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My Writer's Journal

Starting Over

It's the last day of 2010, and as usual I'm starting over. This time I'm starting over with VICTORIA RULES. After more than six weeks of diligent writing, I have produced about FIVE PAGES--the same five pages, over and over. I can't seem to find the way into this story, the hook that will grab a reader's attention and hold it. The only thing that has survived this constant reworking is the first line: I hate Sir John Conroy. So far so good. But how then do I write the scene that shows exactly why Victoria hates this man? So far I've been extremely busy hitting the delete key, dumping one idea that seemed perfect at first and replacing it with another one that may, or may not, work better. It occurs to me that I might have to come up with a different opening. I really, really like that one, but I know it's a mistake to fall in love with my own words--even a wonderful first line.

I hate Sir John Conroy. Now what? Read More 
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Penny for my thoughts

A writer I know told me recently that he's writing a memoir about his father and is nearly overwhelmed by his dad's many highly detailed notebooks--his dreams, the birds he'd sighted, etc. Every time he found a penny lying on the ground, he'd pick it up and make a mental note of what he was thinking about at that exact moment. Later, he'd enter the "thought" in a notebook he kept for that specific purpose. (He was a teacher, and when his students learned of this habit, they began leaving pennies around for him to find. He caught on and told them to save their money.) Now his son, my friend, is trying to make sense of all those penny thoughts.

I quit keeping a journal a couple of years ago, believing it was better for me to funnel all my energies into my books, but now I'm wondering. I've tried the technique: There's a penny, what am I thinking? I guess it's something you have to learn to do, because so far it looks as though I'm never thinking of anything, that my mind is a complete blank. Can this be true? It does make me wonder, though, if I shouldn't go back to keeping a journal, just to prove to myself that my head isn't as empty as it seems. Read More 
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Reading CLEOPATRA CONFESSES

It's always exciting when the galley proofs for a new book come in from the publisher. CLEOPATRA arrived the day after Thanksgiving in the midst of visitors and leftovers (all good!). I'm very happy with the design of the book, the way it's laid out, the type style, and especially the decorative elements used on the pages that separate the sections. It really does make a difference in the pleasure of reading when a book looks good, and I have to say that CLEOPATRA CONFESSES is handsome.

As usual I found a few little mistakes, mostly mine, although a few were printer's typos. Having been away from the manuscript for several months, I was able to look at the typeset version with fresh eyes. Fortunately, there will be a number of other eyes to catch any other errors, and yet I know that a couple of little mistakes will sneak past all of us. At least I hope they're little! Read More 
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