Monday, January 23, 2012

Blank Slate Kate on tour!

From January 23-27, "Blank Slate Kate" and I are hitting up a bunch of blogs (30 posts are scheduled!) for reviews and some guest posts and interviews.

You can see everywhere we'll be on my web site and I'd love to chat with you at any of the stops!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Artist Date Jan 6 - two paintings, one hour

Quite a while back I worked through Julia Cameron's great "The Artist's Way", in which she recommends a weekly "Artist Date" to get out of yourself and see/experience something different. I did these faithfully for a while, then unfaithfully, then stopped entirely. It's hard to take that kind of time, I find. Even just a few hours a week, saying "I am not going to work, I'm going to go refill my creative side" is tough.

But I took the week after Christmas off, figuring I was just feeling lackluster about everything because I was tired, and when I started writing again this week I am less tired but no less lackluster. And I don't like it. So I thought perhaps it was time to try the Artist Date again.

And, as it turns out, it was!

I went this afternoon to a gallery not too far from me. It was small, just one large room, but I stayed for about 90 minutes and feel all clean and refreshed.

The first half was all very modern art, interesting and unusual sketches like this one called "Study for Cathedral" by Sorel Etrog. But what caught my attention was the imperfections. I'm not sure this'll show up (all pictures come from my iPhone) but between the two halves of the cathedral there's a pencil line. There are others around the piece too. Part of me says "sloppy" and "slapdash", but I also hear "authentic" when I look at the work. Nothing's perfect, and yet these pieces are still worthy of being in a gallery. Perhaps aiming for perfection makes something NOT actually art?

I tend to be one of those uncultured types who can't get her head around really modern paintings like this one by Jack Bush called "Paris #5". The first picture is the whole thing and the second is a closeup, in which you can see that the painted segments overlap and bleed into each other. There are random brush strokes, areas that are devoid of color, and even a few brush bristles embedded in the paint. Looks like the kind of job I did when I painted the laundry room. And I don't see anything remotely reminiscent of Paris. (I guess the middle red part could be the Arc de Triomphe, but that's a stretch. :)

My immediate instinct was to pass on by rolling my mental eyes, but I decided to stick with it, figuring there had to be something to it. I don't actually know how long I stayed looking at it, or how many times I went back, because it started to take hold of me. I couldn't figure out which color went on first, and I began wondering whether there was significance in the overlapping edges and where they did not overlap. I must admit it's still not the kind of painting I'd put on my wall, but I think there's more going on here than I first thought and I'm still puzzling over it.

The other half of the exhibition was called "Dusk to Dawn" and was about various kinds of light in art. I fell immediately in love with an A.J. Casson painting called "Sunlit Isle". Isn't it gorgeous?

It lost some of its resonance in the photo, but I think you still get the feeling of stillness and the way that one area glows with sunlight. I could NOT leave this painting alone. I kept coming back, and even sat in front of it for a while. I feel like I want to go over to that other island and then look back at where I was and say, "Ah, I got here," but I also feel like once I got there I would be sad because the view wouldn't be as nice as the view I have now. I think it was being torn between those two feelings that kept me engrossed in the painting.

Will anything I saw today translate directly into a book? Quite likely not, although I can imagine there being a sun-dappled island as an excursion stop on my new book set on a cruise ship. But 'translating directly into a book' wasn't the point of the trip. I wanted to look at things differently, to get out of my house and my routine and almost step sideways out of time. And I did that in spades. Even if I'm still not sure what to make of "Paris #5".

I intend to do an Artist Date nearly every week (would love to do it weekly and I will aim for that but I'm not making myself a promise I may not keep) and I will report on them here for my own use as a scrapbook and maybe for yours too. I think we all have an artist inside - does yours want to go on a date? :)

Edited to add: When I tagged this post with "Artist's Way", I then looked at the last one I tagged thusly. 2008. Hmm. It's been a lot longer than I thought! (And I still use those tea towels and change them daily. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New blurb for "Blank Slate Kate"

So Eaglet's got a name now! And a cover, which I've included at the left for your viewing pleasure. :) All it still needs is its cover blurb. I've been playing around with it some more and here's what I have now. I'd love your comments and opinions - would you pick this book up? Why or why not?

Waking up with a strange man is scary. Realizing you lost fifteen years of your life overnight? That's terrifying. With her memories from seventeen to thirty-two gone, Kate has no idea who she is and where she belongs. As she begins to fall for the man who found her, she wonders if she forgot those years for a reason. Should she keep trying to retrieve her original self, or start a new life?

Thanks! :)

Oh, and "Blank Slate Kate" will be out in December. :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo tips

Last year I did a blog post for Jennie of "Life is Short. Read Fast" (what a great blog name!) on how to write fast. Since it's NaNoWriMo time again, why not go check it out on her blog?

What's up this week? (Nov 1st)

I meant to do this on Sunday but... well, I don't really know what happened. :) But anyhow, here it is!

Last week's plan:
- write 12,000 words of Gemstone, 10 hours of work time
- edit Eaglet, 5 hours
- work on covers/back cover blurbs for Eaglet
- run my 5 km race well
- practice my drums daily

Results from last week:
- 11,191 words of Gemstone, about 9 hours of work time (I got distracted by a laptop that wasn't working the way I expected any more)
- Eaglet got its 5 hours and will be done this week
- I have two sets of covers (you can see them at my Facebook page) and two partial blurbs for Eaglet
- I ACED the race! I did it exactly as I planned and it turned out to be only 20 seconds off my best time even though I wasn't trying to be fast. I felt so good after!
- I missed one day of drumming but am otherwise making progress

Overall, a good week. I don't like when I get distracted by technology but the laptop is back to normal and I think this coming week will be better!

Plans for this week:
- I don't particularly like (it turns out) setting a word count goal for first draft work. There are just too many ways I can not reach it during a particular work session. Therefore, this week's plan is 10 hours of gemstone.
- I will finish Eaglet's final polish and begin working on formatting its text for release.
- I will at least narrow the cover choices down to two or three and I hope to actually pick one. :)
- drum daily - the first rehearsal for Fame is Sunday and I want to have a solid clue of what I'm playing!

For anyone doing NaNoWriMo, good luck! I'm not officially doing it because I'm mid-book and like where I am, but I am going to finish this novel in November and I still need around 40-45,000 words, so I'll be close. :)

Have a great week!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Potential blurb for Eaglet - thoughts?

I am hard at work getting Eaglet ready for its December debut. It still has no title (although I'm getting closer!) but here's my current draft of its back-cover description. Comments are welcome! Would you read a book with this description? Why or why not?
I open my eyes the morning after my best friend's seventeenth birthday to find myself in bed. With a strange man. Naked. I don't know how I got here, and when he calls me Kate I don't even know if that's my name.

To make matters worse, we soon realize I've forgotten the last fifteen years of my life. He tries to help me find out who I am and where I belong, but soon I'm longing to belong with him. If we manage to unlock the secrets of my past, will I like what I find? Will I still be Kate?
Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What's up this week? (Oct 23rd)

I used to post a weekly "what I'm doing this week" thing, half a plan for me and half a "what does a writer do anyhow?" thing for you. I miss it, so it's back!


I'm writing the first draft of a book codenamed Gemstone, and it's currently at around 32,000 words. I will write for two hours a day, so a total of ten hours. I usually get around 2,500 words during those two hours so I'm aiming for 12,000 or thereabout to be added to the book. (I have a slight advantage because I have around 1,400 words lingering in a not-quite-finished scene from last week!)

I've tried doing my writing by having a word count goal, but I just find the time goal feels better to me. That two hours is handled like this. For 50 minutes I put my head down and write like the computer will blow up if I slow down. If I finish a scene, I go back and reread it to fix any little things that aren't quite right, then I go on. After that, it's a ten-minute break (usually spent crocheting!) and then another 50-minute burst. I'm tired after but it works for me.


The book currently known as Eaglet (see an excerpt on my Facebook page!) is going to be my December release. I'm about 1/3 done its final reread and polish, and I'll be spending an hour a day on that.

Business-type stuff

I can't exactly release Eaglet in December with a blank cover with the word "Eaglet" scribbled across it, so this week after I'm done writing and editing is all about finding the right title and cover. I may not have it perfect by the end of the week but I intend to have something.

Personal-type stuff

I'm running a 5K race this Saturday so I will do a few more light training runs and then get out there. I've been burned this year by trying so hard to go fast that I end up walking more than I like (I do not have a natural runner's build. I am built like a long-distance swimmer, or in more typical terms kind of like a refrigerator :). For this race I will run 2.5 km, walk for a minute, then run the rest. The final time is irrelevant. (Let's hope I remember that at the fourth km where in the past I've frequently come apart!)

In February I'll be playing drum set for a local production of "Fame: The Musical". We got our music this week and wow. Seriously challenging for a novice drummer like myself. There needs to be daily practice. And there will be. :)

Now I'm off to run, so I'll throw it out to you: what are you up to this week?

Whatever it is, I hope you have a great week! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fresh air = fresh writing? I hope so!

This was my view from the balcony this morning. I figured, since it will no doubt be freezing cold here soon, I might as well sit outside to work on Gemstone.

I wrote about 2600 words and got lots of fresh air! I would love to write out there every day, but that might be less fun when the snow arrives. :)

Are you the outdoorsy type? I really am not. :)