Where Have I Been, You Ask?

Right here, at my desk, madly editing.  That’s #amediting for all you techno-tweeters out there.  Yes, for over a year I’ve been focused on editing and revising this stinky old Contemporary/Romantic/Intrigue/Suspense (just what IS the darn thing?!?) originally drafted during 2009 NaNoWriMo.  I started 2017 planning to get the thing edited and submitted to first readers by the middle of the year.  Then I wanted to start sending it out to potential agents at the beginning of 2018.  Ah, the best laid plans….

Actually, I’ve done pretty well.  My first readers got the manuscript last fall and I recently started sending queries to agents.  But my gawd!  The editing!  Will it ever END?  The document I’ve been working on has been labeled “FINAL” for MONTHS!

And then I saw this on the interwebs:

That’s when I stepped away from the editing and really got down to the querying.  I’ve got the book all nicely wrapped up in a pretty gold ribbon, waiting to be sent out into the world.  And I’m turning my attention to my NEXT book, to begin the process all over again.

Yes, the new book has already been drafted, but happily, it’s not a first draft.  But there’s more editing/rewriting in my future.  A lot more.  There’s that Thomas Edison quote about genius being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.  I’m not claiming any sort of genius over here, but I think that any creative process has a spark of genius in it.  That ability to take something in one’s brain and convert it to something others might be able to feel and/or experience is pretty darn close to being a miracle.  So maybe that Edison quote can be paraphrased to reflect the writing process.

In the meantime….

 

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Todd Borg

The Todd Borg book signing and reading at Sundance Books in Reno was essentially just like my experience with seeing Stephen King.  Except for the crazy fans and the multiple lines and the waiting and the scrambling for seats.  Oh, wait, yes, there was a scramble for a seat.

Todd Borg is a local author with a mystery series featuring a South Lake Tahoe P.I. and his Harlequin Great Dane.  The books are packed with local settings, humor, and are just fun to read.

I roped my friend Nancy into going with me because I knew she was a fan and she can be bribed with lunch.

Sundance Books is a gem of an independent bookstore located in a historic old house in downtown Reno.  It’s one of my favorite places and if they had ample food and a bed, I’d probably move in.

They are huge supporters of local authors and artists and even lil’ ol’ me did a reading at Sundance a few years ago (see here).

Todd was just like Stephen King – He’s a great speaker, knows how to tell a story, and is effing funny.  His talk was aimed at the writers in the crowd and I appreciated that.  He chose to read a funny scene involving the dog, which Nancy appreciated.

But unlike Stephen King, Todd was also open to a follow-up question via e-mail.  Granted, I’ve never tried to e-mail Stephen King, but I thought it was great that Todd Borg took the time to answer my question.


Stephen King, Part 3

Stephen King’s talk was effing entertaining.  The man knows how to tell a story.  He had it all – humor, pacing, swearing up the yin yang.  And an appreciation for his audience – a bunch of readers hanging out in a bookstore.

Some stories I’d heard before – he used material from “On Writing,” which I’ve read so often I’ve practically memorized it.  Others I probably gleaned from other sources.  But there was new stuff.  Fresh stuff that gave insight into the man, the myth, the writer.

I particularly loved how he says he has three personas – There’s the guy who was up there in front of us, slightly schlumpy in jeans and t-shirt, shooting the shit with us, out in the world, selling books.  There’s the husband of oh so many years who goes to the grocery store and takes out the garbage.  And then there’s the creepy guy who has a cabin in the woods who writes the books.

That resonated with me.  As a writer, I want to be like Stephen King, with three personas.

He took questions from the audience and it was great fun to see just how excited some people were to be actually speaking to someone who was their hero.  Quivering with the excitement would be an accurate description.  And we were going along, having a good time.  People were asking good questions and he had great responses, until the idiot in the front row asked him to autograph her hat.  He said “No” and that was the end of the fun.

And then we got to stand in ANOTHER line to pick up the book we’d bought earlier.

All in all, a weirdly surreal experience.  And I’d probably do it again.

So, when is Janet Evanovich coming to Reno?


Stephen King, Part 2

After first one line and another, I left Barnes & Noble and got more coffee and something to eat, ran a few errands and then arrived back at the bookstore to stand in my third line of the day.

And this is where the confusion of the whole multiple-line process came to fruition.  For me, anyway.  I was 102nd in line, but due to some confusion, #101 didn’t show up by the time the doors opened.  #101 was a lovely woman from Chico, and we’d had a nice time getting to know each other while standing in Lines 1 and 2, but alas, she’d gone back to her motel room to take a shower and The Line waits for no woman.

I got in and managed to get a chair facing the podium so I was quite tickled with my luck.  I didn’t realize it at the time, however, but the man in front of me had ridiculously broad shoulders and the need to record the event.  Every.  Single.  Second.  With progressively larger electronic devices that he held to one side so I had to not only crane around the shoulders, but the iPad-enhanced block head.  I probably would have been better off standing, but damn it, I had worked hard for a seat and I wasn’t giving it up.

For nearly two hours we waited.  Around me was revealed fandom of increasingly horrifying proportions.  People were live-tweeting.  A man cruising up and down the center aisle was revealed to be the creator of a Dark Tower-centric website.  Stephen King t-shirts were the norm.  Me?  I just wished I hadn’t had that second cup of coffee.

I finally couldn’t stand it anymore and asked the Tweeter next to me if he would save my seat while I hunted down a restroom.

I cruised the perimeter of the room and perused the huge crowd.  I found #101 leaning against a bookshelf in a pretty darn sweet location – there was no broad-shouldered dude blocking her view.

I did my thing in the ladies’ room and came out to find a security-type planted in front of the men’s room.  Across the narrow hall from the man in black, a woman leaned against the wall.

“Pssst,” she said, gesturing to me.  “Come stand here with me.”

I figured I’d at least get closer and see what she had to say.  Her eyes were a little crazy, but it had been a long morning.  I stood next to her.

“Why are we standing here?”  I whispered, leaning toward her.

“He’s. In. There,” she whispered, gesturing to the men’s room door.  Her eyes got a little crazier.

I looked at the man standing in front of the bathroom door.  I looked at the woman standing next to me.  And I shrugged.

“I’m sorry,” I said, pushing myself from the wall.  “I’m just not that kind of fan.”

And I returned to my seat. 

To be continued…


Crossword Puzzles – Not Just For Sunday Morning Coffee

As one ages, one starts to worry about one’s mental faculties (and one starts to refer to oneself in the third person).  To that end, I’ve taken to doing a daily crossword puzzle on my iPad.  They might be New York Times puzzles, but if they are, it’s sure not the Sunday puzzle – I can usually do one in about 30 minutes.

I figure it’s a good investment of time and interestingly, I’m also finding that the exercise is trickling over to my writing.  A crossword puzzle is an excellent way to think about different words meaning the same thing (what’s the word for that?) or, on the flip side, the many different meanings a word can have. That’s got to help a writer, right?

One of the exercises I did in an on-line editing workshop involved writing a poem and then re-writing it using different words.  Suddenly, a thesaurus is a beautiful thing.  Mental exercises like that will help my writing now and help my mental acuity well into my, well, gee, 80s?


Twitter — #yesforrealz

So, I’m on Twitter now.  And I have 28 followers!  Yeah, I don’t get too excited about that either.  They’re mostly local businesses, politicians, and writers or musicians trying to sell me something.

I follow local news and weather, as well as local and not so local authors, editors, actors, and musicians I like, writing-related feeds, the Royals, and the Ducks.  Then there are the guys who just post funny stuff.  I wish I could find more of them because the news can be overwhelmingly depressing.

The immediacy of Twitter is what fascinates me.  I hear about stuff very quickly.  And a little exclusively, which I like.  My own personal news feed, it’s becoming my main source for news.  Or at least a jumping off point for follow up.  If something shows up in my feed, then I move on to a bigger news site.

When there was the wildfire threatening my boss’s neighborhood, the fire department was tweeting updates, which I then texted to the boss because his information was out of date.

And if I don’t like someone’s info, I can just quit following them.  For instance, I don’t follow CNN, but I do follow people who comment on the news of the day.  So they’re like my news filters.  For instance, two people tweeted about the shootings in Dallas, not specifically mentioning it, but referencing it, so I was curious and looked into it.  I didn’t start my day with death and destruction.  I started my day with Prince George sitting in a vintage airplane and Prince Charles sitting on a vintage motorcycle.

And sometimes, a little nugget lands that turns into a whole big-ass event for me, as evidenced by the fact that I got to see Stephen King, in person!  More on that later.

Follow me @NevadaNerd.  Or not.


Eschew Obfuscation

This is my motto. It’s a core philosophy adopted in college some 30-odd years ago, and still declared on my Road ID.

I’ve always interpreted the phrase to mean “Keep things clear,” and it’s been a part of my life for so long, I take that meaning in every aspect of my life, from writing, to work, to relationships.

To me it means I should be clear in my goals, clear in my wants and desires, and don’t depend on someone else’s interpretation of my meaning.

It’s a useful tool in storytelling, when one is outlining and sketching out the bare bones of a story. I have come to learn, however, that a lot of depth and color of setting and character is lost with that classic “Just the facts, ma’am” mindset. So eschew, but don’t eschew too much.

In my personal life, being clear has meant the difference between an evening at a loud bar in uncomfortable shoes and bra, and cozied up with a good book on the couch in fuzzy pants. “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want.”

And just to be clear (see what I did there?), this is what MS Word’s thesaurus says about these two simple words that have been governing my life for so long:

Eschew

Eschew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obfuscation:

Obfuscation

 

 

 

 

 

Clear as mud, no?

Avoid complication, shun confusion, and steer clear of smokescreens. All good mottos for life.

Gawd, I was BRILLIANT when I was 18…