Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I'm revisiting my goals, prepping for February. As always, some have been added, some have been altered, and hopefully, some have been completed.
Bold Black Ital. = Goal
Blue = January comments
Red = February comments
1. Editor Revisions for The Bartered Bride. Not exactly sure when these will arrive in my inbox, but whenever they do, they have priority, so I'm putting them number one. Heard back from my editor that these should be heading my way near the end of February and that everything is well ahead of schedule. Yay! Just the way I like it!
2. Final read through for The Marriage Masquerade and send to editor. This happens sometime after February. The manuscript has been critiqued and revised, so it should only need a little tweaking before sending it off. I've read through it one more time and it's all set to go.
3. Edit The Engineered Engagement, my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel. At the moment I need to cut words, reassess my heroine's goal, add a character and delete a character. This is priority number one after the editor revisions on The Bartered Bride. This was my major January project. I cut 6K+ words, ripped off the final chapter and rewrote it, and now it rests with a crit partner awaiting her sharp eye and truthful yet delicate touch. One crit partner already returned it with a thumbs up.
4. Turn in The Engineered Engagement. This happens sometime after June 2009. As soon as crits come back, this one will be ready.
5. Finish final edits on Clara and the Cowboy to send to editor who requested it. The manuscript currently rests with a critique partner. When she's finished with it, I'll go in and make one last round of revisions based on her comments, then get this story out the door to my agent and on to the editor. Sent 12/18/08. Yay crit partners!
6. Begin plotting and writing sequels to Clara and the Cowboy: Lily and the Lawman and Maggie and the Maverick. If the above mentioned editor wishes to contract this series, (praying!) then I'll need to get busy on the next two books. So far they are only a paragraph each, though I have a fun opening line for Lily and the Lawman. Lots of ruminating on LatL. As soon as we can schedule it, the daughter and I will take off for somewhere for a day for a plotting party. No word from the editor yet, but I'm hopeful. :)
7. Prepare proposal packet and three chapters of a Gilded Age mystery/romance I've got kicking around in my head, including pitch sheet and materials to pitch at ACFW. I have an editor in mind to talk to about this series. And I have a name for my hero picked out. :) No action on this one except to order and begin reading A Season of Splendor: The Court of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York by Greg King. Fascinating book.
8. Register for ACFW Denver.
9. Attend ACFW Denver.
10. Read 5 books on craft this year, focusing on characterization, conflict, and endings. I'm lagging behind here. Next trip to the library I will get one or two. I have been listening to ACFW lectures from the 2008 conference. So much good stuff! I have particularly enjoyed Mark Mynheir's continuing ed class on police procedural. I don't write cop books, but he is an entertaining speaker and the subject matter is fascinating. Since I do want to write a book about a frontier lawman, I've been interested in his discussions on the psychology of law enforcement officers and how their job affects their relationships.
11. Revise and rewrite some older mss to submit to a new opportunity. I have the opportunity to revise and submit up to three of my early manuscripts to a publisher. In light of my improved craft, these older mss will take quite a bit of work. I skimmed one yesterday, and I still love the story, so I think I'm going to see what I can do with it. I also spent a few minutes last night brainstorming with my daughter and a good friend of mine on how to turn the books into series.
12. Coordinate the Women's Fiction category for the ACFW Genesis Contest. Because of all the Genesis Contest and the ACFW has meant to me over the past four years, I wanted to find a way to give back to the organization as a whole and the Genesis Contest in particular. Huge Kudos to Camy Tang for overseeing this mammoth project and curating the Spreadsheet Of All Knowledge.
How about you? How are your 2009 goals shaping up?
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Which got me to thinking about this verse: Psalm 63:8 (King James Version)
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
God promises that if we seek Him, He will be found. That it is through His power that we are able to know Him at all, and He will sustain us on this journey. All we have to do is seek...follow hard...after Him.
I've come to the conclusion that I am spiritually ADD. Rather than following hard after God, clinging to Him and His holy ways, my pursuit of holiness more closely resembles one of the kids from the Family Circus on his way to get the mail. I mean to follow hard after God and pursue holiness but then I wind up chasing butterflies, or playing hopscotch, or kicking an empty can, or following an inchworm and trying to measure if they really do move one inch at a time. Or perhaps I'm just trying to see how slow I can walk without actually falling over...oh wait, that's a whole other story from my childhood. See how easily distracted I am?
Have I ever followed hard after God? If so, for how long? I can't even pray for 5 minutes without some little sparkly idea leading me off task. And I find myself having to really concentrate to read Scripture, lest the study notes or the cross references or the cool rustly sound of the pages distract me.
My mind pounces on distractions like a monkey on a cupcake.
Am I alone in this?
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
It's winter time in Minnesota,
And the gentle breezes blow;
Seventy miles an hour,
At twenty-five below.
Oh, how I love Minnesota,
When the snow's up to your butt.
You take a breath of winter,
And your nose gets frozen shut.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful,
So I guess I'll hang around.
I could never leave Minnesota,
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground!
Monday, January 26, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Favorite Color: Yellow (with purple a close runner up, a la the Minnesota Vikings)
Favorite Food: Mac n' cheese (I get off so easy here)
Favorite Books: DragonKeeper Series by Donita K. Paul (He was so impressed when he found out Donita and I are Facebook friends and that I'd actually met her at the ACFW Conference)
Favorite Movie: Star Wars Collection
Favorite Game: Currently it is Mario Sunshine (Man, did I ever hit a homerun getting him that game for Christmas. Bigtime Mom Points there.)
Happy Birthday, Buddy! You've brought laughter and love to our lives.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Today marked day one of my eldest child's driver's education class. Three hours on Monday and Wednesday afternoons for the next five weeks.
Okay, I admit it, I worried a little. She is homeschooled. Her class size is one. The local high school where she is taking the classes has a couple thousand students. I wondered how she'd get on, could we even find the right room, would she do well, would she make some new friends. I wanted her to make some friends, enjoy her time, learn a lot...no pressure there!
We found the room (thanks to a very nice young man who turned out to be one of the FIVE students in the class--yes, only five students taking the class, guess no one wants to learn to drive in the teeth of a Minnesota winter.) and met her instructor, signed the contracts, and I left to find a coffee shop so I could work on novel edits--using profitably the time I had to wait.
I found one not too far from the high school, but to my dismay, they closed at five o'clock. What coffee shop closes at 5? Rather than drive around to find another place, I went in and set up shop, drank some tea and checked my email. Since I'd been at the clinic all day with my MIL, I hadn't checked email since the night before. Plenty had piled up waiting to be read. I also wanted to check the blogs I read.
Before I knew it, an hour and a half had gone by and the shop was closing. I packed up and went across the parkinglot to browse the local discount store. I found a Charles Wysocki puzzle, so it wasn't time wasted. :)
At the end of the day, the driver's ed class went well, most of my worries were unfounded (as they usually turn out to be) and I had done NO editing on my novel. Sigh. I meant to edit.
Meant to don't get it done, Dude.
“Dacus pulls off a delightful story that places readers in the heart of the South with the debut of the Brides of Bonneterre series. Readers will enjoy this look at how lives are transformed through devastating events and how forgiveness is the key to a promising future. Nothing is as it seems in this heartwarming story.”–Romantic Times, 4-Star Review
“Absolutely delightful! I enjoyed Stand-In Groom from cover to cover! Ms. Dacus’s clever story and wonderful prose will draw you away to a place deep in the heart of Louisiana, surrounding you with the scents, sounds, and sights of the deep south. A story filled with romance and intrigue, betrayal and forgiveness, I found myself laughing, crying and rejoicing right along with the characters.”–M.L. Tyndall, author of The Falcon and the Sparrow and the award-winning Legacy of the King’s Pirates series
“Stand-In Groom is as sweet, beautiful, and chaotic as a perfectly planned wedding. Anne is a bright and wounded heroine you’re going to care about for a long time. George is a hero to capture your heart. Kaye Dacus will take you along for a fun, poignent ride in Stand-In Groom.”–Mary Connealy, author of the Lassoed in Texas series and Of Mice...and Murder
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Can I just say how excited I am about a new book coming out this summer? Me, Just Different, by my friend Stephanie Morrill...It's such a joyous occasion!
To me, Me, Just Different is about the crumbling world of a girl who thought herself untouchable and discovers she doesn’t really know herself at all. Even though our lives might look very different from Skylar’s, I think we’ve all experienced situations that have tried us and led us to discover we aren’t everything we thought we were.
The facet of Skylar’s story I’m particularly attached to is her friendship with Jodi. The idea came from a friendship of mine in middle and high school. Anytime my friend and I liked a guy, he usually wound up liking both of us back. It was a very strange phenomenon that happened four and a half times (one guy we both liked, but he only liked her). One time in eighth grade it very nearly destroyed our friendship, and I remember how even in the midst of the craziness, I felt very disappointed in myself. I wanted—much like Skylar does—to be stronger than I was and to not care what everyone thought.
This book is also very special to me because it’s the first one I wrote after my husband and I got married. We lived in the neighborhood next to Skylar’s and spent a lot of time at Sheridan’s talking about who Skylar and Connor were. A lot of thoughts from those conversations made it into the book. And so did the ice cream.
Monday, January 19, 2009
This past couple weeks I've been a big chicken. I've puttered around, read books, watched tv, played video games, and all sorts of things that weren't editing my NaNo novel.
I wanted to let it lie fallow for a month, but that month stretched into six weeks because I was reluctant to dive into the major revisions I knew that ms needed.
But Saturday, I decided enough was enough. I would go to the library away from distractions like email, blogging, email, chatting on the IM, email, tv, email, video games, email, books, email...you get the picture. I would spend half a day reading and taking notes on what should be changed in the novel.
The library opened at 9:30 am. By 9:45 I was at a table in the stacks, opening the document and ready to get down to work. With trepidation I began reading. When next I looked up, it was 11 am. I was many pages in, and the editing was going well. My major task in this first edit was to cull 6K words from the document to bring it in under the word count. This sounds worse than it was because when writing it in the NaNo frenzy, I wrote two chapters that didn't feel right, that I ended up rewriting during that crazy month. But I kept the old chapters in there because no words are wasted words during NaNo. I knew I could go in and remove those chapters and thousands of words would fall to my editor's pen.
When next I looked up, it was almost 4 pm! I had spent all day editing and was within 25 pages of the end of the book. WOW! I was so tired and didn't realize it until that moment. I decided to leave the last 25 pages (loaded with action and with some things I knew would need serious revision based on things I'd changed in earlier chapters) until Monday when I would be fresher.
Lesson learned here? Nothing is so tyrannical as fear. It blows things out of proportion and keeps you from doing what you know you need to do. This story wasn't nearly as mangled as I made it out in my head. I had plotted it out beforehand and stayed true to that plot (except the two chapters I had to rewrite...that should teach me the value of my plot board, huh?) and the story holds together well. I will polish it up further this week and hopefully send it out for crit by Friday.
Then it is on to a proposal for a series that's been tickling my brain for awhile.
Do you have anything that has held you hostage lately that you just need to dig into?
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I'm a self-confessed book addict. And I don't even want to be cured. :) When we were at the Minnesota History Museum, I went into the bookstore there and browsed. Because everything in the store is related to history, this is heaven for me. I thumb through books I would love to own, like the four volume set of Minnesota history by Folwell, or the biography of James J. Hill that retails for sixty bucks...sigh...maybe someday. Peter always gets a little nervous when I head into that bookstore...or any bookstore for that matter. :)
But I did find one gem, and on the clearance cart no less. To Live and Die in the West: The American Indian Wars by Jason Hook and Martin Pegler. This book isn't a history of Indian warfare in the American West, but rather a volume describing daily life and conditions of military service on the plains. Invaluable for a writer. Everything from clothing to daily chores to the menus of both the US Army and the plains Indians is covered. Maps, photographs, artists cut-away drawings of equipment, it's all in there.
About the Authors:
Jason Hook is a senior editor of Wayland Publishing and has written extensively on the subject of American Indians. He holds a degree in English and American Literature with First Class Honors.
Martin Pegler is a Senior Curator of weapons at the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds UK. He has a long-standing interest in the history of the US Cavalry.
In an aside, one of my pet peeves is when people interchange the words Cavalry with Calvary. There is an immense difference. Christ did not die at Cavalry. Though I suppose saying "Calvary to the rescue" is more true than people realize.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
During the day around the house, I wear my monkey socks with the no-slip soles. These were a gift from some writer friends a few years ago. I wear them over my regular socks (again something that shocks my family, as I was known to go barefoot in the good old days even in winter, due to the fact that my feet were always hot).
Heather took this picture for me. I was going to take it myself but then realized that would have made the monkey faces upsidedown in the photo.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
At the beginning of a new year, one of the best things you can do to help your writing career is to purchase the newest Christian Writers' Market Guide.
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It was through the Christian Writers' Market Guide that I found my agent, the first step on my way to publication.
Click HERE to purchase your copy today!
Friday, January 09, 2009
I was perusing my DVD shelves looking for a film to watch, and realized I have some decidedly odd DVD's. Here is a small sample.
Pirates of the Seven Seas: Four movies on one disk. The Black Pirate, Captain Calamity, Wallaby Jim of the Islands, and Jamaica Inn. Starring George Houston, Douglas Fairbanks, and Sid Sailor.
King Solomon's Mines. Before there was Indiana Jones, there was Allan Quartermain, the stalwart hero of H. Rider Haggard's classic 1885 novel that's been filmed four times. This 1950 version stars Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr.
Alexander McDougall's Whalebacks were once a common sight on the Great Lakes. Join the Out of the Blue Dive Team as they explore examples of these now extinct oddities. Learn about their tragic tales and see rare, historical footage of life aboard the 'whale.'
Thursday, January 08, 2009
This fall I purchased SILKS by Dick Francis and his son Felix Francis. As frequent readers of this blog can attest, I am a bigtime Dick Francis fan. I have all of his fiction. (43 novels)
The story was most interesting, but the ending left me with a feeling of disappointment. Not because it wasn't action-packed enough, but because the hero made a decision that I felt crossed a line I wouldn't have. I've read the book twice now (told you I was a fan) and on the second readthrough, I realized that the hero didn't cross a line that violated his own code of ethics, just mine.
I've been thinking a lot about endings lately. I tend to rush my endings, building up to a major KAPOW ending, but quite often leaving the story not quite finished. I also need to make sure that the story ends in a way that is both logical and doesn't violate my code of ethics just because it is expedient.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
My daughter is starting a new semester of school on Monday. New books in the mail, new professors, new course requirements, etc.
I am dusting off a ms I wrote last year and re-reading it, massaging it, and getting it ready to submit. While she is diving into new material, I'll be rediscovering old things. But each of us will face similar challenges, mastering material, presenting ideas in the best way, discovering our strengths and working on our weaknesses.
How about you? Do you have new challenges you're diving into? A new semester, a new job, a new project?
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
I put a couple new widgets on the blog. One is a countdown to the ACFW Denver conference. I really want to go. I had thought after the last conference that maybe I would sit Denver out and wait for Indy in 2010, but the more I think about it, listening to the workshops from the past conference, corresponding with people I shared the 07 conference with, I don't want to miss 09 in Denver.
I like widgets like the countdown, especially if they motivate me to do more, do better, make progress. By far, my favorite widget is the word counter.
Do you have a favorite widget, motivator, or gadget?
Monday, January 05, 2009
Friday, January 02, 2009
Five games I've played this year:
1. Quelf. This game is nuts.
2. Imagine If... This one was a lot of fun, and there's no wrong answer. I love that in a game.
3. Apples to Apples. Love this one too. The answers are so funny, and we tend to play marathon games where we go through ALL the cards.
4. 500. In Peter's family, you need to know how to play this game. When I first joined the family 19 years ago, it was the only game they played together. I learned in self-defense.
5. Zoo Tycoon. I love playing this game with my daughter. We design zoos and try to beat the challenges.
There's one game I want to try with the family, Settlers of Cataan. I've heard good things and think it would suit my strategists very well. Have to look into acquiring it.