Tag Archives: novel revision

The Cutting Room Floor

2 Jan


Happy New Year kids!

I hope you all played nice and had some lovely days off. Jay and I spent New Years Day walking around Central Park and saw a cardinal and a red-tailed hawk through the binoculars of a lovely nearby ornithologist.  It was a beautiful day.


And now, back to business. So today I’m over at Girl Who Reads talking about my least favorite part of writing. Revision.

Ugh. I dislike it most even though a friend of mine says it separates the real writers from the “noodlers.”

True, but it’s still a pain in the butt. My problem is that I can’t always see what needs to go and what needs to stay.

So when Donna at Girl who Reads asked me to come by and talk about my book I figured why not share the things that were left on the cutting room floor as I went through draft after draft to finalize Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb. Things like this:

1. Lizzy’s name was Hamlet. I’m not kidding. I named a 12-year-old girl Hamlet Shakes.
Oh wait…
2. Lizzy wasn’t 12. She was 8. I named an 8-year-old girl Hamlet Shakes. How cruel.
Many many thanks to the lovely Donna. As always, my favorite candy – the Starburst of Thanks!

The Next Big Thing

24 Oct

Here’s some of the plot to the Chess Book which has taken over one of the walls in my writing closet.

Hey kids! I got tagged in a blog hop. My first ever! Woot!

Renata Barcelos tagged me in the Next Big Thing which is a chance for writers to talk about what they’re working on next. I’ve got two in the pot right now, the second book in the Lizzy Speare series which I’m calling Lizzy Speare and the Hall of Hecate (maybe) and the book I talk about below. Ready? Allons-y! (that’s French for “Let’s go” for those of you who don’t watch Doctor Who…or speak French.)

What is the working title of your book?

The Chess Book or the Kings Game or Gambit’s Defense or Perpetual Check. I really can’t decide. At this point I just refer to it as the Chess Book.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was home in my apartment in Brooklyn one day and someone slipped a menu under the door. I looked up just in time to see it slide across the floor and for a split second I thought “what if it was an invitation” and then “what if it was an invitation for someone else and not me” and it sort of spiraled from there. Funny thing, that moment doesn’t even happen in the book. Inspiration is a strange beast.

What genre does your book fall under?

Young Adult/Science Fiction/Romance/Mystery maybe? I don’t know. The character’s are teens and, to quote The Doctor, some weird “wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff” goes down.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ha! That’s a good one. I have no idea who would play Kate cause I’m terrible with younger actors but I would pick Evan Peters from American Horror Story for the main male character. In fact, minus the blond hair, he’s VERY Evan Peters, only less, you know, murder-y.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Never trust your memory.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Well if my agent likes it (fingers crossed) it’ll be repped and subbed. If not, I would definitely put it out myself.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About 7 months or so. But it’s a looong book (currently at 150K words). Revising has taken close to 2 years but I was also working on other things at the time. Ahem…making excuses’ much?

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Wow. I have no idea. Literally none. Clearly, I broke my first rule about good writing being all about reading.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

The menu story above. Oh, and my main character is named Kate because of Linda Buckley-Archer’s book Gideon the Cutpurse which really deserves more attention in the States than it gets. It’s a fantastic three book series and one of the main character’s is named Kate. After reading it, I knew I would use that name, just as an homage to such a beautifully written character. She was unforgettable and I guess it’s just my way of saying thanks to Ms. Buckley-Archer. *Sniffle.*

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Let’s play word association. I’ll say one word and you say whatever comes to mind.

1. Time Travel

2. Chess

3. Stolen Memories

4. New Love

5. Street kids

6. Lies

7. Heartbreak

8. Doppelganger

9. Cockney Accents

10. Underground Resistance Movements

So now…what say you?

I tagged a couple other friends of mine Jen McConnel and Patrice Caldwell so they can play, too. So go check out their answers next Wednesday!

The First Look Challenge: Lizzy Speare and the Hall of Hecate

26 Sep

In addition to letting me read her debut The Burning of Isobel Key (review here)  Jen McConnel also tagged me in the First Look Challenge and well, once you’re tagged, you’re IT. That’s the rules, right?

The way it works: You search your WIP for the word “look” and then post the scene it surrounds. I’ve got two novels I’m working on currently so I went with the second Lizzy Speare book, tentatively called Lizzy Speare and the Hall of Hecate. In the scene, Jonathan and Lizzy are on their way to see a witch named Medea Elderwood who lives in an abandoned amusement park down at Coney Island. Enjoy!

“I’ve always preferred the ocean when no one else was around,” Jonathan said.

“You would,” Lizzy muttered.

She followed him down the boardwalk past the rows of stalls, their shutters clamped tight. In the distance, a large Ferris wheel rose into the sky like a giant metal snail shell. Ahead of them towered a parachute jump, now devoid of the parachutes, looking like an alien antennae, stark and metallic, against the cloudy sky. To her left were the piers and the ocean. The water licked the sand cautiously, dipping and foaming around the straight lines of algae-crusted rocks near the shoreline. Jutting out into the water was the pier, cut from the same ill-fitting wood as the boardwalk, like a finger reaching out to test the water. From it, Lizzy heard the sound of drumming as men playing the bongos shouted in Spanish to the crabs they hoped to ensnare in the cages that dangled off the pier. Behind them, the sky rippled with a crackle of lighting and a low rumble.

“Looks like a storm,” Lizzy said as she strained to keep up with Jonathan’s long strides.

He led them down the boardwalk, to where an old abandoned amusement park stood. The rusted front gates were locked and threaded with police tape. An advertisement for condominiums hung from the entrance offering future residents spacious views of the ocean. Demolition was scheduled in a few weeks and then the Midnight Carnival, as the amusement park was called, would be no more. At the end of the boardwalk, where the land dipped down, they slipped under the railing and landed softly in the tall reeds growing out of the cool sand. About halfway down the side fence, they ducked under a section that had been clipped and peeled back.

“Be careful you aren’t seen. It’s still light out,” Jonathan said as they crept into the vacant amusement park. They passed between the Flying Carpet, a pendulum ride and the old-fashioned swings which hung sadly, their chains rusted in the saltwater air. They stepped over thick black cables that snaked across the walkways, many of which had been split open by rats, exposing their plaits of copper wire and twisted cords. They looked like the severed limbs of some giant sea creature. A small white roller coaster lay silent on the tracks. As they passed, Lizzy glanced at the warped wooden cars and rusted bolts.

“This place is creepy,” Lizzy said out loud, causing a nearby flock of seagulls to flurry into the air, cawing anxiously.

“Shhhhh. I told you to be quiet.” Jonathan shook his head and continued forward, ignoring Lizzy’s muttered apology.

I’m stopping here cause otherwise it’ll be spoilers galore. Like what you read? Wanna be a beta reader? Leave me a comment below. We’ll talk.

Also, finally, a Happy Belated Birthday to Jim Henson. The world ain’t the same without you, old friend. Thanks for everything.

Remember kids, keep believing. Keep pretending.

And the book is here! To buy! Squee!

12 Sep

Today’s the day, folks.

My first novel Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb is available!

You can buy it on amazon here.

It’s been a crazy windy strange journey to get here and as many of you know, this is something I have been working towards for a long time. And I’m so glad I can finally share Elizabeth Speare (Lizzy as she prefers) with you. I hope you like her and her Muse, Jonathan and her best friend Sammy as much as I do.

So I want to thank all you in advance for your support and love and cheers and honest criticism and for listening to my fears and whining and well, just thanks for everything.

On twitter the other day I posted this:

My #MsgToYoungerSelf is that not knowing how it’s going to work out is part of the ride. Now, relax.

And I mean it. In the end, it’s all going to be worth it. And I’m just so excited – excited for this, excited for the second part of her story, which I’m already working on. Excited that tonight we’re getting a pizza and watching Never Ending Story.

Life’s good. Like my friend says, Every Step is a Step Forward.

Here’s to moving forward! Make art! Play your ukulele!


(Oh and if you want, here’s the synopsis, and prologue and chapter 1)

Visiting Crafting Magic

30 Aug

The very lovely Ms. Jen and I spent some time talking about my upcoming novel Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb at her blog Crafting Magic. It’s due out in September but if you want a sneak peek about the plot or my influences or why I write in a closet –  all those goodies are right here.

I really want to thank Jen for having me over to blather on like that. As you all know when people do nice things for you it’s customary to say Thank You. So here’s my favorite candy in the whole wide world just for Jen.

P.S. Look how many orange there are! You know I mean it.

Got a plot problem?

17 Aug

Yo! I’ll solve it. Check out the hook while the DJ revolves it.

(That’s my first Vanilla Ice reference for the day. Sadly, it probably won’t be my last.)

I have trouble with linear thinking – in life in general – but most decidedly in writing. I can’t seem to keep all my little ducks in a row, especially with the current WIP which deals with other dimensions, some time travel-y stuff, Doppelgangers, memory erasing and some big ol’ lies that get revealed in a SHAZAM moment at the end. It’s currently in its third incarnation and some bits and pieces of the earlier drafts got left over, changed and now it’s like a big old sloppy steak and ale pie. (mmmm pie).

So to fix that, I spent some time thinking how I could keep my ducks safe, my brain sane and actually get this darn book finished.

This is what I came up with:

That is a chapter by chapter summary of the book (well, actually only half of the book but that’s a whole ‘nuther problem*). Each slip of paper covers the basics of what happens in the chapter, the general mood, and the necessary references to past/present/future events. Some contain codes to parts that deal with a missing character’s journal entries.

Blue post-its mean, “You’re beautiful darling. Don’t change a thing.”

Purple post-its mean “Whoop! Whoop! Houston we have a problem.”

I realize the inherent problem of the chapter(s) with both blue and purple post-its there. I just haven’t solved it.

It’s like my own low tech version of Scrivener – Now with more hand cramps!

Truth is, I’m a visual person. I need to see it all laid out or I’ll never be able to stop my ducks from being mauled by a tractor trailer.

*152,000 words and growing. Yeah…ahem.

Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb synopsis

23 Jul


…a normal twelve year old girl with a talent for writing, who has a very not normal family secret. And when Lizzy’s father vanishes, that secret will change her life in ways unimagined. (Spoiler Alert!  It turns out that Lizzy, or Elizabeth S. Speare, is the last living descendent of William Shakespeare.  Shhh!  Don’t tell anybody!)

Then Lizzy and her best friend Sammy are kidnapped, awakening in the faraway land of Manhattan. Their host is Jonathan Muse, whose job is to protect Lizzy from becoming the latest victim in a family feud going back nearly five hundred years.  Is that why is the mysterious, eye patch-wearing Dmitri Marlowe is after her? (Spoiler Alert 2—he’s the last living descendent of Christopher Marlowe, a friend and rival of Shakespeare’s.  But keep it to yourself!) Is Marlowe after Lizzy’s family fortune rumored to be kept in the tomb of that bald guy with the goattee? Does he seek artistic immortality? Or Revenge (with a capital R) for a death long, long ago?

In a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, Lizzy and Sammy are thrust into the realm of the mythical and fantastic—from satyrs and Cyclopses to Middle Eastern cab drivers and Brooklyn hipsters in what is truly “an improbable fiction” as the Bard himself once wrote.

Keep believing, Keep pretending

17 May

image via skullswap

Yesterday was the sad twenty-second anniversary of Jim Henson’s death. That seems impossible partly because I remember whole days in 1990.

But also because that means we’ve been slogging around this earth without the creativity of Mr. Henson for twenty-two years! Imagine what he would have come up with by now.

Last night my husband’s response to my lament about no one picking up the mantel was that Pixar has put out some good things and I agree – to an extent. But Pixar’s creations aren’t huggable now are they?

He just…thought differently. Created differently – took what was essentially a marketing and advertising tool and managed to change the way we teach kids as well as kids themselves.

In other news, I’m deep in the mud and slog of novel revision right now. This is me:

Stupid Swamp!

I am both Atreyu and Artax, simultaneously. I’ve got some plot problems, holes if you will, or as I like to call them giant craters into which all known logic falls. So I’m trying to hammer them out.

My techie friends, well really my one pro-tech friend has repeatedly offered Scrivener as a way to solve all my problems, but I just can’t seem to do it. I don’t know what it is about me. I’m not, contrary to popular opinion, a Luddite. I just feel strange using a program for things that my own stupid brain should be able to track. You know, like the damn plot that I created in this stupid brain.

So instead I’m getting index cards and tapping them up on my writing wall to track what happens when, why and how. Possibly I need a blackboard. I read somewhere that Rebecca Stead, who wrote “When You Reach Me” (which is fantastic and if you haven’t read it, please get thee to the library) used a blackboard to keep all the time travel stuff in place but of course, now I can’t find that quote. But I found this quote instead. It is her answer to the question “Has it gotten any easier, writing?”

“Uhmm, noo, it hasn’t gotten any easier. I do have faith more, that I can make my work better. You’re inevitably disappointed by what’s on the page, because you have some idea that just seems good enough that you want to start writing it, but then when it starts getting down there on the page it’s inevitably a disappointment.’ Rebecca laughs….‘It’s not what was in here,’ she says, indicating her head, ‘and you almost feel like you’re killing it by putting it down, but what you learn is that you have to keep pushing past that stage and then learn how to lift your story up as high as you can. So now, I’m still disappointed by what’s there, but I’m better at thinking “well let’s just move on, it’s time to start pulling it up now,” so I get a little less stuck.”

You can read the whole thing here at BookWitch.

Okay…back to work. Time to start pulling up.

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