Friday, April 29, 2011

Eyes wide open

You thought I wouldn't write about the royal wedding--but how can you pass it up? Side note: I find it *astounding* that people wear crowns for real, not as jokes or birthday celebrations. Who'd want to be responsible for it? I'd probably leave it in the bathroom or something.

To task: Kate Middleton seems pretty dang sensible, and she seems to have her eyes wide open. She's a princess with a good head on her shoulders, if you believe the media. If you're going to become a princess, 29 is a good age to do it. She's known Wills for a long time, and she knows what she's getting into, which is an antiquated, stiff, public, and formal life. But she seems destined to not succumb to the bullshit. She's her own woman, it looks like. Good for you, Kate.

This is not unlike publishing (ha, you didn't think I'd be able to make it writing-related, did you?). Some folks get anointed to be a prince/princess by the marketing machine. Crowns and Book Expo America and New York Times ads, oh my! Some folks don't get chosen, which can hurt, of course. But there's tension for the royalty--what if the next book isn't as good? What if the marketing dollars aren't there next time? What if the royalty hates being in public? The pressure is no fun. I can hear other writers saying it right now: "Whatever, bring it on! It's all about sales!" I don't disagree--I wouldn't say no to that kind of crown.

As writers, we need to keep our eyes open and be realistic. We need to remember that we do this for the joy of it. The marketing crown is definitely nice, but when the crowds go home, we need to be doing it for love. Kate married William because she loves him and wants to be with him. We write because we want to be with our characters, we want to spin tales others will enjoy. The pomp and circumstance is lovely, but what's underneath is better.

Fancy dresses rock, and hats rock harder. But so does unraveling plot points and jumping up from the computer, screaming "Yes! I did it!" (I don't do it often, and only when there's no one around). For me, that's where it's at. Would I say no to being a publishing princess? Of course not! But I've got to do it for the love of it, or it's not worth the tiara.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Morgan is BACK!

That makes her sound like a horror movie monster . . . and her parents might agree.

But yes, Morgan and the cast of THE SKY ALWAYS HEARS ME are back, in an e-anthology to be published this fall by Jessica Verday and Rhonda Stapleton. All of you who've wondered about a sequel? Here you go, though it's only 20 pages. Theme of the anthology? Firsts.

More info here
--can you believe those other authors? Wow. It's an honor.

I'm *so* excited to write this story. More than anything, I can't wait to figure out if she's with Rob--but she might be with Tessa. There will also be buffalo and The Really Big Empty. And more fortunes.

Tentative release date: October 4. Can't wait!

(And yes, I'm a month late in announcing this news. Story of my life right now.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Public revision

Writers revise ALL THE TIME. If you’re a writer of any stripe, you know this—or if you’re a student, we beat it beat it into your head: nothing is perfect the first time.

When my son pulled up the pilot of BONES this week, one of his fave TV dramas, I got to thinking about writing besides the printed stuff. Think what kinds of revisions the writers have gone through since 2005, when the pilot aired--tons of them. And lots of it has been (gulp) PUBLIC.

In the pilot of BONES, our main character is socially unattached (a continuing character feature), but also kind of sloppy and rude. Her relationship with her FBI partner isn’t very defined, nor are the relationships she has with her coworkers. Is she likeable? Maybe. Will people watch it again? Maybe. A show’s pilot is, of course, the writers’ first draft. I’m sure there’s a heap of stuff that get revised before a show goes on the air, but it’s still a rough draft.

The writers very obviously revised her as the show went along, though sometimes in subtle ways—her hair, the jewelry she wears. And those little things tell us a lot. In the pilot, she has messy hair. Now it’s pretty sleek, and her clothes are less sloppy. Her demeanor is kinder. Yes, she’s different because we’ve been watching her since 2005, but she’s also different because writers wanted to make her different. They had to try out different versions of her to see which one was best for the show. All of it in public.

Imagine if you write for TV. You and your team scribble and plan and tweak, but your pilot sucks. Back to the drawing board for the next episode, and you try something else. Suckage. Then you tweak again and this time it’s better. But then—-whoops!—-the dialogue is even suckier, and you have to change the dynamic between Character X and Character Y, or they’ll always sound like your aunt and her dog Mr. Jingles. Back to the drawing board you go.

By the sixth season, you're more comfortable. You’ve hit your stride, and people like your show. But you also know (another gulp) your rough draft is something my kid can yank out of the Netflix file drawer. Eeek. I am grateful to all things holy that nobody can do that with my rough drafts.

Just a note: when I was looking for a photo to go with this post, I searched Google images for “revision”. I got tons of photos of boob jobs. Not a way I’d define the word, but OK.