Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Drapes and Other Trials of Patience

So it's officially summer here in the South. Officially. Most days it's been in the 90s anyway, so we're all practiced for summer. Or warmed up, I should say.* To keep the costs of utilities down, I had to put up drapes in my room, because my corner of the house takes the brunt of the sun every day, mostly in the morning between 9 and 11. (You can actually feel the temperature rise. It's a little scary.) We bought them one at a time, just to see if they work before committing. I had help with the first window the evening we bought it. It worked well, so we got another one, and it stayed on the floor until today, when I decided to put it up.

So apparently, the window frame is made of steel-infused oak. I really think it's just a special kind of tree that the builders grow using secret knowledge. After eventually getting the brackets mounted, I put up the drape, and my room is cooler and a little darker. I really think that marriage counseling should include the couple trying to put up a pair of drapes in an un-air-conditioned room, just to see how fun it gets (and mind you, I put this one up myself.)

Moving on to the books. I'm making huge progress through the first book, but sometimes key characters just don't know when to be quiet. Okay, really, it's just me. I think I'm feeling like I need to explain stuff or provide this huge convoluted catalyst for certain actions. Eventually I get frustrated, make it simple, and then have the information dump marked for movement to another place, occurring later in the narrative, where it fits better.

I try my own patience sometimes. But working through it is really the only remedy. Are you having the same problem? Keep writing, and a better option will present itself, I promise.

So starting tomorrow, I'll be posting some snatches from the original copy of what I'm working on. It's delightfully atrocious. Stay tuned!

*I'm terrible, I know, but I really couldn't resist.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Friday Night Death Slot

Once upon a time, there was a hit television show that was moved to Friday night.

The end.

No, really.

The original Star Trek's cancellation had a lot to do with being moved to Friday night. Why is Friday night so fatal for television shows? That one's easy. Most people have a lot more exciting things to do on Friday nights than sit at home and stare at a screen, no matter how good the show is. Today, things like DVR and Tivo are close to making the death slot a non-issue (but not quite.) The concept is still true, though. Watching a good show at home is good; dinner and a movie or a party or whatever is better. Want an alternative to shows? Movies on cable. Aw yeah.

The best way to slip into obscurity is to be just good enough to have readers. Not readers who are particularly interested or pulled in, but readers. They picked up your book because Books-a-Million or Barnes & Noble slapped a label on it claiming that it's "for fans of [insert famous book series with tons of subsidiaries]" and stuck it in a special bay for two weeks. They want their fix of something and their paperback version of whatever has either been lent out to a friend, read too many times, or come apart at its dry, gluey seams. They buy your book, they read it for a taste of their obsession, and possibly never pick it up again. You've given them exactly what they want, and unless you were memorable about it, they're not going to bother when the next installment hits the shelves.

So what got me thinking about this? Well, it was actually Abra Ebner's blog. (You remember I've reviewed three of her books in the past.) On the right side of the landing page of her blog is a little picture that says "Books Like Twilight" and leads to a website that I believe is no longer working. But really, all I needed to see was the name of that link. Apparently, there are people who are looking for some lovely, good enough fiction that will give them their Twilight fix. And there are also authors who will provide that, just to get readers. Just to be good enough, in terms of sheer concept.

So what would you rather be? Good enough? Riding on the coattails of a swiftly passing fad and fading into obscurity before you ever had any notoriety? Having young reviewers on Amazon ranting that your book, your baby, wasn't as good as Twilight/The Hunger Games/Percy Jackson?

Be the best, always.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


You know me better than anyone. You know that I often wonder, in the quiet hours, why me. Not because my life is so outwardly terrible, but because of the things I do struggle with. You know I often wish that I had other problems, ones that are more physical or emotional. I often wonder if You can hear me, if You still want me, or even if You ever did.

And then I begin to remember almost everything.

You were there when my tiny body began to consume its own blood supply, even if I didn't know you were there.

You were there on a hot summer's day after a job interview, when I found out the man I love had to have potentially life-changing surgery the next day, that it might be cancer.

You were there beside me, I know it, on a cold January night when I buried a much beloved dog behind my house, and You whispered quietly that it was okay, You had him and he wasn't sick or hurting anymore.

You were there when my family had to endure unimaginable grief and horror after a week of victory. You sent me a dream, and that was what I needed.

Every single time, in every instance, it was Your name on the line. You have the power to heal. I know You still do. The last two moments, it was Your name on the line and you chose the opposite of what we wanted.

And You are still a good God.

There are so many times where Your voice was in the shout of victory or in the tearing of a veil or in the meticulous, wild, amazing, impossible stretching of matter into Creation. But on three different nights, You chose a whisper.

When everything was speaking in volumes and yelling and screaming and demanding our attention, You whispered that even though you created a vast and outrageously complex universe, you cared that a little dog had fallen to the ground, never to get up again. Your whispers told me that my family would be whole again one day.

Keep talking, Lord. I'm listening.