Sunday, September 30, 2012

That WIP meme...

I've been tagged by the fabulous Caitlin in the WIP meme that's going around. Now, I tend to play my cards pretty close to my chest when it comes to my writing, but I like to be a team player. So I'll share a thing or two about the newest project I've been toying around with, and hopefully my vagueness won't be too annoying, ha.

What is the working title of your book?
Err, yeah, I'm pretty terrible with titles. This one's just filed under TOWER for now, and fyi, there's no tower planned in the book. Yet. My last project had the working title FAIRWEATHER, and that never ended up having anything to do with anything. 

Where did the idea come from for the book? 
Sooo...I can't really say I've got the idea figured out yet. This one came more as a desire to do some fantasy worldbuilding, followed by lists of names I liked and thought went well together, which led to an initial setup. I've got some fun characters lined up, but right now I'm testing them out in my head and trying to plan what kind of torture I want to put them through. This is about the same order of creation I went through on my last book as well.

What genre does your book fall under?
Middle grade fantasy

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I'm too unfamiliar with child actors to cast my own books in my head, though sometimes I visualize the adult characters as looking like certain actors. Not for this one yet though, sorry!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
No plot = no synopsis. No fun, right? But I'm still waiting for the pieces in my brain to settle into a configuration that grabs me. This could take a while. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?
I've written one practice scene so far, and it's not the intro. I'm not sure how long it took me to write the first draft of my last project, because I dawdled and dawdled for ages on the first 30k, and then I finally realized OMG RACHEL THIS DREAM IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN IF YOU DON'T GET SERIOUS and set a goal of writing 1k per day until it was finished (sound familiar?), and that took about 3-4 months. And yes, the first draft was way too long.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
See my previous post re: Leonora Carrington and her demented fairytale's got me thinking that I'd like to try writing a sort of bizarro dark fantasy at some point.  

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Hmm, ask me again in a few months and I might have an answer. I'll leave you with this image instead:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Words and Words

After the glut of middle grade I've been reading lately, I needed to change up the pace a little and went to my friendly neighborhood to hunt down an out-of-print copy of The Seventh Horse, a collection of short stories by Leonora Carrington. Ms. Carrington was a British surrealist painter who spent the majority of her working life in Mexico. Her art is less avant-garde than Man Ray, more digestible than Salvator Dali--to me it looks like the illustrations of crazy fairytales. I only learned about Leonora Carrington last summer, but I like her paintings a lot, and I was pretty excited to find out she was also a writer. I guess I was not expecting a surrealist's writing to be quite so...surreal.

Here is an excerpt from her short story, "The Skeleton's Holiday":
It happened one day that the skeleton drew some hazelnuts that walked about on little legs across mountains, that spit frogs out of mouth, eye, ear, nose and other openings and holes. The skeleton took fright like a skeleton meeting a skeleton in bright daylight. Quickly he had a pumpkin detector grow on the side of his head, with a day side like patchouli bread and a night side like the egg of Columbus, and set off, half-reassured, to see a fortune-teller.
What the what?? Was that just a well-played game of Mad Libs? That's the end of the story, by the way. Leonora Carrington was deeply interested in spiritualism, alchemy, and the occult, and apparently she used a lot of code words to dictate meaning to her art, so I will probably never know what meaning she hopefully intended with her writing. At least not without more research on the subject than I am willing to participate in.

But as crazy as they are, I'm actually kind of enjoying these surreal short stories. As readers, we're used to a predictable progression of words, building sentences with understandable meaning that form stories with a beginning, middle, and an end. Reading about a philosophical skeleton who likes to play dirty tricks for no discernible reason (and for what it's worth, the excerpt I posed was really the most extreme thing I saw--it's not all quite that nuts!) or a three hunters cursed so that all their trophies turn into sausages--well, they're not nearly as satisfying and it's certainly not for everyone, but as an occasional detour, I think they're worthwhile just for the marvelously bizarre imagery.

What do you read when you want to switch gears?

Self Portrait, 1937

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Michigan Girl

Growing up in the Sault, I used to tell my classmates that I was from Ohio. It made sense to me--my parents were from Ohio and all my relatives still lived there, and we traveled back regularly. I wanted to draw a firm line between myself and what I considered the local kids, the ones whose relatives all lived within an hour's drive, who went to school with their cousins (or, in some cases, their aunts and uncles). I was even born in Ohio, which helped my credibility, but I'd only spent my first year there before being whisked off to the Upper Peninsula. So really, looking back now, my claim was a little thin.

I may choose not to live in Michigan anymore but I can't deny the twenty years of my life spent there, and when I come back to these cool blue lakes and piney forests, it sure feels like home. I get a little thrown off guard by how friendly and straightforward so many of the people here are. Not that everyone in L.A. is a savage, but it seems like the bigger the city, the more guarded and short-tempered its population, and when that's your norm, Midwestern friendliness can make you almost suspicious! Yikes. So here I'll share a few shots of where I'm from. I may seem like an ocean-loving, road-raging Angeleno, but at my core I'm a Michigan girl.

The world famous Soo Locks!

This is how you trap tourists: FUDGE

Lots of nature here in the U.P.

Tahquamenon River

Tahquamenon Falls

Whitefish Point and icy Lake Superior

Mmmmm pan-fried lake perch...

Setting up for a bonfire on a balmy September day

Pumpkin season!

Monday, September 10, 2012


Stealing this from Jessica Love, who stole it from Kate Hart, who stole it from somewhere else. I do not have the time or brains to compose my own post today.

Loving: A quiet morning with a dozing kitten stretched out beside me. This is my very favorite time of day.

Reading: Neversink by the excellent Barry Wolverton. This will put me halfway through that stack of MG books I posted about. If I can finish Breadcrumbs before the week is through, I'll be happy. I never thought I'd make it through all those books in time anyway, and honestly I need to switch gears and read something else for a while. This will probably be high on my TBR list when it comes out.

Watching: The Alien movies! I'd never seen them before so husband is making me watch all of them. We watched Aliens this weekend, and destroyed the dvd in the process. Have you ever had a player just eat a dvd and make it unviewable? I didn't even know that was possible.

Thinking about: Veganism. I don't know if I can go 100% but I'm toying with the idea. Dairy seems to be a problem for me and my wretched sinuses, and I want to scale back on how often my husband and I eat meat, for health reasons. But I prefer moderation over hardcore, and I don't want to be that person who gets invited over to someone's house for dinner and eats the rice and side salad, so maybe I'll just be a social meat eater.

Anticipating: My trip home to the Upper Peninsula later this week. I haven't been home since I started this blog almost two years ago. I'll try to post some pictures this weekend.

Wishing: For a calm fall. This summer was so busy, I just want to hunker down at home for a while. The outlook for this: not favorable.

Making me happy: My two sweet cats who keep me company. My husband grinning at me during a 7 a.m. spin class this morning. The cheerful "good morning" I heard from everyone in the grocery store today. The fact that there will be a new Killers album out in a week!