Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jane Austen's Publishing Experiences

If you're a Jane Austen fan you'll enjoy this blog by Editorial Ass[istant]. And how could anyone not love Jane Austen? I still laugh out loud when Elizabeth Bennett refuses to marry Mr. Darcy (I can just picture his shocked and disbelieving expression). The blog focuses on Austen's publishing experiences, which are not so different from what writers experience today.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Endings

Recent Reads:
Princess Diaries X: Forever Princess by Meg Cabot
Ransom my Heart by Princess of Genovia Mia Thermopolis . . . by Meg Cabot
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

Recent Book Purchase:
King Dork by Frank Portman

I've been working on the new end for my first Prana book for the last few weeks. Every novel I've read (well, maybe not Ransom my Heart) lately has either been the start or the end of a series. The biggest reason I worked on a new way to end my first book was that I want to give my readers a satisfying conclusion to the first book even if, well, the story isn't over.

I think there are different ways a series can handle this. Each Princess Diaries novel has a plot that involves an issue that's making Mia nervous, edgy, and let's face it, a complete nut case. The series has a number of open-ended questions (what guy will she choose, what college will she go to, will she remain a princess or ditch the gig and join Greenpeace?). But in every novel there is a resolution to the main plot.

The Hunger Games, however, is quite a different series. And if you haven't read it, then go pick up a copy. And then you can be in the same pain I am waiting for the next book. Because believe me, Hunger Games does not have the neat resolution of a Princess Diaries novel. You will stare at the last line [The end of Book 1] and think nasty thoughts about Suzanne Collins. You will love her for writing such a gripping, powerful, suspenseful novel and absolutely loathe her for making you wait until September for the next book.

And I have a really awful feeling that when we reach the end of Catching Fire (the sequel) there will be another cliffhanger ending.

It's not that I believe Collins is a sadist. Well, I'm not completely convinced, anyway. But she has a much longer story to tell than can be put into one volume. I would imagine the next novel will start exactly where the first one ended. Yes, there will be new themes, another plot, but it will be volume 2 of the same story. And the same goes for book three. Yes, this is another trilogy.

But there are good reasons why books are often written in threes. Most stories involve a three act structure. Movies, too. Trilogies usually follow the same kind of structure as the three act plot. The first book (or act) is the set-up. The second book/act is when everything seems to go wrong. Think about Empire Strikes Back. The characters get deeper into trouble and they will face their darkest moment (Luke losing his harm, dangling from a cliff, after learning his father is Darth Vader). The third book/act is the grand conclusion.

Now I will return to crafting the end of what is really only the beginning. I will do my best not to be a sadist. I don't make any promises, though.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunshine

[From Last Blog] I only hope the text is as captivating as the cover!

It is!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Search for Sunshine


About a month ago, as I browsed the new releases section in science fiction and fantasy I was struck by this fantastic cover and title. Sunshine makes you think the novel is going to be full of sweetness and light, but the cover tells us something different. I was intrigued enough to want to purchase it, but for one reason or another decided to wait. That turned out to be a bad idea.

A couple of weeks later, Christmas had passed and I was ready to buy the book. I couldn't remember the book title or author, but I was positive I'd recognize the cover as soon as I saw it. I went to the new releases section and . . . it wasn't there. I considered going to the information desk, but what would I say? Oh, I'm looking for a new fantasy novel with a one-word title that's happy while the cover is dark and sinister. Does that ring any bells? Pass. So I walked through the fantasy section peering at all of the trade paperbacks (thank god it wasn't a mass market paperback) for it. I couldn't find it at the Barnes and Noble in Huntington Beach, though I made about half a dozen passes through the fantasy section.

I looked again at the Barnes and Noble in Santa Ana. No luck. By this time, I was on a mission. I was not about to give up. If all else fails I was going to risk sounding like an idiot and approach sales people. Surely someone else would remember such an awesome cover. The title really stands out from other fantasy works. I didn't realize how many Dragon Lords and Vampire Lover titles abounded in fantasy.

Lucky for me, I didn't need to test the knowledge of bookstore sales staff. I found it finally on my second pass through the Borders in Orange the other day. I was glad that my memory didn't lie. It would have been disappointing if the book was really titled Sunshine's Dragon Lover or something else more typical.

I only hope the text is as captivating as the cover!

Holiday Writing & Reading

While I truly had a relaxing vacation--Christmas parties with family, a cruise to Cabo San Lucas & Ensenada followed by attending the Rose Bowl game on New Year's Day--now that it's the day before I have to return to the job that pays the bills I'm feeling tense all over again. My. Book. Is. Still. Not. Finished. [Sigh]

I'm still working on the new ending. Anytime I start new writing there seems to be so many questions to solve. Where should I set the scenes? What are my characters motivations? Where is this going? What information needs to be in it and what should I hold back? Plus, I need to weave the new ending into the novel so it doesn't feel out of place. The scenes are progressing--it's just not as fast or clear-cut as I had hoped it would be. I know I'll get it done. And the novel will be better for all of this revision. But I'm ready to move on.

The funny thing is I am the most impatient fan. I went to Barnes and Noble more than once over the holidays with a stack of gift cards. But the aggravating thing is knowing that on Tuesday--when I'm no longer on vacation--Meg Cabot's final Princess Diaries Book and Marlene Perez's Dead is a State of Mind are due to hit the shelves. It gets better, too. In February, Kim Harrison and Patricia Briggs have new books out. I absolutely love the books by both of those authors. Now, why in the universe would the publishers decide to put the novels out after the holidays? Yeah, I get the notion that many people (like me) were given gift cards. But the same people might (like me) go to the bookstore the day after Christmas seeking fun reads for their vacation time. I would have bought all of those writers books had they come out earlier.

Of course I'm going to purchase them, anyway. But I won't have as much time to read at home like I had during the cruise. [A cruise spoils you for real life. You go to dinner and you can order anything you want. Then, if you don't like it the server runs over to you and offers to get you something else (free of charge). And when I return to my room the housekeeping brownie has come and left a mint on top of my pillow. Trust me, this never happens at home.]

It's now time to stop blogging, and return to writing. Happy 2009 everyone!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year's Wishes

I was tempted to create a list of New Year’s resolutions, but since I tend to not keep those I didn’t want to tempt fate. But I did think of wishes I have for 2009. So here’s my top ten things I’d love to see happen in the coming year:

1. R&B artists will sing more and dance less.
2. Employers will rehire all of the recently laid off workers. And give them a raise.
3. Everyone will forget that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were once married and MOVE ON.
4. Chuck and Blair will be together.
5. Books will sell so well that none will be returned to the publisher.
6. When I tell people I'm a writer they won't ask me, "So what do you do for a living?"
7. And I won't have to answer, "I'm a secretary."
8. Hollywood will stop remaking good movies, and will take risks on new material.
9. With the exception of books made into movies. Hollywood will keep making those.

And finally . . .

10. I’ll be a vampire like the ones in Twilight: live forever, never have to sleep, and sparkle in sunlight.

Happy New Year!