Sunday, March 29, 2009

Just Can't Stop Blogging

Things are continuously changing on AmishReader.com. Now authors have a feature where we can keep a cute little blog on the site. The blog has different content than this one, a little more geared toward the Reader of Amish Fiction (rather than the Amish Reader, who presumably wouldn't have a computer). It's a bit more PR (read: no demotivator posters).

If you'd like to check it out, it's here. I did post some info on the book that is unavailable anywhere else, and will be following up with answers to some of the questions I get asked a lot.

I'm ALMOST done with the book. Very close. Like, one chapter. Need to be done soon, because I've decided that I want to make striped throw pillows for my couch, and possily a new lampshade, and play the piano, and try an Italian chicken dish I've been meaning to make for a month...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Book Brain


I have 3.2 chapters left. I know because I keep checking. Danny made me this fantastic Excel spreadsheet that calculates how many words I've written, how many are left, my average word count per chapter, and the percentage of done-ness I've attained.

So I've got 7,230 words to go and it's driving me crazy, because I can hardly deal with or think about anything else. Grocery shopping and meal planning and cleaning is spotty at best (which is why the whole gross dinner episode from the previous post was that much more upsetting).

The upside is that things moving fast, because I've had this ending in my head for eight months and it's finally happening.

I'll be meeting with my lovely editors tomorrow morning to discuss the next book. Why discuss the next book, you ask? Well, I can't name one of my characters in this book until the next title is finalized. And the powers that be need to sign off at on that title, or a virus will be unleashed upon the earth rendering certain death and destruction.

Or there will be awkward edits later on. One of those.

I am looking forward to the next book. While it is featuring a different character (who will not be named at this time because, well, she doesn't have an official name yet), but most of the characters in the current book will appear in the next. And that's fun - I hope someday I'll get a chance to write a follow-up to Divine Discontent because I loved the characters so much.

Fiction writing is so weird. I spend a lot of time worrying about people who don't exist.

I really love Despair.com. The cynicism brings me great joy. And while I was looking for this to post at the bottom (because it shows again how insanity and fiction are closely linked):




...I found this:



Oh dear. So bad...and yet...I chuckle.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Memory of a failed dinner

The only thing worse than trying a recipe and discovering it's failed is having to clean up after it. It wasn't enough that after two bites you thought, "Hm, not my best," followed by, "maybe salt would make it better," to "I'll just eat it really fast," and ultimately ending with, "now my insides feel leaden and and disgusting."

Seriously. I spent ten minutes going "Bleh!" at semi-regular intervals.

After something like that, you'd think it would have the decency to clean up after itself. But no - it's still hanging around, reminding you of what you wish you hadn't digested.

It's all gone. I'm getting queasy again just thinking about it. Everything is scrubbed - all of the plates, all of the pans, bowls, two cutting boards, three wooden spoons, and after pouring bleach down my garbage disposal, even the smell of garlic is gone. Wiped down the counters. Swept and mopped the floor. It's gone. Gone gone gone.

Gone gone.

*Bleh*

Now I think I need to bake something to recover. I'm contemplating oatmeal cookies.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The "Why?" of Christian media

This is a subject I've been thinking about for a little while, first in regard to Christian music, and second in regard to fiction.

There's a lot of say about Christian film, none of it really any good, so I'm skipping it for the time being. I may change my mind as this blog progresses.

First up - the book is coming along. Not as fast as I'd like - I didn't make two chapters this last week. The one chapter was slow, slow going. Very slow going. Golf tournament slow. Made for TV British historical melodrama slow (do you ever notice how fond the British are of whispering? Whispering women. Can't understand what they're saying, and it happens all the time. Sorry. Back on track...). But the chapter is finished, the next started, all will be well, and I'm still perfectly on target.

Totally lost my train of thought. Christian Media. Christian Music. I was thinking about Christian music last night while we were doing the dishes and making pizza (note to single women: marry the pizza man). Danny put on Michelle Tumes, and I found myself enjoying it. This is a bit unusual, since I really don't listen to Christian music anymore. The last few years, I've found it all somewhere between homogenous and weird. The last Christian CD I purchased was Todd Agnew's last release. I love songs from his first and second album, but the third had an identity crisis and was too weird (with the exception of the duet w/ RSJ) to listen to in my car with the windows rolled down. The artists I like best are all crossovers - Leigh Nash, Anberlin, and Lifehouse.

The growing trend I've seen in CCM is a gravitation toward very worship-driven music. And there's a place for that. I just can't listen to it all the time.

Maybe it's because I don't live in the Bible Belt.

My guess is that the worship-oriented stuff sells because people can't get it anywhere else. If they want something relaxing, they buy Enya; Country, Rascal Flats; Pop, Kelly Clarkson. Worship? Then they turn to CCM.

That's just my thought, and it may not be true. But it feels true, because if you look at what CCM put out around ten years ago, it's astounding. Early Nichole Nordman, Bleach, Caedmon's Call 40 Acres, The Normals, Rebecca St. James, Michelle Tumes, Early Kutless (before most of the band bailed), and...*sigh*...remember when the Newsboys stood up to the microphone? The Jars' original album, the first W's release? There were a lot of different sounds going on.

Now everything sounds like it's being mixed by the same band of music producers, and Christian music has become much more formulaic. And Christian rock? Rock & Roll (as Jack Black taught us in School of Rock) is about sticking it to the Man. Most Christians don't believe in sticking it to the man, and efforts to stick it to the prince of darkness haven't been terribly successful.

(Unless it's Demon Hunter, as my brother pointed out, especially with their 2007 release Storm the Gates of Hell. But that's Demon Hunter, and they're hard core.)

So that was my music theory: people don't buy Christian music unless they have to. Then I started wondering if they do the same with Christian fiction. Because what sells best in Chistian fiction is the really safe stuff. Edgy and applicable isn't selling, not unless it's historical or (here it comes...) Amish. If people want to think and read at the same time, they'll pick up something secular, or worse yet, non-fiction (gasp!).

(I heard you, back there in the corner with the nasally voice, there's The Shack. It know. It's just the one shack, though. There's a whole lot of non-shack drowning it out.)

I blog about Christian media fairly reguarly, because it's a real head-scratcher to me. I am heartened that Red's new release is second on Billboard's Christian charts, but then again we've got the fact that Christian media is a segregated art form, placed far away from secular fiction shelves and certain away from its musical genre counterparts.

Don't know what to do about this, because all of it's run by businesses who want to stay in business. Darn them. They want to produce things that will sell. And that's tough in a rocky economy.

Pray that the economy turns around. Economy turns around, recording labels and publishing houses get to a point when they can afford to take the occasional risk. I miss risks. They can be fun to listen to.

Monday, March 2, 2009

May the Amish be with you.

So. I posted earlier today saying how I didn't post much.

Right.

To promote their line of Amish Fiction, Harvest House created AmishReader.com, a site dedicated to...yes...Amish Fiction. Being read by Amish Readers.

(Sorry, I'm a bit punchy. That's what comes of spending too much of your day in one chair and only cranking out 406 words. Urg. There will be more by the time I shut the laptop lid for the night, and judging by the current loopiness [sp?] they might not be half bad.)

Anyway. Check out the site. I'm on it. I look cute. My books aren't exactly on, seeing as they don't have covers yet, but they will be. If you like Amish fiction, take a look. If your mommy likes Amish fiction, tell her to take a look.

In all honesty, I am not going to make a career in writing Amish Fiction. This is not to say that I haven't spent ages in serious research, visited an Amish General Store and woodshop, bought the peach butter, photographed the Amish kittens, nearly cried when I realized I didn't have the memory card in my camera at the time...correctly photographed the buggy crossing sign. Been there, done that. Also watched the documentary about the Amish crack dealer kid.

I've enjoyed the chance to put my research skills (which I pay for every month in the form of a student loan) to good use, but my imagination is restless. Before publication, I tried my hand at writing historical fiction, suspense, YA fiction, children's stories, and chick-lit, before I settled into comedic-generation-next-fiction.

Writing Amish Fiction was my "in," and it's worked because of my imagination (granted, there are days I want to yank everyone's bonnets off and trot them around a Sephora counter). But later, who knows? Writing to the market is a challenge, but I like challenges.

I just wish this particular challenge would let me leave the house.

P.S. For more on my take on Amish Fiction, click here.
P.S.S. Forevermore, or at least in the forseeable future, the AmishReader link will also be posted in my "places to click" section. And do keep checking it - at some point, the book will be there!

Into the Tunnel

Wow. February was not a great blogging month. In my defense, things have been crazy. My goal for the book has been completion by the end of March, and edits through the month of April.

It is now March. The writer-guilt is stronger than ever. For the uninitiated, it's the feeling that you should be writing. At all times. Leaving the house is a bad idea, because it means leaving my computer behind, and leaving my computer means I'm not writing. Blogging properly has gone to the wayside, because it's writing something else. I'm not supposed to be writing anything else.

The book is turning me into an incommunicative agoraphobe.

Good news is, I'm healthy. I don't write well when I'm sick. Actually, I don't really write at all. I just sneeze and feel sorry for myself. It's hard being witty when you're congested. After an unhealthy December that put me behind, I'm at least holding steady.

And I'm over the worst of the "middle-of-the-project" syndrome. The end is truly near. I can see it. Taste it.

I've decided to start making a list of the things I'd like to do when the book is all finished and turned-in...

1. Practice the piano without feeling guilty.
2. Read during the day without feeling guilty.
3. Go out on a random photo shoot during the day (should be things to shoot by then) without feeling guilty.
4. Knit during the day without feeling guilty.
5. Acknowledge that Danny's been waiting for that sweater since December and still feel guilty, but better since I'm working on it.
6. Take a bath without feeling guilty.
7. Catch up on correspondence.
8. Make new throw pillows.
9. Iron. Feel guilty for not ironing.
10. Spend time with family and friends.
11. Go to the Art Museum.
12. Go to the Natural Sciences Museum.
13. Try new recipes.
14. Exercise.
15. Watch Mamma Mia! with my sister.
16. Sing along, just to see the look on her face.

It's possible that Mommy guilt and Book guilt are related. In my case, the child is quiet, but it's always there...

Truly looking forward to being done with this project. The next project runs closer to my personal tastes, content-wise. Having the main character (of undecided name) run around Portland, taking design courses and working in a bookshop has a lot of fun potential. Don't get me wrong, I like Plain Jayne. But it's definitely been a challenge. I think I've grown a lot as a writer, been pushed to write outside my preferences and create something likable anyway. For that, I'm pleased. Having a project, any project, going on this long is tough though. Looking forward to getting to that list!