Monday, October 11, 2010

The Last Year

So, I just realized that I started this blog a year ago. And...I have like four posts. And no followers. Yep. I pretty much suck at blogging. But if I'm going to do this author thing for reals, I figured that I might as well re-commit to blogging and give it another try. And since I'm pretending that people are actually reading this, I figured I might as well give my imaginary reader friends a review of what I've been doing the last whole year. Well, I've been busy. I guess that just goes with the job description when you have five kids (since I've started writing this, I've answered five math problems, wiped one behind, gotten four snacks, drawn a princess, and heard the word "Mom" five bajillion times), a job, and you are trying to write a book. Oh yeah, that's what I did--I wrote another book! See, I joined this amazing critique/writing group, made some great friends, decided that my ghost book needed a rest, and wrote another book, one that I think is pretty awesome. I wrote most of the thing in three months between April and July 2010, and I spent the rest of the summer editing it and shaping it up. Now I am querying it and I am terrified. Terrified, people. Well, actually not that terrified. The first two rejections were bummers, but now I figured I won't really start worrying until I get to fifty. That's the plan. And I've been really good at giving myself pep talks and trying to just focus on doing my best at everything, including writing, and trying to be happy and at peace with the process. Ha. If only it were that easy..... But that's another story. In the meantime, I am going to try to use this blog as a sounding board for things I think and need to talk about (like how obsessed I've been with The Hunger Games, and how freaking amazing Suzanne Collins is as a writer), reviews on books I've read, and maybe a little on writing and my road to publishing and... Okay. *breath* Small steps. Today I'll just write this little bit, and see how it goes. And maybe learn something about myself in the process.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Will it ever end???

So, I wrote my book. Then, like the super smart and sneaky person I am, I directly sent it to an (awesome) book doctor. I figured, being super smart, that this would cut out a lot of steps in the writing process, that she would show me the (very minor) changes that I needed to make, and perhaps be kind enough to tell her agent about me and we could get signed directly after a brief look at my (almost perfect) book.

Reality check. Of course, she had lots of great suggestions, but then I began to realize that I would have to rewrite the book. Crap. No matter, I quickly decided, I would rewrite it, make it perfect and send it off in a matter of months.

Except life happens, and the rewrite took quite a bit longer than I thought. Actually it was about three revisions before it was ready to have other people read it. But I did it. Whew.

Then, time for the beta readers; so far I have had two people read my book. They were very encouraging, and gave great suggestions... Yeah. Uh-huh. That's right. I now realize that I have to revise my book...yet again.

I really don't know how many revisions there have been so far--at least five. I love this story so much, that I would hate to see it become a novel "for the drawer", but at the same time, I think--do I really have the stamina to do this again? To revise again?


So. Much. Work. I had no idea. This truly is a labor of love.

Friday, February 26, 2010

It's Raining

It's raining outside.

I live in the San Joaquin Valley, where we get very little rainfall. Only 11 inches a year, to be exact. If we're lucky. It is no coincidence that I have always fantasized about living someplace where there is more...rain. Greenery. Trees. My favorite books growing up: The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Jane Austen books--all set in the very drenched and emerald England.

But as fate would have it, I found myself setting my first book in a landscape much like the one I was raised in--a farming community. And as I immersed myself in my book, I found myself falling in love with my dry, hot climate and came to see the beauty in it with fresh eyes. The more I read my manuscript (finished but still revising), the more I came to see the merits of where I live.

It's funny because as intrigued I am with all things England (and Ireland), I have a cousin who's English who visited us a few years back. He stayed with my sister on her husband's family's sprawling ranch and, having been raised in London, had always wanted to visit a real American farm. Really? We were amazed. You think Los Banos is beautiful? But he did, and when we looked at it through his eyes, as a tourist, we could also agree. And reading my own book, as I revise (and revise), I have come to see my own backyard as a tourist, and have rediscovered its beauty in a new way.

In case anyone wants to see pictures of my family's ranch, here's a link to their website:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Playing Beethoven

First of all, let's get out of the way that I'm not really an accomplished pianist or anything. True, I did take five years of piano (thanks Mom), and when I'm feeling frustrated, I am known to pull out my old yellowed sheet music and hammer out the theme from Terms of Endearment or (a very wobbly) Canon in D. But no, don't expect much from me if you ask me to play for you.

I titled this blog Playing Beethoven in reference to a quote from the movie A Room with a View. In the movie, the very proper (yet secretly passionate) heroine, Lucy Honeychurch sits down at the piano and begins to play a stirring Beethoven piece. When she's done, she turns to the Reverend Beebe and says, "Mother doesn't like me playing Beethoven. She says I'm always peevish afterwards." Later on, the Reverend remarks, "If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting both for us and for her."

For years I loved these quotes. And for a long time, I never really processed what they really meant to me. But as I got older (I saw the movie for the first time when I was still in high school), and saw more of the world, I began to understand. The quotes were saying: Live life boldly. Follow your dreams. Bring what is living on the inside, to the outside. You can respond to beauty (that you see in the world, that you see in others) with beauty.

So that is why I am here. And that is why I have been writing seriously for the past two years. It has become my "Playing Beethoven." Instead of feeling peevish when I read something great, or am moved by a great story, I turn around and write my own.

Currently I am on the final polish of my first finished MS and have two others in the formation stages. I look forward to sharing them with you all as I brave the world of publishing.