Notes from a Drama Queen

Pedal to the metal

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why am I always late on a book? It makes me insane, ruins my sleep, makes me eat too much? And yet I do it every time. This time it wasn't my fault. My computer crashed with no backup and no second computer to work on even if I had backed it up. Fortunately Saint Jon at Small Dog Electronics saved the work, and I bought a second laptop (mine could be saved but I'd lost my second one right before Christmas) and now I'm keeping things in Dropbox plus backing up (or, er, I will back up, I promise). But that threw me off. And the book is just that kind of book -- needing time. Hell, I figured out the ticking clock part of it (an important thing in books and movies where there's a reason everything has to be done within the set period of time) at the second to the last chapter. So now I have to go back and weave that in, plus tighten tighten tighten.

So today (and tomorrow and Wednesday) I spend curled up in my chair doing revisions. Mind you, I've been revising and rewriting like crazy on this already, planning, taking notes, writing new scenes, so it's not as if I'm just diving in. I know what I need to do; I just need to do it.

Writing is such an interesting profession. I'm usually a very instinctive writer -- I sit down and the story flows. Sometimes it flows so beautifully it's like it's being dictated by my muse/god/the girls in the basement. Sometimes it stops and starts. And sometimes it's a real pain in the ass, like with this one.

But the funny thing is, the pains in the ass are challenging, and I like that. I'm enjoying the challenge of making this sucker work, when I used to believe that only the easy books were the good books. And in fact, if the idea is brilliant and it soars, then those are the best books. But you can write a damned fine one by rewriting and fine-tuning.

I've never seen anyone revise and rewrite as much as Jenny Crusie, and you certainly can't argue with the brilliant stuff she turns out.

Now, no way am I ever going to revise and rework like Crusie. The very idea makes me head for my fainting couch. But you know, sometimes hard work can be fun.

I've got my iPod set, my red pencil out, my Tab by my side. I'm ready to rock and roll.


Audio books

Monday, February 06, 2012

God, so I love audio books. I love them with a fierce passion, and it's probably easy enough to understand. I assume everyone who reads this is either a reader or a writer and a reader. We all started out loving books. Nancy Drew, horse books, ballet books, Cherry Ames, our grandmother's Harlequins. It doesn't matter what, we loved them.

I had a pretty awful childhood, with an alcoholic father and a raging mother, and books kept me alive. I would go in my room and read, anything and everything, usually with a box of oatmeal cookies under my bed to nibble on. The YA room at the Princeton Public Library (not the new one, the old one in a house from the 1700s) was my save haven. It's really hard to communicate just how much I loved it there, loved those books.
It continued, of course. I read MISTRESS OF MELLYN by Victoria Holt when it first came out, and my life was changed. I became a writer then, whether I knew it or not. In fact, a writer of gothics, which I am to this day, no matter what form the books take. Look hard enough and you'll see gothic elements.
I gave up my day job when I was 23, moved to Vermont to write gothics, mainly because there weren't enough to read. Nowadays business-savvy writers know that means the market is drying up, but that was in the old days, and I spent that first winter alone in my family's vacation house in Vermont and wrote my first book. And sold it. All the while reading everything I can, ordering books from the back pages of books that I loved (people actually used to do that). I got pretty desperate, living in such isolation.
But the more I wrote, the harder it became to read. I worked so hard at my craft that I became increasingly impatient with the occasional clumsy phrase or mixed point of view. It got to the point where there were only a few writers I could read, like Loretta Chase and Laura Kinsale, and I lost what had enriched me and sustained me for most of my life.

A couple of my old Harlequins came out as abridged audio books, and I listened to one and shuddered. I tried a later one, and while not quite as bad, it still was a far cry from enchanting. I'm not sure what turned me around. First, some of the ICE books, which were my absolute favorite, came out on MP3 and I could listen on my iPod. And then I saw my favorite Georgette Heyer mystery, BEHOLD HERE'S POISON, was available on iTunes. I downloaded that, and became obsessed.

Because listening to books makes me able to turn off the overly critical mind, the competitive mind, the jealous mind, and simply enjoy. I listened to favorite books, and then started branching out into books I hadn't read in print first. Right now I have 465 audio books in my Audible account, and probably another 25 I downloaded from CDs. I'm hooked. But more importantly, I got the joy of reading back. I glom audio books the way most people glom paperbacks, and a huge, gaping hole in my life is filled again.

Some people hate to listen to books -- Jenny Crusie can't stand to be read to. Some haven't tried it. For others, holding onto the book is important (they also don't like e-readers for the same reason). But for me, my iPod is now my best friend (and I keep buying more iPods to fill them with audio books).
This all is in honor of ON THIN ICE, which was an Amazon exclusive (meaning you couldn't buy a physical book of it, though we're working on that). It's been recorded by the divine Xe Sands, who did a brilliant job on the previous ICE book, FIRE AND ICE, and it comes out today at Audible and on Amazon, among other places. And I can't wait. The book was a labor of love, and having an audio version of it was the best reward.

Go listen to a sample, either of this, or of one of your favorite books available on audio ( has them). And see if you might not get hooked too.