Sunday, May 31, 2009

"The Virtu" by Sarah Monette

Why I read it: Because I'd read the previous one ("Melusine") and wanted to find out what happened next.

Bookmark: Library receipt.

Tastes like chicken: "Melusine", obviously.

What I liked: Started right where teh other one left off. Didn't make me wade through pages and pages of recap, but explained the necessary bits, in character, very quickly. I suppose it didn't hurt that Felix had little memory of what had gone before, which meant that he couldn't explain it, and that Mildmay is quite a reticent dude, so will only tell what you really need to know.

The voices still really worked. I liked the new characters, and the ones that improbably popped up again. I liked the timbre of the world. The storyline had a sort of inevitable progression, which made none of it seem contrived.

Not so much: Tough one. I didn't have that much time for reading in the last month, so this took a while to get through. But I read the last 150 pages in a binge last night.

Lessons learned: On her blog, SM has mentioned that the book is no longer in print, which seems freakish to me, since the library copy I had out had a sticker on it that said "new until Sept 2007". It just doesn't seem old enough to be out of print. But then, I suppose publishing is a dark art, like hardware engineering. (And perhaps I am attracted to dark arts?)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The best conversations happen in the car

Last night while driving around, the boy asked me why he couldn't read my novel (I changed the name again, by the way. Now it's called "Apocryphal").

I said "because I'm afraid my writing comes off like Stephanie Meyer's."

So he said "Then just add in a secret fantasy boyfriend, and everyone will love it."

I hemmed and hawed about that, and he said "Add in an Angel secret fantasy boyfriend. Maybe two."

And I said "All the angels hate my main character."

So he suggested "Add in some demons, then."

And I said "There's already about fifty."

To which he replied "Cool."

There you go, success awaits.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What I deleted

When I finished typing the first draft, I printed a copy out, and did a mark-up where I deleted all the sections that were completely not relevant, and tagged ones that needed to be rewritten to a different end, and did some of the more simple rewrites.

Friday I finished the data entry of those changes. My new word-count: 106,656. That's down just shy of 19K words. Now, I get to go through the vast pile of notes I've written on scrap paper, and see what needs adding, and then print it out again. Last print-out was 531 pages. Ouch! I wonder what the next one will be?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

If knitting books had a plot

... as a tech writer, one time someone in QA suggested to me that I write a manual with a plot, where the user has various problems putting the product together and getting to work (it was a hardware manual). I got out of doing the revision by saying that it would probably increase the word count.

I could have quoted Tina the Tech Writer, and said that "unfortunately it was not to be, because User A was not attracted to User B, because he was a bald engineer." Alas, I did not. The person who suggested this to me used to accost people on Friday afternoons and draw pictures on his whiteboard that involved the cliff-shaped kingdom of man, and the opposing cliff-shaped kingdom of God, and the cross-shaped thing that joined them. HR had warned him about doing that, but unfortunately he was a good QA guy. We all learned to stay out of the lab on Friday afternoons.

Today I got to the end of the mark-ups on Draft 2. Now I have a whole bunch of scenes to write, and I can print it out again. I had a panic while working on it, when I was trying to move Chapter 48.5 to after Chapter 48 and I couldn't find Chapter 48, which I had moved to after Chapter 6. Thank God for search-and-replace.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why don't knitting books have blurbs?

Though if getting blurbs is the biggest problem I have with my novel... ahem. Considering the problems I'm having with its structure, that would be a pretty big problem indeed.

Last night I moved four chapters. Yay, I'm moving chapters again!

As I said before, ahem.

I'm going through my first mark-up. At p. 408, I'm down to 108,000 words. I think that's a good thing, as I have to add at least three sections in the beginning (I've written fragments of them) and three at the end. Oh, and three in the middle. I haven't written any of the middle ones, and I only have a vague idea of the end ones, though they are incredibly important, as they have to do with de-deus ex machina-ing my ending. If deus ex machina is a verb. Which it's not.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy Mother's Day Eve Day

So far, just about a perfect day.

I was awakened at 9:15 this morning by a raging thunderstorm that was depositing bouncy-ball sized hail on the lawn.

The rain stopped (eventually) and didn't start again until I was almost done with my morning run.

I made a pizza rustica for lunch, and it was awesome, even though I screwed up filling the breadmaker (I find dough is pretty forgiving), and I have about three more servings for later.

Now I get to go to karate.

I wrote a Fragment of a Missing Scene (I have a little pile of these). And later, I'll put some of those handwritten edits to the wretched novel.

Monday, May 04, 2009

In other news, I finished reading my novel

Yesterday was Paddle the Don, an annual event where people get to put canoes and kayaks in the West Don River just below the Ontario Science Centre and paddle down to Lake Ontario. Of course, I found out about it when the registration was already full, and I don't have a canoe or kayak anyway. We stayed up far too late the night before watching Season 2 Disk 2 of Slings and Arrows, so we weren't even awake until two hours after the event began. But, after coffee and a quick surf-o-the-web, we drove down to Portage 1. I'd never heard of it before this year, though I've been living in the neighbourhood for nine years, and one of the volunteers we talked to told us he'd been doing his post (putting in at Portage 1) for seven years. He told us he'd never seen anyone go over the falls at Portage 1, though he had seen an empty canoe go over .To me, that suggests a safe, well-run event. Also at Portage 1, I overheard that they had released water at the resevroir/dam five hours upstream, so there would be enough/a consistent amount of water to make the paddle fun. So I asked where was that water released from. Turns out there's a flood control dam north and East of Finch and Dufferin.

Then we went to Portage 3 (optional) and watched and chatted and the like. There was a Rogers crew at Portage 3, and I hope everyone else had already been there, because Paddle the Don is the sort of feel-good news story that ought to get coverage.

A few hours later, after buying groceries and dropping the boy off at the mall, we went over to the reservoir. I used to push the boy around in the park here, back long ago, in a stroller because his dad had a client in the neighbourhood. I somehow had never really noticed the dam. But whatever. There were some excellent mud flats, and a lot of former flotsam. It must have been down at least a foot or two from the night before. We scrambled to some awesome really big flood gates, and stood above the normal ones. We couldn't walk all the way around the reservoir without walking all the way up to Steeles Avenue (a long bush-whack, and I hate bushwhacking, though it's much more tolerable in early May than in August) so we walked back out to Finch and then up Dufferin to Ed's car. On the south side of Finch (I made Ed jaywalk) there was a former pond that was totally emptied because of an outflow under Finch that you probably wouldn't even know was there on a normal day. One big rainstorm, and that thing would probably fill right back up. Neat.

And there was a cemetery (Westminster, I think) that was way more Italian than any I've seen before. It seemed like these people actually remembered their loved ones.

And while we were walking, I realized how the novel should end. The right person died, sure, but the wrong person did it, and for the wrong reason, and with the wrong consequences. It might be a bit twee, but it's better than what I have now.