Sunday, July 30, 2006

Celebrations

I took three days off from the editing. I was so weary of staring at the pages. I have plenty of work to do on the novel. I've discovered some really fun resources, message boards populated by Bull Riders. These cowboys are salty and the salt of the earth. They're good ol' boys and gentlemen and professionals who know their business inside and out and don't mind lending a hand to a youngster just coming up. Their phraseology is homespun, hysterical, and heartwarming.

Tomorrow begins a week of intensive editing, not only on my novel but that of my writing buddy who finished her book this morning. Tonight we're going out to celebrate with rootbeer floats and some bar-b-que.

Cheers!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The End...the first time

Just wanted to post an update here. I made it through the first draft of the new novel at last. It topped out at just under 65K words, which means I have some work to do. But for me editing is much more to my liking than banging out a first draft. I'm off to print off a copy so I can wince at my errors!

Woohoo!

Erica

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig...

What a wild, wild week. I met 23 new good friends at a western writer's round up in the Twin Cities. These friends are all fans of the 40 year old TV show, The Big Valley. We had a wonderful time. The whole crew of us took a Mississippi river boat brunch cruise with fabulous views and yummy food. We stayed up late playing games and watching episodes, and we laughed and laughed.

When I got home, I put my nose to the grindstone. Monday and Tuesday were spent on catching up on bookwork. The Bookkeeping Fairy didn't do anything while I was gone!

Yesterday and today, I spent the majority of both days writing. In the past two days, I've produced 8,243 words on the manuscript. A new record for productivity for me.

One thing I remembered from reading Karen Weisner's First Draft in 30 Days was the importance she put on 'composting' a story, always having one percolating. Think about the scenes you're going to write the next day. Don't sit down at your computer until you have at least a fair idea of what you want to accomplish.

After a week of not getting to write, I was bursting with scenes and ideas. I think that's why I was productive when I got back to it. My goal is to have a first draft completed in less than 10 days. My writing buddy and I have a writing week scheduled for the first week in August. I'd like to be in the editing stage by then.

The ms stands at 54K words right now. Another couple of days like I've just had and I'll be set.

Erica

Monday, July 10, 2006

Theodora's Baby by Penny Culliford ~ A review

Theodora's Baby by Penny Culliford, published by Zondervan 2006.

Theodora's Baby is the third in the Theodora series by Penny Culliford. (Theordora's Diary and Theodora's Wedding)

The cover art is adorable and the reason I picked up the book in the first place. If I am not familiar with an author (I haven't read the first two books in this series...yet.) I tend to go by back cover blurb, cover art and publisher when making my choice.

Theodora is an inveterate diary keeper. This practice causes some friction between her and her new husband, Kevin. He feels left out when she scribbles in her diary.

The things I liked about this book:
The characters. Theo's father makes the same kind of "dad jokes" my father makes, the kind where you roll your eyes and laugh because they are so terrible. There is a resident "Martha Stewart" in Theo's church, as well as a Bible pounding curmudgeon, a lady pastor, and a curate with delusions of grandeur. Add to that Kevin's 'mates', Vague Dave, Jez and Kev.2, a budgie also named Kevin, and an eel named Eric.

The setting. I love books set in England. Sidcup, Kent, Theo's small village is picture perfect, with oddball residents, the obligatory pub, and cottages with charming names.

The conflict. Theo is searching for what she believes her ministry should be. When God throws a baby into the works, Theo despairs of ever learning what God wants her to do. She and Kevin are adjusting to marriage the way all newlyweds have to. He wants to go fishing and to soccer (football) matches with his mates, and she wants to spend time with him. She can't cook. He eats a lot. There's also a bit of tension between them due to the fact that Kevin, though a believer, is opposed to going to church. Theo rarely misses a service and works part time at her church, St. Norbert's. The resolution to this conflict is touching and realistic.

Things I didn't care for...

Well, not much. I thought it was skillfully written. The text is entirely diary entries, and it does retain that flavor all the way through, but it reads like a novel. The voice is chick-lit, which is new for me. But I found it humorous, witty in that special British way that tickles me, and intelligent.

Erica Vetsch

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Novelist By Angela Hunt ~ A Review

I just finished reading The Novelist by Angela Hunt. I thought I'd take time to review it here. Angela Hunt was the teacher of the Advanced Fiction Track at the Florida Christian Writer's Conference which I had the privilege of attending this past spring.

She spoke of this book and the writing of it during the class. Having been her student for a few days, it was easy to see the similarities between her protagonist, Jordan Casey Kerrigan, and herself.

From the back cover
It begins when a smug college student challenges a best-selling novelist to write something "more personal."
It begins when a mother finds her troubled son slumped unconscious outside her home.
It begins when fiction and reality blur, and the novelist finds herself caught somewhere in the middle of it all.
Where does it end? That all depends on who is telling the story.

Things I loved about this book:

Angela has a great turn of phrase. Her similies and metaphors are so vivid. I found myself re-reading them just because the words were so well put together.

I stayed up late reading this one, to find out about Zack. His behavior was so erratic and obviously distressing to him that I felt for him, even when he was at his most bombastic and obnoxious. I also felt for Jordan and Carl as they came to grips with mental illness and whatever stigmas cling to it.

The character of Ian Morely intrigued me as well. He was challenging, clever and caught in his own web of trouble. I disliked him intensely at the beginning of the book, because I've had sarcastic, 'know-it-all' students before and know what a pain they can be, but when he submitted Jordan's own work for critique, he cracked me up.

Having the true antagonist be mental illness and our reaction to it made this book different from my usual reads.

Things I didn't like so well:

I gotta say, the novella about William that is woven through the book...well, for me it was not enjoyable. Allegory is never my preference, so that made it a difficult read to begin with. The fact that I could read and enjoy the rest of the story by skipping the allegory, made me wonder if it was vital to the plot at all. Although it was a learning journey for Jordan, the technique was lost on me. I am glad the publisher used two different font styles between the two story lines. It made skipping the allegory easier.


Would I recommend it?
Yes, for a couple reasons. Angela Hunt is a good writer. The story is compelling and entertaining.

There was one other interesting thing in this book. A quote about the book from Publisher's Weekly: "Although Hunt is known for her competency, this novel also shows poignancy and imagination." Why would the publisher include this? It sounds like nothing else Angela has ever written has any imagination or emotion, but rather reads like a competent essay. I thought that one was odd, particularly since the rest of the 'Praise for The Novelist' was of a much different tone.

Personal goals:
I reached 40K words on the novel today. I'm at the point where I feel I need to go back to the beginning and add all the scenes I know I've skipped. But I'm going to try to resist, to plow ahead and get a complete first draft done.

Erica

Monday, July 03, 2006

Of Monkeys and Wisdom

I have a friend who introduced me to a saying I have adopted as my own. She said when she went to work, her job was to get the work 'monkeys' off her desk and onto someone else's desk.

Now, all my tasks are 'monkeys'. I've found it is important to identify your monkeys, make sure they are truly yours and not someone else's, and then manage them effectively.

My monkeys include being a wife, mother, homeschooler, writer, bookkeeper, friend, church librarian...monkeys everywhere!

Also, I can't be worried about other people's monkeys. When I take my eyes off my own monkeys and start critiquing the job someone else is doing with their monkeys, my own run wild, swinging from the trees and howling like banshees.

Managing Monkeys is a full time job!

On another note, this weekend's Sunday School lesson and sermon were especially timely. We learned about how foolishness loses its temper quickly, acting impusively and without thought. Wisdom, in contrast, thinks first, keeps ahold of anger, and acts with care.

God has been working on me much recently, or perhaps I am just more willing to learn at the moment things He's been trying to teach me for a long time. Ya think? lol

Erica