Saturday, August 8, 2009

From Death to Love

I spent today doing research for The Mark of Abel.

Some nice man put together online a list of the big massacres. At 10pts it's over 15 pages long. I picked out ones I found interesting. In the back of the book, I'll list the massacres Sophia died in. Some people have play lists. I have a death list.

So I'm a little creepy. That's project number one.

The moon is amazingly beautiful. Not only does it continually change its phase and travel across the sky, but like the sun it rises and sets. Unlike the sun, the difference from day to day is more than a couple minutes, so the moon isn't always out at night. Nothing takes me out of a book faster than getting the moon wrong. So I had to get it right.

I spent way too much time on the National Naval Observatory's website looking at moonrise and moonset times. Since I write about vampires, it's a good idea to know when the sun rises and sets as well.

Of course, I had to cross reference this with when the Fall foliage is peak in New Hampshire. I found a neat map where you hover over the date and it shows what the foliage was for the entire state for 2008. As Hubby says, "In books, it's always Fall in New England." True, but I need this to be towards the beginning of the school year and a time when the nights are getting longer. October is perfect.

I know I'm nuts. That's research project number two.

Research project number three involved making Janie into the ideal teacher. I want her to be the teacher we all wish we had. That meant I had to figure out what types of teachers others wanted and appreciated. I did a search for "favorite professors." There's a lot of stuff out there. After over an hour, I decided I had enough material (and dinner needed to be made). From that I got ideas for two awesome scenes that will really show the reader who Janie is.

Reading all those nice things alumni said and figuring out two great scenes was a nice way to end the writing day.

So, tell me about your favorite teachers.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

What are you doing to break in?

Literary agent Rachel Gardner today asked What are you doing to break in?

The standard answers boil down to working on our craft and writing a lot. Everyone does that. Near perfect craft is not going to get you a publishing contract. You can work on your query and synopsis until they shine, your pitch until it sings, these won't get you through that gate if your book is missing one important ingredient--you. You are what makes your book unique. You are what makes your book interesting. You are what will get that publishing contract.

We talk about branding and platform, but that isn't what I mean. Each one of us is a collection of hopes and fears. We believe in things passionately. We wants things. We have experienced tragedy. We have moments in life where we soar. We have a heart, a mind, a soul. There are things we know, things we want to know. These are what makes us unique and these are what make our books special. Pouring these into our writing is what gets us published.

Kontanti Stanislavsky said "Craft is always secondary to the truth of emotional connection."

I work on my craft and I write everyday. I also pour myself into my writing, my time, my energy, my money, but most of all, who I am, what makes me me.