell ... DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND, YOU IDIOT!! LISTEN TO ME!!! or something subtle and meaningful and mature like that.

    So all of this 'not answering' I do to bad reviews is really difficult and I hope I'm getting karma points for it somewhere, but I wouldn't necessarily count on it because they probably save Karma points for something more useful.