Friday, July 30, 2010

Elevator Pitch for Book

Every writer has to have an "elevator speech." Shoot, probably every artist does. Anybody who's selling something, in fact. But distilling 87,000 words into one or two sentences is hard. In an effort to hone my pitch, I'm going to ask you to come on an elevator ride with me while you are juggling coffee and a file folder and your backpack and lunch.

Here's my first effort:

Two children with secrets die in vastly different ways two decades apart. In Scarred but Smarter, reporter Eden Tremay carries the emotional scars of the first while she is drawn into the vortex created by the second.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More on Bond, my alter ego....

For some reason, I can't create a clickable link to this website: You can paste a portion of your writing there and see what famous writer the program says you "write like."

This is the piece of writing from Chapter 4 of my novel, Scarred But Smarter, that got me compared to Ian Fleming as noted in my previous post:

(Not sure what I think of the comparison, but it sounds marketable!)

"When I feel guilty and sense trouble, like now, I do chores. I grabbed my basket of dirty clothes and went downstairs to do laundry. The machines are in the back room of the gallery I live above. My apartment occupies the middle floor of old rowhouse which is gorgeous but definitely not made for tall people; I hit my head at least once a week. I have the second floor apartment; the third floor is vacant and had been since I moved in three years ago. It is wonderful not to have to listen to anyone banging around up there. My landlord Kathleen owns the gallery and the building, as well as the one next door where Leo lives. She is a fantastic landlord - quick to call a repairman if something needs fixing, she hasn’t raised the rent in three years, she loves Stella, and I like the art in her gallery. All in all, it is a pretty good living situation. The icing on the cake is that I get to park my 1966 Corvette snug and dry and safe in her garage. Kathleen doesn’t have a car and the garage is too small for any of her artists to use; they usually lugged work around in vans or trucks. The lemon yellow baby is my prized possession, a gift from my mother for my move to D.C. She heard I loved old cars, especially Corvettes. It was a bribe, but I didn’t care. The price she extracted in return was my weekly visit to Dr. Wilma Harper, my therapist. I was willing to pay because I loved that car, and Wilma turned out to be pretty okay too."

Call me Bond, Jane Bond....

I write like
Ian Fleming

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Apparently, I like to very much split infinitives. Not usually that badly, though. I discovered this habit in the third revision of my novel. I wondered how it became a part of my writing, which led me to wonder how anything becomes a habit. So I Googled. Most of what I found in the 15 minutes I allotted myself for this round of procrastination was about adopting healthy lifestyle habits or becoming a winning corporate pawn. (Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, anyone?)
I think habits form because there are too many decisions to make in life each day. We can't focus on the important ones if we don't make the majority of our choices by habit or routine. But since choosing what words to put on the page is one of my more important activities, I have to be more mindful. In other words, not lazy.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Swimming in Santa Cruz

This time of year, I am desperate for cooler weather. The heat makes me feel like a trapped wild animal, one that could chew off its foot to get out of the trap's jaws. Well, instead of chewing off a limb, I pester my husband about moving to Santa Cruz, California. To his credit, he is also intrigued by the idea, but he thinks we should stay put until I finish my book. He sees this moving fantasy as what it is: procrastination. Well, only partially procrastination. I truly love it on the California Central Coast for a lot of reasons. The following essay may be a little purple in its prose, but it conveys the truth of what I was feeling six years ago on a windy Pacific beach:

The fear tears at my gut. I tell myself that it is irrational. That there is nothing to be afraid of, that I am ready. These thoughts temporarily tame the beast while I walk down the stairs, but I cannot keep my concentration. The sharp jaws pounce at my lapse and resume their tearing as my feet hit the sand.
Because there is plenty to fear. Mankind has survived by obeying such fears. It doesn’t help that the lifeguards are on surfboards and look about twelve.
The fear, rational or not, eventually makes me angry, and I welcome the anger. It distracts me. I’m angry that I’m afraid, because I want to do this. And I’m also angry that I want to do this.
The irony makes me chuckle. If I oscillate between being amused and angry, I think I can get to the water’s edge. My mind, so busy with self-loathing and silent laughter, will have no room for fear. My body, freed of guidance, will simply follow all the other lemming bodies. I want to start soon; I cannot maintain this delicate emotional equilibrium for long.
I know other people are having more fun. They come to California to visit wineries and hunt for movie stars. At home, they go antiquing on Saturdays, maybe take an occasional family hike. I come to California to wait on a rainy, cold beach for my turn to swim in the shark and jellyfish filled ocean.
They call it the Red Triangle, the area from Santa Cruz north. Great white sharks live, breed, play and eat here. The line of my race pierces that triangle.
The gun goes off.
It’s funny how the fear that grips you on shore is different than the fear you swim with. Once I’m in the water, shark thoughts are washed away. I am panicked by the real, not the imagined. I’m hyperventilating because of the cold, I’m tossed by the violent waves as if I have no will of my own, and I’m being swum over by a human wave of faster racers.
The turbulent start becomes a more measured struggle, and I am afraid only that the cold will get worse, that I’m not making forward progress and that I’ll be last. That I want something I can’t have. That it’s not true you can do anything if you just try hard enough. That I’m fooling myself and that I am a fool. That a teenaged lifeguard will have to save me and won’t even think I’m cute. That my husband will be embarrassed. That people will look at me and feel sorry for me. Isn’t that scarier than swimming with sharks?
Something pulls a switch in my brain. I figure out how to breathe to the left so the army of waves coming from the right won’t beat me. Fortified with air, I find a rhythm and pull myself over the waves with arms that have found their power. I am moving through the water, to the horizon. The sea lions are watching with approval from their rock, and the cold water is dense and deliciously easy to grab. It feels like dancing with the best partner in the world.
My anger and fear are long gone, replaced with bursting pride. I feel gloriously alive and privileged to swim in the ocean far off shore with whatever else is below me, to have a body that can work like a fish. The world has shrunk and I have grown to fill it all. I never want it to end; I’m not even cold. I exist just to move forward, faster and farther. My mind is silent, my heart is singing, and my body leads.
I swim until my hand touches the sand as my husband taught me. I push myself up and run like a drunk through the finish chute. Rob is there with a towel and a look so full of love and pride, I know I’ll swim through anything to see that again. I won no award, but I won everything.