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Monday, April 28, 2014

That peskly first line!

My friend Lia was lamenting that her first chpater was nowhere near as good as she meant it to be, but as she hadn't yet finished her first draft, my advice was think of it as a place holder and keep writing until you get to the end. (Lia is a phenomenal writer so I had no worries that it would all come together!)
This is because in my experience, can't write a good first chapter until you are totally sure of what is important to your book and you can't know that until you finish it!

My first chapter is always the hardest to get right, and invariable takes the longest. It doesn't know where it's going, or which of the themes it hints at are going to be the most significant, so it's also the chapter that gets rewritten the most. It also get dumped, chopped, merged and ruthless shortened and mangled.

But in the end there it is perfect just how it should be - normal it's chpater 3 in disguise as I always start the book to soon, then have to find where it really starts. But tat's okay. That's expected now, on my third novel I know that's how I ease my way into the story.

But the first line - that's so hard to get right, and really the first and last line are the most important, the hook and the ohhh. Yes I really need to keep reading and wow that was totally worth it.

This is the response I'm aiming for...

Looking back at the many drafts my current novel, SNOWPOCALYPSE,  has gone through it's amazing to think they were all from the same original idea!

Here are just a few:
1- Where were you when the sky exploded?
2- I should never have come.
3- A bolt of bruised cloud hung on the horizon, suspended between two trees like a promise.
4- I lingered at teh doorway until the tail lighst disapeared
5- Zombies I could handle. It was real life that sucked.

Guess which one is 'the one' right now?
As I do the final polishes on SNOWPOCALYPSE I wonder what teh first line will end up being after agents and editors input. To be honest I can't wait to find out!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It's Friday Night!!

Okay, I know it's Tuesday but it feels Friday. Like Friday night - work is over - my book SNOWPOCALYPSE is finished.
Just like Friday is yay! work is over, but you know you're going back on Monday, I know this YA isn't finished forever finished only as finished as I can make it on my own.

Anything could happen!

The, out on a Friday night dancing, feeling is because I am on tender-hooks waiting. I entered a twitter contest hosted by the fabulous  Brenda Drake #pitmad, where I pitched SNOWPOCALYPSE and got several interested agents and a fabulous publisher. So I've sent everything out and am now waiting and trying not to check my messages, or cell phone (or emails) or pace at all. In fact I'm developing the next two books ideas!

The most exciting thing would be AMAZING but even that Friday night 'anything can happen' feeling is wonderful!

So this is my face

A mix of excited and angst!
Oh yes, that was taken at the Air and Space Museum, Dulles last week.

Exploring new cities is an excellent way to distract yourself - D.C. was so much nicer that I thought it would be. So much to see and do. I even found my perfect house!

And the best coffee bar - Cafe Tryst to work in and sip divine coffee in the morning and stay for specials after work.

And even the best bookstore to drink beer whist reading!

Yes, it's Krammerbooks Dupont Circle, D.C.
And now it's back to life,
but in a Friday night reality!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Look Up

At times it's hard to realize you haven't looked up from all the swirling dust you've been creating. And when you do you think wow, is it really that long since I blogged, do i even need to blog did anyone miss me or is it like a tree silently swaying, one amongst millions of stops and no one notices except the life teaming on it. To the insects, and spiders, and fungi and squirrels it's like the world stopped and they're all waiting to be flung off.

I realized while checking out my member bio in The Enchanted Inkpot and finding I only had this blog listed there and not even my Twitter account or FB, that I should at the very least write a new post. But what do I find everything's changed!! Blogger is so much easier now, you don't even have to html in your links!

So, recap of a year - now SCBWI ARA, written two picture books, on the fourth draft of my YA, joined a crit group, dropped a crit group, joined another crit group - who are lovely. Sent off some poetry, road tripped around the South West and rediscovered my love of South West cuisine especially Navajo bread, met loads of amazing writers and book sellers, started tutoring kids in creative writing, and social networking for SCBWI and Towne Center Books

Basically, I got into a stress cocoon for a while trying to juggle everything and find time to write and now...I can see the light through the trees. I'm back on track.

The YA I started writing in 2010 and put down many times is back with a vengeance!
The title? SNOWPOCALYPS - why I missed the zombie party.

Yes, that is a total teaser! More coming soon - much sooner than the last wait!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Master Baker and The Owl

Gearing up for back to school means a sudden realization that I need to clear a backlog of stuff. You know all that stuff that I was so sure I'd have plenty of time to do over the summer, like designing and printing up a new selection of cards. I began yesterday with one of my favorite owls. In my mind he looks huge and takes up the whole card.

It was going to be easy-peasy. But after three attempts that looked more like little old men perching on a tree I realized it was not going to that simple. Anyway - here he is, the finished product except this one is grey-pink like a snow cloud and the end result will be pale, pale grey like a snowy day.

Meanwhile...Luka has been baking up a storm which is great as he seems to have a talent with extremely buttery, chocolatey, sugary baked goods. This summer he baked; an apple streusel pie, chocolate hazelnut cookies, edible mess (homemade meringue raspberry puree, cream, mascarpone), thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies, cherry linzer slices, chewy speculaas blondies, and orange and lemon cake. Fortunately we have plenty of willing takers as a master baker in a family of three is not the best situation for healthy eating!

So back to getting ready for next week..the other thing on my list - write a picture book because that's so easy right? A few words here a few words there. Seriously, I know it's not like that but I did think if I started at the beginning I might have something by the end. But I've been a slack bunny and didn't really get inspired until I heard Jon Klassen's amazing talk at SCBWI LA.

Here is an animated trailer for his most widely recognizable book...

My picture book is in the dummying out stage. It's got the basic page structure but I'll be perfecting the language over the next month or so.

I just made it sound like there were only two things on my list, of course that would be bonkers! I was supposed to read great classics, tour America, teach summer school, redesign the vegetable garden, reorganize cupboards and such mundane things.

We did do a 3000 mile road trip, see War Horse, visit lovely dear friends in Sonoma, and visit the city. I did finally read Heart of Darkness, and half of Wolf Hall - not a classic I know, but so fun to read an adult book! I taught summer school which was fun. Dystopia was extra special - awesome kids!

This is Monument Valley - I'll share more in the coming weeks, and throw some up on Pintrest!

Alas, only one cupboard sorted the rest can wait 'till Christmas break! From now on it's back to BLACKOUT (previously GLIMMER, THE ICE BETWEEN ICE and GREEN SKIES) hey maybe I should just call it Lottie for now!

My goal is - October for the next draft! Why are you laughing?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

snow clouds

It's almost time to get back into the YA! So, some developments over summer - it's going to be pared down and much better and now reverts back to its original name - BLACKOUT.

below is a list of words floating around my head setting the scene. Notice the absence of the word ghost!

Word cloud made with WordItOut

More news coming soon!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Parrack Prints!!

Parrack Prints
Not the most subtle of names but hey - I didn't have a lot of time and who knew that if your new company didn't have your name in it there was a dance with red tape required - three spins and some pr? Exactly neither did I.

I have started a new company selling cards with haiku inside - I know crazy idea but, it's based on two years of people - well friends and family admiring the cards I hand made for them each year. And as the writing is such a slow business, and making cards is not, it seemed very appealing!

So, I started designing my pagan animal selection...

And it is such a natural progression. I had no idea when I started how much fun it would be to come up with a concept - design it, write a haiku, and it's done! Hooray. This creative hands on type of work partners the deep thinking, and focus and tortuously slow journey of writing! Even better, as these haiku are not in my book - DAWN IN THE TWILIGHT GARDEN - a haiku journey through a suburban garden at dawn, with added non-fiction notes and a how to haiku section - which is totally for sale and right now resting on various publishers desks (okay maybe slush piles is more accurate!) I can share the card haiku's here!

Hedgehog - how I miss them!

Snuffling prickle ball,
Searching for slugs, bead eyes bright,
Shadow in the night.

And here's another sample ...
Silent as the moon,
Watching from the old oak tree,
Sentry of the night.

The animal cards are now selling at Towne Center Books and READ at Blackhawk, and soon via Etsy - give me two weeks then look for it under Parrack Prints.

Then my friend asked me to make some especially for her yoga studio retail space - so of course I did. And I love them , in fact I never would have thought to make them but they were very therapeutic because these needed yoga haikus! Is it haiku or haikus?

These are specially available at Down Town Yoga Pleasanton.

She liked these so much she ordered an OM. I at first, being a heathen, had no idea what she was talking about but I did my research and came up with this...

And this....
Hum in harmony
The scared incantation
I am existence

Which is really rather soothing! So now I'm going to yoga again - something I stopped six years ago, I'm writing a lot of poetry and I'm almost done with draft 3 of THE ICE BETWEEN US.

Coincidentally I was invited to speak at two Pleasanton elementary schools over the last two weeks. The first as a reader reading poetry for poetry month. This was a riot as I got to share my haiku and read Roald Dahl to a crowd of 1st - 5th graders - you can never loose a kid with a line like - Cinderella whips a pistol from her knickers! And the following week back to Walnut Grove Breakfast Book Club, where I co-started a book club four years ago! I talked and read and co-wrote haiku with an audience of very enthusiastic poets. Both events were pretty magical.

So, sorry about the shameless self promotion but hey, it's not everyday that everything collides!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Things I do for Art - Travel

When I was writing Fragments, the YA this blog was named after - I took pictures like this...

I spent a week in Nottingham exploring all the places the book was set in, getting all the details, noticing all the stone faces and the fantastic gargoyles.

I know I'm not alone in this. Most writers visit the places they're writing about, whether it's non-fiction or fiction. It's very hard to get those little unexpected details right if you don't know what the place your story exists in feels like. Even fantasy stories are set in some kind of root real existence that lives in the authors mind and is framed by their own real tactile experiences.

So, last weekend was Tahoe - because of course GREEN SKIES is set there, and I need to know what cold and snow and sky looks like up there, as well as getting the layout of the ski runs and lifts and gondolas and what does the Ritz Carlton really look like?

And if I hadn't have gone I wouldn't have found this...

Metal wood sculptures in the outdoor fire pits.

Or this....

The layout at midway.

And I wouldn't have known what it's like to wake up early to softly falling snow and try to drive over Donner Pass in sleety rain, or stop and put chains on and cut up your fingers on the rough wire stands of the cables from puling them around and trying to tighten them with snow-sleet hitting your face. Or how quickly the weather changes on the summit from clear but grey, to snow, to freezing rain, and dense fog, to white out from fast falling snow.

And I wouldn't have seen the pure joy that snow brought to Luka, who is only slightly older than Will, in the story.

So that's why I have to keep going up to Tahoe - and although it would have been possible anyway it would never be half as nice or as much fun if it weren't for my lovely friend Pam Turner, who keeps letting me stay in her gorgeous Northstar cabin. In fact it it weren't for Pam the story would never have happened as the seed started one summer at her cabin when Luka and I were staying there alone at night, and at night alone in a big house my mind started to wonder, and imagine, what if.... and from there many a story starts.