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Monday, September 21, 2009

ACFW Afterglow

ACFW=American Christian Fiction Writers. I went to their national conference in Denver last weekend.

The best way to describe conference for me a reunion with hundreds of my closest family members, to put faces with people I have come to know and love via email.

I may post several times about conference - different aspects of the experience - but for now I'll share high points and low points.

The low points jumped on me when I crossed the two-building length one more time to get to lunch--to discover the meal was a buffet and I had to stand in line. I started crying. I went to conference sans cane and sans pain pills and overall did well. But I'd had it by lunch that day.

As for high points, I laughed and smiled my way through the booksigning. No, I didn't have an out-the-door line like Debbie Macomber (I sat a table near her). But I did have a lot more than the "possibly none" every writer fears at occasions like this.

The laughter?

My roommate and good friend Connie Peters brought four of my books to sign. I wrote something different in each one. For my mystery, I was trying to write Enjoy the murder and mayhem.

I was talking while I was signing and my subconscious took over. I actually wrote Enjoy your murder and mayhem.

Susan Davis, who shared the table with me, told Connie,"Well, it's your book. You bought it."

Renewed laughter.

There is more to the story, about a purple pen (thanks to Rene Gutheridge).

Tears of happiness when a friend from Echostar took a bus from downtown Denver to the Tech Center to come to the signing. Waving at you, Gregory!

Later I'll tell you what I learned.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mom's Question

Mom is back in her apartment at an assisted living center. She is quickly slipping back into what we feared: doing nothing but lying on her bed except for meals and for the times therapists and aides come to help her.

Lying in bed might not be so bad if she was doing something. Watching television. Reading. Looking out the window.

But she lies there, blinds down, tv off, dozing on and off and thinking random thoughts. When I chide her, she says "But what is there to do?"

I don't know how to respond. She has puzzle books and coloring books and crayons. She doesn't do any of that. She doesn't even turn on the tv. She has the schedule of activities at the Center, but she only attends church services. I urge her to try them all out. Unless she truly hates something, take part in everything. But she chooses not to.

I feel like she's waiting to die. And it breaks my heart.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

One Writer's Mind: Revisions

Revisions. Ugh. I find them almost as hard as starting a new project. In some ways, they're harder, because I have to examine my newborn baby closely for areas that are sick and need intervention. I'd like to believe they're perfect as they come out, but of course they're not.

My writing process: everyone's is different, so I'll let you in on mine. I write a first draft with no corrections. I make notes to myself along the way: "This sentence is bad but I'll fix it later." "Anac," which means I want to check whether the word or phrase was in use in that time period. "Go back and fix earlier references" when I change something. So it's really raw. I do the entire manuscript that way.

Then I do a major overhaul; send it out for critique; revise again; and give it one final look before I send it off.

I am in the first, major revision mode on two different projects at the moment: the last third of a manuscript that is due on the editor's desk on November 1st and the first three chapters of a new project for a proposal. I want to take that one with me to the ACFW conference in Denver next week.

The final third is the easier project. By that point in the story, I know my characters well and I know where the story is headed. Revisions consist of cutting out the junk, and making the writing sing and filling in a historical gap here and there.

But the urgent project at the moment are the three chapters for conference. And man, it's miserable. As usual, I started the story in the wrong place and had to cut out the first two scenes. Some day I hope I will figure out the right place to start the story before I write boring, unnnecessary stuff!

On top of that, I used different names for the same character. Oops. Another character didn't get a name. Double oops. And a third character changed from a teenaged Jewish girl to an older African Americian woman, and I had to decide if she was a protege, a mentor, or a confidante. So Miriam became Maggie and is neither Jewish nor African American but Irish.

All of that before I've started revising the actual wording of the manuscript at all.

Terry Brooks, author of marvelous fantasy books, wrote a writing manual called Sometimes the Magic Works.

That's what pulls me through the revision stage. The rough, raw, ugly baby turns into something magical--something that editors and readers want to read.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Under Construction

Good morning everyone! For anyone out there who is listening ... what would you like to see on my blog? Family updates? Writing news? Devotionals?

Let me know, and I will try to bring what interests you to bear.