Thursday, November 30, 2006


I told you Frog Fish come in all sizes and colors.
But there is one underlying recognizable similarity.
Like my writing.
Yet with a consistent entwining strand that is me.

9 am and 76 degrees.
I got a late start.
Actually an early start.
With a good-news call from my agent at 5 am.
I do not jinx things by being too personal on my blog. I will make an announcement when it is a done deal.
Suffice it to say that those good thoughts appear to be coming through loud and clear.
I thank all of you who have posted best wishes and comments.
It's gratifying.
I love that word. It explains so much.
I write because I love to tell stories that mean something to a reader.
I write because I want someone staying up until 2 in the morning reading my book.
I write because I want to profoundly affect a person and make them laugh and then cry and then laugh again.
And cry.
I love to make them cry.
It is such a wonderful feeling to know that many people are reading my manuscript and loving the story.
Falling in love with my story.
My story.
It is a heady feeling.
No coffee for me for a while.
It is agony.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Everything You Wish For Might Just Possibly...

This is my old horse Airborne caught in the act of being naughty, with all four feet off the ground.
An example of exultation or chagrin? Caught in the act of joy. Or disobedience?
I guess it depends on your perspective. It is all relative to who you are.
Are you the horse? With exuberance. With elation. Taking a risk.
Or the rider. With caution. With control. Playing it safe.
Which are you?
And more to the point...which am I?

5:30 am and 74 degrees.
It's official.
My agent has submitted my manuscript to a selection of editors. I am being circumspect here.
Blogs appear to be an excellent excuse to make personal information public and that is not my intent here.
My intent is to show the process.
The road.
The mental angst.
And angst it is.
It is pure pain.
And pleasure. A lot of pleasure.
To use a cliche?
The brass ring is in sight, but just out of reach. It is coming closer. Or is it?
I now have magical thinking.
If I approach a stoplight and it stays green, I will be published next year.
If I find a penny to wish on, I keep it in a box in my cabin (bedrooms are called cabins on a boat).
I try not to think of what might be and have appreciation for what is - but -
It is hard. It is nerve wracking. It is a thousand times worse than searching for an agent and a thousand times better.
It is a waiting game.
So I wait.
Bereft of any control.
Except one.
I am still writing.

Think good thoughts...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Imperialism At Its Best

The imperial nudibranch is worth sitting on my knees deep in the sand against a lava ledge serenaded only by irregular bubble bursts out my regulator. Even without a camera I can watch them for hours creep along the ocean floor. The other divers are madly flapping around looking for sharks and other charismatic megalofauna...but not I.
I am fascinated with the tiny. The small. The little.
Isn't that just like a writer?
To avoid the obvious and focus on infinitesimal detail that brings a story to life.

6 am and 75 degrees.
My father called and told me it was snowing in Seattle the other day.
How satisfying.
Kimber an talked about sub zero weather in Alaska.
I feel your I sit here with fans blowing, basking in tropical warmth.
The topic today is truth.
I think it is important to tell the truth.
I disagreed with Miss Snark today.
Now those of you may remember that I said as a writer I am a great liar.
This is different.
The post talked about readability (Flesch-Kincaid grade levels) and was equating the higher score with (I guess) a better book?
I don't buy it.
It is seductive to take everything on Miss Snark's blog as manna from Heaven.
Don't get me wrong. She has much to offer new writers - but like in academia - read everything with a discerning eye.
As far as readability?
Short sentences and one syllable words worked just fine for Papa.
Simenon did pretty well too.
There are others.
Dr. S. - Who can decry the philosophical ramifications of Green Eggs and Ham?
When I have to wade through a literary opus with a dictionary at my side because I can't define a word in context.
I get a little irked.
So don't be a lemming as they call all us snarklings on AW.
Think for yourself.
And enjoy her blog.
Then come over and read mine.
And that's the truth.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Back To Work

Fish that clean turtles have a great work ethic. I have to watch and learn from them. If I was a cleaner wrasse or some such fish I'd be all like...In a minute! I'll get to you in a minute. I just have to decide which brush to use. Hold on! I need to wash my hands. Wait! I don't have any hands - my fins then. I need to wash my fins...

6:20 am and 76 degrees
Today the Thanksgiving holidays are over. It's my last day of graduate school until mid-January. After today I will plunge back into my WIP and editing and try not to think of my poor child adrift and bereft in New York. I have to physically restrain myself from phoning or emailing my agent every twenty minutes.
I am so obsessive!
Back to work ethic.
I need some.
This past month I have been wallowing a bit. Rudderless. For the past several years I have been writing like one possessed and now I am more deliberate. Does slowing down my writing give me an excuse to procrastinate? Yet in many ways the work I am producing feels more finished. Polished. But there is less of it. Much less.
It is a conundrum.
I can either produce pages and pages of poop or three paragraphs of prime prose. (Gosh I love alliterations. Don't you?)
So maybe the cleaner fish has the answer.
Knowing there are more turtles out there.
Much more.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Hawaii Darwin Award Runner Up

4:45 pm and 86 degrees.
Well, no we didn't get any fish.
Got a couple of bites.
The biggest bite was this jet ski. As we got close we discover he had a rod and what he thought was a big fish on.
Keep in mind he is over five miles from shore and we are one of two boats around. The other boat was heading toward the harbor guessed it. That was his big fish.
Pretty soon he had us hooked too.
We cut his line and that was a good thing because he had no way of getting it cut on his own.
Soon he was zooming off. But not in the direction of shore. He had a spare rod in back.
We need him out of the gene pool.

Gone Fishing

7:30 am and 75 degrees.
OK so this photo was taken last year at this time, but whenever I get the chance to go fishing...well I'm outa here!
Kimber an I'll get to your pages tomorrow! Everybody else? Cross your fingers and give me good thoughts!
I'll let you know how it goes.
I think every writer.
Ought to.
Go Fishing.
Once in a while.
Don't you?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What Goes Around Comes Around...

6 am and 75 degrees.

The subject today is mentoring. Helping. Giving advice.
Ironically I was going to write about this anyway and was moved to on two fronts. The AW discussion board and questions from my cyber-friends.
When I started my first novel I was all alone. There was no one else in the world doing what I was doing (at least that's how it seemed to me). This was BC (before computers). I never finished.
When I finally finished a novel, I talked with my sister who is also a writer. We would talk "writerly stuff." I found it helpful. That is what motivated me to go to the Maui Writers Retreat and Conference where I met several authors who helped me.
Holly Kennedy was instrumental (order her book The Tin Box from Amazon- it is SUCH a fun read! Her next one The Penny Tree is awesome and will be out spring 07- I got to read an earlier version).
Holly took me by the hand and started me out learning the business. She had me sign up for Publishers Marketplace and start paying attention to the sales - who was making them and where. She helped me re work my query and was the first one who said SLOW DOWN and write your next book and the next. Writing is a business like anything else. Because people consider it art I believe they lose sight of that fact.
Holly helped me. She read my query over and over. She gave of her time. Without her help I would not be to this point.
At Maui I met many writers and started to develop a network. My retreat teacher Jacqueline Mitchard has a huge affect on my writing. She tells me like it is and has always been there. I know of no other author at the Maui conference that makes herself available so selflessly. (check out her link and her discussion board - check out the Maui students thread- you'll learn a lot)
My horse Airborne led me to the greatest influence on my writing - the author Paul Theroux. He and his wife wanted to learn to ride and I used to be a professional trainer and instructor. Our relationship has evolved into a mentoring friendship that is amazing. He has helped me to harness my "hasty" nature and slow my editing down. He has developed my critical eye and I read differently after hearing him say, "You can learn a lot from a great writer writing badly."
He suggested I read Maugham...Simenon...Camus...
He reads deliberately, focused on learning and perfecting his craft. He writes voraciously - articles, travel books, novels...he puts me to shame.
Yet. He tells me my ideas are wonderful. He lets me know when my writing shines. He is not stingy with his praise, but is fair and brutally honest with his criticism.
So I strive to help other writers as these writers have helped me.
Show them the ropes.
Make suggestions.
Give feedback honestly. Fairly.
But saying what is good also.
It's about the craft of writing.
And learning the mechanics of the business.
Because if that is what you focus on. The other will come naturally through perseverance, dogged determination and sheer will.

Friday, November 24, 2006

To Decorate Or Not To Decorate: That Is The Question

6:30 am and 75 degrees.
Well Thanksgiving is over except for the after effects of gluttony.
The major decision in December?
Whether we decorate Orion this year.
It is not quite like a house.
Or a yard.
See how the lights go up to the top of the mast?
Well they don't get there by telepathic communication.

I must say she does look wonderful all tricked out.
Such a dilemma.
What to do.
Advice anyone?

Thursday, November 23, 2006


The Hawaiian Turkey Fish sometimes confused with the Hawaiian Lionfish. This is in reality most likely a Lionfish but what the heck. It's the same fish family. Close enough!

6:30 am and 75 degrees.
Things I am thankful for in my writerly life.

1. I am thankful for my family and friends who help me by believing in me.

2. I am thankful for my fabulous agent Dorian Karchmar who loves my novel as much as I do and is the epitome of the "dream agent. (Yes Miss Snark - they DO exist).

3. I am thankful for all my beta readers (you know who you are and each of you will get a mention in my book when it is published) - I will break the record for longest acknowledgments page ever.

4. I am thankful for my two amazing mentors: author Jacqueline Mitchard who drives me unmercifully during the Maui Writers Retreat and Conference and for the author Paul Theroux, who read my first manuscript and saw something there.

5. I am thankful for my horse Airborne without whom I would not have met Paul and Sheila Theroux and who has cemented our friendship in his horsy way.

6. I am thankful for all the teachers in my life who said that I could be a writer.


7. I am thankful for coffee. Oh am I thankful for coffee...and cream...I am thankful for cream and sugar...and spoons and cups...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

In My Floating Chair

My friend Allison sent this photo to me. It makes me smile. Besides writing like a mad banshee this is my favorite thing to do.
Floating in the Pacific Ocean.
This is what I am thankful for.

The Old Man Gives Me Inspiration

6 am and 75 degrees.
Airborne and I have been partners a long time. He's 25 and does not act his age. He is my model. I strive to be like him. He does not let age dictate who he is or what he does. Even thought he's a horse. It makes no difference.
That is how I want to be.
So when I think about what I should do - I think of him.
Help sail a boat across an Ocean?
Not a problem.
Start training another baby horse?
Go for it!
Go back to school for a doctorate?
Yeah, why not.
Write novels for a living?
My decision was not so flippant as that, because I have always written. I even had short pieces published in magazines.
But finishing a novel...ahh there's the rub. Finishing.
I turned fifty and my life began again.
All that time before was merely practice.
So now I am doing what I want to do - just like Airborne.
Bucking someone's butt off just for the hell of it...
Now that's living!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

LIfe is a Bunch of Frog Fish...

You never know what you might get...
Frog fish come in all shapes and sizes. Some are colorful, others are more somber. They remind me of gargoyles or stereotypical cigar store Indians from the dated past. Diverse. Varied. Like the fiction we writers compose.
This photograph was scanned long ago when I had no control over my destiny and included the blank screen as part of the picture. I like to keep it because it reminds me when I knew less than I do now and gives me hope that tomorrow I will know even more...

6 am and 75 degrees.
My muse is at my side and frankly annoyed each time I shift position. Muses are like that. They have standards they have to maintain which have no relationship to their job. I threaten to withhold pay but then realize she is working essentially for free. It is a conundrum.
I am euphoric this morning. My agent thinks I did a terrific job on my edits. I am SO needy and I adore praise. Why is that? I notice this about all writers no matter what the level. Paul and I were talking about how important and gratifying feedback is. He was jealous of my detailed editorial letter - I could tell - of course he has been publishing a book a year for 44 years. He doesn't need the kind of editing I need. But I guess it is still a lesson for me. All writers want feedback. We all want to make a difference and have readers appreciate our words...our stories...
And we like to hear it. See it written down.
Blogs too.
I think all bloggers love comments, especially unexpected ones. I now have several blogs I peruse each morning while drinking my coffee...Sam...ladybronco...Star Captain's Daughter...maya...and more.
I am meeting people I would never have met.
As my character, Jerry, would say.
That is so cool...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Back From Holoholo

6:30 and 75 degrees.
It's getting cooler.
It was a wonderful charity event and an enjoyable stay at a landmark hotel in Waikiki. The Moana Surfrider is over a hundred years old and we were fortunate to be able to stay in the old section. High ceilings, wide corridors and an ambiance of "boat days." When the ships brought tourists to Hawaii.
This was the view outside our window.
But yanno...
We missed the muses.
We missed the rocking of ORION.
So we went back home the next morning to escape the noise and frenetic activity of the city.

Saw a GREAT movie. As a writer I really appreciated the film Stranger than Fiction. It was not at all what I expected from Will Farrel and I was surprised. It was stuffed full of cliches -many of which only serious writers might get. In some ways it reminded me of I heart huckabees. Dustin Hoffman was hilarious as a professor of literature trying to help Will Farrel analyze whether he was in a comedy or tragedy...
I highly recommend it.

Today I desperately want to get back to my next project but I must put some time into my PhD research so I have to wait until tomorrow.
I love it when a work calls to me and I am excited to edit or continue writing.
I love knowing where I am going...
Don't we all?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Just Being Yourself...

10 am and 80 degrees.
Touloose has no pretensions. He is what he is. A lazy cat who will not even be my muse. Speaking of muses I haven't seen her around today. Maybe she knows that I'm taking the weekend off.
Last night we got together with neighbors to help iron out a nautical (knotty?!) plot problem for an author friend of mine. The night was spent drinking wine and conjecturing how best to kill a crew.
No one likes the most common way of fatal accidents.
Crew members (at night during watch) having a pissing contest on the back of a boat underway and the boat hits a wave, bounces, and they get thrown overboard. The boat keeps on going. Everyone else is asleep...
It happens...

Today we are going holoholo (vacation) to waikiki for a charity wine tasting and a one night stay at the Sheraton Moana. Decadence.
Visiting friends.
And then home.
No blogging until Monday.
Aloha for now.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Things in Disguise

I love the intricacy of nature. Scorpion fish get a bum rap. Some divers think they are dangerous, like the stone fish in Australia, and others think they are too ugly to live. I think they are wonderful. So clever to hide in plain site. So still and silent. As a photographer I am entranced. In the deep they are mottled gray-green-blue. When my flash goes off and my picture is displayed all the hues are revealed.
How much like writing is that, I think. Only after staid and ordinary words are put together do the vibrant colors of the story come out.

At 4:30 am it is 78 degrees.
Coffee is on and all's right with the world.
Book 2 edits are coming along nicely. My characters, after a noisy start, have settled down to their jobs.
It has been several months since I have taken a good hard look at this novel and I find myself going, "Wow, I wrote THAT? Hmmmm that's pretty good..."
Editorial distance is crucial.
My friend / beta reader Peggy will be the next to peruse it. She's valuable because she has two very important attributes - she's my friend AND she is honest with me.
I love blog comments.
Some people love the horse part, others like the underwater photography part, and still others are into the Hawaii part.
All the things that are a part of who I am.
A true renaissance woman...
That's me.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Frog Fish Are People Too

The cool thing about frog fish is they don't try to escape and run. They just sit there hoping you will go away. You have to be really annoying before they amble off. And amble they do. Sort of like that drunk uncle of yours during the holidays trying to get his coat out of that pile on the bed...That amble...They are good natured. They have to be. They can't dart or strike. They are not good eating.
They are just so darned interesting.
I have a lot of photos of frog fish.
You will see...

3 am and 81 degrees.
Don't ask.
I should be in bed, instead the characters in the next novel I am editing woke me up. They needed motivation. They needed a sense of place. They needed structure. So here I am warming up by writing in my blog and drinking coffee way too early in the morning.
I am out of order.
My first novel - which I still love and garnered several requests for fulls - sits in my drawer waiting until my skill matches what I need to do with it.
My second novel - which I decided to start editing next- has been screaming at me for the last few weeks "GET TO WORK ON ME! FINISH ME! POLISH ME!
My third novel - which got me my wonderful agent - was sent email to NY and is now being shopped.
My fourth novel is percolating in its third draft stage waiting for my editorial distance.
My fifth novel is still in its embryonic form at 20,000 words and sprawling structure.
My sixth novel is outlined, has a beginning and end but alas no middle yet, because each time I sit down to work on it my other works start having tantrums and I have to leave the good, quiet child to tend to the bad.
They are all living, breathing entities.
They are alive to me.
A quivering mass of words I have no control over.
I think I was going to relate this whole exposition to the frog fish.
The unexpected.
Frog fish.
But I won't.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Octopus On My Back

I like to call this "still life on photographer's arm. Thank goodness I had a 20 mm wide angle lens
and my trusty Nikonos V.

4:44 am and 79 degrees
There is simply nothing more invigorating that being woken up at 4 in the morning because you left all the hatches open and it has started to rain.
I'm up now.
I even have coffee.
My novel has been emailed to my agent. It is ready to be shopped.
I am both 50 pounds lighter AND I feel like I have lost my very last child to college.
Or seen a daughter married.
I am torn.
I think writing a novel, for me, is like a severe uncontrollable addiction. Not a monkey on my back - but an octopus.
In my case it is a tentacled orange-mottled octopus that probes and clings to me every waking hour. This particular cephalopod has been with me for over a year. During these last two months he has been slowly peeled off my body and removed, suction cup by suction cup. Sometimes as one arm is loosened, another tightens its grip.
But now.
He is with me no longer.
I have eluded his grasp and he is gone.
I have a tinge of loss. Of regret.
I miss him.
I want my octopus back. I want him back...
But then.
Something is moving in the corner of my room. I see it there.
A baby one. Only a few days old.
I can feel it approach. One tentative appendage touching... investigating my lower leg.
My next novel is calling to me.
I feel its arms start to pry and hunt looking for a better hold.
It will not take long for him to grow and settle in.
Soon he too will be firmly ensconced on my back.
Intimately entwined with my skin, my soul, my very being.
Soon, too I will not be able to determine where I start and my octopus begins.
The line between us will be blurred.
We will be one.
Until he too will leave.
It is the way of all octopus.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It Can Always Be Worse...Kona Weather...

5 am and 79 degrees.
For those of you following my blog - note the temperature. This is a tip off. Next check out the photo I took yesterday morning. That haze is not fog or smog. It is VOG. Volcanic ash all the way from the Big Island.
I live on Oahu (with Waikiki and Honolulu). The Big Island is the Island of Hawaii (with Hilo and the volcanos - oh yes - and close to the epicenters of earthquakes).
We are having Kona weather. This is when the tradewinds ebb and the wind shifts and comes from the south, carrying with it VOG.
The temperature rises (it was already 79 degrees at 5 am and at 5:14 it is now 80).
It will be hot.
And those with asthma have a tough time.
Just a bit of Hawaiiana for those of you looking at snow outside your windows.
So, you can think of me (encased in my boat with four fans blowing) finishing up the final touches to the last edits of my novel sweating like a pig. Me - not the novel...
Do pigs sweat?
I do not know.
I lived next door to a hog farm in Illinois while in graduate school.
I should know.
But I don't.
I will ponder this fact all morning. Then I will walk across the marina parking lot and go to the beach.
I will plunge my super-heated body into the ocean.
It will then become very unimportant.
As I float on my back.
Staring up at the sky.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I Do So LOVE Vistors

Of course these visitors are just leaving...but I like the those that stay for a while. This is a school of goatfish coming out of the the wreck of the YO 257 just a few miles off Waikiki. I prefer the San Pedro or Sea Tiger but all three wrecks are interesting.

6:48 and 77 degrees
No liquid coffee mate. This is not good. I had to use powder and milk, which is grossly inferior. I am such a coffee addict that I did it anyway. My favorite is sweet heavy cream but I have to draw the line somewhere.
I got TWO votes on baby horse. I am SO stoked!
Blogging is such fun. I use it to warm up first thing in the morning and then I get back to work editing or adding to my new WIP. It's a great way to get started. I am meeting so many people through cyberspace.
I love to read. I will read anything...the back of cereal boxes, trashy magazines, instructions for small appliances (especially the warnings), side affects of my husband's medication (if I read mine I get all the symptoms), dedications on CD's (I cry), and especially books. Not even good ones.
I love to write, too.
I love to tell a good story. I adore prevaricating, inventing, putting myself in perilous situations mentally.
Right now I am editing my third novel. The one my agent will soon shop.
I thought it was done. I printed out several copies, a few of my trusted beta readers proceeded to re-read. My mentor Paul Theroux planned to give it another go. I put my feet up and made my super-duper sangria.


Large Jug of any type or size.
1/3 tangerine-orange juice (or any kind of orange juice)
1/3 Red Wine (I use Zinfandel but really the cheaper the better)
1/3 7-up or sprite (this part is crucial)
I used to put cut up fruit into it also but eventually said, "Oh what the need."

Pour into plastic throw away cups so you do not have to wash glasses.
And drink...and drink...and dirnk...adn drikkl...san

So my very important beta number one Bob, who happens to be my neighbor, (Wandering Star - the boat in the next slip)
and my husband and I sat around eating gourmet hotdogs, beans and the aforementioned sangria, analyzed the current version of novel 3.
It was brilliant now. They all agreed...brilliant...well maybe this...and that...and why did John go to jail? And this part - I'm not too clear about this part...
Well you get the idea.
As the Sangria volume lowered our creativity increased proportionally.
I finally understood the part about giving minor characters motivation too. I could feel my nitwitery dissipate and turn into...
I got it.
So I gathered up all my drunken notes. When back to my boat. Turned on my computer and proceeded to elaborate...enhance...make mucho better.
And the next morning?
It wasn't half bad.
I worked some more. Ran it past a couple other betas and even Paul agreed it was better. It hung things together. It helped drive my main plot forward.
The moral of my story?
Don't discount the wonderful restorative powers of Sangria.
And coffee...
Whatever you do don't forget the coffee...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Isn't This Just The Cutest Baby Horse You've Ever Seen?

10:15 am and 83 degrees.
Voting is now taking place.
Send your comment.
How cute is Veritas on a scale of one to ten?
I think ten.
But I'm biased.
Today my beta readers are set loose on (I hope) my final edit.
Have at it!
My target date is this Thursday to send to my agent.
I am busy now weeding out the wtfs.
You know. Those turns of phrase that seemed so perfect at three in the morning.
Those plot ideas that don't hold together.
Or make no sense.
Those dialog lines that you realize are pathetic.
It is true.
One should never write before drinking coffee.
That is the rule.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Getting a Hold of Your Story

5:30 am and 77 degrees. Coffee is nearly done. It is my true inspiration.
I love sharks. They fascinate me. As a photographer, I am rarely in any photographs. This was taken in Belize when I was working on a Caribbean coastal ecology class through SDSU.
My friend S. said before the dive. "Let me take a picture of you - I don't understand your camera but just set it, show me what to push, and hand it to me."
What a friend.
Our guide knew no english. It didn't matter. We were experienced divers who were bilingual in both Ocean and Bubbles.
We needed no translator.
The guide - I don't even know his name - was intimately acquainted with all the creatures found in his dive area. Lethargic Nassau groupers ate out of his hand. Tiny scarlett damsel fish gathered at his fins and hid under his shadow.
And the sharks.
Nurse sharks are not known for their aggressive behavior, but neither are they common household pets.
This one was. It was if he sought out his friend.
"How you doing?"
"Where have you been?"
"How are the kids?"
He demanded to be scratched under the belly and wanted to be held. He positively snuggled into my arms. If I close my eyes now I can still feel the weight, the hard muscles of his quivering body.
His blue eye stared fixed, unblinking up at me.
S. had already taken my camera off my arm and proceeded to snap this picture.
I will never forget it.
The shark is like my story.
Starts out as a frightening idea.
The unknown. Blank pages. An amorphous cloud couched in vague mind-speak.
As you create your own particular strands of words, it takes on a cohesive form.
Soon you are intimate with it and like a lover or shark, it snuggles deep into in your arms.
And it is yours.
That is my story.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Horsing around

8:30 am and 78 degrees. I just got in from my walk and it's back to editing. I am on a roll. I woke up at 3 am thinking about my book and decided to get up. I will pay for it later I am sure of it.
I am trying something new.
I am a visual learner.
I need to see things.
I laid out the structure of my book in excel.
Listed each chapter, how many pages and the content i.e. how that particular chapter drives the plot forward.
When I did this It became obvious why I had some second act sag and why the last quarter of my novel feels rushed.
I could see where there was excessive chapter length and too much chapter brevity .
I rearranged a few chapters at the end to advance the flow and enhanced what was there.
I am liking it better and better.
I know how to proceed now.
Kudos to agents who guide the editing process.
Kudos to you Dorian.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Superficial Gliding

6 am and 77 degrees.
The trades are back again thank goodness.
My theme is the eagle ray. A composite fish-human-bird face that tends to give it a sulky appearance, wide, sweeping wings and a spotted body reminiscent of the artist Pollack.
Here in Hawaii they are benign graceful creatures that float overhead or hunt in the sand beneath.
I am thinking of them in my editing process.
Page by page seeing where my characters come alive and where they fall flat. Seeing where my story glides only superficially across what transpires in my narrative. I have to find those places and make them real. Expand them. Make them whole.
It is difficult but insightful. It shows me how I write. Soaring. Skimming. Rapidly covering ground.
That is the first draft and maybe the second.
But now it is time to restrain the tendencies of a lifetime.
To adapt to a new strategy in order to survive.
To learn.
And grow.
But not.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lawyers Are Real People After All...

6:30 am and 79 degrees.
My photo of the Galapagos shark from Midway Atoll I think is apropos. We've all heard the jokes.
What's worse? A shark attack or a lawyer? The lawyer. You can survive a shark attack...
Yesterday masses of lawyers from all over took time out of their busy days to help me. I wanted information about some legalese I use in my book and they flew to the rescue. I was grateful and relieved.
They all were a huge help.
I continue to edit knowing that it will be less likely the lawyers who read my book will be so disgusted at my inaccuracies that they toss my book out of their luxurious twentieth floor plate glass window so hard it will implode onto the sidewalk below gracing the street with my feeble prose in a twisted sort of semantic littering.
Of course I write fiction.
It doesn't have to be true.
But it is much more fun to lie things that matter.
Don't you think?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Finding the Rhythm

8 am and 79 degrees. Cloudy. Muggy. Hot.
Veritas may lose the nick name Baby Horse. He is coming along nicely. A pleasure to ride.
It occurred to me how much Horses are like writing.
Paul Theroux jokes that I get writing lessons for riding lessons (you have to say this out loud to get it). But it is true.
Sunday afternoon we talked about my editing and his heels down.
We talked about how to proceed line by line and about closing his fingers.
It's all in the details.
How to keep your vision of what your book is about.
Have a picture in your head of how you want your horse to look like.
He also said I was lucky to have an agent who understands plotting and how to make a book the best it can be.
We all need suggestions, support and succor.
Like a horse.
No matter who you are.
Just like riding.
Just like what my horse needs.
You have to find his rhythm. The right way to approach a problem.
The rhythm of riding and the rhythm of writing.
How alike it all is.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday Reflections

7:30 am and 79 degrees.
The tradewinds have died and it has been very still and humid the last few days. The water is a mirror reflecting everything in its path.
My editing has been going very well. Reflection is important in making sure the story you tell is true or genuine.
That is a word that means genuine or authentic and is used in art. I like to think I can also use it in my writing. Everything that I put down on paper has to be echt. It has to be authentic and real in the world that I create. There are times in the past that I have read a book and sensed a lack of truth...of dishonesty.
Maybe the author created a Deus Ex Machina - when that long lost cousin no one knew existed, descends in the last chapter and admits to murdering the rich uncle.
Maybe the author forced his character to do or say something that no one would ever do. Like hearing a noise in the basement late at night when the news reports that a homicidal maniac escaped and is on a rampage and the character goes down to check windows and doors using a faulty flashlight.
Like that.
So in my edit I am looking for truth and expanding it and searching for lies that I can delete.
Isn't that what we all should be doing with our lives?
Just asking...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I Heart Squid

6:30 am and 77 degrees
I took this picture several years ago when I dove regularly through a dive shop in Hawaii Kai. Aloha Dive. A great place. Gordon was doing the weekend MBA program and I went diving. An excellent trade. Ironically living on the boat I have not blown bubbles as often. Maybe because it's so easy to snorkel. I don't know. Even my photography has changed as I struggle to transfer over to digital. My two strobes. The brackets and arms. My Nikonos. My 20mm wide angle lens. All languish in storage as I learn this new technology.
I am always learning.
Ahhhh that first of twenty cups of morning coffee...
(another digression)
Back to squid.
I love them. They look at me with interest. They are changeable. Unique. Unusual.
I never realized they were here in Hawaii. I dove for years without seeing them. My husband has lived here since he was little and he never realized it. It's like they all just came back suddenly. So cool.
I know why I adore them. They are like my stories.
There in my mind - just waiting to be discovered.
The way life is.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Care and Feeding of Editing OR How to Handle a Puffer Fish

6am and 75 degrees. I actually see blue sky creeping out of the clouds. The rain must be over.
I am ready to get to work on the final edit of my novel. I let it sit for many many weeks and now - armed with a wonderful letter of guidance from my agent - I am excited to start.
There is a delicacy about this. A needed measure of thoughtfulness.
I have been described as (to put it tactfully) "hasty."
I thank Paul Theroux for that term. He gave me exercises last spring to slow me down. My friend Holly says the same thing.
I am speedy.
I need to take my time.
Not be in a hurry,
What's my rush?
I don't know.
So maybe thinking of my novel as a puffer fish will help - all those pokeys. I need to handle it carefully. Make sure I do not damage the structure and deflate it.
So today I start.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Tale of my Drowning has Been Greatly Exaggerated

9:30 am and 77 degrees.
It is a deluge.
A torrent.
A free form niagara.

I stare out at the water and hope I do not have to go anywhere.
It is a good day to stay inside.
It is a good day to write.
All days are good days to write.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pat's Excellent Adventure in the City

9 pm and 78 degrees - pouring and I mean POURING rain.
I rode into Honolulu this morning with Gordon at 6:30 am.
I had a lunch date with friends, shopped, got my hair cut.
Decadence with a capital D.
By late afternoon the Pali highway was closed due to landslides because of flooding
so Gordon and I stayed in town and had dinner.
It is still raining.
But that's OK - at least I got out of cooking.