My husband just sent me an excited text. He’s at a bridge tournament in Council Bluffs, and Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are there playing.
I'm drafting some blog posts to offer to book bloggers in the fall when DEEP AS A TOMB comes out. People do such "blog tours" these days because regular book tours are expensive. I'm having a hard time thinking of things to write about. I have 4 posts so far:
1. Good writing comes from writing what feels true
2. Conducting ethnographic research on engineers and writing YA/MG fantasy are totally alike
3. The historical practice of fostering (which plays a role in Deep as a Tomb)
4. Passive vs active writing
Is there anything at all you'd like to read about that I'm capable of writing?
I'm reading HOW TO BE A TUDOR by Ruth Goodman. She takes you from dawn to dusk, describing how people lived in that era. What were their beds like? How did they clean their teeth? How often did they change their underwear? It's fascinating stuff, but the most entertaining part is that Goodman does what I think is called Living History. That is, she tries to live for a time in the way she describes.
One experiment involved trying to figure out if people smelled worse than we do because they didn't usually get in a tub or shower. While filming a TV series, she wore all the period clothing while doing hard work. She rubbed her body down daily with a rough cloth and changed her smock (ie her slip-like underwear) once a week. She changed her hose only three times in six months. Apparently even the camera crew who was going home to the modern era at night found her acceptable to be around.
One of her colleagues did the opposite. He followed modern hygiene routines, showering, using deodorant etc, but wore the same clothes for several months without washing them. He apparently reeked.
I am imagining a YA novel in which the teen character has a mother who does this.
Tue, Apr. 12th, 2016, 09:33 am
I'm working on my last set of revisions, getting ready to change the POV in two chapters from one character to another. You'd think that was easy because events will remain the same, but it's not, because now I have to operate from Myla's interior life instead of Beran's. She has different concerns. How do I show-not-tell them, assuming I can figure them out? I usually talk of her in nature metaphors, so how do I use those? How does she react to and give us insight into the actions of everyone else? It's challenging, and yet I really look forward to each writing session.
Sun, Apr. 10th, 2016, 01:04 pm
Faygo pop was made in Detroit.
This a very cool animation showing the changing borders in Europe over the last 1000 years.
What has happened to me? I haven't felt this dazzled since the first time I saw LOTR.
Sat, Mar. 12th, 2016, 08:24 am
Turns out that if you have Amazon Prime, you can stream the sound track from "Hamilton" for free. I listened to it yesterday and was blown away. First, it doesn't sound anything like you expect a Broadway musical to sound. Then it shows you a group of brilliant, ambitious men at a crisis moment in history. And it blends in Hamilton's private life, which was rich with highs and lows. Enjoy!
Also, Leah Bardugo's Six of Crows
is a fantastic YA fantasy. It's Scott Lynch with teens. Additionally, I'm almost done with Adrian McKinty's latest Sean Duffy novel, set in Belfast during the troubles. Great voice, great setting. Enjoy!
: I'm reading J. Michael Neal's BECOMING PHOEBE about a girl playing collegiate hockey and figuring out the person she wants to be. Lots of hockey details that resonate with the sounds I heard coming from the TV as my Canadian father cheered for the Maple Leafs. In the car, I'm listening to Gantos's DEAD END IN NORVELT, a middle grade novel set in a New Deal Homestead community, a program Eleanor Roosevelt supported that I'd never heard of before.Writing
: Mostly today, I'm thinking about the fun I had writing fanfic. There's something so freeing about writing just for fun, trying things out, sharing an interest with other people. God bless the internet for making it easy.
: I've had trouble finding things to read, so I've gone to various award sites and looked for books that sound like I'd enjoy them. At least that way, I know the book will be well written.
At the moment, I'm reading Ben Fountain's BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK which was a finalist for the National Book Award. I'm about 10% into it. It was hard for me to get into because there are many characters and dense detail, so it felt overwhelming. I'm cautiously enjoying it more now.Writing
: Revising really. One question I've asked myself over and over is it someone read just this one page, would they be able to tell who the POV character is? If they wouldn't, that's a problem. I find it's not enough just to show only what the POV character would see or hear. I need that character's reactions to pretty much everything.
Tue, Jan. 26th, 2016, 12:38 pm
Here's the problem with the revision I'm currently doing. This book was written over several years in fits and starts. With each draft, I changed things, added a second POV, added a second plot thread to go with that POV, etc. Also, as I worked with the characters, I got a better sense of what they were like.
So these previous drafts live like archeological layers in the one I'm revising. There are secondary characters or small scenes that are there because I needed them for a plot or character element that's since been deleted or altered. My editor is like a guided missile pointing at those places and asking what I'm doing there. Or more accurately, what the character is doing there. What does he think and feel? How about everyone around him? How are they reacting?
And that's what I'm working on. In the chapter I'm working on now, the POV character often seems to have no attitude toward events, probably because those events have a different significance now than they did the first time I drafted this scene.
: I'm reading Bujold's new book, GENTLEMAN JOLE. One of the things that's always interesting in Bujold is her handling of reproductive technology in particular, and more generally of gender, sexual orientation, and variation in choice of partner(s). She's not interested in erotica, just in pushing the norms for how people can establish caring relationships.Writing
: I miss my fanfic characters, but I feel like I've said everything I have to say about them. Maybe if I reread my own work, gaps will make themselves visible? OTOH, I have some original stuff I should be revising.
: Over vacation, we saw Star Wars (loved it) and also The Big Short, which is about the Wall Street mortgage manipulations that contributed to the 2008 crash. Has anyone else seen it? They were aware of how obscure some of this stuff is, so rather then trying to work explanations into dialogue or something equally awkward, they did a clever thing. They broke the fourth wall and had celebrities give explanations, often with little demonstrations. It was very effective. Too bad writers can't do that sort of thing with backstory or world building.Reading and Writing
: Also over vacation, I read the second book in Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy. I'm in the middle of revising, and I find I'm helped by reading well-written stuff. This book does such a good job of staying in the moment, close to the POV character, which is something I sometimes struggle with.