In a couple hours, we will be in the car on our way to Cape Cod. We spent yesterday packing, and doing all the odds and ends that need to be handled before we could leave. The house sitter will arrive soon to make sure the pets are properly cared for.
Unfortunately, the local libraries were all closed, so Kim had to resort to a local bookstore for her beach reading material. She didn’t get a chance to check out any books on tape, so I made my own.
Librivox is a site where volunteers read books in the public domain and save them as MP3 files. You can download a great variety of books. The first download I tried was Buster Bear by Thorton Burgess. I burnt it to a CD-RW using Microsoft Media Player. It plays in some audio devices, but not in the car. I then downloaded Anne of Green Gables. I used Roxio to burn the first few chapters and wrote it on a CD-R disk. This one played nicely in our car, so I burnt the remaining nine CDs. Kim labeled them for us, so for the cost of ten CD-R disks, we have Anne of Green Gables on CD. We will probably listen to this during a bit of the drive to the Cape.
For my reading, I received an electronic copy of the novel The Silent Serian by Miranda Hynes. This is Miranda’s second novel. It is a young adult fantasy novel and a great read. I read the first four chapters immediately, and will try to finish it when I have more computer time. I’m also trying to spread the word about it, so please, digg the book, share it on Facebook and other sites, and be sure to go out and buy a copy yourself.
I have also been listening to the musicians selected to be in the Emerging Artists Showcase at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. I’ve downloaded some of the songs and may try to burn a CD for the road trip. I wanted to get a review up by now, but it will probably have to wait until I am back from Cape Cod.
However, as I started searching out the emerging artists and looking at their websites, I found a link to most of them on SonicBids. Each one that I’ve checked has an Electronic Press Kit where you can listen to, and in some cases download some of their music. I’ve now listened to songs by everyone who is supposed to be performing and I need to organize my notes into something readable.
Soon, we will hit the road listening to a great collection of words and music, and I’ll try to get some posts from Cape Cod up when I get some time.
One blog that I’ve been enjoying reading recently is Subjective Soup. It is written by a recently retired teacher and is one of the more thought out and better written blogs I visit. The other day, Patricia wrote a blog post Fellow Writers, Where Do I Go From Here?, about her first National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) effort.
I started to write a comment for her blog post, but it turned out to be pretty long, so I’m posting it as a blog post here.
In 2006, my daughter Miranda Hynes, wrote her first novel, Subtle Differences as part of NaNoWriMo. She was thirteen at the time, and the novel was amazingly good. I encourage friends to go out and get a copy and read it. As she wrote it, she pondered what she would do with it after she finished it. I encouraged her to check into various publishing possibilities, and in the end, encouraged her to publish it at Lulu. Lulu is one of the top publish on demand presses and is a favorite of NaNoWriMo writers.
So, my first recommendation, think seriously about self-publishing via Lulu.
Whether you decided to self publish, or revise it for resubmission to the publisher you contacted, you need to look at revision. The three recommendations seem pretty straight forward, but I do have comments on the recommendations.
First, don’t be too quick to reduce your parentheses. Yes, they might slow down the reader, and that might not fit the market that the publisher you contacted is interested in. However, I’m a reader that likes to read slowly. I like complicated sentences with lots of parentheses and sub-clauses. This may be just a stylistic consideration and you need to find the style that works best for you. Before you take the words of a publisher’s review too seriously, read many of the famous author’s rejection letters.
NPR had a great story on this a couple years ago, Famous Authors' Rejection Letters Surface.
The second comment about having shopping telling what is happening, instead of showing it goes back to perhaps the oldest recommendation to creative writers, “Show, don’t tell”. I haven’t read your novel, so I can’t comment on where you are telling instead of showing, but that is a key thing to work on.
Back to my own experience: After my daughter wrote her novel in 2006, I did NaNaWriMo in 2007. I finished my novel and it is sitting, somewhat edited on my hard disk somewhere. I may get around to going back and revising it someday, or it may just stay where it is. However, one thing that I did do was to share it with people that I trusted as I was writing it. I received lots of feedback. Much of it was useful, but I needed to filter out what was useful and what wasn’t.
I’m on a mailing list of group psychotherapists, and several of them read the novel and gave me incredibly helpful feedback. I believe that my characters are much richer because of their feedback. For each character, spend time trying to think about everything about them. Why are they acting a particular way? What happened in their childhood that shaped them to be the way they are? Where is the complexity and ambiguity that they face? Most importantly, and this is perhaps where I have the most problems, how are the experiences in the novel changing them? If you look at any character, can you tell me who they are at the beginning? How they are at the end, and how the story changed them? You don’t need to put the early family history of each character in the novel, but you need to know what it is. If it isn’t clear to you, it won’t be to your readers and the characters will tend to feel more stereotypical.
So, find some people that you really trust. Get them to read your novel and help you grapple with these aspects. Don’t worry about the parentheses so much as about how you show people what is happening and how you show people the complexities of your characters.
I hope this is helpful. I look forward to reading what happens next.
So far today, I’ve only gotten out slightly over a thousand words on my novel. To pull this off, I’m going to need to increase this substantially. Yet the novel is taking on a life of its own. The other night, I had a dream, in which people’s feet were turning black and swelling up. It struck me that this must be part of the plague predicted in the novel.
As I work on the biology of the novel, I frequently ask Kim for pointers to make sure that I’m still making sense, and at least on somewhat solid footing scientifically. However, today, I started writing about the travels of one of the characters. I won’t say whether or not he is a key character, because many of the characters are fighting for my attention to be key characters.
With this, I’ve needed to research a little bit, the history of the potato and the coffee bean. I also need to be much more up to speed on the geography and history of Ethiopia, Yemen, Turkey, Indonesia, perhaps some additional places in Africa, such as Kenya, Uganda, and the Congo, although those stops may play minor roles. Then, I need to be much more versed in Columbia and Peru. In need to be able to write much more intelligently and coherently about radical Islamic clerics as well as early to middle archaic Peruvian culture and archeology. I could get lost in all the research.
So, if this sounds interesting and you’re an expert in any of those areas, please let me know. I can always use good sources and informed readers.
Today was another day of random geeky and NaNoWriMo stuff. I helped configure a Windows 2008 Server. It provided a good opportunity to test out some more IPv6 stuff.
Out of the box, Windows Server 2008 seems to be working with IPv6 and I briefly connected via IPv6 from the Windows Server 2008 server through a couple IPv6 tunnels to my Linux box. I access both web pages and used SSH. Google Chrome and Firefox both connected to the Apache web server that I have running and PuTTY, a windows client that supports SSH and IPv6 connected to the sshd on my linux box.
Unfortunately, the IPv6 tunnel that the Windows 2008 Server seems to be using is slow and flaky. I kept dropping connections. I want to see if I can find a better tunnel for the Windows 2008 Server.
This took, traveling, and random house keeping tasks took up much of the day. I did manage to visit my quota of blogs today, but didn’t end up leaving as many comments as I normally would. I also managed to get a little farther in my novel. It is going well, but today I didn’t even make 1,667 words, let alone what I figure I need to do to make up for lost time. Tomorrow, I have some personal issues to deal with, but hopefully I’ll get more interesting writing done, both here and in the novel.
Last week was a difficult week for me to write. I spent Tuesday electioneering and then going down to the NPR Studios in Washington to blog about the election results. Since then, I’ve been trying to catch up on my sleep, fight a cold, and try to make sense of the week that was.
This coming week is going to be equally challenging. I have a tentative client visit on Monday, some personal issues to deal with on Tuesday, and some important blogging events the rest of the week.
On Wednesday, at 10 AM, in front of the New Haven City Hall at 165 Church Street, Barb and Robin Levine-Ritterman of New Haven, who were plaintiffs in the Kerrigan case will be applying for a marriage license. Love Makes a Family is encouraging people to join in the celebrations on this historic day.
Then, at 2:30 in the evening, there will be oral arguments in Doninger v. Niehoff et al on a motion for a summary judgment. It should be interesting to hear the arguments in light of emails that have been disclosed as part of Freedom of Information Requests, which the Plaintiffs claim demonstrate that one of the defendants lied on the stand.
As a side note, the link to the document listed above is only available to people who have PACER accounts. Pages accessed this way are charged $.08 per page. I include this link and a comment about it because, I believe that as part of open government, which I hope the new administration will be bringing, we should do away with fees like those on Pacer and make information about our government more readily available.
On Thursday, there will be a conference at Central Connecticut State University on Journalism-- Where We Are; Where We’re Going. Speakers include several friends from online media, and I hope to make it up to the conference.
Friday, I will be speaking in Second Life about the relationship between Second Life and other online media. Then on Saturday, the Investigative Reports and Editors will be running a workshop at Southern Connecticut State University entitled Watchdog Workshop which will combine elements of two different workshops. The IRE is a great organization and I hope to be able to attend. Unfortunately, I only heard about the workshop after online registration had closed so I am not clear if I will be able to attend.
As with last week, the coming week doesn’t leave a lot of time for novel writing. On top of that, my initial idea for my novel just wasn’t coming together. It was too close to a memoir, and too far from being a novel. I didn’t find the experience engaging, so I abandoned it. I’ve started off on a new track, but I’m several days behind now and the writing is hard. We shall see if I can catch up during a busy schedule.