Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Don't Like My Character!

I'm re-reading Stephen King's On Writing right now - the best book out there on writing, IMHO. It's wonderful because he discusses actually being a writer, not just the craft. Two different animals. One thing he said that has really stuck with me these last few days: he never really liked Carrie White (of Carrie fame.) At least, he didn't at first. He grew to understand her, to appreciate her motives, but she wasn't someone he'd likely count among his friends. He only stuck with her because his wife liked her. ("Honey, I know you don't want to have dinner at the Whites again. But you can do this for me, can't you?")

I'm in this same predicament. My newest character is, well, not one of my best friends at the moment. She seems to simply float through life with no consideration of others, of how her actions have consequences. She's not evil. She's just immature. But I'm sticking with her. Professor King says you don't really know your characters until you finish that first draft. I agree. Once Autumn (of my middle grade novel Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different) was steered through that first draft, it was much easier to see what kind of person she was, and what kind of person she'd become. So I'm sticking with Hope, and keeping my fingers crossed that she becomes the fascinating young lady I so desperately want her to be.

King stuck with Carrie, and she made him millions. You hear that, Hope? Millions! Now, shape up, missy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Time to Write

I have two small kids, ages three and nine months. People often ask me where I find time to write.

Find time? I wish I could "find time." Like when you reach in your jeans pocket and pull out a twenty. Found time. "Hey! Look at that! There's the twenty minutes left over from last week."

I've caught myself replying that I "make time." This sounds as if I, a kid lit writer from Arrington, TN, have sole discretion over the space-time continuum. As if I can merely create the two hours I need to finish Chapter Three.

The most accurate description, I suppose, is that I allocate the time I need to write. I have a babysitter who comes three times a week, four hours each day. Twelve hours a week for me to write. If I don't use them for writing, if I use them for cleaning or laundry or holiday shopping, I start to feel itchy. Those twelve hours a week when I'm a vaudeville actress in 1910, or a pompous preschooler with a penchant for half-birthdays, or an over-protective guardian angel who back-sasses The Big Guy, those are the sanest twelve hours of my week. :-)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Project Runway

I have so few vices these days, but one of them, without question, is Project Runway. I adore this show. It's "fierce," as that new scrappy little kid likes to say. "Fierce." (Such a great word!) There's just something so fascinating about watching people make something from nothing, and so quickly. I suppose I identify with those designers and their creative processes (all except for that crazy one who spits - what's up with THAT?!). So I started thinking: what if there was a Project Novel?

Host Stephen King: "Okay, contestants. You have thirty minutes to write your opening chapter..."
Contestant One: "No way. Can't be done."
King: "This isn't about precision. This is about getting words on paper. Thirty minutes is plenty of time to..."
Contestant Two: "Excuse me, Mr. King? Where are the outlines?"
King: "The what?"
Contestant Two: "The outlines! I can't write without one!"
King: "There aren't any - c'mon folks! Thirty minutes! Just write!"
Contestant Three: "Thirty minutes is no problem."
King: "That's the spirit!"
Contestant Three: "Tomorrow. I can write an opening chapter in thirty minutes if I can ruminate on it tonight."
King: "Ruminate? RUMINATE? One opening chapter. Thirty minutes. Go!"
Contestant Four: "I could maybe do it if it were the opening sentence. Thirty minutes for an sentence. Maybe."
All contestants nod and mumble in agreement.
King: "Whatever. I'm out of here. If you guys don't want me to teach you how to crank out both quantity and quality, I'm out." Exits stage left.
Contestant One: "Starbucks?"

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm Not Dead!

The good news is... I'm not dead! Yes, it's been nearly two years (really?! GULP!) since I posted to my blog, but I have some really good excuses. Pick one of the following:
a) a new baby
b) a new house
c) a book deal, complete with three rounds of revisions
d) all of the above.

You guessed it - d! So see? Busy, busy!

The new baby - a wonderful Baby Boy, now nine months old. Crawling, into everything - an absolute and total joy.

The new house - love it! In the country, wild turkeys wandering about - just lovely.

The book deal - omg! My middle grade historical fiction novel, Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different, is due out in Fall 2008 from Delacorte Press. Since most of you who visit this site are my writing buds, I'll expand more on this one.

The scene: Early February, 2007. My editor, Wendy Loggia, calls my cell phone. I am nine months pregnant. I am AT THE OB/GYN.

Wendy: "Hello, Kristin? It's Wendy Loggia from Random House."

Me: "Oh my gosh! It's so good to hear from you! I'm at my gynocologist's office right now."

Wendy: silence

Me: "Oh, um - I should say, I'm not in the office right now - I mean, I am, but I'm checking out. I'm done." Shut up Kristin. "I mean - I'm scheduling my induction for my new baby. I was newly pregnant when we met, remember?" Shut UP, Kristin. "Everything's great! Healthy baby! I'm scheduling his arrival right now. That's why I'm at...my...OB's office..."

Wendy: laughing "I think this is a first for me."

Me: unbelievably mortified "Uh, me too?"

Wendy: "So I wanted to talk to you more about this wonderful story you sent me..."

And that was that! There, in my OB/GYN's office, I was offered my first book deal. Two weeks later, my son was born. It was one heckuva month.

I'm playing catch up in every aspect of my life, but I'll post more often now. I promise. Because I'm not dead. Just busy. :-)