Friday, April 10, 2009

New Blog and Website Relaunch!

If you come here via RSS feed or other direct link, you'll need to revise the link on your blog or site. In My Little World has moved to...well, to MY little world. Please visit my relaunched website and new blog at ValerieComer.Com, poke around, and let me know what you think.

I plan to leave the archives here, so this link will remain on top.

I'd like to thank my daughter and webmaster Hanna Sandvig for all the work she's put into the new website (as well as the one it replaces). Hanna is an artist, illustrator, and geek who would love to design a site for you as well.

Thanks for hanging out with me here on Blogger and I hope you'll enjoy the new site with me. See you over there!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Last Saturday my niece and her family came by to visit. 10-month-old Micah got some one-on-one time with Brody. Can you tell he has his own dog at home?

Brody would have loved to get closer!

But even though he thinks he's a lap dog doesn't mean he's little!

In other news, our old kitty George is sick, and I don't think he's going to be with us much longer. A couple of days ago he felt well enough to be interested in the open window in the living room, though, so I took his picture.

The vet believes Georgie has abdominal tumors. He stopped eating over a month ago and barely drinks anything, even the tuna broth he's always loved. I keep putting it out for him, though, along with fresh water--George has always mistrusted water more than thirty seconds old.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Started again at the beginning

I have to laugh that I thought I'd cut words with all the rewriting of the first fifteen pages. Not so much. Sure I cut a scene. I also added one. According to the over all word count once I'd shuffled my Word doc back into Scrivener, I added about 500 words with a honkin' huge 4550 word first chapter that defies chopping up.

So I've been glancing through--not reading thoroughly--making a list of the scenes I have and seeing what seems choppable. Or at least snippable. I'm on Chapter 7 of 21 and have a growing list of places to tighten. I think I can do this without losing too much. And I think I must resist the siren call of all the places that beg to have the theme expanded, and deeper characterization. Etc.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

First-and-a-Half Pass Done!

Made it through to THE END of the romance rewrite this afternoon. Why am I calling it a first-and-a-half pass? Because so much of it turned out to be new material! I retyped the whole thing, even the scenes that came across reasonably intact, because I was hunting down passive voice and shallow point-of-view along with the deeper issues of wobbly plot.

Next week I'll read through the whole thing and figure out if it works now. Doubtless I'll find a few things to change, to say nothing of the fact that I'm 3,000 words over the maximum allowed for my target publisher. 3K will be quite easy to cut, though. In fact, I may already have chopped a third of that as I tightened and retightened the opening pages for the Genesis contest. I'm not sure until I transfer the pages back into Scrivener, where I've been doing all the writing since then. (I had to do the pages in Word to make sure I had the formatting correct all the way through.)

And then it's off to a few trusted critique buddies while I turn my attention to writing the workshop for May. I'm happy! :)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Rise of the Dibor by Christopher Hopper

I've been looking for Rise of the Dibor for a couple of years, since I started running into the author, Christopher Hopper, online. He's a youth pastor in northern New York state and someone who loves and follows God with deep passion. He's also a worship leader and recording artist with eight cds.

I was intrigued by the premise for Hopper's novel: What if Adam and Eve had never sinned? Would Satan still have found a way to enter the world? This fantasy novel takes place on Dionia, a sister-world to Earth, and shows how evil enters a pure and beautiful world. Luik and a group of his peers are trained to be Dibor, an elite force trained to do battle against the deceit of Morgui.

The novel gets out to a slow start. This is both good and bad, because Hopper's intent (I'm sure!) is to show the world of Dionia before Morgui becomes strong there. And a perfect world, sadly, is a boring world. I found I skimmed parts of the first couple of chapters, especially a game of rokla sportscast in great detail. (If you want to know how rokla is played, read the novel!)

Even if you don't care (and I didn't), you'll likely enjoy this richly imagined tale. Once things get rolling, Luik finds himself in the thick of things that come to a head after various people disappear and Morgui's army prepares to attack the capital city of Dionia. The skirmishes and battles are described as thoroughly as the rokla and to much better effect :) I'm looking forward to reading book 2, The Lion Vrie, which just so happens to be at my local library waiting for me.

One negative I really noticed with this novel is that it badly needed a fine-toothed comb edit pass as it was full of the kind of errors spell check doesn't catch. I was constantly pulled out of the story with homonym errors such as manor for manner, to name only one that happened numerous times. Punctuation errors such as missing periods and quotation marks did little to help me relax into the story. Still, the plot and characters exerted their effort to pull me back each time.

The third novel is out soon (sorry, I can't remember the title!) and Hopper is also contracted by Thomas Nelson to cowrite a Young Adult fantasy series with noted author Wayne Thomas Batson. The first novel in this series is out in the fall of 2009.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Some stories are bigger on conflict than others. But whether you're writing action-adventure or relationship stories, there had better be conflict. I'm one who avoids it like the plague in real life, so I've had to learn to enjoy inflicting it on my characters. I like nice people, but stories have to be populated with the less than perfect to be of any interest. I'm curious why this is so--why we are bored stiff reading about the kind of people we want our kids to turn out like? And yet it's true--stories without conflict don't catch hold of the reader and propel him or her to the other end like a rocket launcher.

Conflict doesn't have to be big stuff. There doesn't have to be a dead body on every page to keep momentum. In fact, that's the kind of conflict that will turn me off, as a reader. Not everyone, of course. Conflict can be as small as characters arguing over what's for dinner. I think the main thing is that the minor conflicts need to play into the major conflicts. Why are the characters arguing over dinner? Is it a symptom of a problem in the relationship? A refusal of one to acknowledge the life-threatening allergies of the other? Or something else? Because honestly, if *what's for dinner* makes no difference to the growth of the characters or to the main story plotline, it doesn't work as a source of conflict.

Sure, it allows the maxim of conflict on every page to be fulfilled, but a novel is more than random conflict. They have to build and intertwine and matter to one another. If the conflict is merely an irritant and doesn't actually matter, it isn't the kind of conflict they're talking about here.

In the same way, if the characters keep tripping over dead bodies, the story had better be about the dead bodies. They'd better not be in there to represent conflict unless it matters to the story's plot line. There's lots more to writing a novel than stringing 100,000 words together. Even pretty words. Or gritty words. They need to be more than loosely related vignettes, at least in genre writing.

That's my thought for tonight!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Book Tour--Turning the Paige

Turning the Paige

When I saw this title in the upcoming blog tour list, I took a second look because I have a character named Paige in one of my works-in-progress. Then I noticed that Laura Jensen Walker's character is a divorced woman of 35 who moves back in with her aging high-maintenance (read: passive-aggressive manipulating) mother, and I thought that I might enjoy the tale.

Turning the Paige is a great read in many ways. I got sucked straight in with this opening:

My mother killed my marriage. Stomped all over it with her Pepto-Bismol pink pumps and ground it to divorce dust.

Okay, maybe that's not entirely fair. Mom wasn't solely responsible for the destruction of my marriage. Like many couple, Eric and I had some problems. But the biggest one was my mother. I turned the page in our wedding album on what would have been our five-year anniversary to a close-up of the two of us--happy, bright, shining, and in love. So in love. But that was then and this is now.

My fingers moved up the glossy page to the cleft in Eric's jaw. I loved that Kirk Douglas cleft and had spent many happy hours kissing it. And the delicious lips above it. Now someone else was kissing them.

I slammed the album shut. And as I shoved it back into the closet, the phone rang. I walked over to the nightstand to check the caller ID. Probably a telemarketer.

As the phone continued to ring, I squinted at the name. Now where'd I put my reading glasses? By the time I finally found them, the answering machine had clicked on.

"Paige?" My mother's querulous voice filled the air. "Are you there? Or are you out again? Seems like you're never home anymore." She released a loud sigh. "I was hoping you could come over for just a minute and pull down my other quilt from the top of the linen closet. This one's getting too hot and heavy." She lobbed one of her famous guilt grenades. "Oh well, guess I'll just have to make do. Talk to you soon."

My turn to expel a loud sigh.

Paige also has a sister, Isobel; though she lives many miles away she plays an important role in the novel. I enjoyed the story up until the last few chapters. They seemed to be a travel guide to Scotland that, while interesting, didn't keep the plot moving. Something else in the very end came as a bolt out of the blue to me, totally unforeshadowed. Even so, the ending was satisfying and I'd read another book by this author.

This novel is part of a women's fiction series called Getaway Girls, in which Paige and her friends have a book club and often plan adventures that echo those in the books they're reading. I can really see this kind of series working in women's fiction, because you get to know the various characters but focus on different ones in each book. I was also amused that one of the other women in the series was named Chloe. I've got a Chloe and a Paige in the same novel, too!