Saturday, June 28, 2008

Nero Nearby




When I've allowed myself a break this past week, it's been to listen to a Rex Stout book on tape that I found in a used book store. I became a big fan of Stout's eccentric genius detective, Nero Wolfe, and his dapper sidekick, Archie Goodwin, after seeing episodes of the A&E series featuring Maury Chaykin and Timothy Hutton.

Listening to the book, I can picture all the principle characters and settings in vivid color. I can see the office, the orchids, Wolfe's yellow shirts, and Archie's swagger so perfectly in my mind. It's a great way to be immersed in a story.

What, if any, are your favorite casting choices when it comes to books made into movies and T.V. shows?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

There's no whining in pyramid building...



(The photograph is from Tulum in Mexico. You can see the ruins in the upper right corner.)

So I watched Juno on Thursday night. Terrific movie. Great characterization. I loved the layers.

As often happens when I enjoys another writer's work, I took a step back from my own work-in-progress (WIP) to evaluate it. Editing and story analysis are probably not the best activities to undertake while in the midst of trying to complete a first draft, but I have a kind of haphazard writing process anyway.

Naturally, a WIP is not as polished as a feature film, and I found myself pouting over my draft. Is this working? If it's not working, should I attempt to fix it today or should I just dive into the stack of books I bought this week to read? And why is writing so hard anyway? I should take up something new. Something easier...like eating Tic Tacs or doing 10-piece jigsaw puzzles for toddlers.

That was about the time that I thought about the megalithic, astrologically aligned pyramids in ancient Egypt. Now, there was a project meant to stand for all time. They lugged massive blocks of rock and placed them with astounding precision. Clearly, the difficulty of the work didn't deter them. And look what they have to show for it.

So, like Tom Hanks' character says in A League of Their Own: "The hard is what makes it great."

We struggle to do things that are terribly difficult because they are worth doing and...

There's no crying in baseball.
There's no whining in pyramid building.
There's no pouting in writing.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Candy Havens in the House



Well, this weekend was a ton of fun. Friday night I had some fellow writers to my house for a small reception to welcome Candace Havens to Houston. We drank Tangopolitans, ate all sorts of delicious food, and got into an interesting round of true confessions which will never go farther than my living room.

Saturday, Candace shared her tried and true secrets of writing a FAST DRAFT in two weeks. It wasn't unlike the way I spree write when I leave town for a writing retreat or stage one in my house. She also taught REVISION HELL about approaching revisions in the same sort of editing spree. I am going to have to try it. She is definitely a time-management czarina.

She was funny and direct, kind yet exacting. I especially found her discussion of high concept very helpful and interesting. (Candy is an entertainment journalist in addition to being a wonderful writer and teacher.) If you are having trouble finishing that book and need support and direction, I recommend that if you can't see her in person, you go to her website and do an online workshop.

The first book in her Charmed series is available in mass market paperback now. (See cover above) And she has a new book (THE DEMON KING AND I) with a fabulous cover coming out in November 2008 from Berkley.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Marydale Musings



Welcome to the weekend, people. :)

I was out of town for two weekends (and the week sandwiched between them) at the Marydale Retreat Center in Erlanger, Kentucky. I was part participant, part staff at the Writers Retreat Workshop, originally created by a beloved man named Gary Provost. I didn't know Gary, but his legacy lives on in the form of a wonderful retreat where writers get boot-camp style immersion into the writing craft and obtain more personal feedback on their work than can be imagined.

My first ever writing conference was this one and coming back with a soon to be released book on my laptop was great fun. I was reunited with some of my close friends and writing mentors and could not have had a better time. Maybe the ten days should be extended to thirty or thirty times thirty or... forever. ;)

See you in the comments!

P.S. Nancy's blog re-opens June 15th.

Kissing the Suspect Release!

Chapter 1 Callie Melville was wanted by the law, but to put it that way made things sound worse than they were. She hoped. The rumors...