Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ask a Writer Day

I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook for questions--anything you'd like to know about my books, writing or opinions, and I'd answer... or pretend I know the answer.  

From @JadeZupancic on Twitter: 

Q: What is the most difficult part of a book to write for you?
A: Chapter 3. 
No, really. There’s something about Chapter 3 that just stops me every time. I rewrite it five ways. I sit and stare at it on the Great Whiteboard of Plotting. I don’t bang my head on the desk too much, because I know I’ve got the rest of the book to worry about. But still. Stupid Chapter 3. 
There are other places I stall out every time, too. Like page 287.  Somewhere around there I’ll start with the rewriting and the staring and the head banging, and then I’ll look at the page count and go, “Oh, well, of course. It’s page 287.” 
It might be because I always know the opening of a book, and I usually know the ending, or at least the who, what and where of the ending. The parts I have the hardest time writing are the transitions. 
Sometimes I just skip ahead to Chapter 4. 
From Brandy Jones on Facebook: 
Q: Are you working on more books of the Maggie Quinn or Texas Gothic type. 
A: Thanks for asking!  Yes.  My next project should make fans of both happy. (And if you don’t know who Maggie Quinn is, you have a chance to catch up with BRIMSTONE, which comes out in September.) 
Watch this space for more info soon. 
From @karinacooper on Twitter:
Q: You’re stranded on a desert island with a romance hero. Who would it be and why? 
A: I can tell you who it would not be. A vampire. 
It’s hard for me to name anyone specific. Fortunately I always go for the strong, capable type. I guess I’d want an adventurer, with good survival in the wild skills. But mostly, I’m too worried about sand, snakes and sunburn to feel very romantic. 
Q: (part B) And when you aren't knocking boots like wild desert island monkeys, what are your "trapped on a desert island" reads?
A: Monkeys are creepy and I mentioned my aversion to sand and heat, right?  
However, I get the gist. Desert Island reads.  Hmmmm... All of Madeline L’Engle’s books. Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series. All of Barbara Michaels books and the complete works of Agatha Christie. Those are things I can read over and over. (That I can think of off hand.) 
From Melissa Meredith on Facebook: 
Q: Why is the second installment in a trilogy always the best?
A: I have no idea. Maybe because you’re done with the set up, everyone knows where they are, so there’s lots of rollicking adventure before the Big Terrible Stuff happens in the last book? 
From Casey Anthony on Facebook: 
Q: Because of the interview you did I am now really really really curious as to what D&D Lisa's last name is! :)
A: (She’s talking about this interview on http://writingya.blogspot.com/2012/06/summer-blog-blast-tour-2012-rosemary.html?m=1Finding Wonderland.) 
And yeah, I’m curious, too. ;-)
Got a question? Ask it in the comments! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Writing "Process," The Pictorial Guide

As an individual, I generally have it more or less together. On the whole. Relatively speaking. (I can hear some of you laughing right now.)   But I have a secret. (Another secret, besides not being able to spell, which might not be a secret to anyone who reads this blog.)  Writing makes me a slob.

When I start a project (a new book, or a big revision, whatever) I work steadily. More or less. Sometimes work looks like staring into space or going to the museum or surfing the Internet. But I'm planning it all out, imagining scenes, working on the high and low points of the plot.

I work steadily, but I also second guess myself, write chapters three (and four and five) different ways, spend a day on a page (but a really great page!) and generally over think everything.

Then, at some point, I hit my stride. Sometimes it's because I finally know the characters and plot or I get where I can see the end and how to get there... and sometimes it's because OMG the book has to be done.

So I do nothing but write. I sort of love this part, though my family and friends hate it. I eat, breathe and dream in book world. This is the time when you do NOT want to be on the road with me, because I'm basically thinking about my book all the time.

I'm also actually physically working on my book all the time. I also eat an awful lot of these:

So when I start out I look like this:

And my desk looks like this:

Along the way my desk starts to look like this:

And my dog starts to look like this:

And I start to look like this:

But I'm better now. Expect announcements SOON about the new thing!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Secret Writer Shame

Words I cannot spell without the spell checker:

  • Caribbean
  • sergeant 
  • medieval
  • satellite
  • bureau
  • caffeine (ironically)
  • occasion 
  • jeopardy 
  • jealousy 

  • Actually, I can spell them correctly NOW, because the spell checker has trained me. But every time I type them, I have to consciously remind myself: two p’s, s not t, put an i in there somewhere... and so on. 
    Or I just take random stabs at it until the little red line goes away.
    Because some words I don’t even get close enough for the spell checker to take a stab at. Like...

    • silhouette
    • camouflage 
    • guarantee 
    I am not lying--one day I had to type “shadow” then pull up the thesaurus (ha! Got that one on the first try!) and look for ‘silhouette’ among the synonyms. 
    Do you even have to take spelling tests in school any more? (You wouldn’t know it from some of the posts on the Internet... Including mine sometimes.)  Well, spelling tests were the bane of my existence. So when I told my guidance counsellor (there’s another word) that I wanted to write books, she said, quote, “Oh, your spelling is much too bad to be a writer. And your grades in English aren’t that great, either. You need to stick with the sciences.” 
    (Just as an aside--when I had English teachers I loved, I had fantastic grades. It’s always easier to read books you don’t want to read if you get to discuss them with a teacher who’s opinion you value.) 
    Anyway. She was the grown up, and I figured I could write books no matter what I had a degree in. College is really about learning to learn, getting a firm foundation for the knowledge your going to spend the rest of your life stacking on top of it. My advice to young want-to-be-writers is get a degree in something you will like doing, because it’s can be a long road to selling a book.
    So THAT part wasn’t bad guidance. The REAL whammy was someone telling me I was unqualified for what I loved to do. Even though I had one of those new-fangled computer things (which my counsellor had apparently never heard of, because they didn’t have spell-check on stone tablets), the lesson--”You are only good enough to do this as a hobby.”--stuck. 
    Fast forward ten years, when I’d been writing as a “hobby” and talking about writing a book but not following through. And I looked at my writing, and I looked at the books that were on the shelves, and I said, “You idiot. The only difference between them and you is THEY have managed to finish a book. You’ll never know if you suck at this until you DO it.” 
    So I did it. And it worked out pretty well.  I guess I don’t suck at it. 
    Of course, spell check and a good proofreader help. 
    Now, it could just as easily have turned out that I wasn’t a great writer, and that no one but my mother would see my genius. There are people who love to sing but sound like a dying cat when they do. 
    My point is not “Ignore everyone who tells you not to follow your dream.”  It’s: "Don’t let anything stop you from trying."
    Fact: I’m a bad speller. So I learned to use spell check.
    Fact: I needed to support myself while I learned to write more better. So I got a degree in something I was good at. 
    Fact: People asked me, “When are you going to get a real job?”  So I stopped talking about writing and submitting a book and actually, you know, wrote and submitted one. I made it my real job by working at it, not necessarily by succeeding at it. (Though that helps shut people up.) 
    Then there’s this: If you sing like a dying cat, you may never be on American Idol (except maybe the audition show).  But don’t let anything ever stop you from singing in the shower. 
    Question: What are YOU bad at?  Do you love to do it anyway? Have you gotten better, or do you just do it for the love of doing it?

    Monday, June 4, 2012

    Define "Interesting"

    I’m really thrilled to get to present an award at the RWA’s Award Ceremony at the National Conference in July.  It's kind of a big deal. Everyone wears fancy dress, there are multi-media presentations and jumbo screens and teleprompters. (Then there’s the RITA award itself, which is quite beautiful. Mine lives on my desk next to my action figures.)

    Me and RITA in 2009
    In a way, being a presenter is even better than being an award finalist, because you get to have all the fun of dressing up without the stress. But there's this voice over that happens while you’re walking to the podium, and it says things like “New York Times bestselling author of 150 books” or whatever.

    My intro doesn’t say that. It says some cool things about awards and how much librarians like me and stuff.  But not that.

    When I was filling out the form about it WOULD say, the last question is “Can you tell us something interesting about yourself that we might put in your introduction?”

    Which is a conundrum.

    What, exactly, would other people consider interesting?  I can quote 90% of the libretto of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and sing at least five of them. Is this what they mean?

    Pink, purple and green are my favorite colors. I love dogs and also otters and foxes. I’m sort of obsessed with Russell Crowe when he’s in fighting trim and kinda even when he isn’t. I won’t sit in a seat that’s warm from someone else’s body heat and I hate my food to touch.

    Which doesn’t even factor in this: What is interesting about me... that I would want people to know.

    So I asked my assistant what was interesting about me. There followed a text exchange of escalating ridiculousness.

    Here’s what we came up with. Some of these may even be true.

    Rosemary Clement-Moore is...

    • An acclaimed beekeeper and, on a related note, bear wrestler.
    • Guilty of stealing JK Rowling’s seat on an airplane.
    • Living in a half completed Skull Mountain Fortress.
    • Currently building a replica of Easter Island in her backyard.
    • The bass guitarist in world renowned garage band Chain Mail Bikini, formerly known as Teenage Mutant Musketeer.
    • Understudy to a Tina Fey impersonator.
    • Perfecting her archer skills to prepare for the the Dystopian future.

    Add your own ideas in the comments. Points for creativity and absurdity. If you make me snort coffee through my nose, you win a prize.