Friday, July 29, 2005

More synopsisizing

My life this week has been revolving around the aforementioned synopsis. Our FM marathon on the topic just got underway yesterday, and it will be quite a challenge to keep up as about a dozen people have signed up. Folks have been posting and picking apart hot premises already, but there aren't too many full synopses posted yet. I haven't dared to look yet this morning, though, for fear I wouldn't get anything else done if I checked in on that board before I'd taken care of some of the other necessities on my to-do list! But I'm headed that way shortly.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

One synopsis version kind of done

I cut and tweaked yesterday's words until the synopsis fit onto five pages, double spaced. It was more about eliminating lines than words, but I wound up with something sort of cohesive. I think. As the synopsis marathon gets under way, we'll start critiquing each other's synopses, and then we'll see if it makes sense to anyone other than me. I also got a decent start on the shorter synopsis version.

In all the browsing on the internet I've done recently regarding how to write a synopsis, it seems that *the wisdom* says to start with the short version and expand it, much the way you might expand an outline into a novel. And perhaps if I were writing the synopsis before I wrote the novel, that would work for me, too. I might try it some time! But for this round, I went through the scene list and tried to condense it back, and now I'm working backwards from there. Backwards, that's me. It's one way to find the essence of the story.

Monday, July 25, 2005


Yup. That's what I've been doing today. I have a very rough draft of a 1300 word synopsis written. I referred to my scene outline a few times to make sure I had the sequence of events correct, but mostly I just wrote it. It took a solid couple of hours, but now that something is actually saved in a file, I can start revising it tomorrow. I also need to do a mega condensed version of about 500 words. Staring at the longer one, I'm not sure what can be left out and still give a reasonable feel of the novel. Be that as it may, that is one of my goals for the week.

Over a year ago, PaperBack Writer, known at FM as StarDoc, began a thread at FM about writing a hot premise to use as a quickie pitch for a novel. The idea was to get the kernel of the story in fifteen words or less. (And I had trouble today with 1300!!) I wrote one for False Perceptions at that time, as I was doing the prep work for the novel. I was hoping to just dust it off today, but it is a flawed little hot premise. Why is it so very difficult to boil down what a story is really ABOUT? Enquiring minds want to know.

I updated the link for my novels in progress on the side bar, in case anyone cares!

What else? Yesterday I read The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks. I wanted to see what kind of romance a guy would write, and I found out! The male main character is trying to re-ignite the flame of his marriage of thirty years. (See, that's almost a hot premise; why can't I do it with my own?) I hesitate to tell you that there is a twist at the end of the story, because if someone had told me that, I might've figured it out ahead of time. But as it was, I went my merry reading way and got a pleasant surprise. It's well done, and a quick read. Recommended.

Bedroom, rearranged. Jim's been home for two days, got our hay baled but it's still in the field till his next days off. He heads back out this evening. I'll need another project now. The yard could use some work (like a LOT of work...) but the mosquitoes are out in full force these evenings, so the weeds can just keep growing. More power to them.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Outline is Done :)

I now have a complete outline of what exactly is IN False Perceptions's 84059 words. They encompass 32 chapters that are comprised of 96 scenes. As much as I would like to say that my novels average 1500 words per scene, Real Life would indicate otherwise. My next task, and one I may start on over the weekend, is to take that outline and start trying to morph it into a synopsis. I want to have a really good handle on what the book is about before I start revisions, in the hopes that it will help to make the decisions easier. You'd think I know what the book is about; after all, I wrote it. And not that long ago, either. Still, I think distilling it down to its essence will be very practical, even though I'm not quite ready to start sending out queries on it.

On the home front, Jim was asked to work two more night shifts so he won't be home until Sunday noonish. Yes we have hay down that needs to be baled. But it rained on and off all day today, so it's not like we could get it off just now anyway. Other than the obvious downer with the hay, it feels wonderful to have things a little cooler. The forecast says this should be the only rainy day, and then we are due for a week or more of hot again. So...*shrug.

Being as I have half the weekend home to myself, I've decided to re-arrange the master bedroom. It's not that there's really another good way to put the furniture, so I'm settling for an okay way. I just need a change. This will give me the chance to go through everything (except the closets) and organize things better. (Or so I would like to think!) So far I've sorted out Jim's magazines. He has varied interests AND likes magazines, so they get into taking-over-the-world mode. Or at least taking-over-the-bedroom-and-living room mode. I know there are some he will be willing to ditch, now that they are sorted into like with like piles, but I'll leave that final decision up to him. Honest :)

Anyway, it gives me the start of a plan for the weekend, and that is a Good Thing.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Cats and farms go together like cookies and milk. Except for the predators. Owls, skunks, and coyotes take some cats, and of course the occasional car. About two years ago we had half a dozen adult cats and more kittens than we knew what to do with. If I remember right, we had about 18 cats in total, not counting our pseudo-Himalayan inside cat, George.

We gave some kittens away. That's hard to do when they're all so wild you can't catch them. Two of the mamas were pretty tame, and by the end of last summer, they were the only two we had left. Both of them died, one of old age and one of unknown causes; she just disappeared. Unfortunately that happens on farms. Between them they left us with twelve kittens, some of which we gave away, and a few of which were to weak to live when we found them. We raised six kittens through the winter; you may remember a post or two about *vultures*. The babies were always hanging around the door begging for food, and yes we gave it to them. They had no mamas to bring them delish mice.

Of the six yearling cats, only one was tame. She was a very affectionate calico. I haven't seen Patches now in about two weeks. Yesterday the guy who farms next door came by and apologized for running over three cats in his hay field. THREE CATS??? They must have been mousing in the tall grass, and if they heard the tractor coming, thought they were out of its way. The swather rides quite aways away from the tractor itself, and makes far less noise. It mowed down three of our young cats. Patches wasn't one of them. It wasn't the farmer's fault, or anybody else's. It's just one of those things. It's one of the reasons I try not to get too attached to the farm cats. I don't always succeed. I can't believe that we are going to have to find someone with kittens to give away again, after going through so many in the past couple years, but the mice are having a strong year, and need something to keep them back. In the hay field nearly every bale I tipped over had a mouse or ten underneath. We need more cats. I sure wish I could offer them some safety, though. It makes me sad.

First read-through DONE

Last night I finished reading through the first draft copy of False Perceptions and discovered that the timeline problem that I thought existed had been mostly fixed by the end of the first draft. I don't remember paying attention to that back in March, but apparently I did. So that's a relief. It doesn't, of course, mean that it's all smooth sailing from here, but it helps.

In the enclosed culture I created for FP, every family is allowed two kids to keep the population stable. If a child dies, the parents are allowed another child. If they can't have kids, someone else's allottment goes up. My main character, Cae, thus, has to have a sibling. Also in this culture, kids are trained to do their parent's job. Thus Cae's sibling cannot be off elsewhere on a mission of his own. He needs to be present, and part of the story. And he isn't. So at the same time that I am looking at my characters with an eye to tightening them up, and see a couple of places where two can become one, I need to add an all new one. Worse yet, he doesn't have a vital part in the story, just in the culture. This was an annoying oversight from my planning days on this story, and I think it's going to take a bit of mulling over to solve. Mull. Mull.

Today's big job involved beginning to make an outline of the novel based on what has already been written. I'm not one of those who morphs the outline to match what I've written as I go along. In *Marks*, I'd run with the outline until I slipped off, then go outline-less until I got stuck, then re-outline from there, deviate from it until stuck, etc. FP didn't have the same tangent qualities of Marks; it stayed fairly true to the original outline. But scenes combined differently, and in different orders, so it seems to make sense to have an outline that lists what actually was written and in what order. I'm half done that job, and expect to finish it tomorrow.

Next weekend we are running a synopsis marathon at Forward Motion. I have never written a synopsis before, so I am looking forward to the opportunity of doing it in a conference style situation, where we can read each other's for clarity and critique, then revise and try again. Anyone have an opinion on the most practical length for a synopsis? My understanding is that it varies. If you've ever submitted one, what did your target agent or publisher request?

I'm tempted to also do a synopsis for Marks of Repentance next weekend, but I need to push the story to the back of my brain and not mull it over some more to get the kernels out. It IS a temptation, but I can stifle it. Honest. I know that as long as I have this longing to go back to work on that novel, I should try to stay away from it. The pull has to lessen. Must.

Besides, I already have a project. I must keep it in the forefront. Oh, yeah, I have TWO projects. The crit on Mar's novel is going nicely. I have it a quarter finished.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Forgiving Solomon Long

Forgiveness makes an interesting theme for a book. Chris Well used this as a jumping off place for his recently published novel, Forgiving Solomon Long, in which an assassin, hired by the mob to clean up an area of downtown Kansas City, is startled to hear the words "I forgive you" from his target just before he dies. What these three words do to Solomon Long carve out the remainder of the novel. The spiel I hear over at Faith in Fiction is that Chris's book is 'available wherever crime fiction is sold'.

It took me a bit to get into the story, which I finished last night. I found the extremely short chapters annoying, as well as the head-hopping. I'm not sure if the general guidelines are different for crime fiction (which I don't write and rarely read), so I gave the book the benefit of the doubt and tried to ignore the style. And it was worth it; I found the story engaging after that.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Titles are hard to come up with

Titles are hard to come up with for NOVELS for crying out loud. Who can name a blog post more days than not? (Eyeing my recent history, okay, I'm a bit less often than that...)

Does it mean I don't have anything important to say? Most likely. But lest everyone keep worrying about me after my last post, I should say that life is resting in some sort of perspective again, as far as Jim's absences go. He left again last night. We off-loaded the camper this weekend as he has found a place to live up there. A guy from here that he kind of knows (friend of a friend of a friend kind of relationship) got hired at the same time Jim did. The main problem is that they work the same shift, and both were hoping to find roommates on opposing shifts, so that while one guy is at the apartment, the other guy is at home (or at work). It's not uncommon for four guys on different shifts to share a two bedroom apartment in that way. There is a third guy of currently undetermined shift who is thinking of joining them. In one way, Jim's costs go up with the apartment, but fuel will be less without the camper on, and he'll be more comfortable. He'll also have access to a bit more fridge and freezer space, making meal planning easier to do from here. Not to mention that the camper isn't feasible for over the winter months. They get a serious winter over there.

Meanwhile he got part of our north field cut while he was home. The weather appears to be holding. Sort of. The truck repair is not the final one. Although it is running better, and starting a higher percentage of times, it is not actually fixed. We're starting to get concerned about the magnitude of the problem and may wind up taking it into the GM dealership for diagnostics. We can't afford to replace the vehicle just now. I mean, *I'm* driving our old truck, a 1975 Chevy with a 454 in it. The 1993 model that Jim is driving is like brand new for us. When we can we'll pick up a car that is both economical AND cheap for Jim to commute with, and I'll get the good truck again. The good truck that isn't the good truck. You get the picture. Anyway, I'm a farm girl, I have to drive a truck. Too many bulky things are needed, even when our water situation is under control, which, most thankfully, it is right now.

My reading binge continues. I'm part way through two more books at the moment. One is Riddle Master Trilogy by Patricia McKillip, that my daughter was sure I would like. So far it's been kind of amusing, but it doesn't have me by the throat either. The second current read is If Angels Burn by Lynn Viehl (otherwise known as Sheila Viehl, or SL Viehl). This book pulls me out of my comfort zone by a considerable distance (paranormal, or vampire romance is not my big thing, go figure). It's also NOT the book I'm reading just before bedtime, for some odd reason. I'll post links to these books in the sidebar when I get the chance.

Meanwhile, I'm doing better with Mar's crit than with my read-through. I just need to make myself do it, I guess. Anyone got some enthusiasm for sale, cheap? Maybe I can get a bulk supply...

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Coalesce, according to Webster, means 'to grow or come together, fuse'. This definition describes Coalescent by Stephen Baxter on several levels. It is a science fiction novel, based on fourth century history (the decline and fall of the Roman empire in Britain). Baxter weaves a contemporary timeline with a fourth century one, which *coalesce* towards the end. It is an intriguing idea, writing a (partially) historical novel as a science fiction, but I found myself enjoying it. You may enjoy the read, yourself.

You may rightly ask if I've been reading the past few days instead of writing (to say nothing of blogging...) In fact, I have. I tend not to read a lot while I'm first drafting. It seems that at that stage, all my spare thoughts, of which I have but few, revolve around my own emerging story. Therefore I am now eyeing my To-Be-Read list with interest once again.

I *have* been working as well, though. I've read through about forty percent of False Perceptions so far, making notes in the margins of things I'll need to consider as I tackle the revisions head on. One thing I've noticed is a need for a calendar. I see some inconsistencies emerging there. Nothing critical to the plot, but I do need to decide just where in the over all scheme of things Cae's graduation lands, as it seems to change on whim.

And I've been critting Mar's novel. So far I've worked through the first three chapters of 29, so I'm on track to have the crit complete by the end of August.

On the home front, Jim's home for a few days. Yesterday he finished getting the bales picked up off of the neighbor's field. Today he plans to cut our own (smaller) field, and fix the truck, now that he's figured out why it's been tempermental starting. I get to mow the lawn! I've pawned the job off on a nephew the last couple of times, but I can't really afford to do that all the time. It takes a good two hours to mow, even on the rider.

The transition to Jim being gone four days out of eight is proving to be difficult for me. I'm not sure what the answer is, to be honest. There are still a lot of *pros* to the new job. If you, my dear reader, have a relationship with God, I would be thankful if you would pray for us sometimes, as you think of us. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


You may remember (if you have no life of your own, at least) that back in early May my very wonderful bosses got me cable modem at work, and that I had to upgrade my computer to Win98 to make the modem work. Because this old beater computer has no USB ports and no CD write drive on it, I needed a different way to backup all my files before reformatting the hard drive. I chose to upload all my files to gmail. This morning that I discovered that I hadn't gotten very far into downloading them back to the computer. Hey, I was busy writing a book. The old novels and the brand spankin' new ideas just didn't seem to matter much.

Hence, when I went to print out False Perceptions today, it wasn't there. So I spent the morning downloading the rest of the files, and then collated all the FP chapters into one grand file, saved it, sent myself a copy to gmail AND to home, and proceeded to print it out. At 93K, the novel took 519 pages to print out in double space, and my ink cartridge gave out at about page 350. Why does paper come in 500 sheet reams? Enquiring minds want to know. Maybe I should just learn to write 500 page novels.

But, AHA!! I'd emailed a copy home, so I've just finished printing out the rest of it at home and can take it to work with me tomorrow. Take THAT, you weasely printer. I'll buy new ink when I jolly well WANT to, and you can't make me do it today!

Monday, July 11, 2005


I'm done, I'm done, I'm done, I'M DONE!!!

Okay, let me strive for some decorum here. (Happy dance!!) Okay, trying again.

First draft of *Marks of Repentance* (aka Shann's story, which really turned into Taafa's story, but I digress...) was completed today at 95199 words.

Last night while my brain was relaxing and I was trying to fall asleep, I began playing with the ending scenes. And it hit me, that if Taafa happened along just a few minutes later than I thought...BINGO!!! It all came together. Then I had to flip the light back on so I could jot some notes down. After the *dream* the night before, I didn't trust myself to remember anything at all come morning!

And notes in hand and 3576 words into the keyboard, and we have a completed first draft in fifteen weeks. It's funny, it seems way longer than that!

The summer now belongs to revisions of *False Perceptions* and a crit of Mar's novel, Kyrnie. I hope my brain can shift gears now! :)

Sunday, July 10, 2005


The past couple of summers have been much drier than this one, which has its ups and its downs. On the plus side, when its dry we don't get a lot of mosquitoes. I must have killed over fifty last night before I could get to sleep. I'm going to have to check the screens this morning; apparently something somewhere is not tight enough to keep them out.

It rained Friday night, and most of Saturday, which means that we still have nearly a thousand bales in the field (of over 3000). It's raining right now. I wish it would drown the mosquito larvae!! Jim'll be back in a few days, so hopefully it will clear up and dry out enough to get them off then.

Know what's annoying? I vaguely remember dreaming about my novel last night, and am convinced I dreamed the ending of the story. Do you think I can remember any of it? Of course not.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

An odd week

Things have been strange this week. Jim left at Monday noon for his two night shifts (he'd booked the preceding day shifts off for the wedding and parties.) Our friends were still stranded here, vehicle-less, so I spent the evening with them at the bed and breakfast. Tuesday we did lunch, and then she took the bus home (fifteen hours...), leaving him to wait for the transmission to be fixed. He got the call the next day, yesterday, and left for home this afternoon. By then Jim was back home for his four days off, so they had a chance to visit a bit more.

Yesterday afternoon it POURED cats and dogs. It only rained for twenty minutes, but it held back the haying for 24 hours. And now, as my father-in-law drives around the field in circle baling, my husband is out in the yard trying to fix the bale wagon. We're due for a few dry days, but he has to leave Saturday night again for four days of work, so it really needs to be off the field before he leaves. This is a case where, literally, God only knows what's going to happen. We BADly need the hay off.

And what have I been doing? Besides playing hostess and running errands for diesel for the tractor and more baling twine for the baler, I've been going to work tired. But so far this week I have written nearly 4K, and the ending of first draft of *Marks of Repentance* looms ever closer. Today, though, I figured out that I'd dropped a major sub-thread in the last rererereoutline, and I need to figure out how to weave it back in before I can go much farther.

When too tired or stressed to work on *Marks* this week, I've started reading Mar's novel that I am critting over the summer. So far I am about half done the initial read-through. My other summer project will be revising *False Perceptions*, otherwise known as Cae's story, (or the 2yn--2 year novel). I'd really like to get on with that phase. Sigh. Tomorrow it's back to trying to re-thread *Marks*. Why do I try to juggle so many characters? How can I bring this book to a resounding climax? I wish I knew.

Monday, July 04, 2005


That was a busy weekend! On Friday I helped setup and decorate for Jim's sis's wedding, which was held Saturday afternoon. Also daughter and son-in-law arrived, but the other half of the kids weren't able to make it home. Saturday it rained on and off, and when wedding time arrived at 4, clouds were rolling in again. The outdoor wedding was kept fairly short, and even so the final pronouncement was followed by a clap of thunder that had everybody running for shelter in the nick of time. They had rented some large tents, and everyone huddled underneath them for an hour or so, then it cleared up and the weather was great for the evening.

Sunday Jim's mom hosted breakfast for all the relatives and friends that were around for the wedding and our anniversary party. In between the two events, our truck broke down again. It has Jim somewhat puzzled, as it works most of the time, and then refuses to start. If he keeps having trouble with it, he'll take it into the GM dealership on his next days off.

The anniversary party was nice. Hanna had a lot of fun organizing it and setting it up. We didn't invite a whole lot of people, but we did have a good time with those who were able to make it. Aside from family and local friends, two couples came from quite a distance to spend the time with us. Them we invited to the farm for a barbeque supper and spent the evening together. Our friends from the coast also had a vehicle breakdown as they came into town on Saturday. They had to be towed down off the mountain, and today their vehicle was towed to the nearest larger town (in the opposite direction of their home, I might add...) So they're still in town, and we'll be spending the evening together again today. Hopefully their vehicle will be ready to roll tomorrow, and they won't be back home *too* late. They already had to cancel Tuesday work.

Jim cut hay Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. We now have about forty acres of hay down, and hope that it stays dry (the current forecast is in our favor). Jim starts two night shifts today, and his dad expects to start baling tomorrow. When Jim gets home he'll hook the other tractor up to the bale wagon and start the stacking procedure. If nothing breaks down, it should be off by next weekend; he starts day shift next Sunday. Then he'll have another smaller field to cut as well. He'll be glad when this field is done.

Today has been busy at work, and I've been rather tired. But tomorrow I intend to get back in the swing of my novel, and see if I can't finish the first draft this week yet. I'll give it a good go, anyway...