Tags: writing: herbalist's apprentice

Herbalist's Apprentice

Happy Book Day To Me

Here's the jumble:

In October, my awesome fun book signing at MY library (the one I've worked in since I was 19, give or take a few years spent at the library next door). With CAKE.

No, I mean CAKE.

Deni of Small Review loves my book. I mean, this is like ideal reader love.  I don't intend to post many reviews here, if ANY more--I'll just note that Kirkus was definitely okay with it, and so was Publisher's Weekly, and unless a major review site actually comes across with a star OR I get some awesome review from an honest to god 10-year-old, that's all you'll see about reviews from here on.

Here are my acknowledgments:

I want to thank my readers and critiquers. First, the Feral Writers: Julie Winningham, David Klecha, and honorary Feral Julie DeJong. Excelsior! group: Sarah Zettel, Lawrence Kapture, Jonathan Jarrard, Elizabeth Bartmess, Christine Pellar-Kosbar, Karen Everson, and Diane Rivis. The Hastings Point Workshoppers of 2009: Elizabeth Shack, Emily Kasja Herrstrom, Amy O. Lau, Stephen Buchheit, and Victoria Witt. And also Leah Bobet, Marissa K. Lingen, Jason Larke, Sunny Smith, and Kate Riley, and for more than just the reads. Thanks also to Sarah Prineas, Sherwood Smith, Jim C. Hines, Rachel Neumeier, and Stephanie Burgis for kindnesses rendered.

Thank you to my family--Kayla Fuller, Raluca Cook, Iulia Forro, Anne and Rick Fuller, and Bev Cook in particular for specific help on the book and giving me writing space and time, but thank you all for your support.

Thanks to my awesome coworkers at MLibrary at the University of Michigan: not only for the collections, the articles on Romanian folklore, and the OED, but for all the help and encouragement.

Thank you extremely very much no-more-than-that to my editor, Anne Hoppe, and my agent, Caitlin Blasdell, and everyone on their teams who helped this book along.

And thank you to Dann Fuller, who told me to go to Romania when I dithered and who made me write even when I didn't want to.

I had to pare the acks to the bones to be able to get them in, so they are not as effusive and verbose as the first draft.

And finally, you can read the first 8ish chapters at my publisher's site.

And I think that's about it for boring self-promo.  I hear Seanan McGuire and Sherwood Smith have books out today, too, so if MG isn't your cuppa, you have NO lack of choices.
Herbalist's Apprentice

Too long for Twitter

Grungy bookwork stuff, nothing to see here.

Of COURSE I had the worst cold of the last year and a half in the middle of this book edit. It took the wind right out of my sails. I was so exhausted even after the worst of it, and I was utterly non-functional for a week, and only partially functionally for the following week.

So, when I finally got back into a groove--my great-uncle passed away. I doled out the five hours for getting to the funeral and back, but of course my brain was far more taken up with grief and family matters than I would have cared to admit. Uncle Doc was such a gentle, good, kind, and funny man, and while I was quite positive that the 93 years he lived were good ones and that he was ready--he STRODE confidently into death, he did--well, you know. Death.

I'll save the reams I could write about all of this for later. And perhaps also for fiction. Or my private journals.

In any case, that was more than I anticipated writing when I came over here to say things that were too long for Twitter, but not THAT much longer, then...

Anyway. I had four full days off (including a weekend) to work on the book, plus an empty house for most of it, and I pulled myself groaning into the final stages last night. I had been diligently going through the book in order: edit a chapter or two fully--which is to say, address everything, major or minor, my editor wanted, including major cuts, line-edits, and emotional continuity checks; do a recorded vocal edit; balance some numbers (I'm trying to shrink this book, not expand it, and also figure out how long this stuff really takes me); move on to the next 1-2 chapters.

Then the full editing pass started accruing more chapters, and I was 7 or 10 chapters behind on vocal edits. Then more. (I had 39 chapters when I started this draft; I'm down to 36, but I'm also down 5,000 words and change.) I started to forget things this way, so I tried to catch up with the vocal edits. I ran into a few chapters where I had almost nothing to change on the vocal edits (chapters, interestingly, which stayed most true to earliest drafts; I guess my last draft wasn't as clean as I'd hoped, but the earlier ones were).

Finally, I basically looked at the time, and pushed through, SAT style where you pick off the easy targets first, to clean up the language, make the cuts, etc. for the last, oh--8 chapters? Leaving the emotional stuff for later.

Last night at 10:30 (bedtime is 11), I made a to-do list for today. I knocked off the first three (easier stuff), and if I can get one of the two major ones done tonight, it will be a true victory.

The biggest issue is that I have NO stomach for the thing that will take me back into the early chapters. I think I worked those over too hard--I can barely stand to look at them. Gah.

Anyway, that took 15 minutes more than I really have, but on the other hand, I may be glad someday that I documented this process.

In BETTER news, my editor wants to talk cover ideas. I'm pulling together my photo-references for her--exciting!
Herbalist's Apprentice

Pointy Hats Redux

It's funny, in re-reading my pointy hat entry from yesterday, I realize it sounds like, at the end, I'm overwhelmed by the work and displeased I have to change all the dresses, but that's not true! It's just a thing on a list.

I tend to wonder if I get bogged down in writing long journal entries about problems in my writing, and the entry itself is taxing, and it deflates my mood about the work. Well. Duly noted! I should probably walk away from such entries for a few moments, and finish them up properly, with a bang. The whole thing was meant to be a lighthearted exploration of how one is occasionally thwarted by bad research materials.

On the other hand, I DID finally stumble across a few references to "transitional" gowns, as well as "widely-laced gowns," WITH hennins, which more fits with the drawings in The Evolution of Fashion: http://cadieux.mediumaevum.com/burgundian-hennin.html (the transitional gowns are at the bottom of the page) However, the references are few, and not worth throwing my medievalist readers out of the story for. :)

I still have the problem that I'm putting Romanian women in basically French dresses, figuring on fashion dissemination, because there just aren't English-language reference materials on much of Romanian history, at least, not the nitpicky details thereof. (Plenty on Dracula. Boy howdy.) I still find it a wonder that I got a book on fortified Transylvanian churches. And learning Romanian is all well and good, but mostly, I can get to a bathroom, and buy a drink in a bar, at this stage, and am not ready to do heavy duty research.

Actually, with my Romance language background and a dictionary, I can puzzle through a page of Romanian text without nuance; but to do SEARCHES in Romanian is a different story altogether. Romanian Wikipedia worked for some of the folklore and such, but Wikipedia isn't so great on things like "medieval noble women's dress." Also, Wikipedia in general, not so great, akshully, but we know that.

I'm just saying.

This was part of why I wanted to go to Romania. But seriously, I'd need to sell and get the money for a double handful of foreign rights like, tomorrow, to make that happen in a timely enough fashion. *sigh* (Now there's a REAL sigh.)

Now, the problem is, I've perhaps been approaching my research rather straightforwardly. Literature searches, mainly, have been how I do things. And it's good, as far as it goes, but maybe not in a little-translated language that was behind the Iron Curtain for so long. It's time to poke at other resources, other possibilities. Make contacts. Oh, look! A page of resources I should have already known about! http://www.icrny.org/d30-2-Romanian_Studies_Resources_in_USA.html#libraries%20and%20other%20resources And look, there's a huge collection of Romanian materials in Urbana, where no less than 2 of my friends live and would probably let me crash!

I could actually speak with a reference librarian!

Ahem. I hate when I'm obtuse.

Herbalist's Apprentice

It started with pointy hats

It is no secret that when I started out writing "The Herbalist's Apprentice," it was a novelette for the Jim Hines/Cats Curious Press fairy tale retelling project.

A novelette is an easier project to start than a novel. It can handle more whimsy in its start-up choices. To whit, the setting of my book--1489 pseudo-Romania--was largely predicated on the fact that my cousin had married a Romanian woman and I wanted to know more about her heritage, and.... in that time period, my princesses could wear pointy hats.

Because, of course, the fairy tale I'd chosen to rewrite was "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," something I'd meant to rewrite all my life. Or maybe just a huge chunk of it. Seriously, after reading Robin McKinley's Beauty, I went through my Reader's Digest The World's Best Fairy Tales

and put check marks and dots in the table of contents to indicate to myself which one of the stories I wanted to rewrite as fairy tales, some day. I was probably 12. Ish.

Anyway, it so happened that there is a robust Romanian version of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," so that sealed it. Romania. Dancing princesses. And when? Well, when princesses had pointy hats, because the illustration inside of the Reader's Digest The World's Best Fairy Tales showed princesses in pointy hats and I'd freaking imprinted on them.

The only problem with Romania during the pointy hat era is that it's full of Dracula and his drama. That dude was not amenable to my light-hearted romp through pointy-princess-hatland. So I ended up setting the book about ten years after he died--the very edge of the pointy-princess-hat era. I figured: well, Romania was the edge of the Christian world at that point, so maybe fashions don't quite trickle over so quickly to even the nobility. It's not like the courts of the time were glittering palaces of delicate court intrigue. No, the courts of the time were defensive fortresses of brutal political intrigue. Totally different atmospheres. Not so fashion-forward.

The latter stage of pointy hatness involves the butterfly hennin. I really didn't want to go pre-Dracula (for whatever misty reason that escapes me at the time--maybe because I liked the political situation of post-Dracula too much; maybe for a GIANT SPOILER FOR BOOKS NOT YET WRITTEN. *shrug* I mean, I know why it's gotta be then NOW, but did I know why then?), when pointy hats were SO pointy they were called steeple hennins. (Hennin being the name for this hat-veil combo that pointy hats are really all about.) There are steeple hennins, heart hennins, flowerpot hennins, and butterfly hennins. And probably some other ones I never figured out.

Anyway, here's the butterfly hennin, complete with relatively pointy hat:

So, my go-to book of that time, The Evolution of Fashion, placed butterfly hennins with the sort of sleek, low-slung, belt over the hips, off-the shoulder, medieval dress that you see in about half the movies about the Middle Ages. So I wrote those into my story. One of my early critiquers is in SCA, and she pointed out that the dresses that accompany butterfly hennins are different--there's an overdress/underdress situation, and they're cinched tight, high on the waist. The opposite of the low-slung belt over the hips.

I put that out of my mind for a long time, because well, hey, The Evolution of Fashion said otherwise, I had bigger problems to fix in my book, and I figured, even if the book was wrong, you could argue that the butterfly hennin was still popular but the new mode of dress had made it to Romania. Or something. It's not like there was no trade and no fashion amongst the nobility. Also, the edges of fashion trends are mutable; and the dress and the hat do not always progress forward in lockstep in all locations.

But you know what? That's too hard to justify. It's impossible to justify within the text, because none of my characters have any idea what's fashion forward in Burgundy at the time, so wouldn't even know how to explain why they're wearing a dress out of step with their hat.

So I went and did the research, compiling photo references of butterfly hennins on the web. And wouldn't you know, every single contemporaneous image is of the kind of dress my critiquer in the SCA drew me a picture of in the margin of my manuscript. Of course. Because all the images are compiled by SCA women.

But that's the point. Even if I could justify the mixing of styles a little--the edge of an era, and all that--I'd be throwing every one of my SCA butterfly hennin-knowledgeable readers out of the story as they argued to themselves about the thing. And that's not worth it. Not when I can't explain it in the text, not when I can't find a single photo reference for justifying The Evolution of Fashion's line drawing of their approximation of the style.

So, all that, and now I have to go change every single princess dress in the story.

if I were me

the post-writhing writhing

Just one other snippet of writhing, through the power of time travel and my text editor:

It is December 9th, and I need to tell you about freaking out.

My agent is taking my book to auction tomorrow. There are four editors "interested" and two who've passed and three we haven't heard from. I AM LITERALLY FALLING APART. LITERALLY. MY NOSE JUST FELL OFF. THERE IS BLOOD EVERYWHERE.

Okay, that part was a lie.

I need to email my agent. I don't know how this is going to go. I need her to tell me how to keep my nose on. It's not off yet, but it's seriously a matter of time. I'm jittering too much to keep the nose on for much longer.

So, here I am, 111 days after selling a book. I have felt at times, in between the writhing and the near-bursting, rather like the dog who has caught the car: "So, what do I do now?"

The answer, of course, is probably "opposable thumb implants and driving lessons."

And then, yesterday, not two hours after the contract showed up, I got my edit letter.

So, you know, there's now THAT to freak out about. So. Nothing new there.

Because this actually has been a long road of freaking out. I am not, apparently, the sort of person who thinks she deserves nice things to happen. Or something? I kept waiting for the evil shoe to drop. For the editor to wake up and say, "Nah, you know, nah. I was crazy for wanting that book." Especially since the contract just kept not being done and not being done and not being done. I tried to maintain positivity, but honestly, the longer I waited, the more I was sure it was all going to come to an abrupt end. I had little mental conversations. "Well, then, logically," I would say to myself in the shower, "my agent will just try to sell the book again." But it hasn't come to an abrupt end. I got the contract. Things are moving forward.

I've been trying to figure out how I'm supposed to be now; how I'm not supposed to talk about being freaked out, and how I'm supposed to pretend to be cool professional writer chick who is unfazed by this publishing gig. But that won't ring true. I'm still going to angst, and fret, and freak out, just like I did all along the way. I guess, if you're inclined to hate reading about that, you may want to remove me from your reading list. I could offer to filter, I suppose. We'll see how it goes.

Five years ago, if you'd pointed out a writer in my position who was angsting and fretting about their tremendous opportunity and good luck, I'd have clicked the back button in disgust.

With good reason. Five-years-ago Me didn't need to know any of that stuff. Especially since this is the place I wanted to be, regardless of how daunting I now find it.

I find myself pondering things like my edit letter (which also came yesterday) with some trepidation. "Hoo boy," I say, in my best hitchin-up-my-pants way. "Hoo boy, now comes the hard work."

But to say that the hard work is ahead dismisses the last seven years of work, the last twenty-seven years of ambition. To say, "I want to be a writer" was no great challenge for a seven-year-old; saving up for a typewriter actually wasn't too much harder for the eleven-year-old, either. I wrote to escape, back then. It just happened to be lucky that I was getting in some useful practice. But each step along the way, things got incrementally harder. And at times, I chose the easy path, and the writing suffered for it. (On the other hand, I got out and lived a little, so maybe the writing benefited, too; but I could have--and should have--practiced my craft more.)

Collapse )

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, that I realize that there is still a lot of hard work ahead--perhaps even the hardest, if sales aren't brisk right off the bat, or I run into rough criticism, or any of the 900 other things that might trip me up--but the last seven years may have been the hardest I'll ever face, because I had to do it all on faith. Faith in myself, I might add, which is kind of a perennial problem with most people I know. (They either have way too much or way too little.)

So, no. I don't like saying the hard work is ahead of me, because it not only dismisses my last 7 years, but the people who are also working on faith and fumes.

On the other hand, to say that the hard work isn't ahead of me is a bloody big lie.


I guess the hard work is ALL AROUND. I am floating on an ocean of hard work. I just spent seven years paddling away from shore with all my might. And now I'm here. In the ocean. Out of sight of land. And they just handed me a slightly more ergonomic paddle and said, "Get going. You're paddling until you sink, or until you die."

(Not unlike marriage, then.)

Hm. Yeah. Ergonomic paddles, ahoy.
Dark Tower

Writhing for Writing: In the classic tradition of LiveJournal....

Retrodated from December 4th, 2009... Pursuant to this news...

Don't you hate when someone writes, "There's STUFF going on, but I can't TALK ABOUT IT." And then you know that it's either something really awesome for them, like someone is pregnant but it's too early to talk about it, or they're going to propose, but they can't say it in case their significant other for some reason starts reading the journal; or, something seriously shitty; or, they are just plain overwhelmed by life and can't talk about it because they would go insane in trying to comprehend the sheer stupidity of it all. And all of those things would make great blog entries, so why are they teasing you? It's like, "Hey, I have a SEEEKRIT, and even if you tickle me, you will only make pee come out, not the seeekrit, ha ha ha."

Well, now I know why they do it, and it's not the seeekrit thing. It is this: it's freaking hard not to talk about your life when you are used to talking about your life. So you feel like you're going to bust open, and you have to twirl around shouting, "People, I'm going to bust open, and I really want to share everything, but I can't, so hey, there's stuff going on, and you can't know about it! ARGH!"


And you know what's even worse about this? Is that by the time the seeekrit can be told, it's like, "Oh, yeah, that was rough," and you are spared (<----ironic use of the word "spared") the awesomeness/train-wreckness/stupidness because they no longer have the turbulent emotions to report, and you have to go, "Oh, yeah, I can totally see how it must have been nerve-wracking wondering if you were going to get that CEO position," or "Wow, I totally do not get how didn't know you were married to your cousin all these years, and I'm sorry, that must be very painful," or, "Can you report that asshole to Human Resources, take all your bottle returns to Michigan and make enough to cover rent, and have your house fumigated while you're away?" But you don't know. LiveJournal was not meant for faits accomplis. LiveJournal meant was meant for gruesome details.

So here we are.

I have a secret.


I'm going to TELL YOU! Only, I'm going to use the twin powers of Self-Restraint and Time Travel to type all of my gruesome details into a text editor and wait to post it until all of this is no longer a secret! And then I'll put it in an entry and post it! Even though it has taken every ounce of willpower not to post "I have a secret" back on December 4th (and before that, on 11/30, and before that, on 11/24) and I want you to know that.

So. I have a secret! The best/worst part of it is, I don't have any idea while I'm writing this how it will all end--terribly or wonderfully.

End transmission from the past. This was the day my agent told me she was putting my book up for auction.
if I were me

I've waited 110 days to tell you this.

But my agent sold my book.

And two more.

Yep, a three-book deal... to HarperCollins Children's.

Back on December 10th, I might add, and I've been writhing with impatience for months now, but the contracts came today, and I mailed them off, and Caitlin said I can tell you all.

You know how people post those "I have a secret and I can't tell you?" entries? I couldn't do it. The whole time, I knew if I did it, it would end in disaster. So I wrote all my impatience into entries that I stuck in a text file. When I get home, I will post them. And you can marvel at my writhing. Because it was mighty.
Books (carriage steps)

Things I Think About When I Should Be Writing

-Where did I put that page of notes on Victorian madness and insane asylums? REALLY. It's been days since I started looking for it.

-Is it necessary to point out random connections when I talk to people on the phone? "Hey, my name is Merrie, too!" or (today, on the phone with an ILL staff member at Northern Illinois University) "Do you know rarelylynne? Because I do!"

-Am I overdrying my skin by taking too hot showers, or is it okay because I used that stinky, oily body scrub from Aveda that was in my Christmas stocking?

-Don't put that stinky, oily body rub in your Christmas stocking next year.

-Possibly also, stuffing your own stocking isn't really that fun, but I don't want to miss out on the cool Sharpies I buy for everyone else. Conundrum!

-Here's a page of notes on what constitutes a "proper English education": dress, conversational subjects, musical instruments, singing, dancing, speaking French. Possibly also: needlework, the getting up of fine linen and ironing. In addition to that, Jane Eyre was able to teach history, geography, and the use of a globe, plus grammar and writing. On my notescrap, I have also written "maybe arithmetic" but I don't know where I got that from. Most of the rest of the information came from Understanding Jane Eyre: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources and Historical Documents. Which I need to check out from the library again. Because I did not take adequate enough notes on insane asylums.

-The Herbalist's Apprentice, as a spoken phrase, is occasionally too easy to trip over. You have to jump in, and elide the sibilants or die trying.

-I am rereading some of Anne McCaffrey's romances with a more critical eye to the gender politics. And I wanted to wash myself. And I was actually doing the re-reading in the bathtub, so you see how bad that is. (FOR EXAMPLE: "He clipped one warm, strong-fingered hand under my elbow, and I have never been omre conscious of a square inch of my own flesh than that moment. As if he sensed my reaction, he removed his hand and gave me a quick searching look. 'It's a cup of coffee, Miss Dunn, not an invitation to rape!'" UHM, DUDE, DID YOU JUST CASUALLY BRING UP RAPE (as in you-and-me-time) WHILE TRYING TO INVITE ME FOR COFFEE? This conversation is OVER.)

-On the other hand, I thought this book was just lovely when I was younger, and thus I have faith that The Kids These Days are going to come through the Twilight-era just fine.

-I *seriously* could not love Cougar Town and Community more. Cougar Town *is* Scrubs, reborn without daydreams and internal monologue. The cast interactions have gelled so fantastically that it reads like a sitcom that's been on the air for years. Community is a bit more self-aware and absurd, but it's very emotionally truthful. Between those two shows and Castle, I could get by with watching only shows that start with the letter C, if I had to. (But I would be sad to miss Tabatha's Salon Takeover, which is mine and Kayla's new thing, because we love competent women who make people cry.)

-HEY! I just found my old collection of fortune cookies. (My current ones are: "Adventure can be real happiness" and "Use your instincts now." My old collection includes "Education is the movement from darkness to light." (I wrote beneath that one: "So is phototropism."))

-And THAT is a picture of the Bronte parsonage in snow. *grab* Need that for my Jane Elliott collage.

-I purchased STORY by Robert McKee on audible.com, and started listening to it today. And promptly turned it off, after screaming obscenities at it. Mr. McKee says that because we are all horrible, cynical people with eroded values who live and breathe by the code of relativism, that there has been an erosion of story. We can't get good stories from Hollywood because we don't have the morals to appreciate story. We can't tell good stories because we can't impart the values that people need to know.


Did I mention I was SCREAMING obscenities at my radio after this? Because, between Unitarian Universalism, anthropology, and a particular preference for the protection of civil liberties, I am, yes, deeply relativist in my moral world view. Cultural relativism, mainly--as long as it doesn't impede on individual human rights. Informed consent, mutual consent, and consent in general--as long as there's that, people should be allowed do what they need to do, and I should not be allowed to stop them. To me, that is the core of my value system, and my ethics system. (I think library-ness comes in there, too--the ALA Code of Ethics comes in there, too; I haven't worked in libraries for 15 years without that stuff seeping in.)

I promise you, my being what I believe to be a reasonable human being does NOT impede my ability to deal in story. Either to hear it or to tell it.


-Anger aside, I am going to a) start cleaning the basement tomorrow; b) buy a new heat register at the hardware store so we can stop baking our plants on the plant stand; c) schedule a massage.

-And d) finish finishing my damn book

-I got more and more anxious while thinking about going back to my new doctor, the one who was so terribly dismissive of my heel pain, and on top of that, when I asked to have a pelvic exam, basically said, "Why would you want one of those?" Like, dude. You're a doctor. AREN'T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE TELLING ME TO GET ONE? And also, she didn't care about any of my other bloodwork, even though my good cholesterol is too low, and other things. All she cared about was my vitamin D. So anyway, I got a recommendation from the fabulous redmomoko, and I'm going to go see her doctor. But not until May. Because that's how far out they're scheduling her. WHATEVER. NEW DOCTOR, YAY. Old doctor? NOT A GOCTOR! (tip of the hat to porphyrin and mrissa and Robin, there.)
Alice in Wonderland

Stuff, up to which I have been

Public Domain Curator at Anthology Builder

Okay, Nancy Fulda announced this yesterday, so I will share it here now, too: I'm the new (and first) Public Domain Curator for Anthology Builder.

I've loved Anthology Builder since the moment I first heard of the concept, and have been happily shuttling my stories over there in exchange for the glee of building custom anthologies (and, of course, for my share of the 10%(ish) author royalties that get split amongst each anthology's authors).

I'll be selecting public domain works to include on the site, and building anthologies, and generally having a good old time over there. And if there's an older story you've been hoping to find on the site, do let me know--I suspect Nancy will build me a suggestion form some day, but until then, I still have email and whatnot.

Have I finally found a hobby?

On a more mundane plane, I got my birthday present from my husband last night, which is a pretty sweet little photo scanner that also does negative and slide scanning. So, all my pre-digital photographic adventures will be coming to a Flickr account near you... slowly, of course. I scanned three strips o' negative last night, and only uploaded three pictures of Poitiers. I'm... pondering color correction and things like that. From a less useful angle, I'm also pondering the interesting textures from film that seem missing from digital--am I crazy? Am I sane? Who knows. And finally, I'm pondering the awesomeness that will be the uploading of all my college photography efforts. Oh, my secret artsyfartsyness, you will soon be revealed to all.

The question after THAT, of course, is... what if I did make my own dark room and develop my own negatives again? I could (theoretically) avoid the expenses of paper and enlargers by skipping that and just developing film to scan, and thus live in some crazy hybrid film/digital world. I'm not sure what the value would be, but I do keep saying that I need a hobby. This would actually be less expensive than replacing my film SLRs with digital, and I could explore that texture stuff I've been pondering. And plus... Ansel Adams wrote a whole damn book about negatives. There's something there. ;)

Novel rewrite

I'm having some very circular thoughts. There is a tiny but important piece of story logic that is missing from my novel, and my agent has offered suggestions--good ones--to nudge me into the right direction, and she's certainly right that I need to address it, but my brain is just running full-tilt around the mulberry bush and never finding the damn weasel.

If this were my dayjob, I'd send Outlook invites to a meeting and make people brainstorm with me on large pieces of paper.

Are writers allowed to do that?

Actually, I sort of think I need to ask iuliamentis and vidensadastra to read the book and then get them very drunk and see what comes out of them. Unfortunately, they're not coming to Penguicon. Hrm. I may be jaunting off to Chicago sooner than I thought... Of course, the workshop is coming fast, and maybe I can pick the workshoppers' brains hard while I'm there.

The rest of the rewrite, I can handle easily. Most of it is very minor stuff that I have figured out how to solve with a sentence dropped in here, a paragraph there. There is one largeish (10,000 words) section that needs a thorough rewrite, pretty much ground up. But not bad, overall.

Agent hunt

I'm supposed to be done with agent hunting, right? And I technically am. Except that, while my first three queries yielded me an offer of representation--they also yielded two rejections. And hey, my response to my first rejection was to send out six more queries! And I've since gotten two rejections, and two requests for partials. And one of the partial requests came in the snail, and I have to snail back my regrets letter. And who knows what the last two responses will be? Anyway. I'm not done, in other words.

When I am fully, finally done--is there anyone out there agent-hunting (or about to be) who would find it useful for me to perform a post-mortem on the hunt? Or is that just... annoying?

Being Erica

Am I the only person watching this show? I really love it. I know it's already aired in Canada, and it's being aired on the semi-obscure Soap Network in the US, but for serious, it's a good show, it passes the Bechdel test all over the place, and to me, it reads like an excellent take down of chick lit. You have a quirky heroine who actually accepts that her choices have led her to where she is, and instead of Bridget Jonesing her way through life, tries to come to terms with her past, owns and apologizes for her mistakes, and otherwise recognizes that one's 30s are actually a pretty good time to grow the hell up. (Not that I don't love Bridget Jones; I'm just very weary of all that has come after it. Bigly weary.) Plus, there's a time travel component. Which is always going to sell me.

So. Yes? Am I the only one watching?