Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Brett Gallagher is young, brash and idealistic. Just out of a two-year stint working with Teach for America, she dreams of making the world (or at least the public school system) a more welcoming place for gay teens. She is charming and outgoing, but seemingly incapable of an actual relationship, preferring instead one night stands and casual flings.
Brett and Amy meet at an orientation for new teachers, and there is an immediate attraction. They spend the summer getting to know each other and falling in love despite their differences. By early fall, the two women are enjoying the bliss of a new relationship. But all of that changes when a gay student is harassed and the offender is given a slap on the wrist.
The event brings to a head their contrasting views on life and politics. Brett risks her job by leading an unpopular crusade to convince the conservative school board to amend the student handbook. Despite parental outcry, she argues that they need to include sexual orientation as a protected group alongside race and religion. But Amy, who is uncomfortable in the limelight and fears drawing attention to their personal relationship, wants to work more subtly to teach her students about tolerance and diversity. This dichotomy places a great deal of strain on their fledgling relationship, and each must decide how much she is willing to compromise.
Complete at 85,000 words, Learning Curves is a love story about two women who seek the same goals, but follow different paths. Though the story stands on its own, I am currently working on a second novel starring some of the supporting characters. If you would like to read more about Brett and Amy, a full manuscript is available upon request.
I've got a little time off this week from work, so hopefully I'll get in some good writing time. But I'm not holding my breath. The good news is that I did some really detailed brainstorming while Page was in town this weekend and really hammered down some specifics that have been eluding me. I also outlined the second book, which is exciting (but also seems crazy since I still haven't finished this one).
I did find a little time to tweak my query, so check that out.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Today was a lot of fun. Page was in town visiting. We went to Spotted Dog and I got to meet Nancy. The cute waitress who I think has a crush on me was not our waitress. (Probably a good thing since Page would have done something to embarrass me, I'm sure.) Instead it was this sketchy old hippie woman who is incredibly awkward. Nice, but awkward. Afterward we came back here and Winston modeled his Halloween costumes. (Yes, that's plural. I couldn't decide, so I bought two.) Nancy thinks I should make a calendar of Winston in various outfits and sell it online.
Then I watched America's Next Top Model season premiere because I am a slave to pop culture. So far I only hate about 3/4 of the contestants, so we're off to a good start.
In between all this intellectual stimulation, I managed to edit my last chapter and get started on Chapter 19. I didn't get a whole lot done, but it's something.
current word count: 53,435
Monday, September 18, 2006
It feels great to be back in the story again. I was really adrift for awhile, but I think I'm on course again. The next chapter is pretty important for setting up the major conflict, so I hope I can do it well.
current word count: 52,843
current word count: 50,820
Monday, September 11, 2006
Five years ago, I had just moved from Washingon, D.C. to NC to return to school. I was miserable and homesick. I missed my friend and the city I considered home. I thought daily about quitting school and returning to my life there.
At the time, I was sharing an apartment with another student who had just moved to town from D.C. Normally, I watch CNN while I get ready in the morning. But that morning, I woke up late and rushed straight into the shower. When I came out, I heard Tim's girlfriend (who was still living and working in DC) leaving a message on the answering machine. She was on her cell phone and in a panic. They had been evacuated from their office building, as had all government employees. She was sobbing and telling us that everyone was panicked and no one knew what was going on, only that there were bombs or explosions or something, and that we were under attack. Tim came out of his room at the same time I emerged from the bathroom, so we both sort of stood there in the hall in shock listening to her talk. In the background we could hear the utter panic of the mass of people being evacuated, and it was terrifying. He lunged for the phone, and I lunged for the remote. We turned on CNN just in time to see the replay of the plane hitting the Pentagon and were utterly shocked.
I skipped all my classes that day and spent all day glued to the television and getting error messages as I tried to call my friends. Having lived in D.C., I was far more concerned (in that moment) with what had happened at the Pentagon and with the plane that was still in the air and said to be headed for the White House, than I was with what was happening in NYC. All of my friends at that time lived in D.C. and were working either on Capital Hill or in the Pentagon. Those who didn't work at the Pentagon took the metro THROUGH the Pentagon every morning right around the time of the attack. (Just as I had been doing up until I moved away to go back to school.) I had no idea if anyone I know was killed/injured in the Pentagon attack or whether there would be more attacks on D.C. Jerimie had just recently enlisted in the Navy and was stationed at the time in Maryland and sent to D.C. for crisis control. So my family was in a panic, worried that he would be injured in another attack, or that we would immediately declare war and he would be deployed. I spent a lot of time trying to calm them. Meanwhile, I was terrified, angry and feeling a lot of what I guess was mild survivors guilt -- I should have BEEN there. I WANTED to be there. I was homesick and hating NC and had been questioning daily my decision to move away from D.C. And when this happened, I felt so helpless being so far away. I wanted to be with my friends and family, not two states away unable to even get them on the phone thanks to overloaded circuits.
After the D.C. panic calmed down and it became clear that the damage and death toll there was going to be very minor compared to NYC, my focus shifted. But that was a much more removed feeling of sadness for me. I was obviously upset by it, but not in the personal way that I viewed the D.C. attack. A good friends' father is a NYC police officer stationed near the WTC. He was unaccounted for for two days while he worked at the site, unable to get a message to his family that he was all right. I spent a lot of time trying to comfort his daughter. And I had a number of other friends with family members who were missing or unaccounted for. Luckily, everyone I knew was eventually found and was safe.
I know how incredibly lucky I am that I wasn't there that day and that no one I know was killed or seriously injured. But it was one of the most personally terrifying experiences of my life ,and I don't like reliving it, which is why I hadn't planned to post anything about it today. I understand that everyone grieves/remembers differently, and for some all this five-year hype is cathartic. But for me, walking across campus today and seeing the flags and tributes and hearing the speakers made me feel ill. I'm steadfastly avoiding the television. I do think it's important that we remember what happened that day and honor those we lost. We don't want to forget about it. But I'm in no danger of forgetting, and I don't relish reliving it over and over again.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
And then...we all know what happened. Rumors started circling that not only was Ellen gay in real life, but that she was going to out herself on the show. There was outrage and a whole lot of name-calling in my house (the oh-so witty "Ellen Degenerate was -- and remains -- a family favorite). And, of course, I was forbidden to watch the show from then on out.
So I never saw the infamous "puppy episode".
Thankfully, the Oxygen network has been rerunning the series in its entirety. And Thursday and Friday, they aired the two-part episode. So, only a decade after the rest of the world, I finally saw Ellen Morgan come out to her friends.
I was just a few months shy of my seventeenth birthday when this aired the originally. And by that time, let me tell you, I had already been struggling with my sexuality for years. I knew what I was feeling "wasn't normal" and seeing how my family reacted to a perfect stranger's coming out, reaffirmed to me that it was not something I should discuss or contemplate personally. So I stuffed those feelings down deep inside and didn't deal with them until years later when I was in college and out from under the thumb of my family and our oppressive community.
So I watched this episode on two levels: On one, it was pure fun. The dialogue and situational irony was snappy and amusing as always. I laughed, I cringed, I rolled my eyes. It was a very enjoyable hour, and I'm glad I finally got a chance to watch it. On the other hand, I watched it imagining what it would have been like to see this as a teenager. And on that level, it was bittersweet. Because I can only imagine how much it would have helped. I can only imagine how wonderful it would have felt to know I wasn't alone and that I wasn't evil or sick for feeling the way I did. If only I hadn't been "sheltered" from this, my journey might have been that much easier. I hope there were others out there in my position who didn't have to wait a decade to see this. So, to Ellen, I say: "Thank you. And I'm sorry it took me ten years to say it."
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Meanwhile, I'm baking a cake and I stocked up on movies. I'm really excited about Unveiled.
And of course, I'll be using the time to write. I need to edit first. I made some progress over the last two weeks (despite all the insanity that has been going on here). I'm caught up to the scene that I jumped ahead and wrote a few weeks back. But the last three chapters need some heavy editing to fix the flow.
And Winston would like y'all to know that he reads your comments, and yes, he is also an aspiring novelist....
Jarron Ennis said...
Cute pooch! And yeah, I just can't see how you get any writing done. Looks like the Poochmeister is trying to write his own novel....
current word count: 49,721
Sunday, August 20, 2006
1) The cuts were REALLY necessary and I'm much happier with the beginning of the story. There was way too much filler and description, and now we get to the action much faster.
2) I actually cut around 3500 words. So while there was a net loss, I did manage to get farther in the story. I wrote around 700 words tonight after the glut of editing. I'm well on my way in the next chapter, and I'm hoping that tomorrow will be a very productive day.
3) I got some REALLY nice comments in the critiques I got back today. Along with the incredibly helpful constructive criticism that led to the gutting of the first two chapters, there were some fantastically complimentary comments. That definitely gave me something to hang on to when I was scrapping large swaths of writing.
current word count: 41,701
Friday, August 18, 2006
In the meantime, I've sent the first two chapters off to be critiqued. I'm nervous but very excited to see what kind of feedback I get.
Lizzie and I have a new joint venture that I'm excited about as well. Now's definitely not the best time for me to be taking on a new project, but it's too perfect to pass up.
current word count: 43,442
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
The good news is, I now have one week until my classes start and ten days until I start my new job. That's lots of time for writing! I need to buckle down and get back on track.
current word count: 42,607
Friday, August 11, 2006
current word count: 41,250
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
current word count: 40,893
My argument has always been that it needs to be a prologue partially because it is set a few months before the rest of the narrative, but moreso because the POV shifts in each chapter and Chapter 1 is also from Amy's POV. I had toyed with an intermediate chapter from Brett's POV but couldn't think of what should go in that chapter and didn't want to waste space.
The good news is, I had a brainstorm today for that section. I realized that the prologue is only 1700 words, roughly half of my other chapters. If I write another chapter of that legnth, I can have the first two chapters be shorter, introductory chapters so that the reader can get to know each character individually. Then once they meet, the chapters can be longer.
I'm actually thrilled, because now that I'm half way through the story, I can think of lots of things that belong in Brett's introductory chapter. So my job for today is to write what will now be Chapter 2.
current word count: 39,428
Monday, August 07, 2006
Sunday, August 06, 2006
In just over 48 hours, I cranked out 7,005 words. If only I could keep up that pace, I'd be done in ten days! (That sound you hear is hysterical laughter as I contemplate the possibility of maintaining this pace.)
I had plenty of momentum at the beginning, but the last 1000 words was like pulling teeth. I couldn't give up once I was that close though.
Also this weekend, my prologue was up on crapometer and I got lots of great feedback and advice. I made a bunch of tiny edits and now I feel like the prologue is finally on par with the rest of the story, which is a great feeling. It's nerve wrecking enough to feel like you have a giant weak spot, but it's even worse when that weak spot is the first thing that people (ie editors) read.
current word count: 37,555 (!!)
Saturday, August 05, 2006
In the meantime, I'm indulging myself with teeny-bopper romantic comedies (Legally Blonde and 10 Things I Hate About You) and cuddling with my sad, neglected little dog.
In other news, I have a cute new neighbor and she baked me cookies. Can't argue with that. :)
**bedtime update (2:30am)**
current word count: 35,210
Friday, August 04, 2006
There's no reason I can't make major progress this week. I have no plans and it's far too hot to contemplate any outdoor activity. So I'm setting an ambitious goal for myself: halfway point by Sunday at bedtime. Half of my estimated 75K words is 37,500. So I need to write approximately 7,000 words in 53 hours.
Let the games begin...
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Chapter 17 is at 2756 words. A chunk of that (approx. 750 words) was ripped from the earlier story I mentioned in yesterday's post. It required some really heavy-duty editing, but I'm thrilled that I got to use a couple of descriptions and lines. It was definitely worth salvaging.
I'm not going to add this chapter to my current word count right now. I'll add it when I get there chronologically.
current word count: 30,550
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
I finished Chapter 10 -- a major accomplishment since that final scene was giving me fits.
I'm already over the 1000 word quota and I think I can squeeze out a few more paragraphs before bed.
And I got the nicest email today from someone who had read one of my old, old short stories that is apparently still posted online. I had forgotten all about the story and the feedback inspired me to go reread it. Upon reading it, I realized that there is a scene or two in there that is PERFECT for this novel. With just a little adapting and editing, I think I can find a home for some of those scenes. Which is exciting not only because it helps this story, but also because I really, really loved that story but had no idea what to do with it. I'm glad that part of it will find its way into something bigger and better.
current word count: 30,397
On the home front: I had another job interview today. Why is it that whatever interview Ive had most recently is the job I want? I've now got two preliminary offers and probably one more coming later this week. So at least I'm not stressed about finding a job anymore. Now I just have to decide which to take or how to arrange it so I can arrange my schedule to take more than one. I'll be so glad when all of this is settled. It will be nice to have the piece of mind, and it will be nice to come straight home from work and not have to rush off to job interviews.
current word count: 29,379
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
I did some MAJOR brainstorming for the sequel today, which required some backtracking and rewriting of this story. Melissa's name has been changed to Campbell and she's now much older and a lawyer. Her relationship with Jodie has changed too, there's still the unrequited love, but now they have a history.
And the story's new working title -- suggested by one of EE's minions -- is Learning Curves. I think that works on a lot of levels, as Brett and Amy, who are both teachers, are learning now to make a relationship work.
Speaking of the minions, tons of feedback on my query letter. Check it out.
current word count: 28,804
Monday, July 31, 2006
I was really pleased that my query only required "some shortening and polishing". I struggled with it a lot and was not very happy with what I sent him, but didn't know how to make it any better.
His comments made me laugh and I got some invaluable help. Can't knock that.
for the record: you can tell this is an old version that I sent him because the main character's name is still Allison. It has since been changed to Amy. But then, y'all know that already. Right?
When I wasn't worrying about my job situation, I meandered around the house doing a whole lot of nothing. I did far less writing than I should have, but I did hit my 1000-word quota each day, so I can't complain too much. I also read a book and spent some quality time with the beast. And I watched a bunch of episodes of Mythbusters, which is a recent obsession.
Amazingly, as I was writing the World of Coke scene, I ran across a Travel Channel special that profiled it. Talk about good timing.
Current word count: 28,307
Friday, July 28, 2006
Current word count: 25,642
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I didn't see any problem with the pacing or the characters at all. It was a very pleasant read, which tells me that what you're doing is just fine. I think the areas I already commented on are about it from my POV. Of course, a professional editor might have other things to say, but I think if you tighten things up, as discussed, you'll have a good shot when submitting. I most enjoyed the way you presented that early attraction / tension between the two characters and your plan for the rest of the book sounds pretty good, too. I think you did that well and, in general, your writing is very good. I've beta read for a stack of people that haven't published yet and there has been a wide variety of skills. I'd put yours up there at the top. So keep writing!
It made my day and (hopefully) has inspired me to get back on track with my daily writing. All my edits are made now, so I have no more excuses. One thousands words per day minimum. I better get cracking if I'm going to make my quote for the day.
Monday, July 24, 2006
My internet was out at home this weekend, and I nearly went insane being unable to check my email. Thank goodness for free internet at Panera. (And free food at Panera also, thanks to knowing the girl working at the counter!)
I got my first round of edits back from my beta reader yesterday and spent all evening making edits. I think everything is a lot tighter now and I'm much happier with a few spots. I did some major reorganizing/rewriting of the prologue as well, which is fantastic because I've been really worried about that but couldn't figure out exactly what was the problem. So it was a productive weekend even though I didn't add much to the word count.
Right now I'm working on a scene with Julia and I'm not really sure where I'm going with it. Hopefully I'll get a sudden flash of inspiration. Lately I feel like I'm doing more deleting than writing. And while I don't regret anything I've cut, I'd like to start seeing some net gains.
current word count: 24,468
Thursday, July 20, 2006
I swore I wasn't going to buy it until it came out in paperback. But I couldn't resist temptation any longer. And once I start it, I probably won't be able to do anything remotely productive until I'm finished.
In the meantime, if you have any ideas for cute, fun dates in Atlanta let me know. (BESIDES World of Coke -- you've worn me down. I promise to include it!)
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The novel, with the working title Common Ground, is a lesbian romance/fiction novel that will probably come in right around 75,000 words. I officially started writing the last week in June, but the characters and bits of the plot have been floating around in my imagination for much longer. Right now I seem to be averaging roughly 1000-2000 words per day, and I'd like to maintain that average. I'll be posting a word count at the end of each day, along with any thoughts on my progress.
Current word count: 24,391
Common Ground is a love story between two women who seek the same goals, but follow very different paths.
An unexpected loss on Capitol Hill leaves Amy Williams scrambling to find a new career path, and in a departure from her usual thoughtful behavior, she impulsively accepts a position teaching high school English. She is not sure how her shy persona will translate to the classroom -- or how her mature, reserved nature will adjust to
Brett Gallagher is young, brash and idealistic. Just out of a two-year stint working with Teach for
When the two women meet at an orientation for new teachers, sparks fly immediately, and the two women spend the summer getting to know each other better and falling in love. It is a difficult road because along with their political and personality differences, the constant parade of Brett’s ex-lovers makes Amy jealous and insecure. She fears that even if Brett is genuine about her feelings, it won't take long for her to lose interest.
By early fall, the two women are enjoying the bliss of a new relationship. But all of that changes when there is an incident of homophobia at the high school where they teach.
The event brings to a head their contrasting views on life and politics, including how out they need to be at work. While Brett risks her job to lead an unpopular crusade to have sexual orientation and gender identity listed as a protected group in the school's student handbook, Amy would prefer to avoid what she sees as a losing battle and instead work more subtly to teach students about tolerance and diversity. This dichotomy places a great deal of strain on their fledgling relationship, and both have to decide which compromises are worth making and how far they will go to reach common ground.
This blog is meant to keep me honest about my writing -- to track how much progress I make each day and to keep me motivated. But I'm sure other aspects of my life will creep in, so don't be surprised to find a political diatribe or random musing mixed with the talk of writing.